Cleaning the Laundry Room

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It is probably the smallest room in the house but it can be difficult to get and keep clean.  This is mainly due to there always being something in progress.

However, on Sunday I had finished all of the washing, including the handwashing so it was the perfect time to clear the bench and give the laundry a scrub from top to bottom.

This is the result.  I do love a clear bench, even though it is a fairly rare occurrence.

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The view from the doorway.

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The opposite side of the room with storage cupboards.  For a view and story of the contents of the various cupboards you can read about it here.

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The entrance to the 2nd toilet is just out of view.

This room had 4 doors – one to the hall and another to the kitchen as well as the external door and the toilet door.  We had the door to the kitchen removed which allowed for the built-in bench and cupboards.  The hall and toilet entrances are both sliding doors which conserve space.

I am enjoying the clear, uncluttered space and am determined to try to keep it that way.

 

Preparing for the New Arrival

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A couple of weeks ago we finally decided to buy a new freezer.  We have a reasonable amount of space in our fridge/freezer in the kitchen as well as a bar-sized freezer in the workshop downstairs.  I manage for most of the year but when we have a glut of produce that I want to freeze it becomes a real challenge.  As we work on growing more food I expect the pressure to become even greater.

We decided on the best location for the freezer which led to a major clean-up and re-organisation of the workshop area.

Here are a few ‘before’ photos.

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The best location for the new freezer was where the white cupboard is standing.

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The existing freezer was on the other side of the room, along with piles of cardboard that we use as weedmat in the garden.

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Another view.

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A corner of the double garage which is next to the workshop.

You can see some of the changes in the following photos.

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The no longer required carseat has been re-homed and this corner was perfect for the white cupboard which contains all of our camping gear.

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The cardboard is neatly contained in and behind the box under the end of the bench.

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The black cupboard has been given away as it was now excess to our requirements.  If you have less stuff, you need less storage.  We re-arranged various shelves and the metal toolbox for more effective use of the space.

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And finally, the new freezer in place.

I will show you more about the freezer tomorrow.

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.

 

The Pantry Project – Part 2

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This is a follow-up post about my reorganising of the pantry.  You can read the initial post here.

Once again, there are no before photos which may be just as well because it was not a pretty sight.  My pantry has been been well-organised on previous occasions, however, a few things had conspired and it had spiralled out of control.

This version is a complete departure from my previous methods.  I have decided to group the jars by the type of contents rather than by size.  This means that all of the dried fruit is together, then several types of sugar, various flours and so on.  I will be interested to see how this works out.

Here are a selection of views of the shelves.  Not everything has been placed as yet and I still need to update the labels on some containers.

The top shelf has roasting pans, the dehydrator and pizza maker.

The next 2 shelves are primarily devoted to all of the ingredients which I buy without packaging and store in a selection of containers.

The lower shelf is the grocery items that I buy plus any home-made jam, chutney and sauce.  The breadmaker and food processor are also stored here.  Note:  The food processor was in use when the photos were taken.

The stockpot and tub containing the attachments for the food processor stand on the floor.  The paper bag on the far left is where I keep unrefrigerated vegetables such as sweet potatoes and garlic.

You may have noticed the 2 wire baskets under the shelves.  These are screwed to the underside of the shelves and roll out.  They are some of my favourite features of the pantry and I use them to store small containers.

The upper drawer is for spices and a substantial part of this organising was devoted to the spice drawer.  I have gradually been collecting an assortment of glass Vegemite jars  for storing the spices which I buy from a bulk store.  The jars are about 4 different sizes so I have chosen to utilise them according to the amount of each spice that I generally keep on hand.  They are now labelled on both the jar and the lid for easy identification.  There are still a few more to add.

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The other drawer has yet to be sorted out.

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One of the results of this job has been to locate various items that needed to be used up and identifying a few things that I will never buy again.  I try to avoid recipes/meals that incorporate huge numbers of ingredients that are outside of my regular selection and stick to basic ingredients that can be used in many different ways.

 

 

 

The Pantry Project

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It is hard to believe that it is almost 3 months since I wrote this post about my new labeller.  Although that post was about labelling the small drawers in my sewing room, if I am really honest, my main motivation was so that I could re-organise my pantry and label everything.

Unfortunately, the labeller has languished in the cupboard while the state of the pantry went steadily downhill.  Until yesterday.  The thing that finally prompted me was the arrival of some more Mason jars that I had ordered online.  They would not fit in the cupboard as it stood so this required some major re-thinking.

I am really very fortunate to have plenty of storage space so it was simply a matter of utilising it better.  I have a large corner pantry as well as a floor-to-ceiling cupboard on the other side of the refrigerator.  There had previously been a mix of both food and other items in both cupboards so the first step was to remove the remaining foodstuffs (mostly canned goods and jars) from the cupboard.

I did not take any before photos as I launched into this endeavour early yesterday morning without a specific plan.

This is the cupboard once I had finished it.

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The top shelf is pretty much as it was with the Soda Stream, Easiyo, bucket with spare gas cylinder and Soda Stream bottles and pasta attachments for my KitchenAid mixer.  The pasta attachments were previously in the corner pantry.

The second shelf has 2 plastic tubs of glass jars and bottles which I use for storing juice and homemade sauces.  I have culled these considerably over a period of time as I have invested in more Mason jars.  In fact, I was able to swap them from a large and medium tub to a medium and small tub and move them from the top shelf of the corner pantry to this shelf which means they are much more accessible.  The large plastic tub fits neatly in the bottom of one side of the wardrobe in the sewing room so I will utilise it there.  But first, I have to finish the cupboard and the corner pantry.

The third shelf is various sizes of Mason and Weck jars with some spare lids and bands as well as a pair of lifting tongs from my most recent order.  These will make retrieving jars from the hot water bath much safer and easier.

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The bottom shelf is 4 buckets of bread flour – 2 white, 1 wholemeal and 1 rye.  This is GMan’s domain as he amkes the bread.

The corner pantry is still a work in progress but more about that tomorrow.

Re-Purposed Boxes

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I am not a great fan of re-purposing as I feel that some people use it as an excuse for not trying to reduce the stuff (particularly packaging) that they acquire.  However, sometimes it is impossible to to gain items.  This was the case recently when my birthday gift from my work colleagues came in 3 matching cardboard boxes.  They looked too good to simply put into the recycling so I put them in the cupboard with the vague notion that I may be able to reuse them as gift boxes as they had no visible brand name on them.

Today I needed to pack up my sewing as I was going to a production day for our Boomerang Bag group.  I keep all of the sewing threads in a small plastic basket but it was not really easily transportable as it does not have a lid.  Additionally, the basket was overflowing, thanks to several reels of thread that had been given to me recently.

Thank goodness for the boxes.

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The threads fitted easily in 2 of the boxes and I put the box of bobbins as well as scissors, pins etc in the third box.

The slide-on covers mean that things could not fall out during transport.

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I have decided to keep the threads in the 2 boxes on the shelves in my sewing room.  The other notions are back in their regular places and the third box is available to transport them on future occasions.

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The small white basket at the far left of the shelf is identical to the empty one which previously held the threads.  I will probably rearrange things of some of the shelves and use it for storing other items.

The plastic baskets have stood the test of time as I originally bought them for dividers in the drawers of our bathroom vanity unit.  I subsequently replaced them with some straight-sided containers which were a better fit for that space.

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.