Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ethical Undies

Okay, so the children have started to wear through their undies, and I'm sure mine are not too far behind..(ha, completely unintentional pun there). Now, as dedicated as I am to second hand, we are not going to do second hand undies. Or socks, or tights, although we do give and receive those among friends:).. mostly outgrown children's ones.

So I have been researching sources of ethical undies.

Our lovely Blueday friend and commenter Loretta recommended Tuffys, for all you Australians. Tuffys are actually made in Australia. From Australian cotton. From Australian farms. Yes, it's a miracle, but true. Their prices are reasonable, especially when on sale, and delivery is free.

Pants to Poverty is a UK brand, available in lots of actual shops around the UK which is great for all of you who like to support your local shops. I love their ethos  - organic, fair trade, responsible manufacturing and business practices. Based on the Make Poverty History campaign inspired by Nelson Mandela. Pants to Poverty undies are also available to us Aussies online via Etiko, in the US, and a bunch of other countries.

Now for socks - another lovely friend of Blueday, Lucinda, kindly recommended these socks from Humphrey Law for us. She accidently shrank hers on a hot wash, so don't do that! But don't they look lovely? Mmm, baby alpaca-wool socks? Oh, yes please. Australian wool and cotton and alpaca. Wonderful. Now apparently there are some local stockists for me to go and visit. That is on my errand list for this week. Otherwise, my fellow Australians, you can find them on-line or at any number of local stockists near you. There is free delivery for three or more pairs of socks..

All these underwear options are more expensive than the three-packs at Target which have been my undies mainstays for years... but the options above - this is the real price of clothes which are providing a fair wage to the farmers and processors. And, actually, because I have been buying very little in the way of clothes this year, there is a little wiggle room in the budget for more expensive undies..

I would love to know if you shop ethically and/or locally for your undies, or, even, do you make them? My friend Katherine wears fabulous socks knitted by her Mum. I really want to learn how to do that. And the other day when I was folding the washing I was critically examining the knickers thinking, 'Hmm, it's only three pieces of fabric. I wonder if I could make that?' I thought of all the t-shirts we have to turn into cleaning rags on a regular basis due to the plethora of small holes or the steadfast stain. I could turn t-shirts into undies!! (I say this as someone who is afraid of the sewing machine..). Still, wombling undies; it's tempting:)

I will update this post if I find new and useful suppliers of ethical undies, and give those I do use a review. If you buy ethical undies in Australia or another country, please share your sources, and/or favourite you-tube tutorial for sewing knickers (there are at least a hundred..).

Here's a US site I found while hunting for tights. Has anyone used this?:

US organic fairtrade underwear

Edited to add: Have some great links to add.

First is a post from Blueday friend Mimi who makes lingerie from old sheets because she is amazing:)

Judy recommends socks from Rapanui, an ethical UK company with a fair trade partnership in India with organic products which can be returned to the company for re-use or recycling.

I was reminded that Libi  recommended the company Who Made Your Pants? When they arrived she indulged her readers with a knicker unboxing post:) I love the ethos of this company too - knickers are made with left over end-of-line fabric from large underwear companies which would otherwise go to waste.

We also think that it's not really on for anyone to be made to work in bad conditions just for a cheap pair of pants. Who could feel lovely in something made in a bad place? So we make our pants in a great place. We've a little factory in Southampton where we create jobs for women who've had a hard time.
from the website

So try them for all your posh knicker needs, UK ladies:)

Further edited to add: Popped in to our local fabulous outdoors and camping and farm wear shop, Allgoods. Name says it all. They have a great selection of Australian-made socks. Who knew? Target has become totally obsolete now. I found:

Wilderness bamboo socks and sporty/hiker clothes

Rizzi socks

Mentor Ranger socks Explorer style

I also found a range of the most beautiful socks I have ever seen and lusted after - this Lothlorien range from New Zealand. Glorious! But a very annoying website that plays music and provides very little information. Stockists? You will have to find them yourself..

And of course, the Humphrey Law range that I went for was there as well. I ordered some sport socks for the girls. Imagine, sport socks that are mostly wool. Delicious! I might need to keep a pair.

As per usual, hunting for alternative and better suppliers of 'stuff' has turned up some real treasures and products that are immensely superior, plus a shopping experience that is exponentially better than the Target one. While I was in Allgoods scoping out socks, an old farmer was in the women's clothing section consulting with the sales lady (who I swear has worked there for all the eighteen years I have lived in Launceston) on a gift for his wife. She was reminding him what he bought last year so he wouldn't buy her the same thing again.. now that is service.

Even further edited to add:

From another NZ reader: Thunderpants. These look amazing! And this is from their website:

We love New Zealand, our families and our jobs. The Thunderpants business model is based on similar principles of slow growth, family before business and lifestyle over work. And it’s worked pretty well for us for the last 20 years, proving that it is entirely possible to work in a sustainable way that supports your local economy.
Yes, yes, yes! This is exactly the kind of business I want to support. The Thunderpants company sells 300,000 pairs of undies each year. I live in a region with a population of 100,000. We could support an underwear company right here in lovely Northern Tasmania if everyone bought local. 
An Australian reader has recommended Intimo Chic, a party plan lingerie range which has a good ethical and humanitarian standard for their Chinese factories, and offer ranges with, er, good support which is an area that seems to be a bit lacking in the other ethical ranges.. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Another Bad News Sunday

My dear friends, this is the dark side of our ubiquitous electronic devices.

Complete and utter devastation of a once magnificent piece of Mongolia. A huge and completely unsustainable city built on the Mongolian steppes just to supply the tiniest part of an ipad or smart phone. And this is one tiny component of an enormous web of similar horrors world wide.

Unfortunately our lap tops, ipads and smartphones did not just pop out of a nice clean factory somewhere with no back story. The mines which supplied the many components for our devices are not the ones we see in Australia with health and safety inspectors and workers paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, and environmental regulations which, though not great, at least exist.

The rare earths needed to make smart phones come from the mines of Northern China whose miners die with heartbreaking frequency in unregulated work conditions. Or from mines controlled by Congolese war lords with truly brutal conditions and appalling human rights violations. The mines produce large amounts of radioactive tailings and require toxic acids to process the rare earths, and these toxic wastes all need to be processed safely to avoid contaminating surrounding communities and countryside. Needless to say, this is not always a priority for mining companies, or governments such as North Korea which are sitting on large reserves of rare earths. And radioactive waste. How exactly do we process that securely anyway? Anyone?

I don't mention this to make you miserable and feel guilty. I think we need to know the stories behind our stuff. Because if we don't, how can we make informed decisions about what we will and won't stand for?

For thousands of years nomadic herders have crossed the Mongolian plains. It has been their homeland, their life, their livelihood, and they found a way to flourish in that harsh and beautiful environment which would have preserved it forever. Then we decided that we NEED smartphones. And now look at it.

This article was brought to my attention by a commenter (thanks Kelvin) on this week's Archdruid Report, my weekly fix of big picture commentary on the state of the world. Now, the Archdruid is no armchair theorist. When any of us begins whining and wringing our hands in the comments, his first question is, "And what are you doing, right now to tackle this problem?"

So here are some thoughts. First, I do not think it is reasonable for me to wreck other people's habitats or their health so that I can have new electronic devices. What to do? I still want to write to you all and have a way to contact my teenagers when they are out and about.

The good news is - the world is already awash with electronic devices. I am typing to you now on a perfectly functional second hand laptop, salvaged by IT superhero Chris, who makes it his business to rescue the still useful electronic devices he comes across in his line of work that would otherwise be sent to landfill, and reconditions them to be reused in the community. He is a star! All of us here at Chez Blueday have second hand phones from various sources, all of which also work perfectly well.

My next thought - we need to treat the devices that we do have as if they were precious and irreplaceable. Because they are. They represent an incredible collection of resources, and lives, livelihoods and habitats were impacted by their manufacture far beyond what we can see.

When they break - let's fix them. Let's not do that old worn out calculation - will it cost more to fix than replace? It will literally cost the earth to replace it. Let's give some work to a local technician and have our electronics fixed and good to go another few years. When they are irretrievably dead, they can all be recycled - so those rare earths can be re-used instead of mined out of the Mongolian plains.

And let's keep the cycle going. Do you have a drawer of old phones or a cupboard with unloved laptops or ipads? Find someone who would love to inherit them and pass them on. Maybe keep an old phone or two for when the smart phone dies. Have you seen the latest fashion trend? Yes, flip phones are back. I have never owned a smart phone because a)ridiculously expensive and b)many people seem to be owned by their smartphones rather than vice versa. I do not want to be that person. I am the person in the waiting room with the book.

So let's have a conversation about what our devices do for us, and whether they are worth it. All of it..

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

March Accounting

Oops, I nearly forgot! We are nearly at the end of April, but here is what I bought in March. To recap - I am trying to Buy Nothing New in 2015. Actually, clearly I have not quite managed that, so let's say I will be buying LESS new in 2015.

Here is the blurb from February. In the spirit of Nothing New I have decided to recycle my words too:

This year I have decided, wherever possible, to not buy anything new, and at the end of every month I will be exposing all my purchases here as a kind of confessional.. because if I have to do that, I will certainly be thinking twice before I pop into a big box store.. I am using you shamelessly, dear readers, as my virtual conscience, my interweb Jiminy Crickets.

Why not buy new? In a word, externalities. All of us, my darlings, who can access the intenet on an electronic device, are more or less the 1% of the world's population who benefit unfairly from the sweat, habitat destruction, pollution, ill health, exploitation and death of the 99% whose lives are degraded in some way so that we can have machines to wash our clothes and make our toast, and have access to cheap t-shirts and chocolate.

One day I woke up and the invisible wake of destruction that trails behind my trips to Target suddenly became unbearable, so I have started on a different path to providing for my needs and wants, and those of my lovely children, dog, two cats and two budgies.

Here are my guidelines:

1 Make do with what I have.
2 Try to find what I need second hand - there is a world of stuff out there that needs to be rescued and used again.
3 Buy from a local craftsperson.
4 As a last resort, buy from a local, independent store, so that at least my money stays in my community.

So in March I:

Bought new: Two sets of sterling silver sleeper earrings for the little girls. Made in Australia, from a local jeweller. I was going to say that these should last the girls forever, but the reason I bought another pair for Rosy is that she lost one of her first pair. Sigh.

Eight zips from a local, independent fabric shop. Rosy went crazy one weekend and made eight pencil cases which we will use for birthday presents when the girls get invited to parties.

A hockey bag for Rosy from the shop at the hockey grounds. She had a gift voucher from last year's hockey awards night, so only a small outlay from me:)

We went to a local craft fair one weekend and bought a bunch of little gifts for children's birthday parties, and a birthday gift for my sister-in-law which was very nice of me, as I wanted to keep it..

Bought second-hand: I took the girls on an op-shopping expedition one weekend, and we all bought clothes, and The Girl bought a vintage floral scarf for a friend's birthday. I must do this more often. It is very cheap entertainment, and it stops the whinies from certain children who like to have new things every so often when the pocket money starts burning holes in the pockets..

When Mum and Dad were here we were visiting a sweet little country town with an old timey general store. At least that is what the signage proclaimed outside. Inside it turned out to be a cafe with a secondhand book exchange. Ambushed! Remarkably I managed to leave with only five books, so we will call that a win for me:)

A lovely, lovely 1950s Fowler ware electric jug:

Gifts From the Universe: A chair being given away on the side of the road, kindling from a roadside timber drop off zone. Lots of food from the gardens of slightly overwhelmed friends:)

My laptop from Jen and Chris arrived. I was so excited. I am now typing away on it every day and it has made me very happy indeed:) Thanks guys xx

Given Away: More of Posy's clothes - clearly she has way too many. Also, lots of lemons.

Comments: I seem to have lost that reflex action which sends me to department stores. I am so relieved. I mean I never liked shopping there anyway, so why I did it I don't know. Perceived convenience? Everybody else does it? It makes me very irritable to be shopping in big box stores. I think it is the cognitive dissonance. I KNOW they are colluding in wrecking the planet for their own gain. But $7 shoes, right?

Well, now I can still buy $7 shoes at the op-shop, without the irritability factor. Win, win. Of course, I would still rather not leave the house, so when the op-shops start delivering, well, that will make me very happy! Also, I am beginning to find more small, out of the way shops that provide great products and wonderful service for a fair price. And I can have nice quiet chats with the shop owners and the whole transaction is perfectly civilised. Why was I ever lured into Target? It is insane in there. I think this project is making me calmer and reducing my blood pressure. See, shopping less is good for your health:)

I say all this as someone who is planning to go to Myer on the weekend to buy winter boots for Rosy with the last of my Myer One Card points. Because she found some boots she LOVES at Myer. I am still not proof against teenage boot angst. Still, after that I won't have any more Myer card points, and there will be no option but to find alternative sources of excellent boots.. because this is my last trip to the department store..

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Green and Thrifty

Green and thrifty food: So I worked ALL WEEK this week. What is that about, the working full time? Can't be good for you. This week's green and thrifties are mostly things I haven't done. I didn't buy anything except food, because I didn't have time! The children haven't bought lunch at school, because on Sunday I baked a huge batch of vegemite and cheese scrolls. I haven't bought dinner this week, although I must say it was tempting, but instead I put the child labour force to work. Each night at least one of the girls has contributed something to making dinner. Also, The Girl baked cookies, I popped lots of popcorn, and one night I even organised the girls to make their snacks for the next day (that was peak organisation, after which we have degenerated back to our usual morning chaos).

I picked figs from a friend's fig tree last week and made masses of fig jam.

When visiting another friend for dinner last weekend I noticed her kitchen bench was covered with basil and bowls of green tomatoes. "Frost?" I wailed. And yes, frost was forecast, so I scurried home after dinner and picked the last of the basil and tomatoes by torch light. I have dried the basil and have plans to make green tomato relish this weekend.

This week we have eaten broccoli, apples, tomatoes, lemons, Chilean guavas, parsley, basil and lettuce from the garden.

Someone brought a heap of home-grown chillies into work to give away, so I brought some home. This weekend I am going to make Sweet Chilli Sauce.

Green and thrifty entertainment: walking the dog through drifts of autumn leaves. Benson-the-wonder-puppy loves acorns. Why? I do not know. He is very choosy though. Of the hundred thousand acorns in the park, he only wants one. The best one. It takes quite some time to choose the best acorn. It is reminiscent of taking toddlers to the park. Just as well really, as it gives me a chance to catch my breath in the middle of a Very Brisk Walk. Benson keeps the pace up. Especially if there is a Cat.

Last night we were going to have a movie night, but we couldn't agree on which movie to watch, so we played a board game instead. We are so hilarious. We crack ourselves up. Hanging out and being silly together is so much fun. We should do this more often.

Green and thrifty craft: I have crocheted several more squares for our winter warmer afghan rug. My mum sent some more in the post. Thanks Mum! Only thirty one squares to go!

Green and thrifty decorating: Today's photo - the area outside the back door gets messy very regularly, so I have to keep finding new ways to make it look nice. One of the most effective ways I have found to prevent mess is to put a piece of furniture in the space where people (me) dump stuff. This time I hauled a wooden wood box out from under the house. My neighbour gave it to me when she moved, but it recently occurred to me that a wood box at the back door would be more useful than one under the house next to the wood pile. Now IF we keep the wood box full we will be able to light the fire without going out in the rain. The little cane chair was a hand-me-down when the children were young, and the geraniums are the cuttings I picked from over the fences of people's front gardens on my walks in November. I am very pleased with how they are coming along. Free plants are the best. The white pot which is housing the white geranium is from my friend Cindy's op-shop pile when she was moving house. I rescued it as a potential Useful Pot to keep chicken feed in, but until I have chickens, I will use it to keep geraniums in.

The red geranium is in a pot sitting in an old iron frying pan which I found inside the old wood box.. I am quite liking it as a garden accessory.

Tell me about your green and thrifty week.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Who remembers The Wombles? I constantly borrowed these books from the library when I was a child. Cute furry creatures in burrows who lived on what careless humans threw away? Irresistible! My favourite feature of the books were the lists of the things that the Wombles found on their collecting expeditions, which they popped into collecting bags and took back to the burrow, where the wonderfully taciturn and practical Tobermory stacked them all on shelves in his workshop and made them into whatever the Wombles needed. Lists, DIY, making-do-and mending... so many of my favourite things all in one book!

Essentially, the Wombles were 'making good use of the things that we find, things that the everyday folks leave behind'. In other words, they were a freeganist, dumpster-diving salvage society. I think that what drew me to them as a child was partly this idea of living on the fringes, in the spaces between the uncompromising and very boring structures of society. These were creatures who lived on what fell through the gaps, and lived a rip-roaring life of fun and adventures right under the noses of the unseeing humans above, who went about their lives not realising what was going on just below.

It is fascinating (and terrifying) to contemplate our growth-obsessed society, and the sheer volume of stuff that is produced every day. I mean, it is almost impossible to imagine where it all goes. Baby clothes, for example. How is it that there is still a market for new baby clothes? New babies outgrow their first clothes in about two months. Every time I have had a new baby I have been given bags of hand-me-down baby clothes, and after every baby I've given bags of clothes away that are hardly worn. If there was a moratorium on the manufacture of new baby clothes tomorrow there would be enough to go round for years to come. But people buy new baby clothes all the time. Where does the old stuff go? (I have just thought of the answer - clearly the Wombles snaffle it for the baby Wombles..)

The dominant paradigm of our society is buying and selling, and any transaction that does not result in outright ownership is seen as a poor cousin. But just think of the possibilities beyond a culture where owning stuff is important. Rent, barter, trade, lending, borrowing, sharing, foraging, re-using, creating, up-cycling.  Most of these are fairly unattractive concepts to the average middle-class consumer.

But just imagine the possibilities for an alternative economy. Most of us here on the interweb are reasonably well-endowed with worldly goods. What if we were to open up our hearts and lives and call our family and ten of our best friends and say, 'Everything I have is yours! Let's share stuff!' Actually, I imagine many of us do that already, especially among family. I have four or five friends who I count as family and we all freely borrow, lend and share all our stuff, but I think I will expand that network. Because I want more friends who are like family:) And sometimes the best way for friends to become like family is to ask them for help. Most people (especially those who are already friends) LOVE to help when you are in trouble, and are honoured to be asked. And then you help right back, and suddenly you have a mutually dependent relationship, and every time you are there with emotional support, practical help, garden produce or the lending of 'stuff' for a friend, and they are there for you, then that relationship becomes stronger and more vital..

Then there is all that excess stuff that floats around the universe, unwanted and unloved because most folks prefer new stuff from Target. I must say, I am getting more and more intrigued by the possibilities of all the lovely old, beautiful, well-made objects out there, sitting around in junk shops, at car-boot sales, on gumtree and at school fairs.

Here is my latest:

1950s Fowler Ware electric jug

My stainless steel kettle was leaking from the spout after all the hard work it has had to do over the years. I was pretty sure it could be fixed, but hadn't gotten around to sorting it when the switch started to malfunction. Not wanting to burn the house down I started looking for a 'new' kettle and found this in my favourite second-hand homewares shop (Tassie Old Wares on Hobart Rd for all you locals). Last time The Man was home he kindly made sure that the cord was safe and put a new plug on for me. Its only drawback is that you have to fill it up above the element otherwise the element blows up. So each time you have to boil half a jug of water. Two options occurred to me - invite six friends over every time I have a cup of tea, OR fill up the thermos with all that boiling water. I went with option two, although option one is also attractive. Now I have several cups of tea a day without even boiling the jug, so I think that on the whole I am using less electricity. And it is blue. And so beautiful. And now I can see why these were called 'electric jugs' when they were invented, because they are clearly an actual jug, with electricity and a lid attached.

And as for wombling, I have already started. The other day Posy and I were walking the dog, and someone had left a charming chair at the end of their driveway with a 'Please take me, I'm free' sign on it. Now I hear this is a common practice in other localities, but not so much in our conservative town. So what could I do but encourage such initiative? I handed the dog-lead to Posy and carried the chair home. Posy has declared she is never walking the dog with me again. And the chair needs repainting, and recovering, and I have to admit that there have been other times in my life when I have brought chairs home from op-shops and such places and not renovated them... and finally given them away again, but then that is how the great chair re-cycle of life goes anyway, isn't it?

So please do tell me about your own wombling adventures and your ideas for living in an economy based on fun and sharing rather than buying and selling..

PS Between finishing this post and taking photos for it I came upon this lovely man who is actually doing it - he is living the life of a Womble. What an extraordinary and wonderful human being. I want to be just like him when I grow up..

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Easy Peasy Passata

For the past several weeks I have been madly experimenting with different passata recipes to determine which one would become my go to recipe to fill the forty passata jars I have collected over the year. It is only over the last couple of years that I have been cooking with passata, but now I use it instead of tins of tomatoes - so much easier to pour a tomato sauce straight into whatever I am cooking than faff about chopping up the tomatoes.

Passata recipes. There are many. Some of them involve roasting the tomatoes with onion and garlic before making them into sauce, and some require a number of ingredients which transforms the passata into a pasta sauce ready to pour onto pasta. All of the variations were delicious. But I what I wanted was passata in its simplest form - tomatoes and salt. The ultimate versatile kitchen ingredient for when you don't have fresh tomatoes. I use it in curries, in chilli, in soups and stews as well as Italian pasta dishes. I wanted simple, generic, and also easy. So in the end I went with what appears to be the traditional Italian basic recipe, then changed the method to suit my circumstances - that is, I am someone who doesn't own a mouli or Kitchen Aid or any other appliance that separates the skin and seeds from the body of the sauce. But what is all that about anyway? Surely the skin and the seeds are good for you? And who wants that kind of mess all over the kitchen? Not me.

So what follows is the easiest method I could invent for making the simplest passata recipe I could find. Ridiculously easy. Really, compared to all the measuring and chopping that goes in to relish or salsa making, this is such a doddle. If you try it, let me know how you go:)

Easy Peasy Passata

1. Wash your tomatoes.

2. Chop them very roughly (in half will do) and throw them in your largest pot (mine is a 9l/2.3 gallon pot). Add two tablespoons of salt (more or less depending on pot size).

3. Bring to the boil.

4. Boil for an hour. Or less if you are using a smaller pot. When the heavenly aroma of well-cooked tomato wafts through your kitchen, then it will be done. Timing really isn't critical though. It will still be watery, it will always be a thin sauce, unless you want to cook it down for hours, but then you don't get much sauce..

5. Whiz up with the stick blender.

6. Put 1/4 tsp citric acid and a couple of basil leaves (optional) into the bottom of sterilised jars. Citric acid is a white crystalline powder that is also handy for cleaning and making cheese. In this case it is providing extra acidity to your sauce which will keep it safe from nasty bacteria. It doesn't affect the taste. 1/4 teaspoon is enough to acidify up to a litre (2 pints) of sauce.

7. Pour in the passata.

8. Water bath can for an hour. I use my friend Jane's vacola outfit. It is basically a large kettle which plugs in at the wall to heat up water, with the jars inside, for an hour. You can also do this in a large pan. Put a kitchen towel on the bottom to keep the jars off the base. Fill with cold water, making sure it covers the lids of the jars. Heat very slowly (a large pot will take about 30 mins to boil), then simmer for 30 mins, turn off heat and leave the jars in the water until cool.

9. Hmm, no, I think we were done at 8.

Do you make passata? Let me know your secret recipe:)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Green and Thrifty

Dried greengages, pears, feijoas, basil and zucchini slices.

More of the same, really. Drying pears, apples, feijoas and basil. Making pesto. And finally, making more passata. I have had terrible trouble tracking down sources of local tomatoes. They have been ripening very slowly now that the weather is getting colder, and the month of March, which is usually very warm.. wasn't. My very helpful friend Cindy turned up today triumphantly bearing several kilograms of perfect ripe tomatoes - grown by some lovely ladies at Evandale, fifteen minutes drive out of town. So today I have made eight more jars of passata, and will have enough to do at least four more in the morning.. another friend passed on the news yesterday that there is an old man a few streets away who is selling sauce tomatoes from his garden, so Benson-the-Wonder-Tomato-Sensing-Hound and I will have to go on a tomato-hunting mission together in order to fill up the last of the forty empty passata bottles I prepared earlier.. the next post will feature the final winning passata recipe from my weeks of experimentation.

I have been industriously crocheting more squares for my afghan blanket. When my mum was here a couple of weeks ago she reminded me how to make them, and wrote out the instructions, and I have been very, very good, crocheting at least one a day. According to Posy's calculations we need about forty more squares. The truly green and thrifty part of this project is that most of the wool I have used is from the op shop, much of it from giant, ugly hand-spun wool jumpers (sweaters, jerseys, pull-overs for the international audience), the ones which make you look like a wombat when you wear them, which I unknitted and wound into balls. The rest is lovely Australian alpaca given to me for Christmas by my nice mum.. Mum also donated a vest which my grandma knitted for my dad many years ago. She unravelled that and wound it into balls as well. The weather is rapidly getting cooler, so we will need a cosy couch blanket sooner rather than later.. Meanwhile The Girl is branching out on her own and has started using up some of the coloured wool from our stash, so we should be toasty warm this winter.

When we found our lovely puppy Benson at the RSPCA in November, I discovered that just outside the front gates at the RSPCA is an area where trucks from local mills and businesses that create timber off-cuts can dump them for people to pick up for free firewood. Brilliant! So last week when I did my weekly shopping in the neighbourhood I popped two big tubs in the back of the car and filled them up with free kindling. Goody. Reducing municipal waste and lighting my fire for free. Two excellent outcomes.

Last thrifty experiment for the week - I have finally, after years of experimentation, worked out how to make perfect naan bread. I already do a quite nice butter chicken, so now our favourite take-away is all home-made. Even better, two out of the three girls can also make brilliant butter chicken, and cook the naan bread, so all they have to master is the dough.. recipes to follow.. when I remember to take some photos (here is a peculiar fact. Even though my girls are excellent bakers, and love playing with dough, they are not keen on making it. I love making and kneading dough. Clearly we were made for each other).

Not Thrifty - Note to Self - do not buy bags of Easter eggs weeks early when they are on sale, as you know you will only eat them then have to go and buy more..

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