Green and Thrifty

Over the winter I have been drying orange peels on the wood heater. They make the most marvellous fire starters, as they are full of oils, and they make the house smell lovely as they dry. Actually, they generally get slightly scorched when I dry them on the fire, but I figure they will get a lot more scorched when I use them as fire starters..

And look at my new kettle! I have been hunting for a second hand stovetop kettle for ages, and was just about to give up and buy a new one when my friend Katherine found this adorable whistling kettle at the op shop. Actually, it is more of a shrieking kettle. When it boils it shrieks like a toddler having a temper tantrum at the supermarket, and it makes me laugh every time. I keep the kettle on the fire for endless cups of tea.. it never gets to shrieking point on the fire, but burbles away happily to itself. I pop it on the gas and it comes to a shrieking boil in a few seconds. It is very companionable, it's like having another pet :) When I am not using all this lovely free hot water for cups of tea I periodically take the kettle outside and pour the nearly boiling water on the weeds attempting to grow between the pavers in the courtyard. Nothing discourages weeds quite so much as a kettle of boiling water.

When the fire isn't on I am continuing to use the vintage kettle I bought a couple of years ago. Several months after I bought it, The Boy accidentally killed it by neglecting to cover the electric fuse mechanism thingy with water. But then a few months later I found a spare fuse in an op-shop, and The Boy bought me another jug at Christmas time, so I have back ups. I am not sure that this is strictly thrifty or green as I am sure it would be using a whole lot more electricity than a modern kettle, but it gives me so much joy. I love the simplicity of it. It is literally a jug, with the most basic electrical mechanism attached. I was reading a book recently, written in the 1960s in New Zealand, and the author mentioned 'plugging in the jug' to make a cup of tea, and I remembered that phrase from my childhood. These types of kettles were mostly gone then, except from church kitchens and old people's houses, but the phrase remained.

The girls and I made a bean trellis. When I moved in here one of my fences was a wire and iron dropper one, which was not at all dog proof. I had it replaced, but kept the old fencing as I knew it would come in handy one day, and it has. I plan for it to be dripping with green beans come summer. As you can see I did not do anything so tedious as measuring matching spaces between the poles..

I have been removing plants from the strawberry patch to decongest it a little and have transplanted them to make a new strawberry patch. The first little self-seeded lettuces are beginning to pop up, so I transplanted them to a safe place next to the strawberries, so that they won't be accidentally weeded or stepped on. The first self-seeding baby rocket plants have popped up among the garlic, so I will leave them there for a while to enjoy our first baby greens for the year. I am so excited because it is nearly Spring and there are jonquils and daffodils out, and the next door neighbour's plum tree is in blossom. There are bees! Spring is so thrilling!

What green and thrifty projects have you been up to this week?


Darwin Girl said…
Mmmm this sounds so cosy!
Monique said…
My spring resolution...that I will have beautiful flowers but not one of them will be an onion weed flower! Also I have many many kale seedlings should you wish for some.
Jo said…
9 Frugal Fingers, yes, I am enjoying cosy - I have a big load of DRY wood which is burning beautifully, and living in Tas as you do, I know you will appreciate that getting your hands on dry wood in winter is like striking gold!

Monique, yes, but onion weed is edible and very good for you, so maybe just leave a little patch? I am cultivating a tiny patch in the garden on purpose, but also have a number of surprise patches popping up:) I would love some kale seedlings, and can provide you with love-in-a-mist and viola seedlings for your spring flower garden :) xx
Treaders said…
That looks so cosy - and the orange smell must be beautiful. It wouldn't be suitable for this house but who knows if/when I move because this house is too big for me. Talking of funny expressions, I was talking to another British colleague the other day at work (in Switzerland). None of our kids were born in Britain - hers were born here and one of mine was born in the US and the other here. So they have never been around the "plugging in the jug" people. One of Rhian's girls was pretty young and said that she was going to the toilet, so Rhian told her to "remember to pull the chain". Kiddo came back out later saying she couldn't find it! My son asked me once where the keys were so I told him "on the mantelpiece". He walked back out and asked me what a "mantelpiece" is! The kids are all bilingual, but of course there are just some words that they never picked up not having lived in an English-speaking country. But of course if you tell them "they keys are ON THE SIDE" they always know where "THE SIDE" is don't they - or the girls do at least. Ha ha. Anna
Anonymous said…
How lovely to have a fire and bubbling kettle. It must be beautiful to sit and make tea and read! I can imagine a lovely minestrone type soup bubbling away.

We've never said plug the kettle in. We say put the kettle on. Although we never put it on the stove. We've always had electric kettles.

My green and thrifty project has been to eat up food and have limited waste. I want to eat down the pantry before our 5 weeks away.
Anonymous said…
Hi Treaders, tried commenting on your blog but your blogger account seems to be fighting Wordpress at the moment and won't let me.

So here's what I wanted to say. I've just spent the weekend reading your blog. (So if there's a spike in your stats from Australia, that was me.) Love the beautiful region you live in. Enjoyed the tales of your X and your family. Had a giggle in places.

Get out and explore! And share with us who can't explore your part of the world.

Thanks Jo for letting me use your site to communicate with Treaders.
Terri said…
There's something very warm and homey about a tea kettle on a wood stove. Bonus to have the fragrance of orange peels.

I just discovered your blog recently. Enjoy this very much. I live in U.S. Visited AU in 2004. Beautiful country. Didn't get to Tas though.
Jo said…
Anna and Lucinda, I realised that I forgot to add a photo of my vintage kettle to the post - now rectified - do you see what I mean? It's a jug with a plug, hence the expression, 'plug in the jug'. Of course, now, we 'put the kettle on' - and that expression has probably used for hundreds of years, except that previously, the kettle was put on the fire..

Lucinda, no problems! I left a note on Anna's site, so hopefully she will come back and read yours :)

Terri, welcome! And thank you! Such a pity you missed the best bit of Australia :) And yes, I love the fragrance of orange oil. I opened the wood box tonight, where I have been storing the orange peel, and it was divine. I might just keep it in a bowl on the mantlepiece to enjoy it..
Damo said…
Hi Jo,

I love those old style kettles (we used them when I was growing up). Don't worry about energy efficiency - it is just a coil of wire, same as a modern jug. Even a microwave will use the same amount of power to boil water*.


*Although, technically with a microwave you will be *only* heating your cup of water and not wasting energy on water you are not going to drink
Jo said…
Damo, thanks for your energy efficiency advice - electricity is one of the world's greatest mysteries to me - I mentally file it under 'magic' and lazily let it do its thing without troubling to work out what is going on..

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