Friday, 31 August 2012

I like toast and jam

I have had the song Bread and Butter by The Newbeats in my head this week and I have no idea why but it seems a fitting tittle to grab some of the lyrics as the heading of this post.

So I am yet to go ahead and make my own jam, we will put this down to the fact we don't have any fruit of our own yet and also take into account the lazziness factor. So you can imagine my delight when I found homemade jam for sale at the local Salvo's and all for the argin price of $1 a jar. It is made by local ladies and donated to the salvos so that money made goes back into the community. What a great simple idea, one I am happy to endulge in, and the jam tastes great.

I have been playing around with the idea of joining the CWA, to be honest I am not sure what happens at the meetings and I am not sure if my age, the fact I can't knit or sew and the fact I like to think I am an OK cook but I am certainly not a great baker (though this is something I want to work on), there is also a bit of nervousness about turning up to a meeting where I will know no one and I am not sure if I will fit in. Then there is the dreading time factor of trying to fit this around a job where I work shifts. Just something for me to think about.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Nothing else matters

So I have a confession to make, I may have a slight addiction to visiting the local charity shop. I have always had a love for older furniture and the idea of enjoying the furniture for what it is or the idea of giving things a bit of a paint job and making them something new again.

I bought an old desk, nothing fancy a couple of months ago and it has been hiding in the junk room. I am embarrassed to say I still have a room with boxes full of things in it that we are yet to unpack. Some of this has had to do with the need to find more furniture and my agreement to not just buy something for the sake of it (something I have done in the past) but waiting till I find something I love. For instance I am on the hunt for a china cabinet / hutch / bar to store my glassware etc. I don’t know exactly what I want but I am sure when I see it I will now. This means these items are still boxed up. I can’t see the point of unpacking them to have them lay around and possibly get broken.
Back to the desk, when I bought it I thought we would eventually turn the junk room to a study but I may just have changed my mind. We have moved the old desk in all its glory with its floral peach flower contact and chipped paint into the sunroom; here it sits in front of the window which has views of the backyard. I am sitting here at the desk as I write this and it just reminds me of how much more work we need to do but I have a sense that I am content. The view of the yard from here isn’t great; there are security screens on the window so there isn’t a completely uninterrupted view, the garbage and recycling bin are right in my line of sight and I can’t see through to the back fence as the original chicken pen has a metal fence, but despite all of this it is so nice just to sit here and see the sky, what garden I can and listen to the birds. The desk is also next to the back door so Sam the dog happily has been sitting here happy to be close by and Peppy the cockatoo can see me and have a chat with me.

So eventually the $10 desk will get re-painted and new handles put on the draw. Eventually the $5 chair will get painted and new fabric put on. Eventually the garden will have the arbour added and get some formality to it. But really none of this matters. Life is good.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Dishwasher Powder

Ok I have had an though (shocking I know), I have converted from using rinse aid in my dishwasher to just using vinegar & this is working fine, but now that my dishwashing powder is getting low I am wondering why I am still even looking at buying it. Surely I can make it.

Dishwasher Powder

1 cup bi-carbonate soda
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup citric acid

Mix thoroughly and store in an airtight container. Use 1 tablespoon at a time.

Seems simple and I have all of these ingredients here, I might just make half the amount so I can make sure it works. I will reuse the container that I bought my last lot of dishwashing powder in, just as I reused the old rinse aid bottle (trying to pour vinegar into a small hole from a 2 litre bottle doesn’t work so well.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

From the garden

Although yesterday started out cold and foggy I still found gems in the garden. I picked up this basket at the local salvo's for $2, it still had a price tag of $15 on it, it has been a great buy and I use it everyday to bring treats from our yard into our home. There is something satisfying about a basket full of items from your own yard; fresh eggs, lemons, oranges and flowers.

I decided to try my hand at making my own orange juice. I have an electronic juicer which certainly makes things easier, and to think it almost didn't make the journey from the old house to this place as it was barely being used. My first attempt at my own OJ has not been so great, despite instructions from the juicer that there is no need to remove the peel the taste suggests otherwise. The juice is still drinkable but it is a bi
t more tart then I was hoping for. Next time I will make the effort to remove the zest and peel and give this a try.

I ended up with a lot of grated zest, it seemed like such a
waste to just throw away or compost all that lovely orange smelling oil. I remembered reading something about adding vinegar to citrus zest to make a general cleaner.

Orange Vinegar Cleaner Recipe
Orange peels
1. Fill a glass jar with orange zest/peel
2. Cover the peels with vinegar
3. Let the vinegar and orange peels sit for a few weeks
4. Take the vinegar out of the jar and pour it into a spray bottle, diluting half/half with water

Monday, 20 August 2012

Ethical Consumer Guide

Very handy website and app. So glad my friend Di pointed this out to me, it is something I plan to use. While you need to pay for the app I still believe it is worth it.

Oh foggy day

Another cold and foggy day here in Cootamundra but I couldn't help but love the way this this tree looked in the fog. It's things like this that make me appreciate living here and even despite my fingers freezing while I feed the chickens I feel like I am blessed.

Another thing I am loving in our yard at the moment is the flowers are starting the bloom, this is surely a sign that the weather is going to change soon. I am looking forward to complaining that it is too hot. I may need to be reminded of this in summer.

Despite lovely being referred to as the crazy chicken lady by my hubby he is also fully embracing the chickens and what they can offer. He spent the weekend sectioning off another part of the yard for the chickens to clear. Eventually the plan is to put the greenhouse and pizza oven in this area (which are on the to do when money, time & resources permit list). The chickens have been moved in for now to clean up the area, why do it yourself when the chickens will happily do it for you.

We sources some free 2nd hand bricks this week that we hope we can use on the pizza oven, we will need more and will be keeping an eye out for anymore on offer.

I am attempting to make my own yeast so I can make sourdough bread. I am keeping it simple and if this doesn't work then I will look at mixing things up a little more.

Fermented Bread Starter
Add to a glass jar;
50ml of water
50grams of flour

Each morning I remove half the contents and add another lot of the water & flour. I have it sitting on a shelf in my kitchen and I have chosen not to cover the jar, I want to let in as much wild yeast as possible.

I am up to day 3 and there are bubbles which is a good sign.  Fingers crossed this experiment works.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Grass-Fed Revolution and orgnaic meat

I have borrowed this from Grass-Fed Revolution, I think this sums things up easily.

I recently found out that there is an organic chicken farm just over an hour where I live. I think this is fantastic. I contacted the farm to find out where I can buy the chicken meat from, the response was I would need to go to Canberra to buy it. This is a shame as Canberra is around 2 hours drive away.

I also contacted an organic beef farm on the outskirts of Cootamundra. I am yet to get a response.

It is such a shame that I now live in a country area producing the kinds of products I want to buy and eat and yet they appear to not be readily available for purchase.

The best I can do is buy organic and free range from a supermarket chain. Surely this is better than nothing.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Cleaning out the cleaning products

It is amazing just how many store bought cleaning products I have in my house. My plan is to move to using Vinegar, Baking Soda, Salt, Lemon Juice etc but I find it hypocritical if I throw out the products I already have, it’s just another waste. So I am slowly working my way through them all while still trialling what work for me with my new cleaning pals.

A few tips already tried and tested.
Pans - Baking Soda & Vinegar
Clean any roasting pan by sprinkle the surface well with baking soda. Combine 1 cup of hot water and 1/3 cup of vinegar, poured onto the baking soda. The fizzing action will remove the roasted food particles.

Toilet - Vinegar & Baking Soda
Pour white vinegar into the toilet and let it sit for 30 minutes. Next sprinkle baking soda on a toilet-bowl brush and scour any remaining stained areas. Flush.
Deodorize the Cat Box
Cover the bottom of the tray with baking soda, then fill as usual with litter. To freshen between changes, sprinkle baking soda on top of the litter after a thorough cleaning.

I am reading Make YourPlace: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills by Raleigh Briggs and I am sure this is going to be kept nearby as it is full of easy and handy tips.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Making Bread & Laundry Powder

So I have been playing around with this Laucke Bread Machine Premix Multigrain Bread, I don't have a bread machine and the electric oven we inherited with the house isn't the best but it has been fun and I haven't bought any bread from the shops in over a week.
We have recently ordered a new gas oven and I am very much looking forward to cooking with gas again. We also hope that it might reduce our electricity bill a bit.
My dear husband Kyle gave me a reality talk the other day, it seems we just don't have enough room on our 1/4 acre block to grow enough fruit and vegetables to live off, seems we will still need to buy some from the shops. This is rather annoying but it is reality.
I have been embracing the local library and borrowing books, this not only saves me money buying the books but they are being reused. I can't throw books out, I think it is such a waste but generally once I read a book I don't pick it up again. Before we moved to Cootamundra we had a big clean out and donated a lot of books to the library, hopefully for others to enjoy. I do still have a bit of an addiction with cookbooks but have managed to resist buying any new ones for quiet some time.

I got around to making my own laundry powder with happy results.
Laundry Powder Recipe
4 cups grated Sunlight pure soap
2 cups Lectric washing soda

Mix all ingredients together well, and store in a plastic container with a lid. Use 2 tablespoons per wash.
Add vinegar as fabric softener with a few drops of lavender oil.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Sustainable Table - What you can do?

Sustainable table? Is this possible in my life? How do people fit this all in when they work full time and then let me add in my current job I a jumble of shifts so I don’t have any set routine. I am going to try and work through the list from and see what I can do. A small change is still a change and may snowball.

1.       Change the way you shop – I work for one of the large supermarket chains they suggest you limit your shopping at. I am not sure how I feel about this. I also know my budget isn’t unlimited. It’s ironic also that now I have moved to the country in the town I live in I don’t have access to a farmers market or a green grocer. Stone fruit when in season will be in abundance here and until our own fruit trees start producing I will be making use of the pick your own fruit farms nearby.

2.       Instigate household meat free days – We are big fans of Fry’s Vegetarian Golden CrumbedSchnitzels and Sanitarium’s Not Burger. I am also happy to indulge in tofu but so far I haven’t been able to convince Kyle of the same. This is something I can make more of an effort with.

3.       Buy local, seasonal, certified organic produce – I have my head a bit in the sand with this one, I know the benefits to the well being of animals by buying free-range and organic meat products but in terms of other products like milk, pasta and even fruit and veggie, well I need to do some research into this.

4.       Reduce waste and buy a compost bin – We really try not to throw out food, it’s one of my pet peeves and I get annoyed with myself if I have bought food and don’t get around to eating it. We are getting a compost bin next week but that has more to do with trying to compost the dogs waste. We find any scraps are feed to our chickens.

5.       Ethical and sustainable meat and seafood – We don’t eat seafood and I try to buy free-range or organic chicken and pork. I have to admit to being less inclined with beef and lamb, something else I need to research.

6.       Eat whole foods, not processed foods – Hmmmm, I need to be more aware of this.

7.       Grow your own food – Literally working on this

8.       Avoid packaging – This is easier said than done, if we all really take a good look at all the packaging that goes into things we buy it is disgusting. I can certainly make more of an effort when possible.

9.       Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – I need to get myself a bit more organised with this, I am currently collecting glass bottles so I am prepared when I get around to making my own jam and laundry powder etc. I really need to find a neater way of storing these so I don’t get fed up with it all and toss them out.

10.   Ask questions – Knowledge is power and I am certainly going to continue to read more and get informed.