A five-week round up this week. I realised this week as I was trying to break things down into my usual 3 categories, that so many things that are sustainable are also frugal and so many simple pleasures are frugal ones too, so gone are my categories this week, instead just a simple list of our successes. It’s amazing how much of a difference this has made to our outlook. Especially at this time of midwinter, with all the dark evenings and illness that it seems to entail.
Darning – I had some fairly good success with my first attempt at a merino tunic and a merino cardi that both had small holes in them. Not perfectly but definitely passable.
Fire starters – T. and I made fire starters as Winter Solstice presents for S.’s parents out of egg cartons, dryer lint, left over cotton scraps (cotton burns really well) and melted down candles.
Beeswax candles and wraps – S. and I made beeswax candles one evening for our winter solstice candle ring, much cheaper than buying them. S. also made another set of beeswax food wraps this week too.
Board games – S. and I are trying to find alternatives to watching Netflix (although we have just enjoyed rewatching Orphan Black) and board games is one of our go-tos, we particularly love Fluxx (we play Firefly and Nature editions) and Sushi Go at the moment. We’ve also started T. on board games, his favourites are Pass the Pandas, Uno and Go Go Gelato (which his grandparents recently gave him).
Bike rides – S. has recently been given a long term loan of a bike and she and T. have been getting in some seriously good bike rides. T. is absolutely mad about bike riding at the moment.
Winter Solstice – We celebrated Winter Solstice together at home in the morning, and gave T. a few small gifts (we do the same at Summer Solstice/Christmas – just a few gifts). Usually we follow the ‘something he wants, something he needs, something to wear and something to read’ pattern. I managed to make sure one part of it at least was homemade – I’d knitted him a little scarf/cravat. We also gave my parents some small handmade bags to use for dry goods like nuts etc., and some handknitted dishcloths in the right colours to match the vintage caravan they’ve been renovating in retro style.
Present wrapping – When we give presents at home, we always use bits of fabric and scarves to save the need for paper or tape, which we did for Winter Solstice.
Baking – We have been making an effort to bake muesli bars, biscuits and crackers so that we have easy snacks ready to go when we get busy (the last few weeks of the NZ school term were insanely busy for me). Whenever we bake, we always bake from scratch and usually double up when the oven is on for dinner.
Wooden Pallets – With my Dad’s help S. and T. found several wooden pallets, enough to make a vertical garden (combined with tetrapaks), and the framing for another raised garden bed. Luckily we also had Dad’s help to wield the power tools (although S. does a pretty good job).
Reusing Building Materials – We recently had a deck built on our house and finally the external bifolding door was put in a week and a half ago. Right now it’s far too cold to have it open, but as soon as the weather warms up it will be wonderful! The window that was taken out has been kept to be made into a seed raising bed.
Tip Shop Success – We have always loved these Ikea or Mocka style chairs made of laminated wood but have never really been able to justify the price. S. found 2 at the Tip Shop for $5 each. They need a bit of a sand, and will need new covers made for them, but otherwise they’re in great condition.
Sewing – I’m in the process of making a new little blanket for T. with a world map panel on it, as well as matching winter pyjama pants for us. It’s been quite lovely to get the sewing machines out again.
Chicken Tractor – S. repurposed an old beach tent that she found at the Tip Shop to make a Chicken Tractor so that we can let the chickens out into various parts of the garden in a controlled way so they can eat the weeds and fertilise the garden too.
Secondhand Clothes – S. scored some secondhand clothes including some merinos from a friend and after much time looking for new boots with no success, she found some she loved in an upmarket secondhand shop, as well as a replacement pair of sneakers for her One Stars which finally died.
Dumplings – I enjoyed making Pork and Cabbage Dumplings for T. and me and Pumpkin, Ginger and Lemongrass dumplings for S. the other day – it’s such an affordable way to make them. 2 massive helpings each of dumplings for T. and I for about $2.75 of pork mince from the butcher. I bought the dumpling pastry, and then made the mixture and spent an enjoyable hour folding up dumplings. Much more rewarding than store bought ones.
Zero Waste Food Shopping -S. works really hard on our food shopping and budget each month and has been making a real effort to be as zero waste as possible. Our usual source for zero-waste meat – Moore Wilsons – didn’t have the pork mince I wanted for dumplings but a quick ring around found a butcher who was willing to package up 400g for me in brown paper.
Borrowing Tools – We were lucky to be able to borrow some power tools off a friend, so that my parents could help us with some garden bed building while they were visiting. S. has cooked up a big pot of delicious soup tonight to take around when she returns the tools as a thank you.