Pantry Staples & Re-arranging

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Yesterday we made a trek of about 80km round trip to Simply Good to stock up on dry goods for the pantry.

The use of bulk bins means that I can buy items without any packaging.  I have used paper bags for a number of years that I reuse over and over again but have recently begun taking my storage jars and having the tare weight recorded before filling them directly.  This makes unpacking a breeze when I get home.

I decided that is was time to tidy the pantry and wipe the shelves before replacing all of the jars.  Here is the end result.

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One of the things that had contributed to some of the space seeming cluttered was the abundance of varieties of loose leaf tea.  I do not drink tea or coffee but GMan does, and of course we like to have it available for guests.

I have read of several people who choose to have a tea/coffee ‘station’ with all of the requirements set up together, however, I had never really considered this as a possibility until yesterday.

This open shelf and cupboard are above the oven and and immediately adjacent to the corner pantry.

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I relocated my small collection of cookbooks to the top cupboard and have made the open shelf the tea/coffee ‘station’.

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The bowl in front of the teapot contains the mesh balls which we use for single serves of tea as we do not buy teabags.  The cork mat next to the bowl is for the other plunger which was being washed when I took this photo.

This does not include the jug which lives in the appliance cupboard or the freshly ground coffee which is refrigerated.

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I am very happy with the result of this re-arranging as it frees up some space in the pantry and keeps the necessities for hot drinks together without cluttering up my bench space.

Warts and All

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I am sure we have all been guilty of only showing the good/perfect/happy stuff online.  In fact, I do not believe we should feel guilty because none of us share everything about ourselves  – either online or in real life.

However, I do try to keep things as real as possible in what I discuss here on the blog and today is no exception.

I have microwave oven which sits in a purpose-built cavity below the bench in my kitchen.

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For a number of years I have had a piece of non-slip mat under the microwave which which works reasonably well.  I remove and clean this mat but over time it has become stained with mould and even soaking it in bleach and scrubbing does not restore it.  This is not a long-term solution as I try not to use bleach.

After some particularly wet weather a couple of weeks ago it was looking awful and I decided that I had to change my strategy.  I decided to make a towelling mat from an old bathmat.

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I cut the bathmat in half.  The next step was to find some fabric suitable to bind the edges.

Bias strips cut and ready to join.

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A roll of home-made bias binding – just like a bought one!  All you need is a ruler and iron.

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The finished product.  No cost and not a lot of time.

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Back to the microwave and the cavity.  Once I removed the microwave it really does look disgusting.  Time to get rid of the mat.

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I cleaned the space and once it was properly dry I added the new towelling mat.

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After cleaning the microwave inside and out, I replaced it in the alcove.

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I have enough bias binding to bind the other half of the bathmat so I will be able to alternate them and wash each week.

Storage Solution – Evolution

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When you read about storage solutions it often involves parting with money at a large department store in a shopping mall.  However, this does not have to be the case.  A healthy dose of ingenuity and lateral thinking will often provide the answer.

I have a mobile hanging rack which I often use for hanging freshly-ironed clothes or to finish off drying clothes.  3 years ago I wrote a blog post about how I used and stored the rack.Here is a previous photo of it.

This proved not to be an ideal solution as it could be tricky to store and remove the various pieces.  However, I persevered and made the best of it.

However, a few weeks ago I managed to rip the bag when extracting the pieces.

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This led me to reconsider my storage method and I realised that I had removed a couple of item which had previously been stored on the floor of the wardrobe and I had some spare space.

A quick dig around in the workshop downstairs yielded results.

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This container was a heavy-duty drum with  tap which we once used for water storage.  GMan had removed the tap and cut the top off sometime ago and it was being used for storing some bits and pieces which I re-homed to another container.  I cleaned this one and it now fits neatly on the floor of the wardrobe and the components of the hanging rack are much more accessible.

A Capsule Wardrobe

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Over the past 10 years I have flirted with various versions of a minimalist wardrobe.  There seem to be as many versions of how to tackle an over-abundance of clothes as there are people on the planet.

After looking into Project 333 some years ago, I decided that the best option for me was to continue to keep a streamlined, mix-n-match selection that I wear most of the year round.  This works for me because I am fortunate to live in a fairly temperate climate.

However, I have recently joined a Facebook group focused on capsule wardrobes.  Someone posted about creating a Spring capsule based on the principle enunciated in The Vivienne Files.

One of the things that bothers me about many of the pieces chosen in limited collections tend to be pale/soft/neutral colours which are definitely not my style.  It would not matter how many pieces I had to choose from, I would still not be able to find anything to wear!  For those who follow the principle of colour analysis, I am a ‘winter’ which means I can wear black and other strong, clear blue-based colours.  When I had this analysis done back in the early 80s it really just confirmed what I already knew and I very rarely deviate from my preferred palette.

Based on this knowledge and the selection in my wardrobe, I chose the following 16 pieces for my capsule for the next 3 months.

The suggested configuration was:

Neutral – 2 bottoms and 2 tops, 1 of which should be a cardigan or jacket.

Naturally, I chose black.

Shorts and jeans.

A cardigan and short sleeve top, both in cashmere/merino.

Choose another neutral with the same configuration of 2 tops and 2 bottoms.

I am not sure that red is a neutral but it is definitely a base colour in my wardrobe.

capri pants and shorts.

A long sleeve knit top and a ‘denim’ jacket.

The next suggested category is 4 more tops which obviously need to mix and match as well as meet the vagaries of the local weather.

The final 4 items are open to personal preference and any categories you feel need an extra.

As the weather warms up I will definitely need these white cropped pants.

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A couple of patterned tops to add interest.

And a dress.

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While I followed the guidelines as suggested, I also know that there are dozens of outfits that can be created with this selection because I regularly do it.  Almost all of these pieces are several years old and are well-established in my wardrobe.

I am not entirely convinced that these will cover a couple of short holidays and special events that fall in the next 3 months but they will definitely account for 95% of my day-to-day outfits.

I will do a follow-up post in the next few days about a couple of accessories and the shoes that I will add to this collection.

Gone

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Decluttering and streamlining what we own is a recurring theme here.  I have never had a huge cleanout but have tended to gradually reduce what we have by not replacing things as they are used or removing things that no longer have a purpose in our home.

However, I want to share a couple of things that we have re-homed in the last week.

The first was actually at work.  It is nearly 18 months ago that I wrote this post about a bulk amount of paper clips being discarded.  Unfortunately, I received very little support from the sustainability team so the bag of paper clips was still languishing in the cupboard beside my desk.  Every time I opened the cupboard I was bothered by the thought of what was going to happen to them.  Last week I noticed a small bag of assorted paper clips/bulldog clips in the ‘Mail Out’ tray.  These were being returned to the mail room so I asked the courier from the mail room if they could take the bag of paper clips and she was delighted and said they would be so useful.  The quantity did not daunt her in the least!  YAY!!!  The rescued paper clips now have a new home.

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Today my sister and brother-in-law came and collected a pile of old broken pavers.  This post from 3 months ago was about removing the old pavers from an outdoor staircase.  We gave some of the salvaged pavers to our neighbour to make an outdoor path and kept the remainder for a small landscaping project we have to do.  Of course, in the process of lifting them some broke and others had been cut to fit the space.  We did not want these but my brother-in-law was happy to take them for solid fill at his place.  Today was the day that they went to their new home so that is something else gone.

These are some of the good used pavers but the pile of broken ones have been moved along.

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Something New

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Just when you think you have pretty got this organisation game sorted there is something else.

I have several lightweight cashmere/merino cardigans and jumpers which I handwash and then put on a very short spin cycle in the machine.  I generally hang  them on specially designed hangers on the line, however, the past couple of days have been cold and wet here so there was not a lot of point in hanging them outdoors.

So, I decided to hang them inside and was wondering where to put them when I noticed the inside of the door of the clothes dryer and had a lightbulb moment.

Here they are hanging from the door of the dryer.

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And a close-up view.

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The laundry is a small, enclosed room so by turning the dehumidifier on for a few hours I was able to easily get these dry.

You may not necessarily have the same opportunity but this is a reminder that there are many possibilities if we allow ourselves to think outside the box.

 

Nothing Special

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Sometimes I don’t write any blog posts, simply because there does not seem to be anything extraordinary to write.  It is easy to forget that the little things I do day in, day out which may be just the tip that will help someone out.

Here is one of those.

We often make sweet potato chips, usually when having salmon for dinner.  I bake the chips in the oven and like to add a little bit of seasoning.  Since I eat a gluten-free diet it cannot include regular flour.

Spicy Seasoning Mix

1 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon smoky paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder

This is reasonably spicy but you can adjust to suit your own tastes.

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container.

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These are the chips – I usually pre-cook for a few minutes in the microwave first then drain add place in a preheated tray with a little coconut oil.

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Lightly sprinkle with spice mixture.

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When I toss them after about 10 minutes I usually sprinkle them with a bit more.

As well as for the chips I also use this mixture to coat potatoes when I am baking them.  I rub the potato with a tiny bit of oil then roll them in the spice mixture before baking them in the slow cooker for 4 hours on high.