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Weekly catchup: a new phone!

Did I tell you how old my smartphone was?

I bought it in March 2015.

Six years is not bad going for something I use every day – to blog, email, search, buy stuff, text, borrow and read books, phone, track all manner of things, access social media platforms, take photos, listen to music.

I’ve been umming and ahhing whether to go android or get another iPhone. You know Apples are over priced! And Samsung give super discounts to teachers. But do I really want to learn a new system?

After playing around with Mr S’s Googlephone for the past few months and checking out friends’ androids, I decided to stick with the iPhone.

Losing all my message threads and the apps was too much to handle. So looks like I’m hooked for life!

One of The Dreamer’s close friends works for Apple. He gave me a discount. Yay!

People have suggested I get work to buy me one – after all, I do a lot for work on my phone. But then work owns it. And all it contains. No way. With any luck my phone will last another five to six years!

I am so in love with my new phone. I thought I’d hate it, or at least find it pointless to have upgraded and paid so much. No, I love it.

It is so smooth, and crisp, and responsive. It’s nicer in the hand. Smaller than my iPhone 6 but with a larger screen. Its squarer edges make it easier to hold.

Oh, I shouldn’t have waited so long.

And the Apple guy advised me to go for a lower plan as I am wasting data and thus wasting money. So I’ve also phoned my provider and dropped to a much lower plan, saving over $10 a month.

Aren’t Apple so clever with their packaging? Even pulling off the outer wrapper is a joy.

Photo copied from Apple website. This is the colour I picked.

I’m off to listen to some music.

What I’ve just read: a book with four journal articles on an early convict- built road, The Great North Road. Yes, strange choice but I will soon visit part of the road that still exists – it’s been turned into a bush walk. Listened to Adam Hills’ audiobook of his autobiography, Best Foot Forword. It had moments of brilliance, surprise and humour. Hate his similes: too many, too frequent, too forced. Not a really laugh out loud or riveting read/listen.

What I’ve been watching: I didn’t watch Wife Swap this week but I did watch Botched. I love Botched. I think I want to go to LA and have those two do some cosmetic surgery on my face and boobs. And I watched yet another Michael Portillo train show but this one was in Australia – the Ghan, which I want to do with Laura and Brett. Probably can’t do for another 20 years. Not cause of COVID but because no one looked under 80 on the train – except the workers.

I’ve borrowed DVD of Season 1 of Vera from my public library. Hadn’t seen episode 1 so watched that. Will skip episode 2 as I’ve seen that. I’m also watching Our Yorkshire Farm on a catchup free to air channel. I loved Amanda Owen’s books and would so love to spend a year in some part of Yorkshire, experiencing the change of seasons. Not so much on a farm where I had to work but somewhere sort of remote.

Steps to my goals:

  • Sleep: I’ve slept deeply but most nights have only been 6 hours. I need to get to bed earlier.
  • Water: I’ve not put in steps to ensure I drink more. I need to do something here.
  • Exercise: walked for four afternoons. Will return to gym soon.
  • Decluttering: nothing this week, but I am wearing out some clothes that will go at the end of this term, or this year. Next year I won’t need work clothes – yee ha.
  • Main thing too embarrassed to tell you about: solid work on it on Sunday and had some parts fixed up so I can do more this weekend.
  • FIRE: my super is at $410,000. Not bad.

Weekly catch-up: You need a new phone

Christmas Eve 2019, I dropped my phone and cracked the screen. I can be certain of the date because my son was stuck in LA airport as his connections (with the same airline!!) didn’t match. I was worrying and texting and talking and drinking.

My Darling spent the night in LA airport and didn’t make it home for Christmas. And my phone was seriously cracked.

All of a sudden, people started expressing an interest in my phone. And felt the need to give me advice. “You should get your screen fixed.” “You should get a new phone.” And the corker: “Are you an adult? You shouldn’t have a cracked screen.”

Then, around April, my photo lens started playing up. It did lead to some interesting effects that people thought I did intentionally, such as when a Shinkansen, the high speed train, sped by.

The lens is totally dead now. Well, doesn’t that invite all manner of advice! Especially as I can’t use a QR code to sign into venues for COVID safety. (It also added to my absence from blogging – I couldn’t add any of my own photos.)

Add in the idiosyncratic charging issue that grew more and more annoying …

And recently, calls failing mid call. Repeatedly.

So I’ve set myself a challenge. (You know how I like challenges!)

Prepare my phone for replacement

Things to do:

  • Sort through my saved passwords. Delete ones not needed. Change ones used too frequently. And write them into my diary
  • Sort and declutter photos. Make photo books, deleting most photos that are used in photo books
  • Save videos to Google Photos
  • Delete unnecessary apps
  • Extract notes I want to keep

I hope/plan/aim to have this all done by the end of February and the new phone purchased.

Watch this space!

What I’ve just read: Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. Really enjoyed this. Escapist murder mystery. Not your Nordic dark, graphically violent, scarily suspenseful murder. More Miss Marple. There’ll be s book two and, I’m sure, a TV miniseries.

What I’ve been watching: I watched the cutest documentary on quolls in Tassie – Quoll Farm. If you get a chance, watch it. Same night I watched a documentary on Princess Anne’s 70th. Although I’m a republican, it was interesting. And I could do some household jobs, coming in and out of the lounge room, and not lose the gist. Gogglebox allows me to catchup on a week’s worth of rubbish TV. I’ve been tired this week, so I started a couple of shows but never made it to the end – Vera and Hard Quiz.

Steps to my goals

  • Sleep: Saturday – slept poorly as I had eaten too much and was also worried I’d sleep in and miss my flight so kept waking up. Sunday in bed by 10.40pm Woken by alarm, which is Mr S turning on the radio for me, at 6am. Monday – slept poorly. Tuesday – 11.30 to 6 and deeply. Wednesday – didn’t record it so can’t remember. Thursday – at least 8 hours. Friday – naughtily fell asleep on the lounge but in bed before midnight and then read a bit, all up about 8 hours. I think instead of recording here, I will record my sleep in my diary.
  • Water: I have a beautiful glass and work, given as a gift. It reminds me to drink. But not enough. I have to find my bottle and fill that up every day.
  • Exercise: walk on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. I’ll be going back to he gym soon – booking in classes helps me keep in track and make boundaries around work demands.
  • Main thing for the year: I’ve been doing some work towards this. Stepping in the right direction.
  • Decluttering: to the local recycling centre with a worn pair of sandals, worn out handbag, two pairs of worn out shoes, single mattress protector and sheets.
  • Main thing too embarrassed to tell you about: a daily task undertaken to make progress towards it.
  • FIRE: doubled my mortgage repayments – now paying $8,000 a month. Plan to have the mortgage gone in three years. Bought four dresses!!! I know. But they are so beautiful. I am in love.

I bought another diary/planner

I have a friend who has banned me from buying anymore planners. She rightly points out, that I have bought quite a few and, importantly, haven’t used them.

She said when I am tempted to buy one I need to phone her and she will stage an intervention.

Well that works when I am walking past kikki k in my local shopping centre. But it’s not so helpful when I am in a book store in German.

Imagine! A massive department store dedicated to books and paper goods! I was in heaven. OK, I couldn’t read most of the material but the children’s pictures books, educational toys and the English language learning books were interesting. Germany seems to have so many book stores. Ours have died – replaced by online purchases or e-books.

(As an aside: level 5 of one English language learning series was on Australia. Mr S says that you can only cope with Australian slang and expressions after studying for four years. Except, of course, it wasn’t on Australian idiom, it was using content about Australia to teach standard English.)

So, back to my planner. Two years ago in France, I bought a French version of guided bullet diary.

Yes, okay, okay. I didn’t really use it. But it only seemed fair I give bullet diary another go. And how better to do so than with a German bullet diary.

I love all the different proformas. My life will be so streamlined. (If only work didn’t get in the way and exhaust me!)

PS: I’m feeling much better. Think I will be back on track in another 24 hours.

Pull out the plastics

OK, pantry ordered and organised. Time to turn elsewhere in the kitchen. 

I took a deep breath and ventured into my plastics’ cupboard. 

Who knew how many items were contained within. Even more esoteric would be the knowledge of that subset of plastics: unusable and incomplete. How many bowls without matching lids? How many lids without bases? How many damaged items lay in this tangled mess?

What was clear was if everything was taken out, no way would they fit back in if lids were put on containers and then stacked on each other. The only way everything could be contained within the cupboard was if bowls were stacked inside other bigger bowls, square containers in bigger square containers, lids store altogether in a couple of containers. 

First to go: plastics that have shrunk in dishwasher, containers with heat damage, lids without bases. 


The dead and broken are easily dealt with. But do we really need so many plastic items?

So off to the op shop are plastic items we don’t use: cereal containers from when kids ate lots of different breakfast cereals, chopping board, ice block maker, ice cube tray. All perfectly good but not needed by me at this point in my life. 


Some items were repurposed and repositioned in the house. Mr S needed a new scoop for the chlorine in there pool. I have just the thing. A part from a lettuce spinner. 

Everything that went back in the cupboard had to go with the lid attached. No more hunting through the deep reaches, no more pulling everything out to find the right lid. 

And by stacking everything with it’s lid on means that we can fit far fewer items back in the cupboard. 

We still probably have too many items. But I plan on buying no more. Ever. For the rest of my life. Which may have 3o to 40 years left. So that’s not too bad.

Don’t miss the use by date

Do you want to have less food waste? 

Are you sick of finding out of date items in your pantry?  (A debate about use by dates vs best before vs smell test is for a later post.)

Here’s a simple thing you can do to minimise the problem of missing use by dates. 

Put a container in a noticeable spot. Routinely check your stock and pop items nearing, or past, the best before or use by date.

Now you have the visual reminder of things that need to be used next or soon. 

Dealing with pantry moths

The hot and humid weather of summer suits some more than others. I’m on the side of not being well suited. On the positive side of the ledger sits pantry moths. 

Invaded we were. Last summer went through most of autumn, and thus great plagues were incubated. Every time someone opened the pantry door, moths, defending their newly won territory, dive bombed the seeker of food. 

A multi-faceted approach was needed. First step was research. I have done that for you. So here I present what to do to get rid of an infestation of pantry moths. It isn’t going to be easy. It isn’t going to be pleasant work. It isn’t going to be overly frugal. But by ridding your pantry of moths, you will save more food being wasted and you will rid your pantry of moths. 

Step 1: empty the pantry of everything. (If you’re like me you will continually exclaim the following: When did we turn into a supermarket? Why do we have so much food? Why do we have so much out of date food?) Use this time to toss  outdated food. 

Step 2: dry goods have to go. No, you can’t keep that unopened paper bag of flour. It will have moth eggs in it. No, you can’t keep that half empty box of rolled oats. No, you can’t … No.  Just no. Toss everything. If you don’t, the moths will infect your new produce.

Step 3: spray in the pantry with fly spray and quickly shut the door. The moths will die quickly making it easier to clean the pantry. Come back in an hour. 

Step 4: use a dust pan and brush to sweep up moths and crumbs and dust and onion peels and bits and stuff. Then clean every surface and the walls of your pantry. It doesn’t really matter what product you use. Best is some detergent in hot water. Dishwashing liquid is fine. Rince your cloth in the water and detergent and wring out so it is damp. You will need to empty and refresh your water repeatedly, depending on size and state of your pantry. Wipe over again with clean water. Dry with a cloth. Then leave to air dry. 

Step 5: put cloves in the gaps of the pantry. The walls of my pantry are grooved so a clove fits perfectly, like a little tack. Moths don’t like the smell. Plus closing the gaps make it hard for the weevils to come up. The moths lay their eggs down these gaps apparently. When hatched, they wriggle up. 

Cloves being stuck in gaps


Step 6: wipe over every tin before you return each one to the pantry. Put dry goods in airtight plastic containers. 

That’s it. Only pesticides used is the fly spray. 

OK, I won’t lie. The six easy steps took all weekend. I made my boys do steps 1 and 4. Which required much nagging on my part to keep them going and not disappearing into their rooms. I did the tossing part of Step 1. And I assisted in Step 4, cleaning the bits they missed, like up close to the edges. 

Result: organised, clean and moth-free pantry.  

Time for a cool change

Yes, I’ve changed/updated/played with my layout. Or as WordPress calls it, the theme.

The old one was cluttered and dated. Not that I see it, doing everything on my iPhone. But I recently got a Surface tablet and thought I better get to know my way around the thing.

What better way to learn than to play? Helps me know where things are and what I can do.

Sunnies

Apropos of nothing, I was not happy with how and where I stored my sunnies. Actually stored is the wong word. Kept, dumped, placed, lost are all more apt verbs.

The first two drawers of my bedroom chest of drawers are half sized. The top one is divided in three. I organise my bras in it but thought they would be perfect to store my sunglasses.

So mess and disorganisation being devil’s work, and ignoring the larger mess all around my house, I set about focusing on a smaller task. Collecting my sunnies from various hot spots*, squashing my bras into two sections, and putting my sunnies in the central section.

Ahhh! Feeling much better. Now I will be able to pick the right pair for the occasion and outfit.*

After such a long awaited housework task, I deserve a cup of tea.

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*Not all my glasses have been collected. Will need to go on a hunt for the others.

It’s the little things

Vivien, over at Where the Journey Takes Me, posted about The Little Things. Those things waiting, waiting, waiting to be dealt with. You know those things waiting to be put back where they belong, or even worse, those little things that don’t have a place and are waiting for you to find a home for them.

Well, I’m not up to finding new homes, or developing systems just yet. My mind can’t face it. And I am still exhausted from a big term at work. I also know that I won’t keep any systems when I get back to work. My system is to use the holidays to play catch up.

So today I am going to focus on one room and put away those little things that make the place look cluttered.

I will start with my bedroom, given I gave it a thorough dusting, polishing and washing of timber work last weekend.

My bedside table:

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Husband’s glasses case back to his side; hot pack back in its home so I can find it next time. Job to do today: read both magazines and then declutter.

Ah! That’s better.

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The top of my chest of drawers:

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Gift of the most beautiful colour of nail polish from a dear friend put away with other nail polish; gift bag put with other gift bag for re-using; card put with other stationery to remind me to purchase similar ethical cards: envelope put in recycling bin; bangle put in jewellery drawer; curtain hook put with others for when I get around to rehooking the curtain; bobby pin put back in bobby pin container in bathroom; single 10 cent coin put in wallet; piece of cardboard from perfume box used as a bookmark for book in bedside table so book is not left open, face down (sorry, reading librarians).

Much neater:

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Next to my chest of drawers:

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This is a dot painting from Central Australia that has been on my to do list to have stretched for over a year. Today I am off to a framing shop. Stayed tuned for an update.

On the other side of my chest of drawers:

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Papers filed or placed in recycling bin; textas put with other craft items I will donating this week; post-it note with address given to husband who was looking for it; blank post-its put where they live. Look! A floor as a floor and not a storage space.

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My valet stand (which is full of resting clothes – you know not clean enough to put in the wardrobe, not dirty enough to wash).

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This is a doozie! Have I mentioned previously that I have too many clothes? OK, might list what this little valet stand is holding and why the clothes are waiting.

  • Cute little mustardy-green cardie (the colour and style makes it hard to match with other clothes but as it has a worn smell I won’t put it back in the cupboard until worn at least three times);
  • three sequinned or embellished singlet tops that are waiting to be handwashed (I can’t put them in the laundry as they will get thrown in with heavy duty soiled clothes);
  • a small wrap skirt that I wear over my swimmer (OK, have to admit summer is over and I won’t be wearing this again for many, many months);
  • exercise tights that were only worn for an hour’s Pilates – definitely not enough to warrant washing and the resulting fading that will happen;
  • socks that I wore for one 45 min walk and will wear again for another walk;
  • top worn for a few hours before changing into party gear;
  • little light green cardie worn once and you know by now how I feel about clothes worn once;
  • a white jacket that was washed by Mr Sans and didn’t come up well so I am saving until I do a white wash;
  • a pair of pants waiting for be taken up, waiting for over three years I might add;
  • outfit of top, bra, skirt and stocking socks that I wore for a few hours yesterday and will wear again today (it’s 10.40 and I am still in my PJs. Hey! It’s holidays. Don’t judge me.
  • a sleeveless top worn for a few hours the other day.
  • It is normal for me to have so many clothes resting. I change due to weather, work, slothing around, exercise, and may go through three changes a day but I definitely don’t wash after a short wear.

    So what to do? Those pants are definitely going to the sewing pile. The sequinned tops and cardie are being washed by my very gentle Miele washing machine; today’s clothes are ready to be worn after my shower; wrap skirt is in the washing basket; white jacket is soaking in Napisan. So now. Tada!

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    And finally, hanging off my bed:

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    Swimmers. It will be a long wait until I will take a dip in the pool again. These have lost their elasticity so are going to the bin. Sad, as they match the wrap skirt perfectly but no one wants to see a lady of a certain age with cossies hanging down below what is seemly.

    An hour’s work and a tidier bedroom.

    I deserve a cuppa before my shower!

    Grocery shopping for the busy family

    Do you grocery shop every week?

    For years I would tromp on down to the supermarket every weekend. It was a habit. One I thought you had to do. We all need to eat, don’t we? So every week we buy the food. And other assorted household stuff.

    Grabbing staples, throwing a random selection of ingredients into the trolley. Buying veggies we “usually” use. Stopping at the butchers and buying different meat – beef, lamb, pork, chicken – to work out later what to cook.

    In the morning: Chicken tonight? Yep. Take it out of the freezer.

    After work: what shall we do with it? Stir fry? OK.

    Even worse, the after-work-what-shall-we-cook conversation when nothing has been taken out of the freezer!

    Come the weekend, back to the supermarket. Throw out the food going off. Restock the fridge.

    After years of this, I hated the waste. Wasted food = wasted money. And the wasted time. So I changed to menu planning, working out what we would actually cook for dinner and buying for that. It cut out food waste significantly. And cut the stress of working out what to cook when we came home tired from work.

    A few years into menu-plan shopping, I thought I would take a radical step: not go to the supermarket every week. I was bored with food shopping. I hated grocery shopping taking up a couple of hours of my weekend. Obviously not doing the weekly shopping could be done. Think of those who live in the country! Yet we do things out of habit, mindlessly, because we’ve always done it that way.

    Now I spend half an hour working out with Mr Sans what we will cook for the fortnight. We are not strict; we just work out 12 or 13 meals – there’s always left-overs or a “catch-and-kill-yourself” night. (With two growing/grown-up sons at home, we always cook for left-overs so the boys can have food for lunch or snacks.)

    Then I roughly plan each week’s menu – don’t want all chicken one week and all pasta the next! Normally the menu for the week is flexible. We swap the dinners around depending on the weather, our moods or if one of us is tired.

    If we have evening functions we make sure we have a double meal (cook a double quantity so there is a meal ready to reheat). We also plan for the evenings when one of us isn’t available to cook. As we share the cooking equally but have different dinners we like and different cooking styles, we need to let the other know what night they definitely have to cook. “I’m out on Tuesday and won’t need dinner, so you have to cook.” “I’ll make the green curry then.” “Good, don’t like that one.”

    After menu planning, I draw up the shopping list. Supermarket and butchers are visited once a fortnight. The green grocer I go to every weekend. That is why I divide the dinners into each week, so I buy the veggies for that week.

    The benefits have been enormous: less stress, less waste, money saved. I have cut our grocery bill by hundreds. Fewer visits means throwing fewer “treats” into the trolley!

    Now, my family would probably tell you I go even less than once a fortnight. Sometimes I go “on strike”. There’s food in our kitchen, so why shop? Eat the fruit in the bowl! Just because you don’t feel like an apple but want a banana doesn’t mean I have to go buy you one!

    And teenage boys, well mine anyway, think if they have to do more than open a container and put it in the microwave, then there’s nothing in the house to eat. Tough, I say.

    So what’s on the menu for the next fortnight?

    Week 1
    Sat – Mum and Dad are going out with friends for dinner, so readymade stir fry from the butcher’s with Hokkien noodles for sons to cook.
    Sun – roast chook, gives some leftover meat for lunches. And I will roast extra veggies for vegetarian lasagne later in the week.
    Mon – BBQ lamb kebabs and salad.
    Tues – BBQ steaks, chips and salad. (We’re making the most of the end of summer. BBQs on the back verandah.)
    Wed – two lasagnes – one beef and one vegetable. Lots of leftovers for lunches and snacks.
    Thurs – Hokkien noodle pork stir-fry – double lot cooked for Friday.
    Fri – left-over Hokkien noodles

    Week 2
    Sat – BBQ sausages (real meat ones) with salad.
    Sun – Belgium chicken pasta.
    Mon – Steak sandwiches. (We’re Aussies so these HAVE to come with tinned beetroot and fried onions!)
    Tues – stirfry. Cook extra rice for fried rice later in week.
    Wed – fried rice. Cook two lots.
    Thur – fried rice.
    Fri – leftovers / catch and kill your own.
    Sat – roast macadamia and honey chicken roll.

    So there you go. We love food and we eat well. A little menu planning and once a fortnight shopping saves time, money, stress and food waste.