Archive for the ‘Something thrifty this way comes’ Category

Salsa and soup…and evidence that I cannot neatly ladle soup into these bowls.



Makes about 6 servings

  • 1 kg of carrots, peeled and chopped into lengths
  • 1 brown onion, diced finely
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1-2 tsp dried rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Vegeta stock powder


Makes about 4 servings.

  • 1/4 of a thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • handful of basil and parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of roasted red peppers, diced

Soup: Heat your oven to 180°, pop some baking paper on a sheet pan and tip on your carrots. Drizzle with olive oil and rosemary and a sprinkle of salt and pepper then pop in the oven for 40 minutes or until soft. You will need to turn them once or twice to ensure they get lovely and roasted all over. Meanwhile boil a kettle and mix your 1-2 tsp vegeta with 2 cups of boiling water.

Once your carrots are roasted you are GTG for the rest of the soup. In a large saucepan, cook your brown onion until soft and translucent, then add your garlic into the pan, cook until fragrant and then add your carrots. Stir well and cook for a minute or two, then add your 500mL of stock and another 500mL of water. Bring to the boil and then cook on a low heat with the lid on for about 40 minutes, season to taste.

Take off the heat and cool, then blend in a blender or an immersion blender. Once blended and cooled, you can chill (or even freeze) the soup at this point and reheat when needed. If the soup is a little too thick, add a little water when you reheat and check the seasoning.


Salsa: Combine red onion and the vinegar in a bowl and let stand for at least an hour until the onion softens. Then add in the herbs and capsicum, stir well and season with salt and pepper then let stand for about 30 minutes. Spoon on top of soup just before serving.

Marinading to release the flavours

Hot tips: Grit your teeth and respond with “No it doesn’t” when one of your friends leaps to assume it has coriander in it because there is something green in it (and they have apparently forgotten the numerous times over the years they have highlighted they don’t like coriander to you and the numerous times you have remembered that particular dislike without needing to be prompted when catering for their culinary preferences as they stand for this particular month). And grit your teeth and respond with “NO it doesn’t” when another of your friends says “is that tomato” (because they have forgotten the numerous times over the years they have highlighted the fact they don’t like tomato and the numerous times you have remembered that particular dislike without needing to be prompted when catering for their particular culinary idiosyncracies.) Then have another glass of wine.

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Cos lettuce halves with tomato quarters, slow cooked beef ribs and red cabbage coleslaw

I’ve previously shared with you a really delicious, creamy Purple Coleslaw with ginger, lemongrass and garlic.

This new version is a purple cabbage coleslaw for the days when you don’t want a creamy salad (perhaps you are cooking something that is quite fatty and rich in and of itself, like beef ribs). It’s a lot more simple that the creamy version, but word of warning: it’s not for the coriander h8rs.


  • 1/4 head of purple cabbage (red cabbage), finely sliced
  • 1/2 bunch of coriander leaves, chopped finely (coriander ha8rs could substitute mint and/or basil…I guess).
  • 1-2 tbsp sushi vinegar
  • 1 tsp caster sugar

Pop the cabbage in a bowl with a lid, add in the sushi vinegar and caster sugar. Shake and leave for 1-2 hours: I left it on the counter top but you could also leave it in the fridge. Every so often, shake your bowl (hence the need for a bowl with a lid) to make sure the vinegar and caster sugar are covering all the cabbage and the sugar is dissolving (you could also mix the sugar and vinegar together before you pop it on the cabbage, but I was lazy).

When you are ready to serve, add in the coriander and stir thoroughly.

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I don’t normally do product reviews or make product recommendations, except in passing when I am posting about something else. And in the interest of disclosure: I was not requested, or paid by any company to review their products. Any facts in this post were collated from their websites and all products were purchased by me.


This post is directed ATCHOOOO /boomtish


However these products are essential supplies for (most) first world households, so it’s important we consider a sustainable and more environmentally conscious approach. By changing our approach to “the basics”, we’re building consciousness and a scaffold to make bigger changes. And we’re ensuring our money talks to the corporations who measure their success by $ we spend: we can be the change we want to see in the world.

Or as Paul Kelly said: from little things, big things grow – although admittedly he was talking about The Gurindji Strike and Vincent Lingiari – and not blowing your nose or taking a crap.

I normally buy SAFE toilet paper, it’s endorsed by Planet Ark and is:

  • made from 100% recycled paper
  • biodegradable
  • not re-bleached
  • Australian made and owned
  • FSC accredited – with fibre sourced from responsibly managed forests
  • comes in large 400 sheet rolls to reduce packaging and transport

When my local shop was an IGA that was an easy enough exercise: go into shop with shopping list, purchase items off list including toilet paper, go to checkout and pay. Easy peasy.

…but a couple of months ago, my local Coles stopped stocking it. So I had to travel further and my shopping habits became: go into shop with shopping list, purchase items off list excepting toilet paper, go to checkout and pay. Then go to a different shop, purchase SAFE toilet paper, go to checkout and pay. Not so easy peasy. One might almost say: somewhat inconvenient and painful.


Safe Double Length Rolls

Additionally: I was still buying Kleenex tissues: I have bad hayfever and get bad sinus infections and colds, so I will always have tissues. I will likely have several sheets folded in my handbag of the moment (more in my work bag), plus a box by my desk, bed and sofa. I go through a lot of tissues. Plus they are handy for other things: emergency napkins etc. I don’t have a box to check, but Kleenex’s environmental statement indicates Kleenex Facial Tissue:

  • Has FSC Forest Stewardship Council certification
  • Has support of WWF to continuously promote environmentally sustainable products
  • Still using wood, but it is FSC wood
  • Does not discuss sustainable manufacturing process beyond environmental approach
  • Profits do not considerably contribute to social good (at 50% of profit donated, WhoGivesACrap is very focused on social good, as well as environmental and social sustainability)

So the situation was ripe for a change: I am (relatively) happy with where I shop, as it’s conveniently on the way home…but it was now no longer meeting all my needs. Mainly for my brand of loo paper…but also for Passata, diced canned tomatoes, quinoa, and semi sundried tomatoes in a jar. This was starting to make me grumpy: I don’t like to have to go to several different stores for items that I could previously get in just one store. Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy.

I saw a sponsored post for Who Gives A Crap toilet paper on Facebook, and it seemed worthwhile investigating.

Plus the packaging appeared to be predominantly paper-based, while SAFE’s extra long toilet rolls come in plastic (or waxed paper if you are lucky enough to find that version). Minimising plastic is also a good thing.


A box of loo paper, as you do.

And convenient: delivered to my door, plus if I ordered above a certain amount there would be no shipping (You’ll note WGC products are predominantly packed in cardboard and wrapped in paper: to my untutored eye, the only plastic was the strapping and tape holding the boxes together.)

Obviously doesn’t allay any “I’m all out…” moments, but given it’s a bulk order, it had potential. Plus the company does regular subscriptions, so once you know how often you go through the tissues and loo paper, you can set a regular order 😮

Who Gives A Crap toilet paper is:

  • 100% recycled post-consumer waste paper
  • Australian owned, but with a primary mission of improving lives of people in the developing world, so the toilet paper is produced in China where they are the primary customer of a fairly small production facility so we’re able to closely monitor labor conditions, quality and environmental issues
  • Where plastic is used, it is oxobiodegradable: depending on the local environment, the entire wrapper will biodegrade, leaving no rubbish or harmful residue. This process takes approximately 12 to 24 months to complete (compared with up to 1,000 years for regular plastic).
  • Comes in double length rolls  that are 400 sheets long
  • Not re-bleached: they don’t use any chlorine, inks, dyes or weird perfumes in their toilet paper, just pulp the clean fibres at super high temperatures

While their tissues are:

  • Super-soft
  • Tree-free tissues
  • Made of mix of bamboo and sugarcane—both of which are grown sustainably

In both instances, WhoGivesACrap donate 50% of their profits to WaterAid, an organisation with deep experience and skill in implementing high impact sanitation projects throughout the developing world.

I compiled this list from the FAQs, product pages and impact story on their website: au.whogivesacrap.org/pages/faqs

So I ordered a box of 24 double length toilet paper rolls and a box of 12 forest friendly tissues.

Cost comparison

Quantity Product Comparative Cost of Previous Brand Pros/Cons
1 Forest Friendly Tissues – 12 Boxes
Current online price $24.00
Kleenex 2 Ply White Facial Tissues  250 pack Based on Coles’ Current online price  $3.30
  • By cost: WGC: $2 for 70 tissues ($7.14 for equivalent amount of tissues) vs Kleenex: $3.30 for 250
  • By quantity: Kleenex is significantly cheaper BUT in terms of renewable resources, social good and sustainable manufacturing process, WhoGivesACrap is very focused on social good, as well as environmental and social sustainability. And no trees are in their tissues.
  • By quality: Kleenex is slightly softer, but WGC is still good to use.
1 100% Recycled Toilet Paper – 24 Double Length Rolls

Current online price: $30.00

SAFE Toilet Tissue 2ply 400 sheets – 6 double length rolls
Based on previous shopping dockets ~$6.86+
  • By cost: WGC: $7.50 vs Safe: $6.86
  • By quantity: SAFE is $0.64 cheaper
  • By quality: The quality of WGC toilet paper is better: it’s quilted (I think that’s the word) and softer.
1 Shipping (Delivery option selected)
Free if you order over $20.00
Most metro delivery fees range between $4 and $14, or free with Flexi-free delivery for 8 hour delivery windows and min spend $150*.
  • By cost: WGC:Free vs Coles delivery: $4.00-$14.00 (Free if you spend $150.00/more)

Given I now can’t buy SAFE double length rolls online, and my minimum order for the double length rolls means I spend enough to get free shipping: purchasing the loo paper from WhoGivesACrap does seem the most economical option.

And given any savings in price is mostly ameliorated by the different shipping prices, it’s definitely worth purchasing the toilet paper. I purchased on January 13, they arrived the next week and have lasted so far although I will purchase another box this week (so they are lasting ~5 weeks, going on 6 if I want to subscribe…).

I’m debating the tissues: they aren’t as competitive cost-wise, although in terms of sustainable purchasing: from both a social, economic and environmental point-of-view; WGC is probably the clear leader. I will have to look out other tissue manufacturers to see what else is available.

Update: 28 February

I’ve just purchased a box of 48 x 100% Recycled Toilet Paper – Double Length Rolls from WhoGivesACrap at the current online price of $48.00, that makes a pack of 6 = $6.00, if I want to compare equivalent costs per quantity. Shipping is free, which makes it the cheapest way to purchase environmentally and socially sustainable toilet paper that I have found so far,

I have separately found an alternate green tissue product, will review that in a future post 🙂

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Clean…as clean as I’ve been.

While I was on holidays I helped DIY Dad clean out the kitchen at DIY Dad-quarters as he’s in the process of renovating and the next step is to gut the back of DIY Dad-quarters, including kitchen, and redo it.

Segue #1: When it’s done, it will be only the second kitchen in his life that he has lived in which is complete and fully functioning (just like my kitchen was my first complete and fully functioning kitchen). Oh the novelty. Oh the amazement. He won’t know himself.

Segue #2: Like architects who live in unfinished houses, DIY Dad tends to live in houses that need a lot of his DIY attention. It should also be noted that DIY Dad’s version of procrastinating is also soooo DIY Dad: he builds something. Everyone else just lies on the couch and watches Masters of Flip/the cricket/Orange Is The New Black. Not DIY Dad: he builds furniture. For reals.

As part of the clean out, I had to go through family crockery and cutlery. Including the “family silver”. Some of it from my maternal grandmothers family, some from my paternal grandmothers family. All handed down and kept. And very badly tarnished as it has been stored in less than ideal conditions.

So I had to look at cleaning it. Did you know how painful it is to clean silver? Painful.


There’s no other way to put this, chaps: this is going to hurt.

Or should I say: Painful unless you know better.

First we start our silver cleaning journey the hard way…

And of course, I approached it like a traditionalist (to start with anyway): I got some silver polishing cloths (rationalising that as this is cutlery, it would be better to not use litres of silver polish on it). Polishing silver takes time, and elbow grease. Particularly when it’s tarnished, or ornate silver.


Elbow grease machine…powering…down…

While I was fine hand polishing the smoother and smaller pieces… when I looked at all the ornate cutlery still to do (including a giant silver soup ladle), my brain went into meltdown and my elbow greasing ability froze.

So what did I do? What I should have done to start with: I turned to Google.

Turns out, when you polish silver you are actually removing silver. Over generations of polish this loss builds up (…should that be “builds down” since I am taking about vanishing silver?). So it’s recommended you only polish silver once or twice a year.

Additionally, there are a heap of other ways to remove tarnish from silver. That don’t use toxic materials and are more about cleaning, than polishing. And some of these techniques involve readily available materials from around your house. These are like super easy and super simple (p.e.r.f.e.c.t.)

Given I was facing a mountain of ornate silver cutlery…I decided to trial a really simple one. And BY GOLLY: it worked.

Now let’s try silver cleaning the easy way…

All you need is:

  • An aluminium BBQ tray (or if you have ungainly items, a bowl which you have coated with aluminium foil)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp bicarb soda (aka baking soda)
  • Hot water (not boiling, but hot)

All you do is pop the salt and bicarb in the BBQ tray, cover with hot water and mix (I used a ceramic spoon to mix). Then submerge your silver items in the aforesaid “bath”. You may need to leave them in a couple of minutes if they are badly tarnished. Wipe them down with a cloth (any old cloth, not even a special silver cleaning cloth) and then dry them.




Seriously: magic.

And it’s non-toxic, plus you can recycle the aluminium at the end of it 😀 Winner winner, chicken dinner!

The links I’ve provided also give tips about dealing with really really tarnished silver, correct storage and what you should do moving forward. If you are a silver surfer, silver owner or just a dutiful DIY Daughter, I encourage you to read them as they.will.change.your.life.

But wait, there’s one more tip!

This silver platter was challenging as it was deeper that the other bowls I cleaned,  but I found I could clean it in stages.

First I tipped it on its side (you need the area being cleaned to have access to water that’s in contact with the aluminum, so filling it up was not an option), using a dipping sauce dish.


On its side, like a diva.

If you do that in stages (both either end length-ways and either end width-ways), you can clean it by immersion.


After the first stage, showing the cleaned quarter and the 3 quarters to do.

If you end up with a section in the middle that isn’t clean, don’t fret! I have a solution for that too!

Pour the water, salt and bicarb mix into the dish and then immerse s0me alfoil into it (you might need to hold it down with those little sauce dishes you’ve been propping it up with). Problem SOLVED.


A gleaming treasure chest…well gleaming treasure crate anyway.

I didn’t take a photo of the finished dish (I was getting a little tired of photographing the silver at this point), but you can see it hanging out with its friends in the photo above.

Next stop is to use some of this stuff more regularly (that stops it tarnishing) and store it in a dry environment (Silver doesn’t like humidity, humidity makes Silver sad. And when silver is sad, it cries tears of tarnish).

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If you look closely you can see lingerie in this garden…

As many of us know, stockings have many uses: keeping legs warm, accessorising outfits and more…however they are fragile things: always getting laddered (often at the most inconvenient of times).

It’s a shame to throw them out when they make great ties for plants. They are flexible, long and if you have a woman who wears them in the household, you will always have a steady supply.

In the past, I’ve used them to tie down the boot of my Echo when it was filled with furniture (oh the heady days of freecycling and exploring how many things you can fit into a Hatchback). Other people use Occy Straps, I use lacy stay ups: what of it?

Apparently stockings and tights can be used as an emergency replacement for a fan belt in older cars.

And they can also be used to tie back Cape Gooseberry plants so they don’t lie all over your Jalapeno chilli plants:


Bondage, Gardening Australia style…


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Moss-scape with old man fishing and bridge

DIY Dad retired on the 1st August, so I organised a shindig for him at my house on the 2nd August. I did have an elaborate and very long menu, as well as an even more elaborate and longer list of things to do before the shindig, including decorating my pad in a style fit for celebrating his retirement, getting a mattress and sundry other items from Ikea (jugs and so on) and cleaning and cooking and baking.

DIY Dads only retire once, so there had to be a level of celebration fit for the occasion.

In term of decorations, I’d saved a whole heap of moss from cleaning my gutters: put it into little terracotta pots I had lying around. I had the idea I’d use them for decorating a dinner party. With some porcelain statues from a Chinese bonsai place and florist, they became little moss-scapes.


Moss-scape with two fighting (or playing) pandas

They were quite cool, and I asked people to apply their interpretation to each vignette in the light of DIY Dad’s retirement.


Moss-scape with a bridge

Apparently my sister and I were the fighting/playing pandas, seems kind of apt.


Moss reused from cleaning out the gutters, turtle just because…in an old terracotta pot

I also harvested herbs from my garden (thyme, rosemary and mint) and popped them in old tin cans, also saved so I can use them for decorating. They contributed to the prettiness.


Moss-scape with two ducks

And I used old wine bottles with labels, plus a Limca and Thums Up bottle (Indian soft drinks) to hold purple irises.


Vignette of the dining table area, before set up.

I made the following:

  • White bean dip with crostini (vegetarian)
  • Celeriac Remoulade with crostini (vegetarian)
  • Mini sweet potato and feta frittatas (vegetarian)
  • Wild mushroom pate with creme fraiche on melba toasts (vegetarian)
  • Roast beef en croute
  • Honey soy chicken nibbles
  • Caramelised onion and feta tarts (vegetarian)
  • Pureed Pea and Pancetta Croustades (feta and mint version for the vegetarian)
  • Watercress and Potato Soup Shots (vegetarian)
  • Texas Sheet Cake bites plus Salted Caramel Macarons provided by one of my aunts (my other aunt provided champagne, oodles and oodles of champagne).

I also made Burgundy Beef Pies and Cocktail Leek pies, but a couple of people pulled out so I didn’t serve them (mmmm leftovers).


Sweet potato and feta frittata, pea and pancetta crustades, celeriac remoulade and crostini and cranberry delight

It was a fun night and DIY Dad really enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with friends, debate about the best red wine and generally have a good ol’ time.


More comestibles

DIY Dad had to work for his retirement party, though 😮 I asked him to take me to Ikea so I could purchase a mattress and then help me drag the freecycled day bed out from its current home in my studio do I had somewhere to sit all the extra peoples. It’s a  temporary arrangement, but it did for now 🙂


Freecycled day bed masquerading as a settee in the living room

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I went exploring Statewide Salvage on my Saturday early-afternoon. I was auspiciously pricing up louvred wardrobe doors (the sort they use on built ins in the 70’s and 80s) but also to have an explore of what’s on offer.

I found my doors and priced them up, now to return with DIY Dad for a reality check and to borrow his tape measure. I have a brilliant idea for the 3rd bedroom…

Enjoy the pics below, some beautiful bits of houses there just waiting to be adopted and reused:


Going (veranda) postal


A triangle of doors.


Filing doors


Wrong era, but I still want a m*therf*ckin t*rret on top of my house.


Let me get the door for you…


The forklifts were slacking off on Saturday, lazy little forkerlifts!


Small window, big view.


Diamond panes are a girl’s best friend


That’s finial!

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