Monday, April 27, 2009

How the job was done-cheaply-and what a result!

How we turned our old and broken outdoor furniture into good-as-new furniture for less than one quarter of the cost of new ones. (see previous post)

We set up a space in the garage to work, with our painted slats and two sawhorses (one rescued from the last hard rubbish collection). I painted the slats with an undercoat and some Weathershield paint we had left over from previous jobs. The cost for the slats was 2.20 each -we needed 30. That was a total of $66 plus fixings for another $20.

The old slats were removed from the wrought iron ends. DH needed to use an angle grinder for some of the old bolts. The new slats were bolted to the ends. The old braces and metal strip were screwed back in again.

Of course we had to celebrate the completed project with coffee and muffins! Total cost was $86 -to purchase new ones would have cost over $350 and required yet more stuff to be shipped here from China.

This sunny north-facing aspect is an important place for the taking of coffee whenever the winter sun pokes through. Our other patio is round the back and ideal for the summer time, -and with the blinds and patio heater on - can be cosy for quite many months of the year. There is no substitute for a little sunny spot in the winter or early spring, however.

Another interesting aspect of this sitting area is that it faces the street. We have a fairly quiet street and our neighbours keep pretty much to themselves, but when they see us around this table they often want to be more chatty. The front garden is where the flowering plants are mostly -and it can be a lovely place to be.

I hope you have somewhere nice to sit and enjoy the sun too!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Small important projects

In our attempts to live simply, it is the small but important projects which often make a huge difference.

For example, our Myer lemon tree is now covered in fruit. Unlike the Eureka, the Myer has one big crop and then no lemons for much of the year. It is important to store our harvest and that is what I am doing right now, with the help of the extra freezer space in the new fridge.

Freezing the juice in icecube trays will mean that we always have lemon juice on hand for such things as baking and of course, in the winter time, for soothing sore throats. I will also be freezing some lemon zest for recipes too. Lemons are quite expensive to buy in the shops but our Perth climate means that most of us can have lemons on hand when we want them.

This winter plan to add a Eureka to the citrus 'orchard' in the back yard. We have a lime which is, for the first year, looking established and which is greatly valued for it's role in gin and tonics, among other things! We also have a small mandarin which is struggling to be established after we moved it last year, and a slightly bigger ruby grapefruit.

Another crop which is easy to grow in a small area and which adds so much to our diet is the herbs we grow for abundant flavour. I have 5 different basil plants at the moment and intend, this week, to harvest the annual ones for pesto which I will freeze in cubes too. There is something magic about a cube or two in a vegetarian pasta dish, to add shine and flavour to the sauce. At the end of summer I make it with basil and that lasts us until the spring when I make another batch with nasturtium leaves . I found that recipe in Jan Oldham's book ( a favourite of mine).

I have finally finished my Easter bunting! It is a good thing the festival of Easter lasts 50 days! I have worked out how to cut the fabric so that I don't waste too much of it and intend shortly to make some in a gorgeous green spot, green flower and red gingham mix which will double as a party bunting and also as another Chrsitmas decoration.

Finally, this long weekend is the time to complete a project outdoors. We have an outdoor setting which has lasted years and years, but the wooden slats are now breaking and it needs some repairs. The garage has been cleared and the painting has begun. Hopefully by the end of the day I will be able to show off the new look patio setting!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New beginnings-and coming closer to the end

This is our new fridge!

The new fridge arrived this week. The old fridge has gone to a good home -my son has a friend just starting up a home of their own and they had no fridge, so this is a win-win situation.

Our new fridge has a high number of 'stars' which means energy efficiency for us when compared with the old one. We also get extra freezer space, which we will enjoy because we use it a lot for freezing stock, or left overs to make sure that they are still in good condition when next we decide to use them.
I have planted my raised garden bed with broccoli, red cabbages, cauliflowers and a few mizuna seedlings. It seems a bit early still, because our weather today was fine and around 29degrees C, but surely the autumn and winter will come soon?

My dear husband and I took off this afternoon to our very favourite Swan Valley restaurant and vineyard for lunch. Dear Jan and Bruno! Hostess and vigneron extraordinaire. We sat for hours and enjoyed fine food and wine whilst we dreamed of the next stages in our life journey.

That is what Little River has done for us on so many occasions. Given us the time and beautiful space necessary to really talk and dream together.

Of course, one of our big topics is the fact that I am now only 10 working days away from my long service leave! In my whole working life I have never had long service leave before, and the chances are I never will again. I am so looking forward to time to do all of those things I can't do when working full time.

I didn't always work full time. For the first 15 years of our married life at least, we shared one full time position, so that we could each work half time and devote the other half time to our family and our whole lives. That was a wonderful lifestyle, but it was not bringing in enough money to purchase a home of our own. So we took up other work and with it all the stresses of modern living.

We are now so close to achieving the end of our mortgage, and as our children are almost independent, we are hoping soon to gradually cut back on the hours we both work. Maybe not this year, maybe not next -but soon. We only need to work enough to allow the bills to be paid -we have simple needs and our commitment to a simple lifestyle makes those bills smaller and smaller over time.

What would we do if we did not work full time and our children did not need constant attention?

We talked about our dreams -everything from just being able to sit and read without feeling like we had to be productive all the time, to developing 'mastery' at some particular skill such as woodwork or veggie growing.

I am sure that we would have some kind of voluntary work to benefit the community.

I am sure it would be lovely to be able to choose what that community work was!

Lots of hopeful things were discussed, and hope is one of those things which make us more energetic and optimistic.

I will have some time on Long Service Leave to look carefully at our financial position and to begin to determine what our income level could be reduced to, without too much stress and strain. This will be a good first step on the road back to a balance in our life again.

Until then, gardening and lunch at our favourite restaurant occasionally will keep us going.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It was a great party!

It was a great party! In the afternoon my DH came home with a bunch of magnificent yellow flowers and so I had a great time arranging them to decorate the party table. Out came my 33 year old yellow tablecloth and my 33 year old lace cloth. Out came my collection of thrifted serviettes -no 'disposables' for us! Such style on almost no cost at all -the flowers were leftover from Church celebrations! It turns out that I have more than 25 serviettes -all collected from op shops for no more than $2 for four.

The food worked out great -although my slow cooker lasagne probably needed only half the cooking time. It was a Simple Saver recipe and it gave me the confidence to have a go. The egg and cornflour in the cheese sauce was very simple to do. The best thing about parties of course is the leftovers and there are enough of those to make sure we can enjoy special treats for days to come.
I had another pink bunch of flowers for the outdoor patio setting which gave it a lovely atmosphere. My fairy lights twinked beautifully.

There were about 20 of us. It rained. This confirmed my observation that the Autumn rains usually arrive at Easter in Perth -we had a good downpour but the patio blinds kept us all dry.

We were thrilled to meet my newest Grand Nephew -just a few months old. I was able to get a great aunt cuddle!

We caught up with each other's lives, we discussed the state of the world.

My brother and I swapped experience of growing veggies in the back yard. He has promised me some spaghetti squash seeds.

My DS and his friends sat in the family rooms and had a great time. It was so good to see these wonderful young people together.

We admired our young first time parents, so bravely going into the whole experience of looking after their precious charge.

We talked about what makes for a good life. Caring for each other, watching over the young ones, savouring the moment. It was lovely to have such a family time and you know what, we could not have been happier in a grand restaurant! The food was simple but well received, and the laughter was honest and good.

Simple living -if you want it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter is a time to celebrate

This card came in the mail this week, from one of our local Churches. I love it! It is so help people think about what Easter is all about, what all this egg giving is all about.

In our house, Easter is often a double celebration because my two lovely men, DS and DH are both celebrating their birthdays this weekend. So as well as the Maundy Thursday service, the Good Friday Stations of the Cross and the Dawn Service, we are also having a family party!

No painting the house, no camping holiday, no! We are full on in celebrating Easter and the life of these two wonderful guys.

I am going to be cooking for quite some time this weekend.
  • I have a large slow cooker, and that is going to be the lasagne for feeding the hordes.
  • I have a smaller round slow cooker, which will be a beef and bacon and wine casserole.
  • I am going to be doing a potato bake in the oven
  • Lots of cos lettuce out in the garden for Caesar salad
  • I have enough basil and tomatoes to make a lovely bruschetta for starters
  • There will be a lemon and poppy seed cake
  • and sour cherries
  • and finally there will also be my famous rose water flavoured fruit salad!
Monday is the day when friends and family will be here for dinner. I hope this glorious weather lasts. I love it when we get together.

Hope you are having a lovely celebration this Easter too.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Here is a pic of what I found at the Op Shop today -the cute apple tin and a Victorian-image- covered notebook. I also picked up some more boxes and tins (you can never have too many), and some cotton yarn.

I am getting so excited about my up-and-coming long service leave. We have booked ourselves in to a fabulous hotel on the ocean -with open fire in the bedroom-for our anniversary in Victoria. I have been looking at what shows are on in May in Melbourne and beginning to book them too.

I have been getting so much inspiration about craft and art projects from all sorts of sources. I will have so much time for all the craft I can't do when I am at work. There is beginning to be quite a list! Meanwhile I am enjoying Curlew Country -and I love her list of favourite blogs too.
Like Sal's snippets who has a pic of some bunting she made - I have bought some fabric to do something similar as part of my Easter decorating. These ladies from blogland in the UK have the same love of vintage and country and craft and thrifting as I do, and they fill my need for pictures of the old country too!

This is what my Easter table looks like this week, after my DH spoilt me with these lovely flowers. I hope to post pictures very soon of the next stage of my Easter decorating.