It’s been two weeks since we made (our very long) way to the land down under and six weeks with all of our indispensable stuff completely inaccessible in its snail-like shipping container. So we’ve been living like the
miserly beggarly thrifty resourceful wombles of Wimbeldon with twelve plastic cups, plates, knives, forks, and spoons that are washed and dried after each meal and enthusiastically encouraged to endure for just another one … and then another … and of course, another.
In this time, we’ve made the most of what the previous home owners so kindly left behind for us:
- one bouquet of flowers (now dead) and bottle of champagne (already drunk) to make us feel welcome;
- three self-sharpening knives, attached magically to the top of the pantry cupboard by no visible means, which have been invaluable in cutting every thing from bread to the rather large cardboard boxes in which everything we’ve ordered seems to arrive;
- one built-in tv unit, now home to six bottles of contemptuous don’t-drink-for-the-next-ten-years wine, one box of tissues, two self-install Telstra boxes and their bits, and all our life-and-death documentation for proving not only that we were born and exist but, more importantly, that we have the right to be here;
- two bread boards and one hall bench on which the children have relied heavily as they have tried to complete each day’s schoolwork with their mean mother protesting about their untidy handwriting;
- a half-finished bottle of dishwashing liquid (plus built-in dishwasher) to mock our use of plastic utensils whilst igniting the hope of pots and pans to come;
- three bags of pool chemicals to remind us that we chose to relocate during the bitterly cold weather months – clever! –
- four disembodied brass taps which have invited us to explore every nook and cranny with curiosity and wonder;
- OH! And one hairy spider who lives in the heating vent on the stairs and pops his head out from time to time to cheer, “faster, faster! Your bum’s already looking firmer!”
We’ve also mastered the art of recycling.
See below the foil tray that originally contained a ready-made lasagne and has been re-used to play a game of coin-toss, cook a roast beef (after a thorough washing and straightening of course), steam cauliflower, and, ultimately, rustle up this morning’s cheese and salami frittata (the cheese was minutely cubed with the magical knives as the grater is one of the things in the shipping container).
Also, the plastic containers from Tammy’s Thai Kitchen on our first night in town which have stored leftovers and come in handy as mixing bowls. And – the most recent addition – the cardboard tags from our brand new dining room chairs which double-up cleverly as coffee coasters.
Finally, we have become proficient in completing a weekly Woolworths shop for less than $150:
- Make a list of precisely what you are looking for – preferably steering clear of anything from aisles 2 through 8 as most experts agree that no processed items are beneficial to your health in any case.
- Buy bulk when it is sensible. You may not be able to finish 5kg of potatoes in a week, but a catering-size tub of mayonnaise will last for a lot longer and is probably much cheaper than its fancy-squeezy-tube relation. Actually, a household including two teenage boys should easily get through 5kg of potatoes AND the tub of mayonnaise in a week.
- When searching for the items on your list, look for the specials running in each section. You can often get up to 30% off of whatever it is that you’re looking for.
- Within those items marked as reduced, examine each one carefully as any item approaching its expiry date is further discounted – often by two or three dollars.
- Don’t be afraid to handle the produce. Pick it up. Smell it. Ask whether it speaks to you, “Eat me. I’m delicious. And nutritious.” Really, really feel it, and if you’re not feeling it, then maybe it shouldn’t have put it on your list in the first place.
- Use the self-service terminal to checkout. That way, when you come across something that won’t scan or you don’t know how to scan (because it has no barcode), you will have the choice between disturbing a manager who will have to come to your assistance or surreptitiously setting it aside. The savings are surprising!
All in all, life on the floor has been surprisingly pleasant and revealed some of the pioneer spirit long hidden beneath Sorbet manicures and years of daily household help.
As the Wombles so proudly proclaimed:
We’re so incredibly utterly devious
Making the most of everything
Even bottles and tins
Pick up the pieces and make ’em into something new
Is what we do.