Friday, December 29, 2006

Use it up Challenge - update 3

Well I was doing well with my use it up challenge. Christmas provided a great opportunity to use up some of the bits and pieces of melting chocolate that needed using up. I didn't buy any for baking this year. :-) Some of my other baking supplies were made use of too.

Our Easiyo sachets are now more "up to date". I had some that were in need of fast use but they're now gone and we're back in the "habit" of making yoghurt which is an added bonus.

I've just made 2 meals worth of chicken kebabs and used up a sample sachet of honey soy marinade. They work out to about half the price of store bought ones, although I didn't factor in the cost of the marinade as it was a "freebie". I'd like to try making some lamb kebabs and perhaps stretching the meat out by adding some vegies (if I can find some the kids will eat - they're not big fans of traditional kebab type vegies like capsicum, onion and cherry tomatoes). Will try some pieces of zucchini and perhaps some baby corn or something. We'll see.

Just checking my use it up list now and I really need to use up some bits of jam. Planning to make jam drop biscuits but it hasn't happened yet. Will have to wait for a cooler day. Or perhaps one day I could make up the foundation biscuit mix and freeze in logs. That way I can just bake a few at a time in the microwave (has a convection oven in it as well) as that heats up the house much less than the main oven. Don't you love how just writing things out can help you come up with solutions. :-)

Now for the challenge to the "use it up challenge". We seem to have accumulated all manner of food in the lead up to Christmas. I just can't seem to help myself - all those goodies on special. So for the month of January I'm going to play the "how low can you go" game and see how little I can spend on food. That way we should eat our way through some of what we have on hand and save ourselves a few dollars at the same time. I'll keep you posted on how I go.

How was your Christmas?

Ours was fantastic!!! Never before have I been so relaxed on Christmas Day. Nearly all the food was pre-prepared and took DH and I about 5 minutes to cut up some fresh salad and put everything on the table. It was awesome! And we had more than enough food without the "traditional" 6 meats and 10 or so salads.

I love caravan parks - the atmosphere is soooo friendly. I was surprised how many people were there. It wasn't full but there were quite a collection. The people next to us were making their way home slowly from WA to Sydney (they'd been in WA for 12 months and were returning "home"). Very lovely people. :-)

It was coldish for Christmas but the kids still went for a swim. I went for a power walk along the beach. Was supposed to be a run but nursing a sore knee at the moment.

It was different not being around extended family on the day but still quite nice. I enjoyed the freedom of not being surrounded by technological gadgets like TV's, phone's and computers. Not that I'd want to live without them but it's nice to take that break occasionally.

The kids were so well behaved (which made it easier to relax) and want to go back every year for Christmas. :-) Not sure we'll do that but we do plan to mix things around a bit and have some years with extended family and some years where it's just our immediate family.

Now we've got the travelling bug again after talking caravans with some people on the other side of us who have a caravan like we think we'll get (depending on finance naturally). They were very interested in hearing of our plans to take the kids out of school for a term in 2009 to do a trip up the Eastern Coast of Australia. I'm sure it'll come quickly enough (seems to be) but we're now looking forward to it even more. In the meantime we'll enjoy our times away in the camper trailer. Hopefully we'll get away at least once more this summer holidays. Then the plan is some regular weekends away during this year. Yah!

Hope everyone else had a great Christmas. :-)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Photo of Santa

Well it's taken me a while but we've finally downloaded our photo's onto the computer so here's a photo of our Santa in his fire truck.

I'm glad he was inside the fire truck as last night while we were out we had fierce winds and heavy rainfalls. We're glad for the rain but poor old Santa probably wouldn't have survived.
As I'm expecting this to be my last entry before Christmas I just wanted to wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! Hope you have a happy and safe one with your loved ones. :-)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Edible Playdough

My 5 year old has been wanting to make peppermint creams for quite a while now. I told her we could make some in the holidays before Christmas. So, today was the day. Naturally all 3 kids wanted to be in on the action so I set them up to make a batch each. That worked out great as the recipe suggests dividing it up to make 3 colours. This way they could make 1 colour each and I knew we'd have plenty for "taste tests" as well as some leftover for Christmas Day.

It was such a simple recipe that it was perfect for even the 3 year old's involvement (with a bit of help from mum of course). His favourite part was the rolling and he made all kinds of shapes. Just like playdough really. Only it's safer to eat the finished product. :-)

For anyone interested, here's the recipe:


1 egg white
300g icing sugar
few drops of peppermint essence
food colouring (we made white, green and pink)

Whisk egg white in a bowl until light and frothy

Sift icing sugar and add gradually to egg white

Add peppermint essence and food colouring (if desired) - at this point you can divide your mix into 3 parts to make different colours if you desire

Kneed into a smooth ball - and until food colouring is evenly mixed

Roll into smooth balls, place on a baking tray and flatten with a fork

We plan to half dip ours in melted chocolate when they're set

I'm sure the kids are going to love eating their own creations on Christmas Day. And what's better is that they're so cheap. I usually spend around $6 on buying after dinner mints to have for Christmas. We already had the peppermint essence and food colouring and free eggs from our chooks so all up these cost me less than $1.00 to make the 3 batches. A little more if you count the chocolate but dark chcolate is on my list of "use it up" items so as an added bonus I get some help using up ingredients I'd bought for past baking adventures.

Monday, December 11, 2006


My 3 year old likes to be like dad in as many ways as possible. So instead of calling me mum, he now calls me "honey". It sounds so cute I nearly want to cry when he says it (happy tears of course). It's especially cute when they're both leaving together (DS likes to go with dad to check the sheep) and he sticks his head back in the back door just before they go and says "see ya honey". LOL. Kids are great aren't they.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Simplifying Christmas

I'm one of those people who has always loved Christmas. I remember when I was about 7 or 8 saving up the lollies my grandma used to give me (we saw her every second weekend) and then dividing them up so that I could give my older cousins a Christmas present. They thought it was "cute". LOL. When I got into my teenage years and had a little bit of pocket money I'd always buy gifts for my family and friends. Nothing very big. I didn't have a lot of money. I just love giving people gifts.

This is one of those "good traits" that can turn into a "not so good" trait. I have a tendency to go overboard when it comes to buying gifts, particularly for my children. We have had years where the kids haven't even "discovered" all of their new things until weeks after Christmas.

Gifts aren't the only part of Christmas I love. I love the Christmas music and decorating and cooking. My mum was never really into buying and giving gifts but one thing she was into at Christmas time was FOOD. To her you can't have Christmas without 6 or 7 different types of meat and about 15 salads. Add onto that about 4 choices of dessert and numerous nibbles and drinks and you have a feast fit for a king. :-) I think I've inherited her ability to "overcater". If we have Christmas here it's always a big affair taking heaps of time to prepare for and then days of "headache" trying to use it all up without too much wastage. In fact this year we were still using up snacky type stuff I had bought in October. Admittedly that was because some of it got "lost" in the back of the top shelf of the pantry cupboard.

In the past few years we've been trying to gradually simplify our lives. It's been a very slow and sometimes frustrating process. I think it's one of those "ongoing" things we'll always be striving for. Especially when it comes to "stuff". I've been doing better at not "overdoing" things on the present front when it comes to our kids but other than that I haven't really tried to "simplify Christmas".

So this is the year we're working on "simplifying Christmas". I started by not buying too much too early in the year. I already had some things in the cupboard but I made it somewhat of a "rule" that I wouldn't buy toys in the mid-year sale unless they were more heavily discounted that the usual 20% off. That wasn't an easy decision to make as we live a long way from department stores so we don't always have access to those kind of sales. My problem was that I'd buy too much too early and then the kids would ask for something else so I'd end up buying extra and in the end we'd have way too much stuff. Stocking fillers were even worse. I'd pick up things throughout the year and end up with enough to fill at least 2 stockings per child (and our stockings aren't small). They especially get left until late in the year and that's cut down dramatically on my overbuying. We've also tried to include a lot more "practical" and "consumable" type gifts to cut down on clutter but still have a number of packages for them to open come Christmas morning.

The next part of our simplification of Christmas has taken the form of cutting down on gifts bought for extended family. While this does cut down on costs, it wasn't the motivating factor in us making this change. I do enjoy buying gifts for people but being a perfectionist, I'd put a lot of time and stress into trying to find the "perfect" gift for each person. That gets harder as you all get older and really have more "stuff" than you need. I like the idea of homemade gifts and do do this a bit, especially for anyone we're going to be seeing Christmas Day. Most of our family members don't really appreciate "homemade" gifts if they've bought you something so we figured it was time to just make the break from the whole gift thing. We still buy for both sets of parents but there is no real "expectation" thing happening there which makes it easier. We also buy for my grandparents and also our nieces and nephews. I do love kids gifts because you can spend a small amount or a large amount and the kids still love it (at the age my nieces and nephews are anyway). I've gone for charity style gifts for the parents and grandparents this year with just a smaller thing for them to unwrap. Hopefully they like the idea.

Probably the biggest step we've made in simplifying Christmas this year though will be our plans for Christmas Day. Every year we go through the "which family will we be with this Christmas". There's 1000km between them so doing them both is mostly impossible (unless they both come to us which we've sometimes done). This year we're going camping and avoiding the whole "big family Christmas" thing. It'll be just the 5 of us (DH, me and the 3 kids). I'm really looking forward to it. Camping lends itself to a more simplistic style of Christmas food too. DH and I discussed it today and we're going to have 3 meats (corned beef, turkey roll and bought shaved ham) and 3 salads (potato, noodle and tossed). Preparation should be easy and because we have to pack it all up to take with us I won't be making huge amounts of anything. Christmas morning there should be very little for me to do other than the tossed salad.

I've even given the baking I usually do the flick this year and have just bought a small box of shortbread (I usually make shortbread which is a lot cheaper than buying it but fairly time consuming). The kids want to make peppermint creams but that's the only baking I plan to do this year unless the fancy takes me to do something else between now and then. The main thing is I'm not putting pressure on myself to achieve a "to do" list a mile long.

So, I've always been a big fan of Christmas but this year I feel like I'm looking forward to it even more than usual. :-)

Monday, December 4, 2006

Santa has arrived

Last Christmas was our first Christmas in our own home on our own farm. It happens to be along the major road between two towns so we decided to start a tradition of putting Santa in one of our front paddocks for those who drive past to see. I bought a Santa suit from Cheap as Chips for $8.95 and we made a papier mache head for him. Last year he sat on an old bulldog tractor.

Yesterday we resurrected him and put him in the front paddock, this time he is sitting in an old truck that used to be a fire unit (an on farm fire unit). He's even got a hose in his hand.

The kids got home from school today and were saying that all the kids on the school bus noticed him when they stopped today and were talking about how they remember him being on an old tractor last year and how this year he's putting out fires. LOL. We quite quite a lot of comments from the community last year so it'll be interesting to see if we get any this year. It's a lot of fun for not a lot of $$. :-)

We also put up the Christmas Tree and decorated the house and yard a little. I guess you could say "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...."

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

That's about all I feel I can manage at the moment. After starting the week feeling so positive, it hasn't been the easiest of weeks. I think in part because my body is trying to deal with the allergic reaction I seem to be suffering from. That and DS having croup the past few nights. There's nothing like interupted sleep to knock the stuffing out of you is there?

A friend in one of the yahoo groups I'm part of has been using the phrase "make it better" in her home. I guess it's a recognition that while we'd like to have things "perfect" in the home, it's not always possible. I've been adopting her philosophy a bit these past few days. Just because I don't have the energy to clear the table right now doesn't mean that I can't pick up a couple of things on my way past and at least "make it better" than it was. It never fails to surprise me how much difference a "bit here" and a "bit there" can make.

December always seems to be a crazy month. It doesn't matter how organised I try to be or how much I attempt to "simplify" my life, there's no getting around the fact that it's a busy time of year. So for now I figure the best thing to do is to keep putting one foot in front of the other and do what I can to "make it better".

Saturday, December 2, 2006

My Baby is 3!

When you first have kids people try to tell you how quickly they grow up. It's hard to believe until you actually experience it though. Yesterday our youngest turned 3! He seems so grown up now! :-)

We managed to pull his birthday together for very little outlay this year which is helpful in our current situation.

For his presents he got:

* ride on tractor - DH managed to wheel and deal it as a "freebie" with a bigger purchase earlier in the year.
* fireman dress up set - bought from Cheap as Chips about 18 months ago and stashed in the cupboard
* fireman book - left over from my Learning Ladder sales kit
* 2 T-shirts - bought in September for his summer wardrobe
* packet of white freddo frogs - the only outlay of money I really made for this birthday

The cake was homemade and assisted me in my "use it up" challenge as I had some bits and pieces (lollies etc) from other decorating projects in the past 12 months. Also reused a Winnie the Pooh cake decoration that one of the other kids had.

I think he ended up having quite a good day.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I think I'm allergic to my husband!! :-(

Each night I've been coming up in itchy hives (at least that's what we think they are).

On the first night we'd eaten take away pizza and I figured it must be something in that. On Sunday I didn't have any trouble which "confirmed" our theory on the pizza. Wrong!!! Monday night they flared up worse than ever and again Tuesday night. The only constant in all of those situations was my DH. LOL.

Years and years ago I had my first ever bout of hives when I climbed on top of the header to have a look. DH and I have been married for over 10 years now and I've not had hives since then. I can get other hayfever type symptoms like runny nose and itchy eyes and mouth/throat if I'm around grain dust. But now, all of a sudden, hives again!

So, it looks like I could be allergic to DH. LOL. It's not a great trait for a farmer's wife is it? Being allergic to grain dust. :-)

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Brand New Week!

Don't you just love the ability to make a fresh start each week?
:-) I'm guessing this site will say I posted this on Sunday but it's actually Monday morning as I type. And yes, I know Monday isn't technically the first day of the week. :-) Sunday being the first day of the week is even better really as that's my rest/family day (no housework - yah!!!).

So, why am I so excited about a brand new week? Well, last week wasn't all that great. Nothing major, just lack of sleep, lack of motivation and the general "blahs". It's so great that I don't have to dwell on last week or what did or didn't happen. I can start the week afresh. I can even start each day afresh.

What I am pleased about though, is that despite having a low week last week, I still managed to get the basics done. I think it has a lot to do with my homemaking binder that I put together a couple of weeks ago. Possibly not the actual "binder/folder" itself but the fact that I have a little bit of a plan for the week.

My 2 favourite "tools" in this folder are my laundry schedule and my project list.

The laundry schedule is a plan for what type of loads I'll wash on what days. It means if I don't do any washing on a particular day, I know what's been missed. Then I just do a catch up load on another day. I like to wash 1 load each day (2 on Mondays as Sundays I don't usually wash). Most days I'm able to get a load washed, dried, folded, ironed and put away. It's not such a big job when you can break it down into "mini" steps.

The project list I do at the start of each month and is just a list of the things I'd like to achieve that month - things like decluttering certain cupboards. I also include "fun stuff" like cross stitch projects I'm working on and wrapping Christmas presents or whatever. :-) I can spend as little as 15 minutes a day on these projects and it's amazing what gets done in a month.

I think what I've done is decluttered a lot of stuff out of brain by putting it down on paper. I don't have to panic or feel overwhelmed each morning. I just work through my list and by the end of the week, things seem to be done. It's great.

So today, I'm celebrating the fact that it's the start of a brand new week. And Monday is my cleaning day. I used to hate cleaning but now I really look forward to it (I will admit I do some cleaning on Saturday so that it's not such a big job come Monday). It's so wonderful to start a brand new week with a nice clean house. :-)

Did you start the week with a smile on your face? What about today? It's not too late! Here's a smile for you :-). And here's one for you to start tomorrow with :-) Here's to making a fresh start! :-)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Use it up Challenge - update 2

Well, posting about my use it up challenge is certainly helping me to stay on track. Since my last update I've managed to use:

* drinking chocolate (in a chocolate cake)
* macaroni & cheese packet (as a side dish)
* 1 lot of pasta
* sachet of tomato soup (added to spaghetti bolognese sauce)
* applesauce (in chocolate cake)
* 1 loaf serve of bread mix (to make rolls)
* 1 pot of jam that was almost empty

Feeling happy with my progress. :-)

And I've stretched my weekly shop out to 9 days this week. Every little bit helps stretch the budget.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Less is More

It's an interesting statement isn't it - less is more. How can less be more? I've never been sure that I've agreed with it. But an interesting thing has been happening in our lives lately. As some of you already know (and some may not) we are going through a drought at the moment. This is our 3rd drought in 5 years which is unheard of around these parts. And it looks like it'll be our worst financial year ever since we've started farming. That makes it a hard hit given that we haven't made a profit in the past 5 years (the 2 years that weren't droughts we only barely made budget financially), and in fact have been slowly going backwards.

Before you get all depressed on our behalf, it's not all bad. :-) We made some reasonable decisions during some better years so we've had some off farm assets that we've been able to sell (no good having farming assets to sell at the moment as no one in farming has money to buy). Not enough to cover our losses but they will at least reduce our debt load some which reduces our stress levels.

As the year has worn on and we've seen our crop go from quite healthy to quite unhealthy (and in some places, completely dead), DH and I have had to seriously review where we stand in regards to wanting to continue farming and how we're going to handle our finances over the next couple of years (it's going to take us a while to get back on our feet financially). It's been an amazing time for us in terms of personal growth as we realise that what we really need in order to be happy is so much less than we ever thought we needed.

It's been like the less money we have, the more we recognise how much we truly do have. We do live in a blessed country in Australia. Most Australians don't really know what being deprived truly is. We've been the same in the past. If our car isn't as good as the next door neighbours or we can't afford to go to Queensland for a holiday, oh woe is us. And yet we have each other, we have 3 beautiful children, we have a home to live in and a cupboard full of food. The chances of us ever having to miss a meal are really quite slim.

These past few months I've also been slowly trying to declutter our home. It's not packed to the rafters or anything like that but we do have a tendency to accumulate more stuff than we really need. Most of what we've decluttered has been baby things (now that our youngest is almost 3) - cot, change table, baby toys, linen, clothing etc. Nothing too drastic. :-) But when the house isn't cluttered with stuff we don't love, it's so much easier to see and appreciate what we do have. I guess that's an example of "less is more".

Then of course there's my "use it up" challenge. Have you ever had the experience of going to a full freezer or cupboard and thinking "we have nothing to eat". It's a common problem for me. :-) I always thought it was because I didn't have the right thing on hand to "inspire" me. Now that my cupboards and freezer are getting lower in their contents, I'm finding it feels like we have more food than when they were overflowing. I'm guessing that the "there's nothing to eat" was a reaction to information overload and not really being able to tell what we had because of the clutter. Who'd have thought that food could be clutter too! Yet another example of "less is more".

So there you have it. Instead of thinking "we can't afford to buy .....", I'm now thinking more along the lines of "do I really want more stuff in the house?" It's a very freeing feeling and much easier to not spend money than simply trying not to because I feel we can't "afford" it. Perhaps there really is some truth to the statement "less is more" after all.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Use it up Challenge - update 1

I've made a good start on my use it up challenge. Well, sort of. I've been using up things that weren't even on my original list. LOL. But they did need using up. I just hadn't seen them when I did my first sort out. Kind of scary when you start a "use it up" list and it grows instead of shrinking. :-) The bonus is that by using up what I have, I'm finding bits and pieces that I had no idea were there. So I guess overall, the concept is still working.

Here's what I've used over the weekend:

* kids had some ice blocks I found at the back of the freezer.

* I had 2 small containers of cooked and cut up meat (leftovers from roasts) that I'd frozen to use in soup. Figuring I won't be making soup for a while now that's it's getting warmer so I pulled them out and we had them in toasted sandwiches. That went down quite well with everyone and was a nice easy Sunday night meal.

* used up a Cob loaf from the freezer. Bought it for 50c a couple of months ago. Made a nice accompaniment to our salads for lunch.

* used one of the honey and soy marinade sample sachets on steak that we'll have for tea tonight.

I can see it's going to take me a little while to get through my list. But at least by having a focus and a list, things aren't getting forgotten and then being thrown away.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


My 8 year old and his 5 year old sister were having a great game this morning. They were seeing how long they could move around while staying facing in the same direction. Entertainment for the whole family, especially given the direction they were facing was with their backs to the cupboard that has all the breakfast things in it. :-)

It struck me how children are so good at making fun out of any situation. All they had was each other and a tiny spark of an idea to see what they could achieve. You could view it as trivial childish fun. But how sad is it that as adults we seem to lose this ability to laugh and enjoy such simple things. We buy into the idea that we need "stuff" in order to enjoy life.

I've been trying to work out how to teach my children to enjoy life without the need to accumulate "stuff" and spend heaps of money. But perhaps it is I who needs to learn from them.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A strange thing happened last night

DH and I were woken up last night by an almighty crack. Actually, DH woke up. He thought it had woken me up as I sat bolt upright in bed. But as I have no recollection of it happening, I'm figuring I was still asleep. LOL. I did wake up not long after as DH got up and I wondered what he had gotten up to do. He'd been lying in bed and could hear this strange crackling sound.

Now we still don't know why, but our bathroom window cracked and then slowly cracked into thousands of pieces. It's still in it's frame which is amazing (makes me wonder if it's a laminated window) but is absolutely shattered. We're assuming something ran into the window but there's nothing there this morning to suggest what it could have been. You can see a point of impact (where the cracking started) but that's about the only clue we have.

Very strange.

Now to find out if there's someone in town who replaces windows. We've not had to get one replaced in the 10 years I've been here.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Use it up Challenge

Our finances are tight at the moment and I'm trying to learn ways to be frugal. Since I love being a stay at home mum and want to stay that way, I figure part of my job is finding ways to make my husbands income stretch further. I've found there are so many ideas out there to be had, from yahoo groups, message boards, websites and blogs. I've even read The Complete Tightwad Gazette. Sometimes though, it's more than simply "knowing" what to do and actually getting around to doing it.

With food items, there seems to be a fine line between saving money by keeping a well stocked pantry, buying up when on sale and so on and wasting food because you forgot you had it or it goes stale before it gets used. Given that I tend to be a little "organisationally challenged", it's more common for items to get wasted in our house. However, I'm determined to change all of that. One step at a time.

I've started by reorganising my pantry cupboard, fridge and freezer. Things that need using up now have their own special "spot" in each of these places. I've also made a list of what I need to make use of. For some of these things I have some ideas on what I'm going to do. Others I'm not so sure.

Here's my list:

* white choc chips
* dark choc chips
* various bits of leftover chocolate melts
* dark cooking chocolate

Hee, hee. Can you see a pattern emerging here. I do like eating chocolate but I like BUYING it even more. So we always seem to have chocolate around. I'm trying to be controlled about buying more - especially until I use up what I have. Stale chocolate isn't very nice!

On with my list:

* coconut
* brown sugar (I'm reluctant to admit how many open packets of brown sugar I found. A true sign of the "organisationally challenged". They are now all condensed in one container.)
* breadcrumbs (seem to have oodles and don't really use them for anything much)
* bread mix (got slack on making bread)
* bun mix (given to me from a friend - now to make use of it)
* condensed milk
* strawberry mousse sachet (the kids don't like it)
* drinking chocolate
* white rice (changing to a healthier kind)
* macaroni and cheese packet mix (don't use these anymore and just have 1 left which isn't enough for a meal but would be okay as a side dish)
* tinned soup (coming into summer so I'm trying to use up soup before it gets too hot)
* odd bits of pasta in assorted shapes
* plum jam (heaps)
* couple of jars of stewed fruit
* health shake mix - DH is in the process of using this up for breakfasts
* protein bars (am keeping one in my handbag for those times when I'm out and get hungry so they'll eventually get used that way and save me spending money on a snack as well)
* applesauce (open in the fridge so needs using ASAP - will use in my next cake)
* lemon spread
* honey & soy marinade sachets (samples) x3
* 2 minute noodles (chicken) x2
* stuffing mix
* maggi satay marinade
* sachet tomato soup
* 2 cake mixes that are almost out of date
* easiyo sachets that were hidden at the back of the cupboard and almost out of date
* discounted bread products in the freezer

Quite a list isn't it. At least by recording it I can remember what I'm trying to use up. The other day I used up 1 2-minute noodles packet in the rissoles I was making. Today I used up some of the choc chips and brown sugar in triple chocolate muffins.

So, we'll see how we go in getting this list diminished over the next few weeks. I will post my progress as I go.

Why lightening?

I never thought I'd be one to begin a blog - and yet here I am. (It might take me a while to get used to this whole process so please bear with me.) I have been reading other people's blogs and finding it so wonderful to share in a small part of their journey in life.

Perhaps some of you are wondering "why lightening?" That word always brings a smile to my face. It all began back in high school when a few of my friends discovered that I could be rather um... slow to "get" a joke. I also had a tendency to be rather gullible. Had you heard that they'd taken the word gullible out of the dictionary? No, I hadn't either. LOL. (If you don't get it - it's okay to ask me). It was all in a bit of fun and it didn't bother me to be the subject of other people's fun. I'm quite good at laughing at myself. In fact, my DH (bless him) has been trying to teach me that if I wasn't so honest people wouldn't even know when I didn't "get" something. A few times when I haven't understood a joke I've asked him to explain it later and he often says "I didn't get it either, I just laughed along". That makes me laugh even more. Laughter is such a gift - I think it does us all good to be able to laugh at ourselves. No one can know everything after all. When I see the word lightening it reminds me that I had some great friends at school and it was wonderful to be able to laugh and have fun together. We haven't stayed in touch but they'll forever stay in my heart - people that had an influence on the person I am today.

The "label" kind of stuck, especially in my family. I seem to have this reputation for suddenly laughing out loud when nothing is funny because I'll have finally "gotten" the joke somebody told me days or even weeks ago. It must churn over in my sub conscious mind for a while. LOL. That was even shared at our wedding - more laughs. :-)

Thinking about the word "lightening" you could find so much meaning in that. My DH and I sat outside enjoying God's "light show" just the other night. Such beauty and power all in the one action. What a wonderful reminder for me about the beauty that is all around us if we'll just stop and pause a moment to appreciate it. I am amazed at how such a small flash of lightening can light up the whole night sky - light has power over darkness.

I think we could all do with a little more "light" in our day at times. A smile from a stranger. An encouraging word. A hug from someone we love. Life can weigh us down some days can't it? How easy is it to get so busy in the day to day tasks of life, that we forget to live it and enjoy it as we go? Barely holding it together ourselves, let along having the time or energy to reach out and improve someone else's day.

Each day I want to ask myself. What can I do today to shine a little "light" into someone else's life?