Then life suddenly changed and we moved to the farm! It is amazing to think this time last year I don't think we were even sure we would be moving. Look at us now!
But all this meant I have had much less time to write so I continued my Friday posts and I have The Tuesday Afternoon Club as well.
But lately it has been on my mind to write a new series as I keep noticing so many interesting things. And many of you have too. Now we come from different locations but many of these will still be things in common.
First we really battled rising electricity and water costs. They doubled then they doubled again. They just kept creeping up. Being winter here there was a report the other day of people dying of hypothermia in their own homes simply because of the price of electricity. Heaven help us if we have one of South Australia's heatwaves at any time as people will die.
Water and electricity were once just things you took for granted. Now they are so expensive that people are really struggling. Watering a garden is so out of the question for many as well.
Another has been the price of meat, butter, eggs and many basics. One day I went to buy lamb chops for my Granddaughter who loves to hold the "little handle" and eat them. That day they were suddenly $45 a kilo! I wondered if there was a mistake! A block of butter is easily $8 unless you get a special or Aldi. Eggs are up to $8. Toothpaste is $8 and $10. Laundry liquid is up to $20! There used to be cheaper alternatives but they are becoming less. And wages haven't risen with all of this.
In fact house prices have fallen. So this asset has lost value while peoples debts and living costs have risen.
Interest rates have fallen so low and if they fall more where will we be? In negative interest territory. That is so mind boggling it is hard to get a handle on. You would have to pay the bank to keep your money in it. Before this the government is trying to stop people from using cash for larger purchase meaning stuffing your money in the mattress won't work either.
Petrol (gas) prices are high also. It is not long and this is passed on to the cost of groceries also.
What were treats like takeaway and a coffee and a cake out are also now shocking prices. Many of us have had a fright when we have bought something at a bakery or a cafe and found out a slice of something is $8.
Our British sisters have their own worries. I was just reading an article "No deal Brexit: Delays and food shortages expected." It was so interesting and a bit frightening and from very mainstream media.
Our USA sisters have very possible price rises and shortages as the vast majority of farming land just had very bad weather this season. Even absolute champion gardeners like Vicky have struggled to get a harvest. They just keep getting washed out.
Today I read that our government is trying to quickly fix the issue that Australia only has 21 days of fuel supplies. If any issue (and there are some right now) blows up the whole country would come to a standstill in 21 days. Many people don't even consider what that would mean. It would mean no food on the shelves, no medicines and no transport! Just for starters.
Next I notice so many on social media asking genuinely for advice on how to stretch the food in their child's lunch box, how to lower their food bill, how to cook from scratch... how to make it to the end of the week on $10.
My eyes nearly fell out of my head when I saw in a popular Australia home living magazine a few pages devoted to winter. They had a beautiful room and pointed out ways to stay warm. They hung a curtain rod across the front door and hung a quilt on it ... like they used to do in England to limit the gush of cold air coming into the home when the door is opened. Heavy curtains, door snakes, blankets to snuggle up in on the lounge. It was a direct address to power prices. I have never seen this in a mainstream magazine. It is the new normal.
Then I noticed constant requests for cakes and meals with no butter. And war time recipes with no butter and no eggs...
Articles on how to grow the most you can in a small amount of land.
More people keeping chickens even in the city.
People wanting to learn basic skills so they can save from cooking from scratch to mending, sour dough, yoghurt making etc.
Another big trend is re useable items and less throw away and waste. Some of this is from concern about the environment and some is to reduce costs. Mostly I think it is a bit of both. This is a good thing as they go hand in hand. So now reusable lunch wrap and containers, drink bottles, serviettes and cloth napkins, even cloth menstrual pads, nappies (diapers) drier balls, baskets to take shopping and cloth bags, everything that we don't have to buy and throw in the bin any longer is a saving in more ways than one.
I am glad to see this and have a smile because it is not new, it is how Nana lived. She would be so cool right now. Her shopping basket and change purse, her veggie garden and fruit trees, cooking from a few basic ingredients, swapping food and help with neighbours and relatives, mending and making do, fixing things or trying to! She did not think "mmm what will I go buy for dinner?" or "what do I feel like for dinner?" she worked out how to use up what she had and what was in the garden to come up with a meal. The shopping was not to a set plan or to a list of favourites so much as shopping to get the best deals THEN making a list from what was on hand now and to get the most possible meals and lunches to pack from all of this. Anything looking a bit tired was quickly made into something before it was "past it" so there was rarely any waste. Throwing large amounts of food in the bin would have been seen as unbelievably stupid and terrible waste.
You had fruit you picked and used it.
You had plums you made plum jam, cake, cobbler and you ate plums!
Nan and Pa would head off with lunches packed and a thermo of coffee and cold drinks. They studied the catalogues for the best specials and shopped many stores. Nan cooked everything. Pa grew veggies. Nan spun her own wool and knitted gifts. If there was fruit nearby it was time to make jam and pies. One of my Nans had a kind of fruit tree radar, she knew every fruit tree in about a 50 kilometre radius. Especially lemon trees. I inherited this gene. haha!
If you had a lot of eggs you cooked with eggs! If produce was fading fast you stayed up late getting preserves made!
You gathered what was useful to your family and you shared the rest with others.
Nan washed out her plastic bags and used rags to dust and clean. Her house was spotless and her linen smelled like sunshine. The clothes dried on the line and Pa helped her fold the sheets so they were so neatly stacked.
Nan was always busy. She was happy. She got on with her work and helped the extended family.
They rescued any stray animal and it became one of the gang. One time I remember Nan and Pa saw a dog had been left tied to a tree just outside their closest town. This town had about ten people population. Yep that was our town! Anyhow we headed off in their little car to see if this dog was still there. If it was the conclusion was that it had been dumped. And it was still there and it had obviously recently had puppies yet there were not there. So it had been dumped and the puppies got rid of we though... into the car she came. Her feeding up and looking after began instantly and she was part of the family for many years.
So even pets were what came your way you just looked after.
Neighbours moved in next to Nan and Pa. They had fled the war and came from Latvia. None of them could speak any English so Nan taught them. They became life long friends of us all.
Nan and Pa didn't take big fancy holidays. For many years they and my parents and my Aunty and Uncle all shared a holiday house at the beach about an hour away. This became an annual holiday for many years. Once there Nan still cooked the usual meals and Pa took us to the beach and swung us over the ways. He never grew tired of us saying "do it again!"
Nan and Pa's carbon footprint was miniscule. A while ago I said how I have realised I would much rather be home making jam then in a jet. It is true. And this was the way Nan felt.
When they built their house they actually made the bricks. Mum and her brother helped and they made large bricks until there were enough. This is how they got their house!
When I had Chloe Nan and Pa came to help. I was supplied with hand knitted baby dresses from Nan plus many of her friends and tiny soft smocked gowns and so many things all of which I still have. Nan kept us all warm with knits and now Mum does the same with knitting and crochet.
So here we are. For one reason or another we are going back to Nan's ways. Electricity is not freely used. You put on slippers and a dressing gown and have a hot drink and a blanket on the lounge. You collet the eggs and work out what you can make with what you have and how to stretch the roast with a ton of veggies and sides and consider how soup beforehand or desert after will further fill everyone up. Then they might not notice the reduced meat portion. You might even have meat left over to make the lunches or pies.
Food was quarrelled away and much of it was done via stretching things, substituting things, being inventive, growing things... but there was always a pantry and it was important. There was always a back up plan. An emergency meal wasn't takeaway it was a sandwich.
There are just so many things we buy now as we think we need them but Nan never heard of them. There are a lot of things we can drop from the list!
There are a lot of things that if we dropped them from the list we would be healthier as well as save money. Mind blowing amounts of money.
So we are going to work through this one subject at a time. We are going to start out with the laundry. I hope between us we can greatly reduce laundry costs. We are going to work through the whole house and garden and then also Christmas, birthdays, pets and holidays.
I just wanted to introduce the idea today to get us going and thinking.
What did your parents, Grandparents or Great Grandparents do that would be considered ridiculously cool and trendy now? Do you know much about how they got through WW1, WW2 and the depression?
For those interested in this subject Wartime Farm is a great series on You Tube and I love Great Depression Cooking with Clara Cannucciari. She has a book too that I am just reading. The old cookbooks are the best! They take basic ingredients and make beautiful homely nourishing food. What more could you want!?
See you next time for "How to beat rising prices in the laundry like Nan did." xxx