A Spending Spree

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Sometimes I go for ages without buying anything apart from the essentials but then I seem to have a bit of a spree.

In the last week I have bought a clock and a dress.  The clock was to replace the one in the kitchen which had given up the ghost.  I spent a couple of hours trawling online and eventually found one that I liked.  It arrived in the mail today and I was very excited to hang it up.

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The dress was an impulse buy (sort of).  I was at the DFO with GMan and my mother on Saturday afternoon and I wandered into Jacqui E and this dress caught my eye.  It was originally priced at $170 but marked down to $50 and the final price I paid was $37.46!!

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It is an almost perfect fit – I need to shorten it a little and while the bodice fit is good, I could make it better by lifting the shoulders a little and taking a small amount of width out of the upper back.  It is heavy cotton, lined and looks like cutwork.  I have studied the construction and the alteration to the shoulders should be easy.  I will have to give the back a bit more thought.

I have a pretty cobalt blue cardigan to wear with it and now I just need a pair of navy shoes.  Coincidentally, I have already been searching for the shoes.

 

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.

 

A Smart Purchase

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I do not often write about my shopping but I feel that the iron I bought about a month ago is worthy of a blog post.  We are all familiar with the concept of ‘smart phones’ and some of their capabilities – turning airconditioning on and off, scanning the contents of a refrigerator to create a shopping, scanning tourist information when travelling and so on.  Of, course all of this is dependent on the other appliances/sites being embedded with the relevant technology.  However, all of that pales into insignificance beside my ‘intelligent’ iron.

Ironing not something that most people get excited about and many do not iron at all but that is simply not in my DNA.  I iron and I want a good iron that functions well and produces the result I want with minimum effort.  My previous iron was not performing so it was time to look for a replacement.  As always, I head to the electrical store and scan the rows of similar looking irons which range in price from $19 ever-upwards to about $160. Then there are all sorts of space-age looking steam stations which run into hundreds of dollars.

This Philips iron does not look extraordinary but the feature which sold it to me is the fact that it does not have a heat setting.  It senses the fabric and heats accordingly.  I hesitated because it sounded too good to be true and we all know where that usually ends up but I decided to bite the bullet and try it.  $149 later and I was the owner of a brand-new, intelligent iron.

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I delayed writing any sort of review until I had given it a reasonable test.  Thanks to the type of clothes we wear (mostly cotton and linen) as well as the sewing I do, my iron is used almost every day.  I have been using it for a month and am delighted to report that despite my reservations it really does work on all types of fabric.  This is what the soleplate looks like after a month of use – absolutely pristine.  The results are also excellent.

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Just in case I have convinced you and you are about to rush out and buy one, this is the packaging.

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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.

 

Waste Not

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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?

Bed in a Box

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I am not a huge fan of online shopping but it does have some advantages.  For example, we buy premium dog food in 15kg bags and order 2 at a time.  There is a financial saving and the added bonus that it is delivered to our front door.  Additionally, there are more and more items that are only available online.

We recently decided that it was time to consider replacing the mattress on our bed and I started searching online to see what types of mattresses were available.  I stumbled upon the Sommuto website which produces Australian made mattresses by an Australian owned company.  The catch?  There is no shop and your order online.  I have spent a couple of months reading and researching before biting the bullet and ordering it on the weekend.  T

The mattress was delivered today.

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It was quite weighty so took GMan and I to carry the box upstairs.  It was a simple matter of cutting the plastic tape and sliding the roll out of the box.

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A special cutter was provided to cut the plastic wrap.  We then lifted the roll onto the existing ensemble base and unrolled the mattress.

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It feels quite different to what we have had previously but I am very confident that we will be happy with our new purchase.  Anyway, it has a 100 day trial period with a money-back guarantee.

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For something as large as a mattress there was minimal packaging.  The cardboard box will be opened out and used as weed mat under mulch in the garden.  The plastic tape will go into the rubbish and the heavy-duty plastic has been folded up and will be sure to be used at some time in the future.

I have made the bed and now am looking forward to a relaxing sleep.

Goodnight.

Glass is Good

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I have tried, as much as possible, to reduce our use of single-use plastic.  I know that there is always more that I can do so it is a work in progress, or as some would like to say, a journey.

As with any journey, it is also easier if you are connected with like-minded travellers so I am a member of a couple of different Facebook groups whose members have similar goals.  Some people are keen to remove all plastic, however, I am not about to throw away all of the plastic containers I have (to landfill) so that I can replace them with glass.  On the other hand, I am happy to look for glass when I need some more.

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After much research, I recently purchased 2 dozen Ball preserving jars.  You can read all about them in this post.  I have used some when I made jam recently but am also looking at other ways of using them.

I am aware that some people regularly freeze food in glass but that is not something that I have really done much so I decided that some research was in order as I know several people have had problems with glass jars breaking in the freezer.  This is not a saving of resources or money so I want to avoid that happening.  It turns out that for a glass jar to be suitable for freezer use it must have straight sides – that is no shoulder where it slopes in to the neck of the jar.  The preserving jars which I chose meet this criteria and are also deemed as suitable for freezer use on the panel on the box.

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Naturally, you also need to use commonsense and not put hot jars into the freezer and leave suitable headspace for the food to expand when frozen.  I also choose to chill them first in the refrigerator before transferring to the freezer as well as keeping the lids loose until they were completely frozen.  This strategy seems to have been successful.

Here are some jars of frozen mango puree and refried beans which I was about to transfer to the small freezer downstairs.  I tend to keep this freezer for storage and items which I use on a day-to-day basis in the freezer section of the refrigerator in the kitchen.

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The other purpose for which glass can be used is when taking your own containers to be filled at the shop.  This afternoon I took one of the smaller jars to the deli counter at the supermarket and bought olives.  There was no problem with the staff weighing the container prior to filling to to assess the tare weight and the price sticker was attached to the bottom of the jar.

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Plastic containers certainly have their place and I will continue to use them rather than discard simply for the sake of discarding them, however, it is an interesting exercise to test the boundaries as to how and where glass jars can be used.