21 September 2023

Home and garden tasks to keep me happy

I'm removing the comments section from the blog. I know that will disappoint some readers but I have two problems associated with comments - time and spam.  I have to moderate the comments because of the number of spam comments I get and that takes time every day. As you know, I am spending less time online now and having to deal with spam takes me away from other things I'd rather be doing. I'm sorry to take this course of action but removing the comments immediately removes the problem.


I hope you're looking after yourself. I've just finished making my bed and those of you who have read here for ages will know that a comfortable bed is a building block of self care.  We spend a third of our lives in bed. It's where we rest, rejuvenate, dream, talk, make plans and sleep. The best way to make your bed comfortable for those night time activities is to make your bed every day. You'll be able to fluff up your pillows, straighten sheets, add or take away blankets, swipe away wrinkles and get your bed ready for you to dive in at the end of the day.  Going to bed, knowing you've prepared it for sleep, gives you a good feeling. If you're not in the habit of making your bed every day, give it a try; it takes only a few minutes but it makes the world of difference.

The garden is coming along well and working there, planting, weeding, moving pots, pruning and watering makes me feel capable of doing everything that will help me continue my complex, simple and satisfying life.  My old enemy, nut grass, has made a comeback, even with the weeding and mulch. I know I'll never get rid of it so I'm choosing to look on it as just another bit of greenery. I'm hoping that when the garden is completely planted it will be less noticeable.

Yarrow and Cleome.

This is a Cecile Brunner rose. It's a tiny pink bud - you can see how small they are when compared to the size of a small battery.  A large bunch of them in a small vase looks beautiful.

The roses have started flowering and the two Cecile Brunner climbing roses I planted recently are already halfway up the arch that supports them, and one is flowering. There are two other climbers - Dorothy Perkins on the side fence and Pinkie on the back lattice. Both are growing well but not flowering yet.  I like height in the garden so I want to get two more standard roses. I've decided to block-plant the white cosmos in pots. They were going to provide height but as most gardeners know, plans change a lot when you stand back and look at what you've got. 

I have multicoloured Alysum, short pink salvias, cone flowers, and two Peter Pan dwarf agapanthus yet to plant. Two magnificent Berry Canary foxgloves are planted in big pots so I expect them to grow tall and strong. I can feel the garden filling up although I have to wait until the end of the month, see what areas need more plants and then go to the nursery to buy another batch. It's exciting.

A new rose - Seduction.  Mine is a standard rose not a rose bush.

Recently I bought a new rose that I really love. If you're not a rose grower, maybe this rose should be your first. If you've been a rose grower for ages, this is one to make room for. It's called Seduction and it's a semi-double (meaning it has a lot of petals). They are sold as standard roses and as rose bushes.  I have the standard variety which is a rose bush grafted onto tall rootstock. 

They start off a creamy white with a touch of pink on the edges and as they age, the pink edges get darker and more noticeable.  It supports many roses at the same time and each flower is in bloom for about two - three weeks. They're an excellent cut flower as well.

I've been harvesting the Silver Beet/Chard for the past couple of weeks. I love chard so I'm building up a small stockpile of single portions in the freezer. There are tomato plants at the back, which are flowering, as well as parsley, dill and green onions in the front. With these plants I only occasionally buy herbs or green vegetables but I still buy cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato and onions.

I started baking bread again. I had to go to the bakery every week to buy a no preservative loaf and I got sick of doing that.  It's much easier making bread at home, it's much cheaper too, I know what's in the loaf and I can make exactly what I want. I don't know why I stopped baking. After Hanno died it seemed to be one of many things that were too difficult. But like all the other things I stopped then started again, bread is back to stay. I had a slice of hot toast for breakfast this morning with butter and cherry jam and a cup of black tea. It was a classic breakfast which I enjoyed a lot.

It's going to be 34C/93F here today. Yesterday we had bushfires very close by and all day there were fire bomber aircraft and helicopters flying low between the fire and the local dam. It was burning from Australia Zoo down to the highway and all it would have taken was a change in the wind direction and we would have been in danger of burning here too.  It looks like it's under control now and it will be cooler tomorrow so I have my fingers crossed. It's not a good sign when we're still in early spring.

I hope you're well and happy and things are good where you are. Take care. xx


8 September 2023

Reducing electricity costs

This is just a quick post to let you know I got my electricity bill.  You might remember I posted about electricity charges after Hanno died when I was trying to establish what I used. While Hanno was sick at home I was using every appliance that made it easier for him and easier to look after him.  I knew my solo usage would be less but I didn't know how much less.  Click on that link to see the post.

I'm happy to tell you that bill reflects the one I got yesterday. My old usage was 5 kWh and my current is 4.06 kWh, less than half one person's usage.  I'm glad I did this so I know how low I can go if I need to in the future.  I have no doubt I'll use the air conditioning during summer but I doubt I'll stray too far from what I'm doing now.  The main thing for me is to use my solar power as I generate it by doing my housework in the morning when the sun is on the roof and to always turn off power when I'm not using it.

With the price rise on 1 July, the cost of electricity per day here increased from $1.99 to $2.28 kWh and my greenhouse gas emissions reduced from 1.1 tonnes to 0.6 tonnes. I hope this encourages you to reduce your usage too. It's not easy to do at first but it gets easier as you get used to it but as you can see here, it WILL make a difference.

For the rest of today, I'll have a salad wrap for lunch and make bread this afternoon before spending a couple of hours in the garden. I had a new gardener come over yesterday.  He's fantastic and I hope he'll return in a couple of weeks to clean my roof and do a bit of pruning.

Enjoy yourself over the weekend. I hope you get the chance to spend time relaxing at home. 🥰


5 September 2023

Save money at home

I'm making napkins today. Those I made about five years ago are on their last legs and I don't want to buy napkins again and again and again.  Today and tomorrow I'll also be making laundry liquid, stainless steel sink cleaner, biscuits and chilli jam. These tasks, and many more like them, are a regular part of my housework. I aim for environmental and financial sustainability and I support and encourage biodiversity on the land I live on. I am mindful of the horrendous changes to the weather in recent years and this year we've seen many record breaking weather events around the world. It's the result of global warming and we've been warned about it for years but done nothing to slow it down or stop it.

Every dollar we spend makes the problem worse because that money is buying modern lifestyles built using fossil fuels. I'm not going to write about what certain countries, including my own, do to make the matter worse but I will urge you to educate yourself about global warming and work out a way to make a difference in your own home. We all contributed to this problem in tiny increments, we can undo some of it by working sustainably in our homes. 

I try to save money whenever I can because it makes sense to me, it allows me to live the life I live and I want my children and grandchildren to live in a world similar to the one I grew up in.  I want that for you and your children too. We can't keep putting it off, now is the time to draw a line in the sand and make sure we stay on the right side of that line, even when it's difficult.

Prices increased during the pandemic and the cost of living is still rising.  I thought it might be a good idea to share some of the things I do here to help reduce the cost of running a home. I'd love you to share some of the uncommon things you're doing too; don't worry about the common things, most of us are already doing them. 

Our water and electricity prices went up July 1 and we're about to receive the first bills since that price rise. For the last few months I've changed how I use my appliances. We had a solar hot water system installed when we moved here in 1997 and our first solar panels were installed in 2007. In September last year I had the old solar panels replaced and a new system of 18 panels installed.  I run my major appliances - washing machine, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, one at a timein the morning as soon as the sun hits the roof. That's the most efficient way to run my system. If you have solar, do a bit of research so you know the best way to run your system to save dollars. The aim is to use the solar power as you generate it and just have the leftovers going to the grid but if you work outside the home, that would be impossible for you. A solar battery would be better in your situation because it would collect and store all the solar power you generate during the day so it's available for you to use at night. 

I use the dishwasher every three days but I also take a break from it for weeks an a time and go back to it again when I’m busy. After a bit of tweaking, I changed the cycle I use in the dishwasher. I used to do a sensor wash cycle (2 hours!) now it's a 45 minute gentle wash and it still does an excellent job. I've not had to rewash anything.  I'm microwaving more too. I always heat up in the microwave and I'm cooking vegetables in a bowl with a silicone lid in the microwave instead of boiling on the stove.  I have an induction stove so when I do use the stove, it uses less electricity than the last stove I had. 

I use clothes stands on the back verandah instead of using the dryer - I get very dizzy hanging out laundry on my clothes line but anything at eye level is fine and the clothes stand is working well. My March electricity bill was $76 - less than a one person house but I'm waiting to see this bill due now because the last bill told me nothing - a certain black dog was seen in the front yard so the meter wasn't read. 🙄 I think the bill will be in the $200 range but even so, I hope that by using the solar power wisely and the $300 worth of credits I currently have, I'll get by and pay nothing.

I can't work out the water usage. I use less water than one person in my home and yet my bills are always in the $200-$250 range. My sister's water bill is less than $100, and she lives in NSW and she's in a two person house. If you live in SE Queensland, I'd love you to share the cost of your average water bill with me.

Most of the time I buy my groceries at Woolworths and have them delivered. They charge $119 a year for delivery so if I shop weekly, it costs just over $2 for delivery. That saves petrol for the 12km round trip and I'm not wandering around buying things I don't need.

I eat less meat, I still cook from scratch, still make laundry liquid and homemade cleaners and if you do that too, your grocery bill will drop a fair bit and you'll be bringing far less plastic into your home.  I'm thinking of baking bread again because the cost of good bread is sky high and I don't want to eat bread with preservatives and other additives. My recipes for laundry liquid and homemade cleaners are here. Remember to turn off the light every time you leave the room, don't leave the TV, radio or fan on. Don't leave appliances on standby. It all adds up and over the course of a three month bill may tip you over the edge.

Baby Gracie playing with a shoe the same size as her.

So what's happening in your home? I'd love to know how you're saving money in these hard time. If you have time, drop a short comment about your unusual tasks because it might help readers who are making their first changes and those who are moving on to another level. 

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