A Bulk Buy

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As you know, I am not a great fan of shopping.  However, there are still things that need to be purchased.

I needed more eucalyptus oil which is an ingredient of the homemade cleaner and wool wash that I make.  It is also a useful disinfectant and aid for removing labels from jars and the resultant glue residue.  Needless to say, I use a bit of it and was keen to buy a larger quantity than the 200ml bottle that I had recently emptied.

After some online searching we managed to source a 4 litre bottle in Australia.  It is the same brand as the previous bottle and was significantly cheaper.  In fact, I calculated that it cost about 60% of the cost of buying an equivalent volume in 200ml bottles from one of the major supermarkets.

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Although it is in a plastic container, this quantity will last me a lifetime and I will not be buying any more 200ml plastic bottles of eucalyptus oil.

I understand that many people would not be interested in buying this sort of quantity as there is a significant financial investment as well as storage issues.  Neither of these are a particular problem for me so I am happy to have been able to buy a large quantity of eucalyptus oil.

If you live in my vicinity and would like a smaller portion of this eucalyptus oil, please let me know and I will let you know all of the details including pricing which will be the same as I paid.  I am not doing this to make a profit but simply to give others the opportunity to access eucalyptus oil with minimal packaging in quantities that are appropriate to your needs.

**Please note that this is labelled ‘Commercial Grade’ and the directions are for use in cleaning applications.

There are a couple of hyperlinks in the second paragraph to the ‘recipes’ for cleaning products that I make using eucalyptus oil.

Organising Assistance

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I regularly speak out about the fact that you can be organised without spending ridiculous amounts of money.  I often read or hear about people buying dozens of matching containers to organise a linen cupboard or re-arranging their pantry with an entirely new selection of containers that happen to be the trend of the moment.

Apart from the cost, this behaviour bothers me from an environmental perspective because many of the containers are plastic and/or are manufactured in jurisdictions where workers are not paid a living wage, work in sub-standard conditions and the factories do not meet any type of environmental guidelines.  Next time you are tempted to buy new items that seem very cheap – stop and think about why they are so cheap.

Back to the main topic.  I did buy something which will be useful in organising numerous areas in my home and I expect that it will last me for a long time to come.  It is a labeller.

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I had previously borrowed one from work to label some jars in the pantry but finally decided that it would be useful to have one of my own.  It is battery-operated and the labels come in a cartridge which is inserted into the back of the machine.  I purchased 2 cartridges of the clear self-adhesive labels.  I also noticed that you can buy cartridges of iron-on tape so you can make your own labels for clothing.  This is not something that I would use but could be beneficial for my daughter with children going on school camps and similar.

My first attempt was to label this set of mini-drawers which fit perfectly on the shelf in my sewing room.  The drawers came from my mother and I have found them really useful for keeping track of some of the smaller sewing items.  I have memorised what are in the top row but other than that, I have to open the drawer to check.  That will be a thing of the past with these new labels.

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Now, what else needs a label?  I think I am going to have fun with this gadget.


A Matching Set

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Since I buy all of my dry goods from bulk bins, I need to have storage containers for my pantry.  Some are glass and others are plastic but most are screw-top jars that I have either inherited from my mother or collected from various sources over a period of time.

This photo gives you an idea of what my pantry looks like on a good day.

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This is an old photo and some things have been moved around but you get the general idea.

However, it has been quite some time since I last cleaned and tidied it properly and it definitely starting to show.

I really need to keep larger quantities of some of the ingredients in the small plastic jars so I have been considering my options.  A couple of weeks ago I was in one of the local charity shops (there are 4 in our small town) when I spied some large glass jars.  They are Moccona coffee jars and have a tight-sealing lid.  I bought all 5 of the largest size for $4 each.

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Today I optimistically checked to see if there were any more and was surprised to find another 4 matching ones.  I now have 9 large glass canisters which are airtight and cost me the princely sum of $36.

I will do another blog post with photos once the pantry is sorted out and the new containers are in place.

Another Quilt


No, this is not turning into a quilting and patchwork blog, however, I am making another quilt using the same techniques as the one I have just finished.  This is for another work colleague – a retirement gift this time.

It is very different colours – generally autumn tones.

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Here are some of the squares cut out.  I had some of the fabric in my stash but nowhere near enough as it is not the colours I tend to use.  The remainder is made up of some new fabric specifically for the project as well as some that I found on an op shop crawl this morning.  We are fortunate to have no fewer than 4 op shops in the small town near where we live.

I spent the afternoon and evening cutting out and piecing fabric. It is coming together nicely and these are the first 5 completed blocks.  There are another 11to do before I arrange them to get the best balance of colours.

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While I was hunting out suitable fabric at an op shop, this piece caught my eye.

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A 1 metre length of brand new cotton fabric which is 112cm wide.  It cost me 50c and will be used to make a sleeveless shirt for me.

The other thing I bought was not fabric so I will save the story of that for another blog post.


In the Garden

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After a break of almost 3 months, I finally made it back to the garden today.  I have really done nothing since before we went to the UK at the beginning of November and since we arrived home in early December my intentions have been thwarted by hot weather, Christmas preparations, another holiday and numerous social events as well as being busy at work.

However, I woke up at 5am today and decided to bite the bullet before the sun became  too intense.  2.5 hours later I came in after having made a start on some weeding in the vegetable garden enclosure.  In all honesty, you could barely see where I had been but I felt better knowing that at least I had made a start.

We went shopping this morning and as well as food we managed to buy more than a dozen plants.  Later this afternoon GMan and I weeded the area in front of the house.  This runs the full length of the house and is planted with numerous hibiscus shrubs and covered with mulch.  Where the hibiscus are well established and close together there was very little weed, however, there are still some substantial gaps and some unwelcome plants had become quite well established.  Of course, the area is almost overrun with cherry tomato plants but I am prepared to accept them as they are food.

The next job was to tackle the raised garden bed containing the sweet potatoes.  When we planted them some months ago we placed a panel of old pool fencing over the bed to keep the scrub turkeys away from it as they just dig up the potatoes and eat them and completely destroy the plants.  We had intended to remove it once the plants became established but that did not happen.  The plants had grown right through the fencing and far, far away…………  It was not easy to remove and in the process we discovered that there was a good crop waiting to be harvested.

Here is our haul.

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I can see sweet potato fries, sweet potato mash, vegetable curry and baked sweet potato in our future.

In a recent post I published a list of some of the projects we intend to tackle this year.  One of them was to create a garden outside the vegie garden.  My intention is to create a mostly native garden with a seat in the midst of it. At the moment it is just grass but that is about to change.  Today we took the first step and bought a selection of plants which will form the basis of this garden.

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This is the result of our garden shopping so I am quite keen to see my planned garden come to fruition.  Not of all the plants we bought will be for that area but we have plans for all of them.

Hopefully, I will have some more photos to share before too long.

We are planning to make an early start again tomorrow as it is really the best option during the summer months here.

My Minimalism


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.






Waste Not


I will never fit a year’s worth of rubbish in a small jar but I manage reasonably well at this ‘zero waste’ gig, mainly because we don’t actually buy a lot of stuff.  However, some things are unavoidable.  After much discussion and debate we recently purchased a new suitcase for our upcoming overseas trip.  You can see it here.

We bought the case online and of course there was the inevitable packaging.  All things considered, it was not unreasonable to ensure that the case arrived in perfect condition.  A large cardboard box which will be flattened and added to the pile which we use as weed mat under mulched areas of the garden and a large, lightweight plastic bag which I have carefully folded and put away.  This is sure to be used at some time in the future.

Finally, there was this piece of thin foam sheeting.

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This is not recyclable in any shape or form so it can only be destined for the rubbish bin.  Although it will still end up in landfill, I decided that it could have one more use before ending up there.

I cut it into two pieces and stitched them up to create these bags.

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They will be used as rubbish bags for the relatively small amount of household rubbish which we produce before tossing the bag and its contents into the large rubbish collection bin.  Based on past experience I expect that each of these will hold about 4 – 6 week’s worth of rubbish.

It is not an ideal solution but one in which I feel that I have made the best of the situation with which I was presented.

But back to the online shopping and packaging.  I regularly hear people complaining about the packaging they receive when shopping online and their attempts to change they way things are shipped.  We do not shop extensively online but it does have advantages.  We live in a semi-rural area and saved an enormous amount of time and fuel driving long distances to locate an appropriate suitcase.  Secondly, the packaging I received is probably the same packaging which any retail outlet would receive when ordering from the supplier.  I am sure that the shop would not have made any effort to re-purpose the various pieces of packaging materials as I have and best I could hope for is that the cardboard may have been recycled.  Therefore, even though I have added to my personal landfill tally I feel that I have done the best that I could.  What do you think?