Friday, January 31, 2014

Green and Thrifty

I have several questions for you this morning. Where did January go? Why is my house so filthy? (Clue: answers may have something to do with children) Why are children so loud? Why is there sand in every single corner of the house, being that we live an hour from the closest beach, and although we did spend some days there, I swear we shook and rinsed everything before we left? So many of life's mysteries converging on Chez Blueday this morning.

So as it has been nearly a month since the last green and thrifty report, you'd think I'd have an enormous list of environmentally conscious thriftiness to to share, but no. I have spent the summer holidays lolling about at the pool reading my way through my enormous library list while lifeguarding the children and all their friends as they perfect their underwater backflips, and conscientiously timing how long they can do a hand stand under water.

But here is the short list:

Eating home grown peaches for breakfast. This is a heavenly treat, but possibly should not have combined it with typing a blog post. They are divinely drippy.

We have had an actual heat wave here in Tasmania, which means any temperature over 30C (that's 85F, yes I know, hardly likely to raise a sweat for anyone anywhere north of here, or south of Scotland), and so we have been barbequeing  a lot, and it occurred to me that we had never actually used the gas ring on the side of our BBQ, so I have been using it to stew fruit and make jam and keep the house cool.

Here are apricots from our tree stewing away at about 8pm one night while the children bopped around in the pool, and I watered the blueberries (of which we have harvested about fifteen blueberries from twelve plants so far. I'm wondering whether it might be better to plant something slightly more prolific?)

I have also dried lots of our apricot harvest, just cutting them in half and popping them in the dryer for about two days (I turn it off at night in case I burn the shed down). There are not many left because they are SO delicious.

While hunting in the classifieds in the local paper for textbooks I found someone selling an entire school uniform in Rosy's size, so snapped it up. The children's school uniforms are unbelievably expensive, so this is brilliant. When the girls started primary school we bought size 6 and 10, so were missing size 8, which Posy has just grown into. We have some dear friends whose daughter is just between Rosy and Posy in size, so last year we lent her Rosy's old school uniform, and this year they have kindly donated her old size 8 uniform to Posy, so that's two girls sorted for school uniform this year. The Girl needs one more dress, as one of her old ones is wearing out, so we are heading to the second hand clothing pool today. It is her last year, so no new dresses for her!

School starts for the girls on three different consecutive days next week (of course!) so today is hemming, ironing, shoe polishing and book covering day. And please don't let me forget to pick up the blazers from the dry cleaners..Oh the joy... Posy has chosen plain brown paper for covering her books, which is brilliant, as I'll be able to recycle the book covers at the end of the year. And it is very cheap! She will be decorating with her enormous stash of stickers. I didn't think the brown paper would protect the book covers, but apparently her best buddy had plain brown paper last year, and her books were fine. Blessings on peer pressure, for once!

From the garden this week we are eating peaches, apricots, rocket, lemons and about three blueberries. I have gratefully received zucchini and cucumbers from other, more productive gardens:) I have planted some green beans.

Lastly, a BIG THANKYOU to Jessie who sent me a dozen up-cycled produce bags (and thanks to Fran for delivering them), so that I can have a plastic free shopping experience at the green grocer's... what an amazingly kind and generous thing to do, especially when you take a peek at her blog and see the enormous amount of work she gets through in her productive garden, whilst surrounded by three tiny... helpers. So cheers Jessie, you are a sweetheart :)

..although now I'm really going to need to experiment with the plastic free rubbish bin, because I've been using produce bags in the bin.. this space..

I do hope that someone is still reading, after I have rudely been gone all this time. So do please tell me, what have you been doing that is green and thrifty this week?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Green and Thrifty

A Christmas bouquet from a friend's garden. includes lovely chive and oregano flowers

Hello my lovelies, and welcome to another green and thrifty year. I'm hoping to be greener and thriftier here at Chez Blueday, but also wiser, kinder, more generous, less wasteful. Always aim high!

The main trouble with green-ness and thriftiness that I can see is that every so often I have the horrifying realisation that I am turning into my mother. The third drawer down, you know, the one with all the plastic wrap and baking paper and foil, has also become a depository for piles of saved brown paper bags, aluminium foil and a box of washed and reused ziploc bags. Under the sink is my growing collection of odd rubber gloves. Usually, the one that gets the hole in is the right one, so I have a number of surplus-to-requirements left gloves under the sink. Finally, this week the right one gave up the ghost, so I was able to triumphantly produce a perfectly good, slightly used left glove and save that new packet of gloves for another day. Yes, not only turning into my mother, but both my grannies as well.

I have tried SO HARD to use up leftovers during the Christmas season, and have succeeded pretty well. It is, of course, perhaps not so very difficult to use up leftover smoked salmon and double brie, but we have done our best. We have also used up boring veg in fried rice and soups, and made lots of creative salads. Tomorrow my job will be to make soup using up a number of saved broccoli stalks from the vegie crisper, all the remaining celery and a few carrots in a lovely minestrone. Into that will also be going the last left-over parmesan rind that I found in the fridge door the other day. I save them in a paper bag inside a ziploc bag, to stop them sweating and smelling respectively. A parmesan rind just makes a minestrone, gives it such a depth of flavour. Like the bay leaf, you take it out at the end of cooking and pop it in the compost. The last of the cavalo nero kale in the front jungle garden will make the minestrone even more authentic, healthy, and delightful for the children. After all, what child can resist kale?

One of the plans I have for the summer holidays is lots of cheap and free entertainment for the children. It started yesterday with a trip to the beach, and a walk to a completely darling lighthouse, white and dumpy with a red door, a red railing, and a sweet weathercock. I have always wanted to live in a lighthouse. Although it would be tricky to acquire enough round furniture.

I finally got around to planting my spring veg this week, tomatoes, zucchini, basil, lettuce. Better late than never. My 'bouquet buddy' also sent round a homegrown zucchini, which shamed me into planting some, and I sent her some lemons. My other thought is just to keep planting more citrus trees, and swapping citrus for veg instead..

From the garden this week we ate lemons, kale, warrigul greens, rocket, parsley, the last broad beans, and I harvested a splendid load of garlic, which perfumed The Man's shed for a couple of days until he objected. It sat in the laundry for a couple of days, making the whole house smell very Mediterranean, but is now back in the shed as The Man went away, and what he doesn't know won't bother him at all. 

Do tell me about your green and thrifty projects for January, or for all of 2014. Any green and thrifty New Year's resolutions?