Green and Thrifty
This week I have two new wood storage systems. Previously I had been storing all my logs and kindling in washing baskets, but this week my parents bequeathed me the family wood-box which was a wedding present to my great-grandparents circa 1912. It is actually hideously ugly, a very bizarre Edwardian contraption, a box with inlaid walnut decoration that covers a galvanised zinc coal hod, as far as I can work out. Anyway, I love it, despite its ugliness, and it is perfect to store kindling in. A friend passed on an old copper that was cluttering up her mother's garage, and now it is doing sterling service holding logs. So now my dining room is looking much more elegant, and really, those wicker washing baskets left a terrible mess on the floor as bits of wood and dirt leaked out of the gaps in the wicker. Plus, now I can have the washing baskets back for the washing. Win, win.
My electric beaters broke. We attempted to use an old manual egg beater instead, which is brilliant for whipping cream or eggs, but useless for creaming sugar and butter. Creaming butter with a wooden spoon is a little tedious, but doable as long as you only want basic creaming, and not light-and-fluffy creaming. I must say, those long vanished housewives must have had excellent muscle definition, so if I swapped my weekly arms workout for creaming sugar and butter it would probably all equal out. Our daily exercise routine was Granny's daily chore list.
However, when I borrowed an electric beater from a friend to make cup cakes for a party, she gave me a set because she had two. Truly, there is so much stuff in the world, and I have wonderfully generous friends. Even so I am aiming to cut down on appliance use so I have pulled out a bunch of cake recipes that don't require creaming. Now I know why boiled fruitcake and slice recipes where you melt the butter and sugar together and mix, were always presented as marvels of ease in old cookbooks.
I need to build a retaining wall to prevent my future vegie garden from sliding down the hill. First I planned to use interlocking concrete bricks, which are made locally. But concrete isn't particularly sustainable, plus the quote for the bricks was over $1000. Also, each brick was 18.5kg, and the capping stones were 20kg. I have no off-street parking, and each brick would need to be hauled down six wonky garden steps, around the house, and down another five or six steps before even reaching the retaining wall. Recipe for a dicky back and no friends, or hundreds of dollars more to get a nice man in to install them. Time to think again.
I looked on Gumtree and found a local timber mill who will cut hardwood sleepers to order. I watched a number of you-tube videos on how to build a retaining wall, tramped around the garden with a tape measure and string line, designed it on paper, and dug a more-or-less flat foundation. Soon I will have fifteen timber sleepers delivered for the sum of $318. Then, I will build a retaining wall. Yes, me. Fingers crossed..
See that gorgeous black earth? When the fence man came to rebuild a section of fence for me, he came to me with the bad news. "You know how at your old place I had to go out and hire a jackhammer to break up the clay to put your fence posts in? Well, at this place I can't find any clay at all so I'll have to go and buy some more bags of cement." Yes folks, the bad news every gardener wants to hear. I went out to inspect the one and a half metre (five foot) deep holes he had dug, perfect black loam all the way down. No raised garden beds necessary here. Bliss.