2022 Thoughts And Reflections

I will do a separate craft year in review but this year but in a lot of ways both sides of my worlds collided into one.

Reading has been an activity I have done a lot of this year, mostly on the topics of sustainability and minimalism. I made use of my local library borrowing several books. Some books I have gone on to further buy but it was a good chance to preview the books for free and decide if I would want to refer back to it or not. I have learnt a lot from reading these books but I need to get into the habit of writing down useful notes or ideas as I am reading so that I can remember them later on. Looking up the online library catalogue there are a plenty more books I wish to borrow in future. There is something about holding a book in your hands and soaking up the contents of it. Fact or fiction there is magic in books.

On the topic of sustainability it has been a big focus for me this year. I’ve tried to be more sustainable in my crafting adventures as well as my everyday life. To reduce more of my single use items I made reusable lid mats for work and a wet bag for my umbrella. It was pretty wet in Sydney this year so I saved a lot of bags and as for the paper towels I think I worked out it was a couple of hundred saved. For my desk drawer at work I brought some reusable cutlery for the times when I’m eating more than just a sandwich. Sadly with my OCD issues I still use a lot of single use items in particular baby wipes and food packaging. I need to investigate further options of how I can improve in those areas. I’ve noticed at home we could do with a few more reusable paper towels in the kitchen so I will have to make more of those too.

Unfortunately the same week I did the post on the book 101 Ways To Go Zero Waste the largest soft plastics recycling program in Australia Redcycle closed down after it was revealed that for some time they had been storing the collected plastics and not recycling them. Some of the companies they partnered with had closed down and another had a major fire resulting in it being offline until mid 2023. Major supermarkets across the country had collection bins that you take back a range of soft plastics that couldn’t be put through regular kerbside recycling. The items you could drop off included plastic bags, packaging, bubble wrap, even some foil lined food packets. For about 10 years we had been collecting items and taking them back to the local supermarket. Due to the pandemic Redcycle had noticed an increase in products returned through the program as more people had items delivered to their homes, one supermarket enforced the option of only having plastic bags for its home deliveries instead of bag less like it did pre-pandemic. It is hoped that the Redcycle program will start up again in future, possibly next year. Some people have said they will hang on to their soft plastics until the program is running again but unfortunately we aren’t in a position to do that, we just don’t have the space. It was really hard to stop collecting the soft plastics when it was announced, we had to change a habit we had been doing for 10 years. We were trying to reduce the amount we were sending to landfill but now we have increased it. As we don’t drive we rely a lot on items being delivered via the post or delivery drivers which unfortunately means a lot excess packaging. Earlier this month I brought extra food storage containers online so we can reduce our food waste, they were sent in a box full of plastic inflatable plastic packaging, it felt paradoxical, the items were purchased to help us reduce landfill waste yet it was surrounded by packaging which we sent to landfill as we couldn’t recycle it. There is a program available in some council areas that you can arrange for your soft plastics to be collected from your kerbside by an independent company, our council isn’t involved in the program but even if it was, our apartment complex rules don’t allow you to place anything on the kerbside for collection. Until the Redcycle program or another one similar starts up we have no option but to send the soft plastics to landfill. We are trying to reduce the amount we have but we still generate waste.

Around the house we have made some changes to reduce our waste. We purchased a soda stream this year to make soft drinks at home to reduce our plastic bottle and aluminum can consumption. We purchased it from our regular supermarket in an online exclusive sale and got it delivered at the same time as our regular grocery shop, we were able save money and it wasn’t covered in excess packaging. When I was purchasing from a craft supplier, I remembered that the shop sent a free sticker as a freebie with every purchase, I don’t use the stickers so I asked for it not to be included in my order. It saved the shop money and also meant I wasn’t throwing an item I didn’t need out. I’m trying to incorporate the ideas I have read this year into my everyday life, even if it is just one sticker at a time.

The worm farm was a late addition to our place this year. It is still too early yet to be placing all of our scraps and organic waste into it but we have started placing small amounts. In a few months or so it should be established and we can put all our waste in. I’ve enjoyed taking an interest in the garden, it is an activity that Womble often do together. It gets us outside and away from screens. We planted some seeds which have sprouted so hopefully early next year we can harvest some more veggies from our little balcony garden. I’m starting to enjoy being out on the balcony again, I’m finding myself going out there to sit with a cuppa or a book more often.

Both of us did manage to stop smoking this year. I don’t know what date I stopped, I don’t want to know as I don’t want to be reminded each year that date rolls around. We were cutting down our cigarettes over a number of weeks and then one day Womble wanted to see if he could go 24hrs without one and I just kind of stopped from then. He still has the occasional one, but for the most part he has stopped too. For someone who had been smoking for 60 years he has done remarkably well. I know some people can have the occasional cigarette and be ok with it, I know I’m a person who never be able to have another cigarette ever. For me there is no just thing as one. I know I would be the same with chocolate which is why I haven’t had any in 8 years. Whilst all this was going on we both had a couple of health issues arise (not related to smoking) We were both having heaps of tests and scans done. We went through a really stressful period yet still managed to both stop smoking during it so I’m pretty proud of us both. Thankfully our health has settled down a bit now so we get a break for Christmas and New Year from the stress of it all. If anyone is wishing to give up I strongly urge you to try. Our strategy was to reduce how much we smoke gradually, we reduced down about 25% per week. It took us about 1 month but by doing it slowly it wasn’t a shock to our systems or made us feel pressured to not have any straight away. We were lucky that we didn’t have cravings but there are lots of aids to help you stop. We did use nicotine replacement patches for a bit but found after a while we didn’t need them. I will be honest the habit is still on my mind sometimes and I do occasionally think we should have one after for example a nice meal. Womble requested No Smoking signs be stuck up around the apartment as it was easier for him to be in a place where he knew he wasn’t allowed to smoke. We still have the signs up because even without cravings we still need that reminder out of habit.

I still enjoy writing but I don’t get as much time to blog as I used too. Helping Womble set up his blog this year was a lot of fun. It is funny how experiencing something you have done for a long time through fresh eyes can make you realise how much you enjoy it.

This year has been full of stress from the start of the year to the end. Smoking issues, health issues, increased cost of living it pressures, a series of false positive RAT tests it was just one thing after another for the entire year. I’ll be honest and say it really drained me. Emotionally, physically it has been a struggle this year. I know there isn’t a magic reset button on the calendar for the start of the year but I’m hoping 2023 is a little less complicated. We are going to do everything in our powers to make it as less stressful as possible.

I hope you had a lovely Christmas and a safe New Year

Cassiy

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2022 Charity Bags

Each November we put together 3 charity bags for the annual Share The Dignity “It’s In The Bag” campaign. It is really simple idea fill a bag up with essential items that a women might need such a toiletries and period products. The bags are dropped off at Bunnings for collection and distribution to local shelters and refuges. This year the collection dates are Nov 18th – 27th so there is still time to donate or you can always sponsor a bag if you don’t have time.

Even though drop off is in November collecting and making for the bags begins from when we drop off the current bags. We put together 3 bags each year. We are on limited income, so I budget $20 per bag and try to stay under it.
Items in our bag this year were

  • Shampoo and Conditioner (essential)
  • Deodorant (essential)
  • Body wash (essential)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste (essential)
  • Pads and Tampons (essential)
  • Moisturiser 
  • Tissues
  • Stockings
  • Lip balm
  • Brush
  • Washing powder
  • Nail brush
  • Shower puff
  • Nail file
  • Perfume samples
  • Beanie
  • Scrunchie
  • Toiletry bag
  • Face washer
  • Face masks

The charity askes for all the essential items to be included but after that it is up to your discretion as to what you add in. Food, medications and contraception items are not allowed. I came under budget by 32c. Some items were handmade so that saved money, handmade items are allowed you just need to say who made them and they must be made from new supplies (not upcycled) All the bags are inspected by volunteers who collect the bags from the store and distribute them to the different charities. I put a note in each bag saying about the homemade items.

I’m part of Facebook group for those who collect for the bags. There was some discussion late last year as to what “extras” to put in as you can easily get carried away when putting together the bag. I tried to look at it from the point of view “If I was homeless or in a shelter with limited space what would I want in a bag” I tried to keep it to just practical items but admittedly some items such as the nail brush and shower puff weren’t. I don’t want the bags to be too heavy or bulky to move about with. 

So now the collection next year starts. On my phone I have of items for the bags with some prices so I know if I’m getting a bargain or not. I’m always on the lookout for freebies to add as extras. I have a few items on my list to make. I enjoy the year round process of these bags. 

Cassiy

Do You Want A Chocolate?

Despite the name of this post I’m not going to offer you a chocolate in the sense that you know it. Further on I will explain the chocolate reference. This week’s post is honest one about an event in our lives that Mr StitchNSew and I are both going through, we are attempting to stop smoking. If you read this post please no judgement, this is just our story. Prior to writing this I did ask Mr StitchNSew as it is a personal story and I wanted to make sure he was comfortable about it.

This time I have been smoking since July 2020. I had stopped in the January of that year because of the costs of cigarettes and getting the upcoming mortgage I freaked out and just stopped. It was easier for me to stop rather than Mr StitchNSew so I was the one to do it. To stop smoking the smoker really needs to want to stop doing it, be ready to stop or they will fail and return to smoking. I went cold turkey (used no quit smoking aids) I had gone from being a heavy smoker (every 30 mins at home) to nothing overnight and the withdrawal symptoms were horrible, muscle aches, shaking, mood swings. In July Mr StitchNSew had surgery and during it I picked up a cigarette and it started again. I wasn’t really ready to stop smoking at the time and in a way used his surgery as an excuse to start again.

Hiding a cigarette behind my back during a blog photoshoot

Starting up again was stupid but not even as stupid as what had happened before that. I had actually quit smoking for 10 years… yep 10 years. In 2008 I decided to stop. I can’t remember why I was stopping but both Mr StitchNSew and I were going to do it together but unfortunately he didn’t last more than a couple of days. I don’t remember what withdrawal symptoms I went through back then, I’ve blocked it out of my mind. Through passive smoking I was still getting a hit as such. Over the years I had a few rough/stressful times including the death of my mum but I remained smoke free. In 2018 I was going through a lot of stress at work, I had pain in my knee and feared it might dislocate again. I gave into the stress and started smoking again. I know it was the most stupidest thing I had ever done.

Since starting up again in 2020 I kept telling myself I would give up. I would say a date and when that rolled around I would try but give in. I told myself I’ll stop when I get Covid but when I got it I kept smoking. I’m not smoking as much as I was in 2020 when I gave up so I kept telling myself it was ok. Due to circumstances out of our control at home we smoke indoors with all the doors closed. Trying to stop became that much harder as there was no escape from it, you had the smell and the reminders such as the ashtray and packets of smokes on the kitchen bench. You can’t get away from the smoking.

Mr StitchNSew has been smoking for 60 years. Nowadays starting at the age of 8 sounds shocking but it was normal in the 1960’s for kids to start that young. Quitting for him is no easy feat. Finally he is ready in his heart to stop so, now is the time. I’m ready too. For him the motivation is improving his health. My motivation is a little different. It is part control and part wanting to live more freely. I want to control what I do, I don’t want an addiction to control what I do. Living more freely, I want to have all the doors open all the time in our place, I don’t want the items I sew or knit to smell like smoke. I want to create a new normal and that is a smoke free one.

Mr StichNSew and I work great as a team and we are quitting as a team. Smoking is an addiction to nicotine and not just a choice people make. To ensure we stop smoking which we will! We have reached out for support. I contacted the Quitline for advice. We had made a start before we reached out for help by starting to reduce our smoking by going longer between cigarettes. Instead of going cold turkey we are have both started using smoking quit aids. We contacted our doctor and have both started using nicotine patches which give a small dose of nicotine to the body. For heavy smokers you can still smoke a bit while on the patches, but you reduce your smoking over a period of days and weeks. The patches come in different strengths which you start on the highest and ween yourself down to lower strengths as you go along. We are have started to follow the 4 D’s of quitting

  • Distraction – Keep busy
  • Delay – Put off having a cigarette
  • Drink water – Drink fluids
  • Deep breathing – Stop and breath when you get the urge

At the moment we aren’t really getting cravings, I know they will start once we fully stop but we can use quit aids such as inhalers or gum to help. At home I get jittery after about 2 hours without one, I know it is habit as I can go 8 hours at work without one. We moved our ashtray so it isn’t a constant reminder in the middle of the loungeroom and keep the packets of cigarettes in a cupboard.

Neither of us like chocolate so we now refer to cigarettes as chocolate. We are trying to create a negative feeling about smoking hence the chocolate reference. We understand that a lot of our smoking is a habit or behavior issues so a big part of it is changing our routines and habits. Stress does play a big part but we are trying not to reach out for a smoke during times of stress, that doesn’t always happen but we are trying.

The best advice I got from contacting the Quitline is don’t be too harsh on yourself. If you have slip up for example, don’t push out the time between smokes or grab one when stressed, it is ok. It isn’t a complete failure. Next time in that situation, maybe try one of the 4 D’s to help you during that time. A slip up doesn’t mean you’re starting from scratch again.

Becoming smoke free takes time and it is hard but you can do it. Doing it together we will. We are experiencing the same things together and can talk about it, even little things like “was your patch itchy when you first put it on?” We are each others biggest cheer squad and support. It is going to take us weeks, maybe even months for some of the cravings to stop but in the end we will do it together and become smoke free. 

Cassiy

S.O.S To Bloggers

This is just a mini post as I’m want to pick the brain of fellow craft bloggers in particular. How do you edit your photos for the blog? I was using Microsof Exhange to edit and resize my photos so they would be very small in file size but with a new computer I don’t have that option anymore. Ideally I would like use a free program. I’m not too concerned about changing filters although it would be nice to brighten or darken some photos if needed, I’m more concerned about making the file size smaller.

Thoughts or suggestions? Thanks
Cassiy

Wardrobe Stocktake

My pledge for Me Made May this year was to do a stocktake of my entire wardrobe to see what clothing I had. I underestimated how many clothes and accessories (shawls/wraps, hats) I owned. I didn’t include socks, bras or a dressing gown. As I was going through my wardrobe I was culling items that I could clearly donate or upcycle but I kept 142 items! For me that seems a lot. I worked out my wardrobe is 45% me made and 55% ready to wear. That surprised me as I wear me made nearly every day but clearly what I wear regularly is not the entire 142 items. Unless I don’t like an item of clothing anymore and donate it I have tendency to hang on to clothing until it becomes unwearable, a few of the 142 items are becoming that way. There is a lot of items taking up space which I need to think about.

Me Made – 12
RTW – 34
Total – 46

Tops
I have included my pj tops in this category. Before I started I knew a big portion of my wardrobe is my “work” shirts. I have the same style in 13 colours which I rotate through. There is only 1 which I need to see if it is comfortable as I don’t wear that one often. The other tops are a heap of ready to wear t-shirts and polos. Some I do wear but there is a few that aren’t good enough to donate and I can’t think of a way to upcycle them at this point. As for the others I need to remember that I have them and start wearing them more, perhaps some of the ready to wear tops that are large enough I could wear as pj tops. My Concord I have only worn once or twice as I wasn’t happy with the fit. I’d hung on to it thinking maybe I could use it as a reference if I make the pattern again. Part of me is saying “unpick it and turn it into undies instead” Still pondering what to do with it. My black Cedar I’m tempted to turn into a black handbag (don’t have one) as I’m unlikely to wear it again. I can’t justify making any more tops for the moment.

Me Made – 7
RTW – 12
Total – 19

Pants
Again pj pants are included in this category (my pjs don’t match) The majority of my pants are gym tights. A few years ago outside work I was living in gym tights which explains why I have so many. Now days I’m wearing my me made pants and generally only wearing gym tights when exercising. The other ready to wear pants are summer pj bottoms. I’ll keep wearing them until they are no longer functional. I need regular shorts so will have to make those. I think I could use at least another pair of long pants as well as another pair of winter pjs.

Me Made – 9
RTW – 0
Total – 9

Dresses
In warmer weather I do wear my York Pinafores and my t-shirt dress. Maybe in winter I could wear gym tights under them. I haven’t worn my Appleton since I made it, I wasn’t happy with the fit. I haven’t worn my Washington in a few years. The neckline on it stretched out and it fell off my shoulders. Both dresses I’ve kept for the same reason I’ve kept my Concord to use it as a reference again if I make another. I do have one more York that has been cut out for over a year! I’m not sure yet if I will finish it because at this point I don’t need anymore dresses, I could use the fabric for something else even with it cut.

Me Made – 10
RTW – 0
Total – 10

Skirts
All my skirts are me made now! I do have a couple of older skirts which I haven’t worn since I started making Turner skirts. I’m thinking those I could unpick and reuse the fabric. Even though I don’t really need any more skirts I have at least 2 I want to make (one is already partially cut out) These are fun fabrics which perfect for my work place (paediatric hospital) Apart from this year when I didn’t have suitable shoes I wear skirts all spring, summer and autumn. Once I make the others 12 should do me.

Me Made – 4
RTW – 20
Total – 24

Jackets/Vests/Coats/Ponchos/Capes
I have some me made items in this category but the majority are store brought. I’m tempted to donate my denim jacket as I haven’t worn it in years and I don’t see myself wearing it anytime soon. My head is saying “A denim jacket is a wardrobe staple, you need one” but it is totally ok with now not owning jeans which is also meant to be a wardrobe must have. I have one cotton jacket which is too big. Years ago I tried shrinking it without success. I’m going to try and upcycle it at some point into another jacket or vest. I have 4 jumpers which I don’t wear. One was my favourite but has a stain which can’t be removed. It has amazing embroidery on it so perhaps I can salvage that and use it in another project. 2 don’t fit because the neckline has stretched out and I’m paranoid about getting a chill on my shoulders. One was just a house jumper so maybe I can try and remake it smaller, the other 2 I just hang on to for some reason.

Me Made – 14
RTW – 1
Total – 15

Shawls/Wraps/Cowls/Hats
I know that I have more than I need (another is still on my needles) I enjoy knitting and crocheting them. The ones that I have kept are only in the natural fibres that I like. The only ready to wear one I own is a black velveteen which I’m keeping on the off chance I go anywhere fancy and need a largish black wrap. I’m tempted to unpick my Meld shawl and repurpose the yarn as I never wear it (too small) I need me to knit myself a cotton beanie. I don’t have one.

Me Made – 9
RTW – 10
Total – 19

Underwear
I included a me made bralette (yet to be blogged about) the rest were just undies. Some of the 10 ready to wear ones will soon be unwearable. I’m a person who likes a lot of undies so I’m not alarmed by the numbers and actually think I will make a few more.

I’m glad I set the wardrobe stocktake as my challenge. It gave me the chance to see exactly what items I kept after the move. As mentioned above I have kept onto items which I’m unlikely to wear so I need to address those. They are taking up the limited space I have. At this point I’m feeling a little conflicted. I want to keep making clothes but I can’t justify it after seeing what I already still own. I might start by making the items I know I’m missing or need more of. As I was doing my count I was writing all the items down so I might sit and look back at my lists to see which items I can pass on or unpick. Strangely I like unpicking items so it actually a relaxing task for me.

Over the coming months I will do some clothing blog posts but they are all clothing that I made earlier this year. 

Cassiy

2021 Thoughts And Reflections

For the 4th year in a row we’ve had a big year.  In June Mr StitchNSew underwent more spinal surgery. It did takes us a little by surprise as we were expecting it later in the year if not next year. The timing was perfect as Sydney went into its 2nd major Covid lockdown 4 days after his operation.  The last couple days of his hospital stay were hard as I wasn’t allowed to visit him due to hospital visitor restrictions brought in after we went into the new lockdown. He recovered well post surgery. Not only is he back doing hobbies he hadn’t been able to do for about 12 months he is also now cooking more than I am! I have my own chef and not complaining one bit. At the start of August all non urgent elective surgery in Sydney was cancelled so my job became a little busier as the hospital surgery lists were juggled around to do all the urgent elective surgeries.

Carrying groceries home on my own

As mentioned in Sydney we faced lockdown in June. There were more restrictions in this year’s lockdown due to the more contagious Delta variant making lockdown harder this time. Some parts of Sydney classed as hotspots and were under tighter restrictions and rules which included the suburb we live and I work. In the Sydney region only 1 person could go to the shops. This year we still able to get weekly online groceries delivered which we couldn’t last year however at times drivers couldn’t come into the building so I needed to go down to the front door and bring the groceries up to the apartment myself. Normally Mr StitchNSew and I go to the shops together and pick up any items we don’t get in the home delivery and he carries them home on the back of his wheelchair. He wasn’t allowed out to help so if a grocery item didn’t arrive in the online order and I couldn’t carry it home by myself we didn’t get it. Fortunately we are both good list makers and planners so our meals were planned out based on what we had already and lists were written out for what essentials I needed to carry home. Due to our location being a hotspot I was having 3 day testing done. I don’t flinch now when a swab comes nears me. I will say it is really hard to have a swab done if you can’t stop laughing. Often I knew the people doing my swabs and we would be busy chatting and laughing through the test. I was fortunate to be double vaccinated just prior to the start of the June outbreak and Mr StitchNSew was double vaccinated in September. Earlier this month I had my booster shot just before the Omicron variant started to hit Sydney. Mr StitchNSew will hopefully get his booster next month. I’m very cautious at the moment as this latest version seems to be hitting those vaccinated. I know it is milder but I just don’t want to risk things with Mr StitchNSew’s health.

I have trained with a mask on at all times at the gym this year

My fitness took a hit this year. Like many people I gained some Covid kilos. Gyms closed in the June lockdown and didn’t reopen until mid October. You could train with a trainer outdoors which I did once after Mr StitchNSew came out of hospital but I stopped after that as Covid case numbers increased and I didn’t want to risk it. Once Mr StitchNSew was vaccinated I more comfortable and commenced training outdoors with my trainer so I missed about 8 weeks of training.  My focus was keeping Mr StitchNSew safe so I was avoiding anything not 100% necessary. I find training outside different to training in a gym (not the same intensity) When gyms reopened I felt like I had gone backwards by a lot. I knew I gained weight (we had started eating fruit, jelly and custard/ice cream every night after the surgery as it was easy for Mr StitchNSew to chew) I didn’t have the same stamina and my hips were sore more. Last year on my 40th birthday I swore I didn’t want to be like this at 41 but here I was feeling even worse. For weeks after gyms reopened it was getting me down. I was training the day before my 41st thinking about what I said, I stopped to think what exercise my trainer had me doing. It was a new one that involved kneeling on knee whilst I lifted weights. I was almost in tears when I realised that I was doing a challenging exercise and not doing basic entry level exercises. Yes my fitness is down a little but talking to a Doctor in E.D one night (I had to take my dad in) a lot of people were returning to the gym expecting to start back where they finished in June and that won’t happen as everyone has lost fitness no matter what you did during lockdown and how hard you trained. The slight weight gained isn’t helping my hips but the reason they are sore is now I’m getting more range of movement in them as I gain strength and flexibility. They are protesting as they are not used to moving in this way. There is still room for improvement but I’m working at it even doing more exercises at home than I did before.  

Sustainability and reducing waste has been a big focus for us this year. We are now more conscious of items we purchase, packaging and using produce all up instead of wasting it. It has changed the way we shop and cook. I call it Mr StitchNSew’s kitchen. He is good at planning our meals dependant on what we have at hand in the fridge and freezer. Often we get 2 meals from one and I’m good on thinking of different ways to use leftovers. We introduced a rule that leftovers must be properly put away in a container and used in another dish within a few days so they don’t get forgotten. We do have the occasional mishap which results in food waste but for the most part we have reduced down significantly the amount that we toss out. We recycle more now too so overall less bin waste. We have a large garden for a small balcony and have been enjoying tomatoes for most of the year. I’ll be honest and say that I’m still struggling with some parts of reducing waste with my OCD issues. I hate touching my food to eat when I’m not at home. I can’t stand if my hands or face feel sticky or even just the slight bit greasy so I’m still using disposable baby wipes and plastic sandwich bags. I haven’t looked into beeswax wraps yet, I have to feel them first as I think I will still have issues of the texture on my hands. I’m starting to look at other reusable options I can make myself to help reduce some of my disposables.

This year was eventful and busy but it was a good year for us. We have settled into our new place. We got to make it a home as we fully unpacked and found our way. We are still tweaking small storage areas around the apartment that we are finding aren’t working for us but now that we have the time and space we can focus on that.

Cassiy

2020 Thoughts And Reflections

Two things before I start this blog post which as the name suggests are my general thoughts and reflections about 2020. Firstly I don’t think anyone should compare their year to another persons. The global pandemic impacted everyone worldwide. Each country, each city faced their battles with it. I don’t think you should feel guilty or lucky because your experience during it wasn’t the same as someone living in another country or even living across the road. Each household, each person had different experiences and issues they dealt with. I’m sure one day someone will write a book about 2020 and interview people from across the globe. Each persons story will be different and it would be an interesting book. Secondly during this post I’m not going to keep saying I’m grateful. Believe me I’m grateful for a lot of things that happened, a lot of people this year.

Discarded face mask an all too common scene in 2020

 

2020 was always going to be a big year in the house of StitchNSew. At the start of the year we knew we would be moving, Mr StitchNSew would have his surgery at some point and I was turning 40 (which is just another number to me) A lot of big milestones in the year. What no one knew was the global pandemic which would impact us all. I work in a hospital which I think made understanding how serious the virus was easier. Australia hasn’t had the high numbers of infections as other countries. In Sydney the outbreak that is currently going on is the worse we’ve had. Some people are taking the risk of infection seriously and are doing what they can to prevent it but its frustrating seeing others that don’t take it seriously. Part of Sydney is in lockdown at the moment due to the outbreak but we did have wider lockdown which lasted a couple of months earlier this year. Even after lockdown restrictions were lifted we continued living our lives in pretty much the same fashion. We only leave the house to go to the shops if we need something. We don’t go out socialising, go to cafes or just go to the shops for something to do. It just isn’t worth the risk. Working in a hospital I’m around a lot of people and I don’t want to be the asymptomatic person who unknowingly passes things on to other people if that was the case. Daily temperature checks and wearing face masks has just become part of my normal routine in 2020. One thing I did discover is that I always have a low body temperature, one day I had 3 thermometer guns fail on me and the last one was after 3 cups of coffee! Now I can give a reason for always wearing a jacket indoors even in summer (I also hate air con) I’m clearly always cold. Mr StitchNSew and I are both introverts and prefer to be at home. Living like we are at present doesn’t make us feel like we are missing out on anything.

Like a lot of people we used Zoom for the first time this year. I’ve used a similar program at work the last few years so the concept wasn’t completely foreign to me. Thanks to Zoom I attended more of my knitting group meetings this year than I had in previous years. It was nice to catch up with people and chat all things yarn. I liked that from the comfort of my loungeroom I could login on meeting days at the time I wanted too and stay for as long as I feel comfortable for. I didn’t have the travel time or need to carry my projects with me I just turned the laptop on. Zoom also gave us the opportunity to listen to author talks hosted by different libraries. If the talk had been at an actual library we wouldn’t have gone due to the timing and the need to travel. Online we were able to sit in our loungeroom and hear the author speak no matter how tired we were or what the weather was like. One talk I attended was hosted by a library in Victoria (another state within Australia) and people were logged in from around the world to hear the talk. That’s a positive that came out of this year as if it hadn’t been hosted on Zoom a lot of us couldn’t have attended.

Packing and moving house did open up my eyes to what we actually own and use. I’m glad I spent the couple of years prior to it slowing starting to declutter beforehand because we had accumulated a lot of stuff that we weren’t using. As we packed over a number of months seeing what left to the final stages of packing as that was what we were using every day there really wasn’t a lot of stuff. In your mind you think you use more things than you do. We’re not perfect and yes we still do have items that we kept that we really don’t need. We will get rid of them eventually. I still do like the minimalism concept. We’re still trying to work out what our level of minimalism is. Each person has their own level, ours is still a work in progress. Decluttering continues, as I come across things I often stop and think do really do we need this or have we been using something else in its place the last 6 – 12 months. Importantly we are watching what we are bringing into the house so the cycle of clutter doesn’t continue.

Waste Not by Erin Rhoads

We have always been pretty environmentally conscious and done what we could in terms of recycling. This year we’ve changed our behavior in terms of our choices for items. We are making conscious decisions trying to use more sustainable item, moving away from single use plastics if we can and using what we’ve already got. Some things have been easy like reusable kitchen towels or using a piece of newspaper to wipe any remaining grease out of a frying pan. I am struggling in terms of using zip lock bags. I have OCD and a big part of it revolves around food. If I’m not at home I can’t touch my food whilst I’m eating. I can’t eat my sandwich unless I’m holding it in a bag. I know there are beeswax wraps but I haven’t tried one yet to see if it will still keep my sandwich fresh in the fridge if it gets made the day before. I do recommend reading Erin’s book Waste Not as she has a lot of tips in it, she was actually the author I heard from Victoria speak. We still have a long way to go to being more sustainable but the important thing is we are conscious of what we are doing and we are trying. In my previous post I mentioned not buying fabric, that’s one of the conscious decisions I’m making to use what I already have first. I have decided I’m no longer going to get an acrylic yarn I like as I get it posted from the UK, I’m conscious of the carbon footprint of having it flown by air. At the shops I can get some nice yarns which come to Australia via sea rather then air mail so in future if I need to purchase any I will do it that way, that’s of course after I have checked my yarn stash first.

In 2019 I lost of heaps weight, 2020 not so good. It has been a culmination of not having 40+ steps to walk up each day anymore, stress and the hecticness of 2020. I trained on the day of my 40th and I told my trainer “I’m 40 and fat and I don’t want to be like this at 41” Bad habits have crept in which I need to break. I’m not beating myself up over what has happened. I never had to be conscious before as to what I ate but now I do. I will kick myself back into gear, I need to focus on me a little which I haven’t done in 2020.

2020 wasn’t the disastrous year for us. We had a lot of good moments. Yes the global pandemic made things difficult at times but you just had a deal with things and take each day as it came.

I don’t make new years resolutions or set myself goals, I believe if you want to change something you start now and not wait for some magic date on the calendar. We have no big events in 2021 so we’ll just keep doing what we are doing.

Cassiy

2020 Charity Bags

Last weekend I dropped off my Share The Dignity charity bags at our local Bunnings which is a collection point up until November 29. If you’re not aware of the charity or the annual bag donation drive the charity askes people to donate a bag full of essential items. The bags are collected then distributed out to homeless woman or those in crisis accommodation.

I start collecting and planning items for my bags from the moment I drop off my bags each year. I have a storage box under the bed that I put all the items in as I get them. In previous years most of the contents came from hotel stays throughout the year. With us moving, Mr StitchNSew’s surgery and getting the mortgage I knew in 2020 we wouldn’t be staying in as many hotels as much so I set myself the challenge of spending $20 per bag to fill them. In previous years I never kept to a budget as I never really had too but I was mostly getting a lot of stuff for free anyway to fill them. I ended up being $5.20 over my total of $60 (I always make up 3 bags) This didn’t include the card I purchased to write a note in for each bag. Please don’t think I sound petty for adding up how much I spend for charity. Share The Dignity is a wonderful cause that I want to keep supporting each year I just need to find the most frugal way to do so without cutting back on the number of bags I make up. Due to Covid this year which wasn’t anticipated when I set myself the challenge last November I’m not that worried I failed my frugal challenge. I wasn’t at the shops looking for bargains all the time, we did stalk our local supermarket most weeks looking for discounted or sale items. To be honest I didn’t know the price of a lot of items as a lot of the items in the bags we don’t use/buy as we use other items eg a 3in1 kids shampoo/conditioner/bodywash or reusable cloth pads. In 2021 I’m setting myself the same frugal challenge of $60 for the 3 bags. I’m going to look in a couple of other shops that I didn’t this year to see their products and prices so perhaps I can stretch my budget that way.

Once again this year besides making the bags I added in a few handmade items. Each bag got a shawl, facecloth and 2 face masks as I consider face masks as an essential item in the current climate. I have already started knitting scarves for my 2021 bags. Besides face cloths I’m not sure yet what other items I will make.

I was worried my bags would feel empty this year but they were fully packed. The pocket on the front of bag fitted the card nicely without it falling out so I will be doing that pocket again next year. I have my fabric picked out for the bags so will start working on them earlier in the year like I did this year so I don’t feel rushed to get them finished. I want to keep supporting this charity each year I just need to find the most frugal way to do so.

Cassiy

Overnight Guest

We have a small reserve directly opposite our apartment block which has about 4 trees in it. It is home to a pair of magpies. As Mr StitchNSew and I are both bird people we have been watching the pair since we moved in. At our old place we had a lot of contact with the local birds. It is breeding season at the moment and we were delighted to see that the pair now had babies in the nest. Last week late one afternoon just before it got dark we heard all the birds in the area making a fuss and looked over to see one of the babies had come out of nest early which often happens sadly but that is part of nature.

With a box and some fabric we went down to see if we could help the baby back in the tree. The baby wasn’t very tiny and could run around it just didn’t have the strength yet to fly back up to the nest. Without distressing her too much were able to catch her. Once she was in the box coved in the fabric she stopped calling out. Neither of us were in the position to be able to climb the tree to put it back so we decided the best option was to ring WIRES which is the wildlife rescue service in NSW. They gave us directions on how to care for the bird until a WIRES carer could come out to our place to collect the bird. 

Once we got back to our unit we found a better box and some additional fabric to make her more comfortable. We were instructed not to feed it but we could give it water. She was too little to drink from a bowl but after some persuasion took water from a plastic syringe. Mr StitchNSew camped out in the lounge room all night to regularly check on her and give her water when she woke up. Don’t know if it was a boy or girl but we kept saying it was she. She was very settled and calm in the box. The next morning she did hear the other birds outside and started to call out but she settled again. She never tried to get out of the box but she did kept popping her head up whenever she heard Mr StitchNSew move about near her box. 

At the time we caught her I didn’t have any nests that I make for WIRES as I had sent in the last I had finished prior to the move. I did find a half completed one so finished it off. She was sleeping when I finished it so it was put in her box during the night. She watched it get placed in the box then went in it to sleep without coaxing which was nice. 

The carer who came to collect her said sadly she wouldn’t be able to be returned to that tree. Instead she will be released elsewhere when she is strong enough. In a way that was really sad but knowing that we were able to save her and give her a chance was a nice feeling. Over the years in the local area we have seen enough dead wildlife to know it isn’t always a happy outcome. I have so much respect for WIRES and all the carers that help out the native wildlife. Due to the circumstances of this year I haven’t been able to make the items I’ve made for WIRES in previous years but having our little visitor reminded me of how important it is to support them. I want to get back into the habit I had before of always having some sort of item for WIRES on the go. I would always have a knitted pouch on my needles or cloth pouches that were in some part of the sewing process ready for me to pick up and work on when I could. I enjoy crafting for WIRES and supporting them in a practical way. It’s time to get back to it. 

Just to add the parents of this little one were quiet the first day but now we are seeing them return to normal. They do have another baby which is a little bit older and is strong enough to be out of the nest as by chance I had met this other baby as I was walking to work on the day we ended we rescuing this little one in the afternoon. I don’t know if the parents will have another egg this year but we’ll continue to keep an eye out for all of them. 

Cassiy

 

 

Storage Solutions For Apartments

Our apartment is 102 square metres which is decent size. I must admit it does have a lot of in built storage in the areas such as the bathrooms and some in the living areas but some areas just felt like wasted space. Although we are trying to follow minimalist principles of not having excess stuff we don’t need the truth is we still have a lot of stuff and it needs to be put somewhere. With all the expenses that came with moving I’m trying to cut back on spending money however I’m looking at these as one off expenses that will benefit our place for the long term. Before I hit the shops I did a lot of searching on the Ikea and Howard’s Storage World websites for storage solutions for our ‘wasted areas’

Kitchen

Kitchen

So the current trend is that appliances need to be hidden away behind doors. We have a ‘fridge’ cupboard. The fridge we had in the old place leaked. Our original plan was to get a new one when we moved in, unfortunately Covid changed our plans. Firstly I couldn’t get to the shops, secondly with everyone spending so much time at home fridges became a high demand product and there was a 6-8 week wait to get one. We didn’t want a leaking fridge behind closed doors so we put it in our lounge area and put our small freezer in the cupboard instead. When we did manage to get a fridge that could be delivered quickly (ex display stock) we discovered it didn’t fit inside our cupboard so we decided to keep the freezer in there. I wasn’t happy with empty space above it and decided it needed shelving. I had seen shelving before for above toilets and discovered that Howard’s had one similar which could be used in bathrooms or laundry to make use of space above appliances. Our freezer is about the same size as a washing machine so this shelving unit was perfect. It is stainless steel and very sturdy. It was actually very simple to put together. We are still experimenting around with what we are fully going to put on the shelves. You select where you want the shelves but I am happy with these. Just by putting them items we have on the shelves has made life easier, I don’t need to carry my breakfast cereal tubs into the kitchen each morning for breakfast now and Mr StitchNSew doesn’t need to bend down low to get his juice bottles.

Sink

Under the sink is a problem area for a lot of places not just apartments. Again at Howard’s I found a shelving system. This one is fully customisable so you can place the plastic shelf pieces around your pipes. Again it was simple to put together. Now to be honest I’m happy that this has given us a bit of extra space but I think this area still needs some work. I might have to move things around a little. I think the shelving system is a good idea and it wasn’t a waste to get it.

Balcony

Shed 2

We have a decent size balcony but no storage as is the case with most balconies. Ikea has a storage unit which is powder coated steel so can be used outdoors. It looks big in the picture but when I saw it instore I was worried it wouldn’t be big enough but once we assembled it I was surprised. We call it ‘The Shed’ It has all items we would normally keep in a shed or laundry (our laundry is tiny) We keep finding more and more items to place in it thus freeing up room in other cupboards.

Shed 1

The doors have magnets to hold it shut but admittedly they aren’t very strong and kept coming open. Our solution as a closure we are using old alan keys from previous Ikea furniture and threading them through the latch where you could place padlocks. Our rule is if you open the door you place the key on top of the unit so it doesn’t get lost.

Thanks to Mr StitchNSew who has done most of the unpacking we have all our kitchen/linen/lounge unpacked. We are still working out where we want things and changing stuff around on shelves. I’m really pleased with our additional storage. As I mentioned yes it was another expense I didn’t really want but long term it is worth it. If I’m not careful I can easily be a messy person but I am trying to establish good routines of putting items away once I finish with them. I like the phrase “A place for everything and everything in it’s place” We are still in the process of finding the places for all.

Cassiy