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♥ With love from our family to yours! ♥

 

Low impact, sustainable, homemade, artisan…our approach to gift giving has changed significantly over the years! These days we hardly ever set foot in a shopping mall during the festive season, choosing instead to make presents at home, or to source them through opshops (thrift stores) or reuse centres.

Here are some of our gifts for Christmas 2020 (warning: spoiler alert)…

As always, we started with chocolate. Monkey Girl and I had a fun afternoon chocolatiering, then wrapping our creations in rescued boxes, foodsafe paper liners and raffia ribbon (all from Reverse Garbage). I still need to whip up a couple more batches to go with the cookies that I’ll be baking next week…

Pete made a batch of his fabulous apricot jam from a large bag of fruit that we were given at the Addi Road Food Pantry

Trays and trays of apricots were headed for landfill because they were blemished and ripe! We bottled the jam in jars leftover from The Wedding in February

‘Tis the season for beeswax wraps and we’ve had a production line going. These ones were made from an unused Ikea doona cover that Bryan gave me before he went back to Singapore. I recently saw tiny (28cm/11″ square) beeswax wraps for sale at Harris Farm for $40 for a set of three. By contrast, our humungous wraps are 60-74cm long x 46cm wide (that’s about 24-29″ x 18″). And they cost me less than $2 each to make…

A chance find at The Sewing Basket in West Ryde led to the coolest beeswax wraps ever

I turned a thrifted sheer curtain (it was new but I washed it anyway) into two outdoor food protectors, one for me, and one for my hostess-with-the-mostest neighbour Faye…

A couple of vintage Chinese painting books picked up at The Bower in Marrickville were the perfect gift for my daughter-in-law…

…and this little book of cocktails was just $3 secondhand. The illustrations are frame-worthy!

Lovely embroidery artist Han Cao has become a friend over 2020, and her art has brought me a great deal of joy during this difficult year. Here’s an earlier post I wrote about her work. I’ve been buying her postcard packs to use as gifts and last night I gave this card to our old friend John, because it looks exactly like he did in 1983 (the bloke in the middle, not one of the horses)…

A pile of unfinished quilt squares that I bought from The Sewing Basket Balmain earlier in the year became five useful bags

Small Man and I adore a bit of trivia, so I grabbed these boxes from The Bower for just $2 each. They’re a little after dinner fun as we wind down towards the end of the year. These didn’t come with a board which is completely fine – we just take turns quizzing each other – although they were made in 1984, so some of the answers are no longer correct!

It’s been a while, but this year I picked up tools again to make angels from my stash of vintage Swarovski crystals. They’re the perfect small gift…

This secondhand baby Groot planter was picked up for $5 at the Inner West Garage Sale Trail a few weeks ago. We sent it home with the Big Kids, completely with succulent…

Finally…I found the perfect gift for my young friend Grace (who’s now nine – can you believe it?) at Reverse Garbage

Discarded by an art school, this stack of press-out paper dolls was just $2 (there were about 30 cards in the pile)…

The stencils for her clothing were just $1 each…

Bethany sent me a photo of her daughter’s creations this morning. I love Grace…

So that’s where we’re at with just over a week to go until Christmas!

I’ve baked a fruit cake and made a steamed pudding, so dessert on the big day is now sorted. We’re glazing half a free range ham for Christmas lunch, and because it’s the festive season, Pete is letting me serve it with tater tots (or potato gems, as we call them here). I can’t wait! Some last minute baking next week and we’ll be good to go.

How are your festive preparations going? It’s been such a strange year and we’ll all be celebrating in different ways – Australia is out of lockdown now (social distancing restrictions still apply) – but I know that a lot of our overseas friends are still very limited in terms of numbers of visitors permitted. I hope that whatever your current situation, you find a way to eke out a little peace, joy and headspace in the coming weeks! ♥

I drive my mum crazy with my refusal to throw things away.

She and my 92 year old neighbour June were both very vocal recently about my patched jeans. “They look TERRIBLE”, June told me in no uncertain terms. I wasn’t insulted at all, but I did find it hilarious – both she and mum were of the generation that equated “old and mended” with “poor” and saw it as something to be embarrassed about.

I, on the other hand, love old things.

Recently, after nearly 14 years of trouble-free service, our car started playing up. This would be the car that we didn’t replace last year, choosing to invest our savings into solar power instead.

In the end we needed a new starter motor, but for the better part of a year, the auto-electricians (we went to two) couldn’t diagnose the problem. The motor would just occasionally refuse to turn over, and I was getting nervous every time I got in the car. Then Pete said, “Babe…she’s just old and tired. Sometimes she has a harder time getting up and running. We just have to be gentle with her.”

And just like that, I stopped worrying.

Because you see, I get being old and tired, particularly after the craziness of 2020. Sometimes I don’t want to start either.

And as I looked around our house, I realised that so many things we have are old and tired.

The handle of our Magimix food processor cracked after eight years of continuous use.

A new bowl would have cost us over $200, but a piece of Gorilla Tape made it as good as new. Although I now have to handwash it…

. . . . .

Our kitchen fridge is in its 18th year and can now only be closed with a foot – it needs pressure in just the right spot for the door to seal properly. We need to jiggle the key in the back screen door to get the bolt to shoot, as the frame has moved a bit in the two decades since it was installed.

We could afford to replace the fridge and the back door without too much difficulty (the car is a bit harder), but I really don’t want to. Firstly, because apart from these minor quirks, they all work perfectly well. The fridge stays nice and cold, the back door is fine, and the car still drives well.

Secondly, the environmental cost of replacing things is humungous. Forget for a moment the actual dollars involved, but consider instead the cost in terms of raw resources, human labour and energy. Not only does buying a new fridge involve all those inputs, but disposing of an old fridge is also difficult, expensive and polluting. Yes, we will eventually have to get a new fridge, but I desperately want to keep the one we have as long as possible. If that means paying for expensive repair costs, then so be it.

Thirdly, and I do understand that not everyone thinks like this, but I adore the imperfect and the quirky. It’s like my previously inanimate items suddenly develop personality. And temperament. I start to view them with great affection and develop an almost maternal concern for their wellbeing (yes, even as I was typing it, that sounded insane). But the things which make our modern lives comfortable shouldn’t be disposable at the first sign of wear and tear. That might have been the thinking in the 80s, when everything good had to be shiny and new.

In 2020 though, as the planet drowns under the demands of eight billion humans, I think we have an obligation to make our possessions last as long as they can. And to be honest, shiny and new is pretty boring. Give me something with a backstory any day of the week. But please…don’t tell my mum about it. ♥

 

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! 🌿♻️💚

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