Plastic Free July and homemade bread bags

This year I’m taking part in Plastic Free July for the first time.

I’ve decided to take on the TOP 4 challenge, refusing single use plastic straws, plastic bottles, plastic bags & coffee cup lids.

The straws are easy as we swapped to stainless steel straws at home earlier in the year – and I can’t remember the last time we got a takeaway drink with a straw when we were out and about.

We’re also pretty good with keeping our stainless steel water bottles all topped up and ready in the cars.

There’s a stash of large and small reusable bags at the front door which we throw in the back of the car when we’re leaving – I do need to make some more fresh produce bags for myself though – I gave all my demo’s away as gifts last Christmas!

We’re not great at taking our reusable ceramic mugs out with us – especially if they’re not filled with a hot drink when we’re heading off, but we still don’t get take away coffees very often anymore – it was one of the traps of walking around to the shops back in the city but that’s not quite so simple now, here in the suburbs.

So when I announced to my husband and son at dinner that I’d like us all to participate in this challenge but with an extra twist, I could have sworn I saw them ‘exchange glances’ (wait – can a 2 year old even do that?)

The two main items we bring home in plastic are by far milk and bread. I would love to reduce our consumption of this packaging (afterall there’s only so many strawberry trees we can build!) With no sign of a resurgence of the classic Milk Man run on the horizon, where people would leave out their empty bottles for collection, I tried to find at least some glass options.

The only glass bottled milk I can recall is by Elgar Farms, I used to buy it at Passionfoods in South Melbourne but being further out of town there are no stockists to speak of.

La Latteria Deli in Carlton has just recently begun supplying dairy milk in customer’s glass containers but once again Carlton is a bit of a stretch for us distance wise.

So unless someone opens up a dairy around here sadly we’ll have to keep receiving plastic bottles with our milk.

That brings me to bread – with the encouragement of Tammy from Gippsland Unwrapped I decided to sew up some simple bread bags to take next time we’re shopping – at least I can anything from a bakery can come home in cloth bags! Oh and of course I get to sew too!

Using a large old souvenir tea-towel from the local op shop, I set about following the instructions from Tammy’s blog.

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I was excited to find this one as there are a lot of special places on this map. We were married in the far north, dad lives on the Gold Coast and my sister and her family live in the south west.

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The thick fabric feels like it will help keep the bread fresh.

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The tea-towel was huge so after prewashing it I cut out 3 bags.IMG_2126 (640x480)

Ta da!

There’s just one issue – these artisan loaves of sourdough and olive bread fit in the bags fine, but the full length sandwich loaf I purchased from Baker’s Delight was too long meaning I couldn’t tie the bag closed.

I made the bags to the measurements of 11 x 15 inches, and added a tiny hem at the end, but they’re not quite long enough for the everyday loaf.

I haven’t decided whether to add a calico collar to these bags to lengthen them all or keep them for the artisan loaves and just make another set of bigger ones.

 

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Furoshiki Mummy!

Mum’s books finally arrived today  – a special request for her birthday so I got another excuse for a super quick furoshiki project!

This time I used a silky single quilt cover op-shop find…

Surely a little girl’s favourite for many years and a perfect match for mum’s second hand Random House perennial and bulb guides don’t you think?


First job – cut to size (just like a roll of wrapping paper!). I made this one 90cm square, ample for the books – best to overestimate especially if your gift isn’t perfectly square! It will also be a useful size for other gifts down the track.


Now I’d always prefer to just ‘pink’ the edges with pinking shears – or even better lightly fray them, but this fabric was very slippery so I ended up taking a few more minutes to overlock the sides, I’m hoping this will also give the impression that it’s made to be used time and time again.


I haven’t found the right way to include instructions for reusing this furoshiki, especially something that will be passed on to each new owner, but I decided to pop my label on one of the tails to once again show that it’s not just ‘any old piece of fabric’.

You could always see a couple of buttons or other marker on an end if you’ve got time, and you’ll find that for this to show well once wrapped, it will be part of the first and third knots…


So with the overlocking and label, this tool a few more minutes than usual but normally a furoshiki won’t take anymore time than conventional wrapping – and it only requires 1 item (fabric) instead of 3 (wrapping paper, sticky tape, ribbon). 
Bear in mind that you will need more fabric than you would wrapping paper, to allow for tying. 

These books were the size of an a4 page, so although 90cm looks huge when you’re cutting it out, its certainly the right size, allowing for enough tying length.


The Metung postcard was the perfect birthday card for mum, as we all enjoyed a little trip to Lakes Entrance for her birthday a few week’s ago.

Hope you love my flower power furoshiki! Have you used or received furoshiki gifts before? Tell me in the comments!

Souls Salvaged: 3 books and 1 quilt cover.

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Painting Emma

What toddler doesn’t like painting?


I’ve been meaning to try mossing our concrete statue ‘Emma’ for years and today I found myself with two well-expired tubs of yoghurt in the fridge, some leftover moss from a flower job and a very willing helper.

Sorry – no action shots today because we were having too much fun getting our hands dirty.

I loosely followed this guide for missing and Cory eagerly stirred the yoghurt and moss together in the bucket.


Soon we were slopping on brushfuls of yoghurty moss and pushing it into all the books and crannys.


The statue is already in a pretty shady spot along the south facing fence so hopefully it will start taking on a nice cover of moss in no time with this chilly weather.


These pics were taken when the yoghurt had dried, but the moss is still holding on tight.


Have you tried mossing a concrete statue? There are many recipes out there including buttermilk, beer and yeast – I’d love to hear what you used in the comments below!

Souls salvaged: 2 tubs of yoghurt.

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A tale of two mothers

“You only have two lives, you start living the second life when you realise you only have one” Clare Greig

Monday

One mother’s patience is wearing thin with her 2 year old son who ‘didn’t want a nap’.

Another mother is saying her final goodbye’s to her two precious children and their father from her hospital bed.

Tuesday

One mother is wishing her son would just-go-to-sleep as she rocks him endlessly in the dark.

Another mother’s children don’t understand why mummy isn’t there to tuck them in.

Wednesday

One mother is preparing dinner while her son and husband play trains on the floor.

Another mother’s hands lay idle across her chest as her body finally rests.

Thursday

One mother is listening to the not-very-sleepy giggles coming from her son’s bedroom as his father dresses him for bedtime.

Another mother’s husband sits quietly, questioning his ability to raise two children on his own.

Friday

One mother cradles her son in her arms long after he falls asleep, not yet ready to let go of his warm embrace.

Another mother’s children and husband attend her funeral supported by family and friends, also summoning the strength to let go.

This week I felt an indescribable sadness when I heard that another mum, whom I have never even met, lost her courageous battle with cancer. I can’t explain why this has touched me so deeply. Is it the perspective you only get when there is enough distance between yourself and the departed that you find space for the clarity required to determine what our ‘real’ problems (if any) are as opposed to the perceived ones?

My social media feed has been flooded with tributes to this stranger all week, I recognised her name from being in the same circles but I didn’t know her at all. She has left an incredible legacy among her friends and community and I couldn’t help but be drawn to seek out this angel. 

I am overwhelmed with tears as I try to comprehend that feeling of awareness that one wouldn’t be there to share precious future moments; the endless artwork proudly brought home from school, playing taxi service to weekly activities, wiping wet sniffly noses, meeting new friends, celebrating every milestone big and small – catching a ball, new teeth, riding a bike, graduations, first jobs, weddings and cuddling grandchildren.

“The silver lining in this diagnosis is I have never felt in my life so present, and so utterly aware of what matters and how much I have to be grateful for. When something like this happens all the small bull$#!^, petty stuff, that fills our lives and relationships falls away, and all that is left is love.” Clare Greig

In the reliable day to day flow of life, it is very easy to take for granted everything we have. We rarely stop to appreciate that each of our loved ones are happy, healthy and safe – we don’t know any different, we are blissfully ignorant. Sometimes if we are going through a hard time, we long for those ‘boring’ times when life’s daily routine ticks over like a reliable clock – ‘I would give anything just for a nice boring day, when nothing exciting or dramatic happens, but we are all happy, healthy and safe, that’s all.’

Tonight, I lit a candle for Clare. Farewell and Godspeed mother.

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Bottling the stout and a beer bread recipe

I came across this super quick beer bread recipe this afternoon that looked too simple not to try, only 4 ingredients and no yeast, kneading or proving required. Who else would offer such a convenient recipe but Jamie Oliver himself?

The recipe is as simple as mixing together a 330ml bottle of beer, 375g of self-raising flour and 3 teaspoons of sugar in a bowl with a spoon. Pour it into a bread tin, top with a drizzle of melted butter and bake at 180°C/360°F for about 50 minutes, or until golden and crisp on top. (Jamie Oliver)

Jamie recommends a malty or extra hoppy beer for maximum flavour but I was happy to sacrifice one of the many light beers in the fridge, and in went a full 375ml of Cascade Premium Light, I added wholemeal SR flour, caster sugar and a generous drizzle of butter.

I gave the tin a light spray with olive oil as I was nervous that the dough would stick, but I have a feeling the butter would have taken care of that anyway.


The result was a light fluffy slightly moist cake-like loaf with a beautiful golden crunchy crust – I could taste the sweetness and perhaps a slight overtone of the beer but I’d be interested in trying this recipe out with different beer styles. While we were enjoying the bread with dinner I mentioned to Trav that it might not be this nice in a few days’ time – but he didn’t seem to think it would be around that long anyway. I’d say that was a success then!

Trav and I both bottled the 20 litres of stout this evening – do you like our gravity feed system??


We did a mix of 375ml and 660ml bottles anda couple of clamps held the crowner in place perfectly.


We did agree though that next time we’ll leave the smaller bottles to the end – we only just squeezed the drops in to fill the last bottle.

So my birthday brew is now bottled and all I have to do now is be patient.

Each stage of the brewing process has been quite quick, however it’s the meticulous cleaning and drying of all pieces that really takes the time.

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Preparing to bottle

Ooops time got away from us as it tends to do so the stout has had an extra week in the fermenter.

We’ll be bottling tomorrow night so I sanitised all the bottles with a  Phos-San fluid this evening to give them plenty of time to dry…


On Monday Cory and I dropped into the local brew shop Sunbury Home Brew Supplies to pick up some glass bottles to add to our recycled set, much to Travs grumbling. He prefers plastic as they’re easier to cap and our crown sealer has a habit of slipping.

We’re pretty sure clamping it to the bench will sort this out but I guess we’ll know for sure this time tomorrow!

Cory picked out red and blue crown seals – hmmm which colour should I used?

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Everyday is Mother’s Day

Cory made me many beautiful gifts for this Mother’s Day, two of which have been gracing my nightstand ever since.

Even though Mother’s Day is almost a month ago Cory often presents me with these two special pieces while I’m still half asleep in the morning because he knows it makes me smile!


A beautiful crepe paper flower in a hand painted bucket and a very glittery photo stand with a photo of him doing his favourite gardening job ‘raining’ the garden.

Who wouldn’t enjoy waking up to this??

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