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We’re trialing our upcycled Christmas gift packaging!

This year, we’ll be giving away cookies in these noodle boxes from Reverse Garbage. They were donated surplus packaging and I bought a stack of 50 for $5…

I’ve lined them with rescued sandwich paper and filled with two sorts of cookies, wrapped in misprinted food safe paper and ribbon offcuts, both of which were diverted from landfill to Reverse Garbage…

And I added Charley Harper stickers for decoration – pretty happy with how it all looked!

We like to give small, homemade gifts to family and friends – putting them together has been a tradition for Pete and I for over 30 Christmases now.

I wrote a post about it in 2009 (the very first year of this blog), and if you’d like more festive gift ideas, check out our Christmas page! ♥

It has now been over a month since we started visiting the Addi Road Food Pantry every week.

Over that time, our previously weekly visits to Harris Farm have dropped to once every three weeks, and we’ve eaten more vegetables than ever before. We spend an average of $10 at the Food Pantry on purchases, then add a $10 donation. So on top of donating a box of food to a family in need each week, plus rescuing edibles that would otherwise be destined for landfill, we’re also saving $40 a week. In fact, everything you see in the photo above cost us just $7 (plus the donation).

Shopping this way has forced us to become more creative in our meal prep, but it’s been worth it as the results have been delicious!

This salmon feast was put together entirely from rescued food…

A free loaf of day-old fig and walnut artisan sourdough became three bread and butter puddings, two of which went to neighbours. Our friend Will declared it to be the best yet…

This Japanese inspired salad has been a staple in our house for over 30 years and it always has two ingredients: corn kernels and tinned tuna in oil. The can of corn, cos lettuce, onion, cucumber and sourdough were all from the food pantry, to which we added a tin of tuna from our cupboard stores. It was simply dressed with balsamic vinegar, oil from the tuna, and black pepper…

Small Man isn’t a huge fan, so he had baked bean toasties and undressed greens instead, made from Addi Road sourdough, tinned beans and salad veg…

This Croatian cabbage soup (a riff on this recipe) is quite different to what we would usually prepare, but it was surprisingly tasty. As my dad used to say, it didn’t cost a brass razoo!

We used (a portion of) the two cabbages we’d been given (one green and one red) and added some bacon bones we’d picked up for free at Harris Farm (a one-off, I think, as we haven’t seen them since). I also added mushroom mortadella – a somewhat strange freebie that was included in my Black Forest Smokehouse order some months ago. At the time I didn’t know what to do with it, so it was stashed in the freezer. The stock was leftover from our last batch of Hainanese chicken rice, frozen for another day. The spices were in the fridge.

I couldn’t believe how delicious this was! Comforting and nourishing, without being gut churning like raw cabbage is for me. We accompanied the soup with slices of dried sourdough. Again from the food pantry, a day old artisan loaf donated by The Bread and Butter Project (look them up, they’re cool) was sliced and dried in a low oven for several hours until rock hard. Perfect croutons with soup!

This entire pot of takka dal was made from an Indian packet mix ($1.50 or 3 points) to which we added frozen garden rapini. With rice, it fed all three of us for dinner…

Finally, let me share with you this week’s $10 purchase. Australian grown wasabi macadamias, Italian made pesto, Teriyaki sauces (which Small Man loves), ice tea infusions and Persian fairy floss, all past their best before dates but perfectly fine, a loaf of day old sourdough, a mountain of vegetables, and three frozen meals prepared by Chef Neil Perry’s team (not shown in photo).

I love that we never know what’s going to be there, almost as much as I love knowing that every time we shop there, it helps to reduce food waste! 🌿♻️💚

Here’s a quick and frugal tip for my sewing (and building) friends – Reverse Garbage in Marrickville has a mountain of acrylic offcuts on sale at the moment at bargain prices…

I brought home four long 3mm thick strips for $2 each. The largest was 20cm x 84cm (8″ x 33″)…

These make PERFECT roller cutting rulers at a ridiculously cheap price. 3mm is the same thickness as the commercially made ones, which means the blade rolls cleanly next to the edge – resist the temptation to buy anything thicker. I have a 6″ x 24″ branded ruler that cost me $25 secondhand (it retails for over $50 new) and is often too short for my projects, so these longer ones will come in very handy.

I gave two of the offcuts to my quilter friend Dan and she added a strip of tape to mark the cutting line for her tree skirt project…

It worked a treat!

At the moment, Reverse Garbage is absolutely packed with treasure, so it’s a good time to visit if you haven’t been for a while. They have an entire aisle of Christmas decoration supplies, lots of sticky things (double-sided tape, foam etc), sewing supplies, cotton lace, packaging supplies and just about everything else you need for festive crafting. And while you’re there, make a day of it by visiting The Bower, Addi Road Food Pantry and lunching at the Egyptian food cart! ♥

When I was 17 years old, I had this Norman Rockwell poster on the wall of my room at college. And at the time, I took its instruction to heart – treat other people as I wanted to be treated. View other humans with kindness and compassion and charity, especially those who were less fortunate than my university peers and me.

In hindsight, it was a remarkably socially privileged view of the world, but at the time, I didn’t have the life experience to interpret it any other way. And I’d argue that many people never do – they feel sorry for those whose lives don’t appear as comfortable or happy as theirs, they give to charities because it’s the right thing to do (and it is, don’t get me wrong), and they think “there but for the grace of God go I”.

Fast forward nearly 40 years to a recent conversion I was having with Small Man.

We were talking about the work being done by the folks at Fashion Revolution, and specifically about Lucy Siegle’s excellent but slightly traumatising book To Die For. I read him the information panel in the photo below…

And I said to my son, “It’s not just that this is a terrible thing and basically slavery. But what you have to understand is that that woman IS me. She wants exactly the same things in life as I do – a place to live, enough to eat, happiness and security for her children”.

It’s not until we truly understand that there is genuinely no difference between any of us, in fundamental human terms, that we’re able to feel real empathy rather than just sympathy. Whilst we continue to see a “them” and an “us”, there will always be suffering. In a world which is today so deeply divided on politics, religion, race and gender, understanding this feels more important than ever. ♥

. . . . .

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee

John Donne 1624


 

“What’s your favourite quote?”, my young friend Imaan asked me.

“This one by Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet”, I told her…

All things summon us to death: nature, almost envious of the good she has given us, tells us often and gives us notice that she cannot for long allow us that scrap of matter she has lent…she has need of it for other forms, she claims it back for other works.”

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704)

Then I added…“I think we forget that we are just atoms from a dead sun in temporary form”.

A week later, this beautiful framed artwork arrived in the mail. It now has pride of place on our living room sideboard, a reminder that life is transient and fleeting. Thank you so much, Imaan! ♥

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