Wednesday, April 19, 2023

BUY these things at an op shop! They are useful, hard working and durable*

 I was browsing in one of those kitchen tool type shops recently. They have lovely things, and I had 20 minutes whilst waiting for my husband. What shocked me, though, was the price of things I have at home which I got at op shops and have loved and used for years.

In each case, buying them from the op shop extends their useful life, saving them from landfill. (However, only buy them if you can actually use them. The Op Shop Goddess likes people who are considerate of others!

1. Wooden salad bowls, plates and boards

We buy wooden salad bowls and use them a lot around here. Mind you, some of them looked pretty drab in the shop as no-one had cared for the wood for years. That large teak salad bowl was desert dry and had tuned almost blond in colour. We brought it home and gave it a wash, then layers of lovely food safe Orange Oil (an Australian product and I don't have any links to the company- substitute whatever food safe product you can find) were applied and this is how it came up. I wash it in soapy water, dry it and use it over and over, but about once a year, I slick the orange oil over it and take care of it.

Sometimes we have found a nice handmade bowl -but someone has put plastic estapol on it. DH sands it back and then gives it the orange oil treatment. 

Salad bowls are of course, just a bowl which can hold all sorts of useful things. Many foods are most flavourful when at room temperature: tomatoes ripen slowly on the bench on a cute raised bowl . If I had chickens I could put eggs in them. 

Scones look lovely on a table when served in a wooden bowl with a linen napkin lining. Bread is  a natural on a wooden platter or shallow bowl or a wooden chopping board. 

There is nothing to stop us using wooden bowls for mixing bread or cake batter and other things in -I must confess I never have, but once upon a time wooden mixing bowls were standard in kitchens. 

Wooden chopping boards and cheese boards can take a bit more of a sanding back, because they are flat and thicker -DH gives ours a turn in the workshop if they need it. to freshen up the surface before treating with the food safe oil again. 

Oh, just so you know -wooden salad bowls were $70 or more in the kitchen equipment shop! 

2. Serviettes or Napkins

I have a lovely range of wash and wear table napkins which we use a lot. No need to have single use or disposable  ones. These are generously sized, easy to use and easy to wash-honestly, I don't worry if they are used for greasy fingers or to wipe tomato spills-after all, they cost only cents. I can't remember any of them staining that badly though. I have a couple of sets of colours to go with my table settings. You can shove them in the picnic basket and not worry. 

These are cotton and synthetic blends mostly, which is why they are pretty indestructable.  I would rather use all natural fabrics, except in this situation where the fabric already exists, and is practically bombproof. 

3. Table cloths

I have a couple of table cloths which fit my table and were bought at op shops for tiny amounts of money. They make it look like I made an effort, and are so easy -just wash and fold. Recently I borrowed a book from the library about how to emulate French Country style -and guess what? Table cloths were recommended! If you have ones that don't need ironing, or find them at the op shop for a few dollars, why not put them out and enjoy them?  

4. Tea towels

Many opshops have souvenir type teatowels which are made of linen, and will cost very little! I buy them and wash the shiny sizing off, and use them in the kitchen. Have enough to change them every day! 

5. Glass storage jars

I store my food in glass in the pantry and in the fridge whereever possible.  Glass jars are expensive to buy new, but cheap in op shops. They can be refreshed in the dishwasher and come up nicely. If you need lids they can often be found online. Here is an Australian supplier. 

Yes, I do freeze food in glass jars! So long as you leave a 'headspace' for the food to expand as it freezes you will be fine.

If you are lucky enough to have one of those bulk dry goods stores near you, you can fill up your glass jars with all sorts of spices and flours and bypass the plastic bags in the supermarket entirely. 

6. Baskets

Baskets are the MVPs of my house. 

 I have dedicated baskets for my library books, so I can keep them safe by my favourite chair, and then pick them up and go the library when it is time for a renewal.

Decent baskets with useful handles and a fair capacity can be picnic baskets, shopping baskets, harvest baskets, fruit baskets, there are so many uses.

Those little flat bamboo baskets are great for drying herbs 

The lovely thing about baskets is the way they feel -sort of old fashioned and they swing as you walk.

One of mine needed a bit of a repair when I got it -the edge was a bit broken and likely to catch on things. I wrapped some string around it and now it is fine. I believe in making things last -no need to hide a repair, enjoy it. 

And, of course, there is always a creative use for baskets.

7. Kitchen tools 

I have a number of kitchen tools that I picked up at Op Shops. I like things like tongs, strainers and double boilers that will fit a number of saucepan sizes. The good thing is that if they don't work, you can easily return them and let someone else have them. 


You can also barter these things for a jar of your home made pickles, or get them for free from a local share/swap site, or find them in garage sales. Whatever, if you use them they are not in landfill. 

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Djeran - Seasonal changes, and a catch up


It has been pretty obvious that we have slid towards Djeran -the local Noongar season which we would think of as Autumn. Nights are getting cooler -down to around 18C, and we have had one significant rain event. When you have a summer drought as long as we have each year, the first decent rains are very welcome. As soon as the dust is washed off the leaves, and the ground softens with moisture, all sorts of plants emerge from their summer half-hibernation and begin to get leaves growing. My water tanks were pretty low, but the 1500 litre was full after a night of rain, and the 3000 litre is about three quarters full. 

The shade sails and other shade structures are coming down, as I work my way around the garden. 

I have been harvesting limes, quinces and pomegranates. There is a pot of quinces on the stove right now, slowly turning pink and perfuming the house with fragrance. Our newish apple tree has tiny apples on it.

There is a lot of basil, which means that we are making batches of pesto and freezing them for later use.

Autumn is a time for sowing seeds and taking cuttings. I am watching with interest my experiments with duranta and curry leaf tree cuttings, and have sown calendulas for the bees. 


Inspired by the podcast "Eat drink  cheap, I have been getting used to making sausages, using the fancy attachments I got for my Kenwood Chef for Christmas. This time I had sausage casings, so that took the process up a notch or two. 


Dora has returned to her favourite spot on the table in front of the window in my sewing room. It is too hot here in the summer, but with the cooler weather she likes to watch the birds come to the bird bath in the garden. She is still holding her own as a teenage cat, with the help of a bit of vetinary medicine. One day I was delegated with the task of taking her for a checkup. Somehow she must have picked up a vibe, because when I needed to load her into the cat carrier, we found her hiding in the depths of an inaccessible part of the storage cabinet under DD's bed, and would not come out. DH has more success at this than I do, so he took her a week later, after we barracaded her into a room with fewer hiding spaces. 


While the weather holds, I have used the outdoor table to pin two quilts together. This one was made with scrap fabric printed with all kinds of music motifs. It is now pinned together and waiting for me to start the free motion quilting on it.

The other is a scrappy which I have now given to the WAQA Community Quilts group for donation to refuges and such facilities. I am grateful for this "potato chip block" design -it was so easy that the quilt came together really easily. I cut up a lot of scraps from previous projects into either 2.5 inch squares, which I will use later, or these 2.5 inch by 4.5 inch rectangles. The tidiness of the quilting room is an added bonus. 

DH and I had a lovely day travelling to Harvey in the south west, about an hour and a half from here, to attend the Quilt and Craft show this month. As usual, the quilts were very fine -here is just one example. We love to have lunch in a country cafe where they still remember how to make a decent salad sandwich with all the fillings, and then go and enjoy the craft show for a gold coin donation entry fee. 

The label below tells us who made it and how. 


I have added a new-to-me sewing machine to the fleet of vintage sewing machines. Read about it here.
Vintage sewing machines are repairable and serviceable by ordinary people -there are no computer mother boards to fail. I love the sound of them and the feel of them when I sew. The extra bonus is the feeling of empowerment when I solve minor technical problems with a pair of tweezers, a drop of oil or a minor cleaning. 


Well  I think we have bragging rights on this one, for sure. This month, we had a wonderful afternoon with the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, when they played our son Ben's composition Karinup fanfare. Listen here  

This blog is my record of our simple life -but it is so nice if others visit it too.Thanks for reading.