16 January 2022

Starting The Year Off Right

I have set quite a few goals for myself for this year. Mostly small ones, like meal planning, eating healthier and making better use of my time, and I have set a few bigger ones as well. 

One of those bigger goals is to organise my home in a way that works for me.

Decluttering and organising my home is something I have been working on for a while now, but there were still a few areas that I hadn’t gotten to yet. One was my pantry. It didn’t matter how often I cleared it out and reorganised it, it always ended up a mess and I was fed up with having to move six things to find the one thing that I needed.

So I started looking for a way to organise things that looked good but didn’t cost a fortune. I finally decided on these black wire baskets.

L. T. Williams stacking basket $12.00 from Big W and this smaller one from Kmart which cost $4.00.

So my pantry went from looking like this


to looking like this.

It’s still not perfect, but it’s so much easier moving one basket to get to the one behind rather than moving multiple things. I also added another shelf riser for the canned goods, which has made them much easier to access.

There were also a couple of cupboards in the kitchen that, while they weren’t terrible, could use some improvement. The spice and oil cupboard and the cupboard where I keep the baking trays.

The spice cupboard wasn’t too bad, but like the pantry, I had to take things out to reach what was in the back. 

 I took before photos, but I cannot find them so here are the afters.


For the spice cupboard, I bought a bamboo Lazy Susan from eBay and a plastic one from Kmart so that any spills were easy to clean up. They made such a difference to the amount of space in this small cupboard.

The bamboo one holds all the herbs and spices we use regularly with the less used ones to the side. The plastic one holds oil, soy sauce and other condiments we use in our cooking.

I used this adjustable kitchen rack from eBay to organise the baking trays; it has made such a difference.



I also organised the pantry cupboard in the laundry, which not only holds the dog food and cleaning goods but also the overflow from the pantry.



Much better!

The bathroom cupboards are next on my list and, after that, the garage. The garage is one space I have been putting off as it was my housemate’s space and he was not the tidiest of people, so it is a mess in there. That will have to wait until autumn when the weather is cooler though as it is just too hot to do it now.

Have you set any goals for the new year? Is organising and decluttering one of them? Let me know in the comments below.


*I apologise for the less than perfect photos, but the lighting in my kitchen and dining is terrible.







 

05 January 2022

Books Read in 2021

I’ve always enjoyed reading ever since my grandmother gave me my first book at age 10. Some years I read a lot of books, and some years not so much. In 2015 I read 76 books, a number I haven’t been able to match since. 

Last year my intention was to read twenty-one books, but I fell one short of my intention. Seventeen of the books were from the library and three were from my own bookshelves. Of the twenty books, I finished all but two, and there is one missing from the list, as I forgot to write it down.

My favourite book this year was Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. She is a fabulous writer. The  books are set in Quebec, Canada and the fictional town of Three Pines, a place so small it isn’t even on a map, a place filled with interesting, and mostly likeable characters and murder. 

My least favourite book this year was Hattie’s Home for Broken Hearts. I don’t want to give too much away, but the title is a complete misnomer. From the title, you would assume that Hattie runs a home for broken-hearted people, but that just isn’t the case. I also just couldn’t warm up to the main character. The book got a rating of 4.12 on Goodreads, so maybe it’s just me.

My goal this year is to read at least twenty-two books most of which will be from my own shelves as I have seventy-eight books waiting to be read, but there are a few on my “Want to Read” list that I will borrow from the library.

Murder at the Vicarage by Jill McGowan 3.5/5

Deepening snow has isolated the village of Byford from the outside world, but as the locals settle down for the festive period, the peace is suddenly destroyed with news of a violent crime at the vicarage.


The victim is the vicar's son-in-law, but few are saddened by his death. And although Chief Inspector Lloyd is expecting an open-and-shut case, he is soon confronted with more than he bargained for.

Struggling to keep control of his personal relationship with Sergeant Judy Hill, Lloyd must work his way through a tangle of suspects, each doing their part to disrupt the investigation in this perplexing mystery.

'Murder at the Old Vicarage' is Jill McGown's classic homage to Agatha Christie, with a decidedly uncosy twist.
 

A Wood of One's Own by Ruth Pavey  DNF
After years of living in London's urban jungle, Ruth Pavey dreamt of reconnecting with the British countryside. In pursuit of a haven from the unrest of city life, she embarked on a journey to find the perfect plot of land on which to plant a wood. But creating this would-be sanctuary proved more daunting than she expected. In this inspiring memoir, Pavey shares her story of finding peace by sowing her legacy in the form of a wood, one tree at a time. Chronicling her struggle to clear away the brambles to make a place for herself in the world, Pavey's story is both enchanting and candid, and at times self-deprecating as she recognises her shortcomings as a landowner. By probing her own motivations and her enjoyment of the solitude and beauty of the place, she shares her insights into our relationship with nature - and our destruction of it. Her intelligent understanding and caution against our romanticising of rural living forces us to consider the reality of country life in Britain today. With charming descriptions of the Somerset countryside and abundant with tales of its history and inhabitants (both past and present), Pavey's story is at once lyrical and beguiling. 

My Four Seasons in France by Janine Marsh 3.5/5
A little over ten years ago, Janine Marsh and her husband gave up their careers in London to chase the good life in the countryside of northern France. Having overcome the obstacles of renovating her dream home - an ancient, dilapidated barn - and fitting in with the peculiarities of the locals, Janine is now the go-to ex-pat in the area for those seeking to get to grips with a very different way of life.
In this book, Janine regales us with the delights and dramas of a year, attempting to live the rural idyll. Each month brings to light a new aspect of life in the French countryside: snow in January, resulting in a broken arm, which leads to an etiquette lesson at the local hospital; wild winds in February; cuckoos in March; and giant hailstones in July that destroy cars and houses and bring the villagers closer together.

The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin
DNF 
Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris? Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read!

Picturing days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and people-watching on the Champs-Elysees Sarah boards the plane. But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream isn’t quite as rosy in reality?

Return to Prior's Ford by Evelyn Hood 4/5
 The course of true love never did run smooth, as the Prior’s Ford villagers are beginning to discover. The once-failing Tarbethill Farm is facing a happier future thanks to Alison Greenlees but Ewan McNair doesn’t see himself as the sort of husband Alison deserves, while at Linn Hall the return of famous actress Meredith Whitelaw is bad news for her daughter Ginny, anxious to catch the eye of the son of the house. And Thatcher’s Cottage is now home to Dr Malcolm Finlay, a retired university academic with a secret ability to turn the hearts and heads of almost all the women in the village.

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan 4.5/5
The village of Chilbury in Kent is about to ring in some changes.
This is a delightful novel of wartime gumption and village spirit that will make your heart sing out.

Kent, 1940.

In the idyllic village of Chilbury change is afoot. Hearts are breaking as sons and husbands leave to fight, and when the Vicar decides to close the choir until the men return, all seems lost.

But coming together in song is just what the women of Chilbury need in these dark hours, and they are ready to sing. With a little fighting spirit and the arrival of a new musical resident, the charismatic Miss Primrose Trent, the choir is reborn.

Some see the choir as a chance to forget their troubles, others the chance to shine. Though for one villager, the choir is the perfect cover to destroy Chilbury’s newfound harmony.

Uplifting and profoundly moving, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR explores how a village can endure the onslaught of war, how monumental history affects small lives and how survival is as much about friendship as it is about courage.

The Dig by John Preston 3/5

In the long hot summer of 1939, Britain is preparing for war. But on a riverside farm in Suffolk there is the excitement of another kind: Mrs Pretty, the widowed farmer, has had her hunch proved correct that the strange mounds on her land hold buried treasure. As the dig proceeds against a background of mounting national anxiety, it becomes clear though that this is no ordinary find ... and soon the discovery leads to all kinds of jealousies and tensions.

John Preston's recreation of the Sutton Hoo dig - the greatest Anglo-Saxon discovery ever in Britain - brilliantly and comically dramatizes three months of intense activity when locals fought outsiders, professionals thwarted amateurs, and love and rivalry flourished in equal measure.

Hattie's Home for Broken Hearts by Tilly Tennant 2.5/5

Hattie was once thrilled to call the beautiful city of Paris her home. But when her heart is broken by her boyfriend and she loses her dream job, she bids farewell to the city of love and hurries home to Gillypuddle, a sleepy village on the Dorset coast. But as she returns home she finds her parents struggling to cope with a terrible family tragedy.

In a desperate search for a new start, Hattie takes a job at the donkey sanctuary nearby on Sweet Briar Farm where Jo, the taciturn owner, certainly loves her animals far more than humans. Hattie can’t help but fall in love with the donkeys (and the opportunity to get close to dreamy Canadian vet Seth) but Jo is harder to get to know and when she finds her boss sobbing in her sleep one stormy night, she knows that her new friend is hiding a dark secret.

And when handsome newspaper reporter Owen does some digging into Jo’s past he finds something that connects her to Hattie on a whole new level. Can Hattie trust what Owen says, especially when he seems intent on standing in the way of her blossoming romance with Seth? And can Hattie help Jo to start healing and the donkeys of Sweet Briar Farm?

The School at Thrush Green by Miss Read 4.5/5

As two schoolteachers plan for their retirement, readers witness the challenges they face leaving their old home and learning to drive. Once again Miss Read will satisfy fans with her happy blend of nostalgia and authentic flavour.

Village Fortunes by Rebecca Shaw 5/5

Things are heating up in the village of Turnham Malpas. Now comfortably settled in the Big House, Johnny and Alice Templeton are over the moon at the arrival of their second son. But Johnny's roguish younger brother, Chris Templeton, is visiting from Brazil and causing not a little trouble in the village. For Ford and Mercedes Barclay, returning to the village after all these years - and after Ford's shameful imprisonment - is a big step. Will they be welcomed back or shunned? And will Ford be able to convince people he's a changed man? While most of the villagers greet the pair with open arms, there are those who still have their doubts. Meanwhile, poor Fran Charter-Plackett has some important decisions to make about her future. With all her siblings having flown the nest, the pressure is on her to decide what to do with her life. And when her parents discover Fran's shocking secret, things really start to get messy.

Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon 4/5

Who is Pietr the Latvian? Is he a gentleman thief? A Russian drinking absinthe in a grimy bar? A married Norwegian sea captain? A twisted corpse in a train bathroom? Or is he all of these men? Inspector Maigret, tracking a mysterious adversary and a trail of bodies, must bide his time before the answer can come into focus.

The Late Monsieur Gallet by Georges Simenon 4/5

A devastating tale of misfortune, betrayal, and the weakness of family ties, newly translated for the Inspector Maigret series

In the third Maigret mystery, the circumstances of Monsieur Gallet's death all seem fake: the name he was travelling under, his presumed profession, and, more worryingly, his family's grief. Their haughtiness seems to hide ambiguous feelings about the hapless man. Soon Maigret discovers the appalling truth and the real crime hidden beneath the surface of their lies.

Teacher, Teacher by Jack Sheffield 4/5

It's 1977 and Jack Sheffield is appointed headmaster of a small village primary school in North Yorkshire. So begins Jack's eventful journey through the school year and his attempts to overcome the many problems that face him as a young and inexperienced headmaster.

The many colourful chapters include Ruby the 20 stone caretaker with an acute spelling problem, a secretary who worships Margaret Thatcher, a villager who grows giant carrots, a barmaid/parent who requests sex lessons, and a five-year-old boy whose language is colourful in the extreme. And then there's also beautiful, bright Beth Henderson, who is irresistibly attractive to the young headmaster...

Warm, funny and nostalgic, Teacher, Teacher is a delightful read that is guaranteed to make you feel better, whatever kind of day you've had.

The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham 4/5

The mysterious recluse Eric Crowther was murdered, he lived in the gaunt house whose shadow fell across the White Cottage, much as the man himself overshadowed the lives of the occupants of the little white house. Indeed, as Detective Chief Inspector W.T. Challoner soon discovered, seven people had good cause to murder him. Everyone ought to have done it, but by the evidence nobody had. The seven suspects, all with excellent motives for killing the hateful Eric Crowther. So it was not lacking evidence but rather a surfeit of it that sent Challoner and his son Jerry half across Europe in pursuit of the trail. He collected their secrets. And he used them. But which of these long-time sufferers had found the courage to pull the trigger? And should this benefactor really be prosecuted?

Mister Teacher by Jack Sheffield 4/5

It's 1978, and Jack Sheffield begins his second year as headmaster of a small village primary school in North Yorkshire. There are three letters on his desk - one makes him smile, one makes him sad and one is destined to change his life forever. This is from nine-year-old Sebastian, suffering from leukaemia in the local hospital, who writes a heartbreaking letter addressed to 'Mister Teacher'. Jack tries to help, and so begins a journey through the seasons of Yorkshire life in which the school is the natural centre of the community.

There's a colourful cast of characters who accompany Jack through the ups and downs of the school year including Vera, the school secretary who worships Margaret Thatcher and whose greatest ambition is to become President of the Women's Institute; Ruby, the 20-stone caretaker who sings like Julie Andrews; and Dorothy, the coffee shop assistant who is desperate to be Wonder Woman. Most of all, there is the lovely Beth Henderson, a teacher from a nearby school, who with her sister Laura presents Jack with an unexpected dilemma.

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny 5/5

When a peculiar letter arrives inviting Armand Gamache to an abandoned farmhouse, the former head of the Sûreté du Québec discovers that a complete stranger has named him one of the executors of her will. Still on suspension, and frankly curious, Gamache accepts and soon learns that the other two executors are Myrna Landers, the bookseller from Three Pines, and a young builder.

None of them had ever met the elderly woman.

The will is so odd and includes bequests that are so wildly unlikely that Gamache and the others suspect the woman must have been delusional. But what if, Gamache begins to ask himself, she was perfectly sane?

When a body is found, the terms of the bizarre suddenly seem less peculiar and far more menacing.

But it isn't the only menace Gamache is facing.

The investigation into what happened six months ago—the events that led to his suspension—has dragged on, into the dead of winter. And while most of the opioids he allowed to slip through his hands, in order to bring down the cartels, have been retrieved, there is one devastating exception.

Enough narcotic to kill thousands has disappeared into inner-city Montréal. With the deadly drug about to hit the streets, Gamache races for answers.

As he uses increasingly audacious, even desperate, measures to retrieve the drug, Armand Gamache begins to see his own blind spots. And the terrible things hiding there.

Finding Home by Roisin McAuley 3.5/5

Louise and Rebecca, good friends since their BBC days in Belfast, are searching for a suitable location to shoot a movie about Elizabeth I. As they stumble across Wooldene House, they meet owners Diana and Henry. Widowed Diana yearns for a new romance, while Henry is increasingly drawn to Louise.

The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft 3.8/5

Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it’s always dreamed of.

After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.

But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.

However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…

Settle down with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine as you devour this irresistibly festive Christmas tale. The perfect read for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

Test of Wills by Charles Todd 4.5/5

In 1919, Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge remains haunted by World War I, where he was forced to have a soldier executed for refusing to fight. When Rutledge is assigned to investigate a murder involving the military, his emotional war wounds flare. It is a case that strikes dangerously close to home--one that will test Rutledge's precarious grip on his own sanity.










01 January 2022

Happy New Year



I spent New Year’s Eve at my daughter and son-in-law’s house with his parents and my youngest daughter enjoying home-made pizza, wine and board games. It was the perfect way to end 2021.

2021 was a year of sadness for myself and my family. A year of loss and one in which many, many tears were shed, but a new year has begun and I look forward to making some happier memories over the next 365 days.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to read the blog this year. I appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to visit. 

I wish you all a New Year full of love, abundance, good health, and joy.

Until next time, stay safe, and be kind to each other, Janette





25 December 2021

21 November 2021

How Do I Recycle That

We all want to do the right thing by the environment, but it isn’t always easy to find the resources we need. Below is a list of resources I have found that might help. It's not a comprehensive list by any means, but one I will continue to add to it as I find more information.

Batteries - Aldi will take AAA, AA, C, D, and 9-volt batteries, single use and rechargeable as do IKEA, Officeworks and Battery World.

Bottle caps - Both metal/aluminium and plastic bottle caps are recyclable. Put them into a larger container made of the same material and when the container is full, it can then go into the recycling bin. 

Don't put individual bottle caps in the recycling bin as they can slip through the sorting process or cause the recycling machinery to jam

Bread tags - Aussie Bread Tags for Wheelchairs collects bread tags nationwide. The tags are recycled and funds raised are used to buy wheelchairs for disadvantaged people in Africa. You can find a list of drop-off points here

Brita water filters - Terracycle has a program for recycling these.

Car Batteries - Battery World, Repco Auto Parts, Super Cheap Auto accept old car batteries.

Coffee pods - Nespresso has it's own recycling program, you can read about it here.  

L'or, Moccona and Illy have a partnership with Terracycle. There is no cost involved, but you will have to sign up, and there is a minimum weight requirement of 2kg.

As well as the coffee pods mentioned above, Terracycle has programs for several other brands. Check their website to see if a program is available for the brand you use.

If you would like to check out what other programs Terracycle have available you can do so here.

If you would like a more sustainable option for your coffee pods, Pod & Parcel makes fully compostable coffee pods, including the packaging they come in.

Doonas -  Boomerang Bags will accept donations of doonas, quilting fabric and pillow cases. 

Ink cartridges - Australia Post accepts empty ink cartridges.

Flora and Fauna - Have a recycling program for all types of personal care products, including blister packs. Check it out here. You will have to create an account, and pay for posting, but you will receive a credit towards any future purchases.

Light globes - Can be dropped off at your nearest Mitre 10 store. 

Mattresses - This one is going to take some more research to find recycling centres nationwide. I will leave it here though and get back to it when I have some information.

Oral care products - Terracycle have set up a partnership with Colgate to recycle your old toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes ( remove excess paste before posting), and empty floss containers. they also have a separate program for electric toothbrushes. Check their website for more information. 

Organic material -The easiest way to deal with organic waste is to compost it at home. There is a variety of compost bins on the market, but if this doesn’t appeal, contact your local council and ask if they have green waste bins available for residents. Also, be sure to ask what you can or cannot put in them.

Pillows - Before you chuck those old pillows in the bin could you upcyle them? Make a bed for your pet, draught stopper, floor pillows, ottoman, and throw pillows are just a few ways to re-use them.

Postal satchels - Official Australia Post satchel can be recycled through the REDcycle program via Coles and Woolworths. 

Sports shoes - Tread lightly accepts athletic lifestyle shoes, any sports branded shoe, thongs and slides, football boots, sneakers, trainers, runners, and golf shoes. Click here to find a drop off point near you.

Towels - Can be made into unpaper towels, Confessions of an Overworked Mom has a tutorial. Alternatively they can be donated to your local animal shelter.