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.

 

 

Salvaged

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I make simple cotton boxer shorts to team with singlet tops for pyjamas and the elastic had given up in this pair.

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I intended to replace the elastic, however, they had been languishing on the ‘to do’ pile on my sewing table.  Rather than simply replacing the 2 rows of 6mm elastic, I decided to use this elastic which I had salvaged from some of GMan’s worn out underwear.

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The first step was to remove the remnant of the underwear fabric.

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The elastic attached to the upper edge  of the shorts.

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Then turned over and stitched again.

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The boxers are now ready to wear again with no extra cost and no wastage from the worn out underwear.  As a side note, the worn out cotton underwear makes fantastic cleaning cloths and dusters.

 

A Three-Pronged Approach

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Although the blog posts have not necessarily reflected it, we have slowly but surely been concurrently working on several projects around the house.  It is interesting to note that they all relate to the approaches and entrances to our home.

First is the walkway we are building which you can read about in this post.  The walkway will provide a more defined entrance to what is essentially our backyard.  It is close to the vegetable garden and the back steps that lead to the area of the verandah which we most often use for entertaining.  We recently took the next step and bought the timber for the horizontal rails.  I have painted them this weekend.

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This was not the only painting I did.  While I had the tin of ‘Woodland Grey’ paint open, I started on painting near the main entrance to the front verandah.

Yesterday I did the first coat of the wall.

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Today I made a start on the steps.  You can still see some of the original salmon colour in the section of blockwork under the verandah which is visible between the stair treads.

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Apart from the fact that I had the paint tin open, the real reason I painted this areas this weekend is that I wanted them done before the finishing touches are put to the concrete stairs.

This is the before photo which I took when we had pulled up some of the pavers.  You can see that the timber sleepers were beginning to rot.  It was a trip hazard and had no handrail which makes things difficult when we have elderly or less able guests.

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The builders weaving their magic.

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The end result.

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The concrete has to cure completely before the final step which is to have a non-slip finish applied.  This will be a similar colour to the surrounding rocks and will hopefully blend in to the surroundings much more than the fresh, grey concrete.

I decided to paint the adjacent wall as it is much easier to do before the final surface is applied.  There will be a short railing on the left hand side of the 2 steps up to the verandah so it made sense to do the steps before that is installed, too.

We are gradually painting all of the besser block base at the western end of the house and the next section to be done will be the walls surrounding the garage doors.  I will be glad to see the end of the salmon pink colour.

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I have not been the only one painting.  For the past couple of weeks GMan has been working on the door which leads from the verandah into the dining room.

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It has been bare timber since it was installed about 9 years ago, mainly because we could not decide whether to stain or paint it and if so, what colour?  The exterior of the house is very neutral and this will provide a real pop of colour as well echoing some of the tones in the lounge/dining room.  I will post some photos once the door is re-hung.  GMan has been busy sanding and painting the door frame as well as the doorstep.

There will be more updates as well as photos as these projects progress further.

Stocking Up

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Even though there are only two adults in our household, I find it worthwhile to prepare bulk amounts of various meals and ingredients for meals.

Some of the bulk preparation is due to the quantities of seasonal produce from our garden and in other instances it is simply due to the recipe or my choice to make a substantial quantity in one go.

Here are some examples of the sorts of things I do.

Single lunch serves of pumpkin soup.  This was after we had soup for dinner, it was all from one medium pumpkin picked from the garden.

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Limes cut into wedges.  Citrus are in abundance at our place at the moment and this is just one of the many ways I am using the bumper crop of limes.

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Bagged and ready to pop into the freezer for a refreshing addition to chilled water – still or sparkling (from the Soda Stream).

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A bulk quantity of refried beans done in the slow cooker.  This recipe (from Mimi all those years ago) practically makes itself.  A versatile staple that I store in the freezer.

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Spiced peanuts – I used some in the kale salad tonight and the rest will be used for future salads, that is, if GMan doesn’t snack on them all in the meantime.

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A batch of gluten free cheese scones.  These are delicious with a bowl of soup on a cool evening so I always have some in the freezer.

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What is in your stock to make preparing meals easier?

 

Two Becomes One

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As promised, this post is about making do and mending what you already have.

4 years ago GMan and I capitulated and both bought an iPhone.  I refused to pay $75 for an Apple branded case but felt that a case would definitely be a wise idea to protect our expensive investments.  We managed to pick up ones for about $20 each which are both a bit the worse for wear now.

A few weeks ago GMan ended up buying a new phone (not an iPhone) as his had clearly reached the end of its useful life.  I decided to purloin the old case so that I could use the good bits of both cases to re-create a decent case for my phone which seems to be going along without any problems.

This is what I started with.

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The pink case is mine and the plastic phone cover had broken and become detached from the case.  The black case belonged to GMan’s phone and although the clip had broken off the case, the plastic cover was still in good condition.

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So I removed the phone cover and re-glued into my case.

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The edging had also lifted from my case so I redid it with some duct tape.

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The end result is not particularly pretty and I have my doubts of the wisdom of the duct tape.  However, I have gained an insight into how simple it would be to make a new case from scratch and re-use the black phone cover.

Meanwhile, my next assignment is to make a pouch for GMan’s new phone.  I hope to get that done next weekend.