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?