Tuesday, July 31, 2007

July Grocery Shopping

July has been a kind of strange month for grocery shopping. Between my challenge not to shop in the first week, being away for 5 days (so didn't do a regular shop that week either) and then sending DH to do a small shop for me last week, I only did 1 "normal" grocery shop.

The upside to not shopping has been we only spent $302.29 for the month of July. That was including the stock up shop I did at Gaganis Bros while we were away. Had I not done the Gaganis Bros shop, the total spend would have only been $219.19 for the month. I'm kind of surprised with this and yet also really happy. One of the things I didn't want to do when I started my $100 a week average spend challenge was to simply cut costs by using up what I had on hand. I wanted to be truly cutting our spending. I guess to get to the end of the 6 months and be able to cope through a month that way was proof to me that I was still keeping plenty of food on hand.

The downside to not shopping many times would have to be a gradually depleting stock of food. Not so much in the pantry but definitely noticable in the freezer. In fact, for the first time in my memory, we ran out of frozen peas! I usually keep several packets of frozen peas on hand so this is quite an unusual occurence. Of course, if DH had remembered to buy some last week when I asked him to, we wouldn't have run out. LOL. But that's okay. I do plan to use the $97.71 surplus from this months goal of $400 to restock the freezer as opportunities arise. So in reality my spending will still end up being around the $400 mark for the month.

When I was thinking about making this my topic for today, I wasn't due to shop until tomorrow. As things turned out I ended up shopping today (DH needed to go into town anyway) but given July is all but finished and the shop was really due tomorrow, I'm thinking I'll still count todays shop as an August shop.

It was an interesting experience doing the grocery shop today. I wanted to make sure I did a fairly decent shop rather than just a small, fill-in shop given the lack of shopping that had happened in recent weeks. I guess having not done much shopping during July, the difference in prices were particularly noticable to me. I actually felt ill as I went around the supermarket. Everything seems to have gone up in price!!! And even though it's only Tuesday, many of the specials I was hoping to get weren't available. :-(

I know they were predicting fruit and vegetable prices to increase but to actually see it was an interesting experience (to be honest I was really hoping they'd turn out to be wrong). $5.50 for a lettuce! $5.50 for a cauliflower. $9.99 kg for broccoli. $4.59 kg for mandarines. $7.99 kg for bananas Aaaaarhhhhh!!! Other than the bananas, we're talking IN SEASON fruit and veg here. Boy do I wish my vegetable garden was producing a little better. At least with the price of lettuces at the moment, I know I'm getting good savings from the lettuces I'm growing (although they are almost at the end of their life now).

I guess if this keeps up, the $75 we spent on a trailer load of compost today will be money well invested. One thing is for sure, my $100 challenge just got more challenging!!!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Op Shopping

I have to admit I don't go op shopping very often. More due to lack of opportunity than lack of inclination. Our local op shop isn't all that great and things seemed to be highly priced for what I would consider *reasonable* (or what I'm willing to pay).

My favourite op shop is in a town about half an hour from here in the opposite direction to our local (and nearest) town. I don't get up there very often and because it is run by volunteers, there is no guarantee it will be open on any given day, so a special trip up there just isn't worthwhile. This op shop's prices are great and they get a good turnover of clothing in reasonable condition - especially kids clothing.

I've read stories of people's op shop hauls and shaken my head in wonder at some of the amazing things they've picked up for great prices - including new items! New items are something I've not come across in an op shop (other than a Red Cross shop I visited that had nearly all new items - but they were priced accordingly. I could do better buying off discount racks than buying from that store).

Well today must have been my day. DH had to drive up to this town so I hitched a ride and got him to drop me off at the op shop while he went and did a couple of tasks. In particular, I'm always on the lookout for items of clothing for my eldest DS who is 9. They're not easy to come by, even in op shops - I think that age group must be very hard on their clothing. LOL. It just breaks my heart to have to buy new items for DS to wear around home and the farm!

Back to my haul for today. I did find 2 pairs of jeans, a jumper and some school pants for DS. A couple of them are in sizes too big but I'll stash them away in the cupboard for next year. I also found a pair of jeans for my 3 year old DS. He almost has enough but not quite now that he's had a growth spurt. For myself I found a pair of denim capris and 2 tops. And for DD I found a small black handbag.

Here are my AMAZING finds though: a black evening handbag, a RIPCURL handbag, 2 pairs of shoes for me - both BRAND NEW and a BRAND NEW pair of gumboots for DD (which my 3 year old is SURE must be for him - even though they're miles too big lol). I was stunned to say the least. I guess some shoe store somewhere had off loaded the last of their stock.

Here's a photo of my haul:

The handbags need a slight little clean up and one shirt needs the hem fixing. But you don't necessarily expect everything to be in perfect condition when you buy from an op shop.

And my grand total spend for this little haul? $16.50!!!! I can still hardly believe it. :-)

Now if only all my visits to the op shop were this successful..... :-)

Vote to Help the Needy

Someone who has been very encouraging to me in my new hobby with the knifty knitter also runs a group that knits for needy people in Brisbane. This group of ladies knit all kinds of things using their own money to fund the cost of yarn as well as postage and fuel costs for delivering goods.

They have applied for a $5000 grant to help with some of these costs (and I'm sure to enable more items to be knitted for those who need them).

All we have to do in order to help them is vote. Here is the link to vote

Please pass the word around. Just a few moments of our time could make a BIG difference in many peoples lives. :-) Voting closes August 31st.

Thanks for your help. :-)

OK -can't work out why the link won't show *sigh*

Website is www.girl.com.au/cash-grant-finalists.htm or go to www.girl.com.au and click on the "vote for cash grant finalists". The group is called "Knitting for Brisbane Needy".

My apologies for my lack of computer savvy-ness. LOL.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Price Books

Up until about 3 years ago when I started on my journey toward a more frugal life, I had never heard of the concept of a price book. I thought I was doing a reasonable job of our grocery spending by shopping the specials, buying some items in generic brands and being careful not to buy the more expensive cuts of meat (at least some of the time). If you've been reading my blog for a while you may well remember my shock when I discovered that I'm saving around $3000 a year by changing a few of my habits since that time. While I wasn't spending an outrageous amount on groceries even then, what I have learnt since is that in most areas there is always ways to improve and things that can be learnt when it comes to frugality.

Using a price book was one of the significant changes I made. A price book can take any form you like really. What it basically is, is a tool to help you determine how good a special price may be. That way you can decide if you want to do a big stock up or not. I was quite surprised at how much difference there can be between a regular special and a good special. I find I do remember some general pricings on some items, but to remember on everything I buy is almost impossible. I've also found writing things down has helped me remember. I think because I shop in a number of different supermarkets depending on where I am at the time - the price book concept is particularly useful for me.

I use a small spiral bound notebook for my price book. I just divided it up into sections such as pantry, freezer, fruit & veg, meat, non food. Then some pages I devote solely to a single item and others I might group things together (for instance I have a page titled "spreads" for items like Vegemite, Peanut Butter etc). I include the date, name of the shop, item, size and price. For some things (like Milo where there are several sizes) I'll work out a unit price (such as how much per kg).

Some people go as far as to work out how often things come on special so they know how many of a particular item to buy to get them through to next time the special comes around. I haven't bothered with this as there are a lot of specials that I can't take advantage of due to my location. As with everything I think you have to use ideas in a way that works for you and weigh up the whole time vs savings vs hassle factor etc etc in what you choose to do.

If I can make one suggestion though - keep it simple. I have seen people spend hours on something like this and never really getting around to putting it to good use. A few notes scribbled on a piece of scrap paper that you actually make use of is going to be a much better investment than having the fanciest price book that never gets used. Keep it small too so that it's always in your handbag - I would never remember to take mine with me to the shops each time.

I have to admit that my original price book is now old, tattered and many of the prices are out of date. A few months ago I decided to begin a new one but it does take a while to get the entries built up.

Recently I decided to check out Gaganis Bros in Adelaide as I'd heard they were a good source of cheaper grocery items - particularly things like dried beans and lentils (which I have been struggling to find at times in supermarkets). I had some prices with me and those showed that indeed the prices were lower than my regular supermarket prices. I then made the assumption that all their prices would be lower than supermarket prices. As I have since discovered, that isn't quite so. For instance, I picked up some tomato puree for 90c a bottle. I *knew* that I usually paid over $1 so was confident it was a good price. Turned out to be an excellent price as I paid $10.80 for 12 bottles whereas my cheapest price elsewhere would have been $19.08. Almost half price. Given the tomato puree seemed a great price, I assumed perhaps tomato paste was. I didn't have the price with me that I usually pay for tomato paste so grabbed one large tin. That cost me $2.25 and when I went back through past receipts - I usually pay $2.06 for the equivalent amount from Coles. Not a huge difference but enough to highlight to me the fact that *knowing* your prices can lead to additional savings. And that you can't just assume that 1 place is going to be cheaper across the board.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Family Night

Friday Nights in our household is Family Night. I usually menu plan "fake take away" for Friday night and most weeks we also have dessert (which is fairly rare in this house). After tea we sit down and play either a card game or board game together. We find it a great way to end the week and the kids always look forward to Friday Night's. I'm hoping it is something they look back on fondly when they're grown and flown from the nest.

Before we instituted "Family Night" we always had the best of intentions of playing games together as a family but the old "roundtoit" ... well we all know how hard they are to find. :-) By having a routine of doing it regularly on a Friday night, we find it actually happens. At the moment our range of games is a little limited by our children's abilities but we are slowly expanding our collection. If anyone can recommend games that are suitable for a wide range of ages - let me know. It's always good to hear what others have found good.

It's not something we stick to "religiously". If we have something on on a Friday night, family night gets missed for that week. Occasionally if DH and I aren't feeling real great or the kids are overtired, we'll skip the game (or play a quick round of Uno).

Last night for Family Night we had a video night. The kids have been wanting to see Garfield 2 for quite some time now. I managed to pick it up on special at the Target Toy Sale while we were away but wouldn't let them watch it until last night. They have been looking forward to it all week. I think delayed gratification really enhanced the experience. Instead of the brief joy at buying the DVD they really wanted followed quickly by watching it and the experience is over, they had to wait almost a week to conclude the experience. I like to get good mileage out of $$ spent. LOL. By knowing exactly when they were going to get to watch it, I think that took the frustration out of waiting too.

For tea we had chicken kebabs and potato slices cooked on the BBQ with lettuce from our garden and grated cheese and carrot. We tend to go a bit lighter on the vegies on Friday nights. :-) Chicken kebabs are not what I'd normally class as "fake take away" but they are a favourite with the kids so I get away with it occasionally. There was a piece of homemade slice for dessert and then I made several batches of popcorn and served them up in milkshake cups. The kids thought it was the "best night ever". LOL. For around $20 we had tea and entertainment with snacks for 5 people. Can't get much better than dinner and a movie for $4 a head!

And I'm sure the DVD will get a good workout - the kids are still at that age where they want to watch the same movie over and over again. The 3 year old has already watched it twice today! He's not well (croup) so having a quiet home day with mum.

Friday, July 27, 2007

In the Garden

DH comes home the other day and says to me "so what are we going to plant next in the way of fruit and vegies because they're saying they're all going up again". Apparently he heard something on the radio about there being a shortage of potatoes due to problems with water allocations at planting time.

I really hate predictions like this. About half the time the dire predictions of things going up in price or supplies running out don't even come to fruition. And the other half of the time they do but worrying about it in the meantime hasn't made a scrap of difference. Perhaps it's to give us time to hurry up and get our own gardens planted. Then again, if they already know there's a problem due to planting, maybe it's too late to plant something just to avoid the price increase.

Most of the time I think I'd rather not know and just deal with any problems that arise as they arise. I am working on growing stuff in the garden and finding it quite a challenge and a large learning curve. So in some ways I don't really need any more pressure trying to make this garden produce any quicker - especially when so far all I've managed to grow (despite numerous attempts) has been lettuces. LOL. Which reminds me, I took this photo a few weeks ago to show you my lettuces (just cos I can lol) but I've been too busy blogging about other things to post it.

So there you have it. Proof that I can actually grow *something* even if it's all I can grow so far. These lettuces are quite significant in a way though. Because I think had I not been successful in at least one thing, I would have given up by now.

Anyway, back to DH's dire predictions conversation. In this instance I think I might have used it to my advantage. You see, we have no problems with space in terms of acreage (you'd hope not living on a farm) but there is a problem with our soil. Around the house area it is very heavy clay soil and not so wonderful for growing things in. We tried to plant an orange tree I was given for my birthday last year but it really didn't like our soil. So we have a bit of work to do before too much planting can happen and a lot of it is stuff that I really need DH to do. So I told him if he wanted me to grow more, he needed to do blah, blah and blah. Fingers crossed this might actually spur him into action (in his defense he is a busy man and has been getting some great around the house type projects done in recent months - it just all takes time).

In the meantime, we'll keep eating lettuce. LOL. Which reminds me, I think it might be time to sow some more lettuce seeds. :-)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Spending Money is SOOOOOO Easy

Ever noticed that? LOL. We sure did on our recent trip away. Usually we try to keep a bit of an eye on our spending, especially when we're away from home. But every now and then we like to have a break from being careful and just go "what the heck" and give very little thought to how much money we're spending. That was the plan with this latest trip. We took some money out in cash (so that we at least had some idea of how quickly we were going through the money) and then proceeded to buy whatever we wanted (mainly in the way of food etc) without too much concern for the cost. I think it was a great way to realise how much of a difference it does make when we're more careful with how much we spend. Our wallets shed money almost as quickly as water runs through a sieve.

It's not easy when you're away from home and faced with the many temptations the city has to offer in comparison to the country. For instance, we don't get fast food here (unless you count the roadhouse) and the array of restaurants, coffee places, donut places (actually we didn't do donut king this time - very unusual for us) and so on are just a feast for sore eyes (and empty wallets and expanding hips lol). Add to that the fact that we're often busy flitting here and there, squeezing in some shopping and visiting rellies etc and who wants to cook at the end of a day like that?

I think this last trip we noticed it even more than usual. The kids are eating more and I guess costs are rising. It didn't help that on our very first day we spent $13 on the ferry for just 1 hot chocolate and 3 packets of chips (ouch) and then almost $40 on a bakery lunch (for 5 pasties/hot dogs, 5 buns and 1 iced coffee!!!). Not sure we'll be in a big hurry to eat at Kadina bakery again no matter how good the food is - bakery meals are usually our cheap meals. Then we spent $70 in an effort to find a meal for tea that had at least a small amount of nutritional value (ie vegies). We set out thinking $400 should get us comfortably through the 5 days away and we blew over $120 of it in the first day!

Not that it matters too much. At the end of each year (well the end of January actually), I usually take whatever money is left in our account (not counting the buffer amount that always sits in there) and divide it up between an extra mortgage payment, some to our emergency fund and some for "blow" money. The idea of the blow money being that we get some kind of reward for being "good" with our spending throughout the year. I started off allocating 60% to the mortgage, 20% to emergency fund and 20% blow money although last year I split it in a way that suited the figures more so the percentages changed a little (we ended up with a little more blow money with a little less to the mortgage and emergency fund). This trip was funded by last years "blow money" allocation and we certainly didn't have any trouble blowing it!!!

I have days where I wonder if being frugal (or attempting to be) is the right way to approach our finances. It does take a bit of time, effort and planning and some days you're left scratching your head wondering if it's all worth it. I try to approach running our household a little like running a business. If you don't have things like goals, plans and budgets it's very easy for a business to go under. These days a lot of Australian households are financially going under (or getting close to the brink - often spending more than they earn and relying on credit cards, christmas bonuses and tax returns to help make ends meet). I guess after stepping off of the frugal bandwagon for a couple of days and realising how easy it was to spend money, I feel a little more confident that the way we're handling our finances is the right way to go.

Some people see frugality as a real drag - a lifestyle of deprivation. I guess I see it more as having some kind of plan for our finances and living a life of contentment and security (knowing there is money to cover our bills). But living a frugal lifestyle doesn't necessarily mean we don't find spending too much money all too easy at times!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I finally went for a run this morning. Between illness and being away, it's been a while. They say it doesn't take long to start losing your fitness and with my body still struggling with asthma, I decided to take it fairly easy. Not only did I take it slower but I also cut my jog short. As I got to the 1 mile gate (we have a gate about 1.6km from the house so I've nicknamed it 1 mile gate) it got me thinking about the 1.6km run we had to run as part of PE at school.

What I was thinking was how easy running 1.6km seems to me now in comparison to when I was forced to do it at school. In some ways I wouldn't mind being able to travel back in time and finally nail that run once and for all. :-) It's okay, I haven't lost my marbles. I'm definitely in the "hate PE" camp and really have no desire to go back there.

BUT what a shame that I didn't know then what I know now about health and fitness. All PE seemed to be from my angle was a bludge for those who were good at sports and a nightmare for the rest of us. Now maybe I just scored BAD PE teachers but the amount of favouritism and assumptions they made (putting people into boxes) was terrible.

I remember my first PE teacher reacting in complete surprise when we had a netball section as part of our PE program. She actually said to me "you're really good at netball for a beginner". I was tempted to slug her. I was new to the school and had just come from 3 years of playing netball both summer and winter as well as inter-school. I even played up a grade at times and my Saturday team only ever lost 1 game while our inter-school team didn't lose any! I'm not saying I was a netball star or anything - but I certainly wasn't a beginner!!!! She just made that assumption based on the fact that I wasn't a natural at all things sporty - and had a fairly obvious dislike for the subject.

Not that it's really fair to blame it all on my teachers'. After all, when you hate something with a passion like I did with PE, you don't exactly put in a great effort. And any excuse to get out of it will do. LOL. And I must have been a frustration to my PE teacher as I spent half the time unable to participate due to an injury in my wrist (which was unfortunately made a lot worse thanks to the PE teachers that ran our school camp-site who insisted I climb a rather tall tree even though one hand was bandaged and I had a note saying I wasn't to use it).

Every 6 months we had to do this fitness test which involved a timed 1.6km run, sit ups and a flexibility test. I could nail the sit-ups no worries. We were only allowed to go as far as 100 and I could do that without causing me any muscle aches the next day. No idea why as I definitely didn't practise. I just could. But the run - well let's just say I came pretty close to the back of the pack most times. And flexibility - well I certainly had none of that. Now, with doing yoga, my flexibility is HEAPS better than it was back when I was in my early teens! I used to struggle to reach my toes with my fingertips and now I can get over a handspan past - doh! It never once occured to me that doing some simple stretches at home might have assisted my flexibility a little.

So, out of curiosity, I wouldn't mind the opportunity to go back to PE now and see if things are any different. If I perform differently (with improved fitness and confidence) and if it may have changed my attitude toward, and general enjoyment of, PE.

I do wonder though, if I had been treated less like a leper by my PE teachers (perhaps that's exaggerating but I'm hoping you'll get what I mean), whether my interest in all things physical might have been sparked a little younger than 30. I feel like all I really learnt from my PE classes was that any physical activity was simply pure torture and humiliation.

How about you? Are you in the "loved PE" or "hated PE" camp? Anyone out there have a PE teacher who was actually nice to those who didn't excel in the subject? Anyone want to share any of their own PE teacher stories? LOL.

I have one more to share with you. I was involved in a youth choir during my early high school years and one day we had a big reunion of past and present members of the choir. Guess who turned up? My PE teacher! Nothing like running into your PE teacher on the weekend. LOL. She was very pleasant and friendly toward me and lo and behold, come next PE lesson, the friendliness continued. What the.....? I will admit it was nice for a change but at the same time I was completely confused. Now that we had some kind of common bond I deserved to be treated better? It just shouldn't work like that. :-( Oh well, we teach our kids that life isn't fair and I guess that's the sad truth of it.

At least I have the satisfaction of knowing I would blitz that fitness test if I did have to take it today. :-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Our 3 year old is really enjoying Thomas the Tank Engine at the moment so we took the opportunity while we were in Adelaide to take him to the Thomas exhibit at the Railway Museum. You should have seen his little eyes light up when he saw the Thomas train! Wish I could have captured it on camera. :-) But he could hardly believe it when we actually got to ride on Thomas!!! LOL.

Here's a photo of the 3 kids waiting for the train ride to start. It was such a lovely atmosphere and the conductor came along with a portable microphone and all the kids got to call out "all aboard" which added to the fun. By lunchtime the place was extremely busy so we were glad that we chose to have our train ride first rather than wait. That meant we didn't have to wait in a long line.

Here's the very useful engine himself. :-) They used 2 engines to pull the train. Thomas at the front and then a green engine behind him. I thought it was interesting that when we got home, DS then played with his Thomas Duplo train set in a similar way. Setting up Thomas and Percy together to pull the carriages. He doesn't seem to miss much when it comes to detail.

Of course the miniature railway was also a big hit. Our older DS wasn't all the interested in Thomas but he really enjoyed the miniature railway set up and finding things on the list amongst all the buildings.

Trains are great aren't they - they seem to appeal to a wide range of ages. One day we'd really like to take our children on a train trip - most likely to Perth. We'll have to see, it's not a cheap way to travel.

Monday, July 23, 2007


We've been promising our avid crows fan son that we'd one day take him to a Crows game at AAMI stadium. So this holidays we managed to secure tickets (which is no easy feat - they sell fast!!!) to a match between the Adelaide Crows and Fremantle. For those of you not familiar with those names - Crows are one of the 2 South Australian AFL teams (AFL is a type of football for anyone not familiar with it - stands for Australian Football League) and Fremantle is one of the 2 Western Australian teams.

Being winter we packed up our beanies, jackets, scarfs and warm clothes only to find we'd been blessed with a beautiful warm sunny day for the match. Naturally, the only thing we forgot to pack was the one item we really needed - hats!!! Doh!!! Bit of a trip to drive home to get them (500km each way). LOL. I had sunscreen but that wasn't much help in shading our eyes from the setting sun. Never mind, DH had a hat in the car and I told him it was a good excuse for him to buy himself a Crows hat (being the inaugural crows supporter in the family and all). That gave us 2 hats to share between the 5 of us.

AAMI stadium is right near a large shopping centre so we arrived in the morning to do some shopping before the game with the plan to have lunch in the food court and walk over to the stadium closer to game time. There was plenty of Crows fever going on in the shopping centre. Stalls selling crows merchandise and plenty of supporters walking around dressed in all their crows paraphernalia - I don't think we were the only ones with the idea of getting there early and having lunch at the shopping centre. We'd been in Adelaide for 4 days and cash supplies were running low so I hummed and haahed a bit about letting the kids buy something from the stall selling crows supplies. Then I remembered my grandfather had slipped DH some money for a treat for the kids - perfect! So they were delighted to be allowed to choose one thing each from the stall. DS chose an inflatable crows fist, DD chose a Crows flag and the younger DS chose a beanie (which was great as he needs a new beanie!). They were all very happy. DH had some birthday money and used that to buy his hat. So I had a little flock of very happy crows supporters. :-)

Having booked our tickets online, we had to collect them on the day and not knowing how busy things were going to be, we arrived at the stadium in plenty of time (2 hours before the game started). Which ended up being quite good as a couple of local boys were playing in a match before the game and we got to see them play. We also had plenty of time to visit Crowmania (the Crows merchandise store) and for DS to drool over the many many Crows things that could be bought. He settled on buying 2 player badges and some face paint with his pocket money. Being a crows nest member meant that he got 10% off his purchase (and dad's hat) so he was really stoked with that.

I think the highlight of his day though was coming out of the Crowmania store and spotting the crows coach (hmmm....can't remember his name right now). I chased him (as all mothers would do - right?) and asked for a quick photo (he was in a hurry which isn't surprising less than 2 hours before the game was due to start). That was worth being there early for.

Here he is - my little crows fan posing with the team coach. A moment I'm sure he'll remember for a long time to come. DH is talking about framing it with his ticket as a memory of his first live crows match.

I can't say as I'm a big footy fan myself. But we wanted to make it a family outing so I went along too. The atmosphere was great and before we'd even entered the grounds the kids had all been given a free foam football and a packet of lollies. They were stoked!!!

I found it an interesting study in human behaviour. Everyone was very friendly and being an Adelaide team playing an interstate team - most of the 40,000 people there were Crows fans. Every time the crows kicked a goal there were flags waving everywhere! What I found interesting though was the way so many people became instant experts on what the players were doing right or wrong (or the umpires for that matter). I'd hazard a guess that some of them have never played a game of football in their lives and yet they seemed to "know it all". LOL.

The thing that disappointed me though was the lack of sportmanship. The way people were so quick to blame the umpires for everything. And the way they wished bad things on the other team. :-( One comment I heard go flying was "kick a point you drug addict" when a member of the opposition went to kick a goal. I found that a bit sad and really quite unnecessary. And the lady sitting behind us swearing when our team wasn't going so well didn't impress me greatly either! I was mindful of what the little ears of my children had entering them. I guess people get pretty passionate when it comes to their footy!

Not that those things stopped us from enjoying ourselves though. We still had a good day. DD got into the atmosphere a lot more than I thought she would. She loved waving her flag whenever the crows kicked a goal. Despite the loss, I think DS really enjoyed himself (and DH as well - he's not been to a crows game before). After the game DH took DS to the "shed" which is a place members congregate after the game. It was getting late so they could not stay long but DS enjoyed the chance to see what it was all about. He sooooo loves being a member of the crows. It wouldn't surprise me if it's something he continues with for life!

Thus endeth the school holidays! We didn't get home until about 8pm last night and the kids were back to school this morning. They're a little bit tired but I think they'll catch up over the next couple of days. I may even bore you with some of our other activities while we were in Adelaide over the next few days! :-) Today I'm taking it easy, trying to recover from the trip and celebrating the fact that we managed to survive the school holidays without too many dramas or fights. :-)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Few Notes to my Readers

I just wanted to say I appreciate you taking the time to pop in and read my blog. It's great to share with people from all kinds of places. :-) A special thank you to those who have posted comments. I love reading your comments and to know a bit about those who are reading my thoughts. Your ideas and encouragement along the way really make a difference in my life - so thank you. :-) If you're someone who prefers to just read and not comment - that's okay too. But if you feel like popping in to say hi occasionally - it's great to hear from you and know you're out there.

I've been trying to blog on most days but have a few busy days coming up with school holiday activities so I'm not expecting to get time to blog until Monday 23rd when school goes back. I just wanted to let you know so you're not left wondering where I disappeared to and when I'd be back blogging. :-) Don't forget to pop back on Monday though! :-)

Sending you all cyber hugs and good wishes!

Jodi :-)

Monday, July 16, 2007

In the Moment

I'm the kind of person who's mind wanders easily. So much so that I'll often walk into a room and wonder what on earth I was coming to get. Between leaving wherever I started from and getting to my destination, my mind will have travelled through half a dozen topics and recalling the reason I was walking to another room is all but impossible. LOL.

My DH often refrains from asking me what I'm thinking these days. One day when he asked "what are you thinking about?" I actually told him and he just laughed. My mind had skipped through a dozen or so thoughts (on different topics) in the space of about a minute. Mostly I find it hard to recall exactly what I've been thinking about and how I arrived at those topics but on this occasion I was able to follow the thought processes through from start to finish. I think it made him kinda glad he doesn't have to live with my brain. :-)

I've been doing some reading on relaxation and meditation and they say that you need to train your mind to be still. I must have a very undisciplined mind I think. :-)

So I've decided that I need to give my brain some practise at *not thinking*. Actually, I've kind of started a step back from that and I'm trying to be more focused on whatever it is that is happening (or not happening) at the time. How often do we do things on automatic pilot while our minds are racing a mile a minute thinking about something else?

Given I was pondering all of this while soaking in the bath tub the other day, I chose drying myself to start this new habit. I tend to get out of the bath or shower and while I'm drying myself I'm always thinking about what needs to be done next or what's happening the next day or going over a conversation I've recently had in my head. All sorts of thoughts will pass through my head, not one of them related to the task of drying myself.

So for the past few days I've been attempting to focus on drying myself and not think about anything else. Believe me, it's a lot harder than it sounds. I think it's going to take me some time before it becomes a habit. It's well worth it though. Really paying attention to how nice it feels to rub a towel over yourself. Usually I hardly notice. Smiling at my pink toenails - or noticing they need cutting or polishing. LOL. Taking a few extra seconds to dry myself rather than rushing through the process. Just allowing myself to be fully, 100%, in that particular moment.

It's such a simple thing to change and yet I really feel like I'm embarking on a significant step here. The process of living in the moment. I don't know if it's simple living, conscious living, slower living or what it is that you might call the path I'm heading down right now. Not that I think a "title" is necessary.

I'm just concerned that I get so busy trying to cram as much as I can into my life that I'm forgetting to actually *live* it.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Another Wrap

Well DD is very excited this morning as I've finished her wrap and she's proudly wearing it to church. :-) Here's a photo of her wearing the wrap.

For those of you who are into knifty knitting. I used the green loom and a basic e-stitch back and forward until I had the desired length (took 2 balls of feathers yarn). I didn't have any wool to use with the feathers yarn and I think because of that this wrap is likely to stretch a little. It is a very lightweight wrap though which is great for DD.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Life on the Farm

I remember clearly the day I met my husband. I don't recall the whole of the conversation we had. But I do remember at least one part. I told him that I had no desire whatsoever to become a farmer's wife. :-) He politely asked me why and the conversation continued with me bringing up objections and him countering those objections. Did either of us have marriage in mind? In a way, yes - but not to each other. After all, we'd only just met. :-)

That conversation made for a great story at our wedding. Here's Jodi who definitely, under no circumstances, wanted to marry a farmer and become a farmer's wife - sitting here happily married to a farmer. Oops! The best laid plans and all that.

Why didn't I want to marry a farmer? Basically because I didn't like the idea of living on a farm. How much did I really know about farming? Only what I'd seen on the news and read in story books really. I remember seeing news stories through the 80s of farmers being foreclosed on by banks and forced to leave the land. Real heart wrenching stuff. I also had visions of having to get up before dawn to light the fire under the stove, milk the cows etc etc. I think my 2 biggest fears though were the fact that I couldn't cook (and aren't all farmer's wives good cooks that cook for huge numbers at times?) and I didn't like the idea of being so isolated. Droughts, floods, hard times, lack of technology and facilities. Real pioneering type stuff. I knew I wasn't made of the right kind of stuff to survive rural living.

Thankfully farming life has changed quite a bit from those old story books. We do have phones and electricity. A combination of improved roads, reliable vehicles and the internet have helped with the isolation issues (although there are times when I still feel quite isolated out here). My DH (before he became my DH) was very quick to assure me that it didn't matter to him if I couldn't cook, that we could buy in food for shearing and that the expectations upon farmers wives weren't the same anymore. He even went so far as to say I wouldn't actually be a "farmers wife" but in fact simply married to a man who happened to be a farmer. :-)

I think it helped that we lived in the closest town for a few years before moving onto the farm. I was working at the local school so one of us was going to have to travel anyway. Plus there wasn't a spare house on the farm at the time.

Last night we had a small fire going outside and made damper with the kids in the camp oven. It was a really nice night and there's nothing like sitting around a fire to give you a real sense of peace and contentment. It was a great time to just sit and chat as a family. My 9 year old son was talking about the difference between living on the farm as opposed to living in the city and it made me ponder and consider the differences in my own life. I spent most of my teenage years living in Melbourne and considered myself quite "citified" and proud of it.

DS was talking about how much more there is to do in the city and how much fun you could have. As he thought more about it (and talked more about it) he realised that nearly everything that's *fun* in the city, you have to pay for. He concluded (of his own accord) that having a fire outside was just as much fun as anything he could do in the city and yet ít didn't cost us anything. :-)

I'm kinda glad now that I didn't stick with my resolution to not marry a farmer. Sure, farming life has it's struggles - but then, so does any life. I'm finally learning to appreciate the peace and quiet (it does take some adjusting to when you're used to the hustle and bustle of the city), to stop and take in the views. For a long time living on a farm was simply what I put up with in order to share my life with the man I love.

Now, as I move toward a more simpler, self sustaining lifestyle, I find myself more suited to rural living than ever before. I'm slowly learning that the peace and quiet the farm offers is a gift rather than a curse. I love the way my children have lots of space to run around and explore. That they're learning about animals (we're lambing at the moment) and at times can go with dad when he's "working". I guess you could say that farm life is "growing" on me.

It's not very clear, but here's a photo of DH and the kids near the fire we had last night:

It's a pity you can't see the kids faces more clearly - they were very excited about the fire. You'd think living out here we might do things like that fairly often - well, I'm not sure we do them often enough. But we're working on it. :-)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Peer Pressure

I wouldn't describe myself as someone who likes to be *different*. Especially if being different in some way might make me stand out against the crowd. I did manage to solve the whole "peer pressure" issue at school mostly by surrounding myself with friends who had similar interests to myself.

What I wasn't really prepared for is that the issues of "fitting in" and "not wanting to be different" don't really end when you leave school. There are the *in* groups of mothers at school and kindy, the *in* places to hang out and the *in* people to have as friends. It kind of annoys me that some people seem to have struggled to mature past the adolescent stage of life but in general it doesn't really affect my quality of life. The *in* people are still a select few and the majority of the population are more *average* like myself. :-) (I don't mean average in a derogatory way either).

However, there are still a certain amount of standards or expectations that are generally held within our society. The kind of car you drive says something about you. The size of your home (with the general consensus that "bigger is better") makes a statement to the rest of the community. Many people size you up by the type of clothes you wear - or more importantly what you dress your CHILDREN in. It's unreal the price of label brand children's wear isn't it. Do you work or do you stay at home. Do you have enough money to buy lunch AND tea at the football club or do you bring your own. How many family holidays do you take and WHERE do you go (or even HOW you get there - not even DH or I have ever been on a large plane, let alone our children).

The kind of job your dad (or husband) has and the kind of salary and kudos that accompany that job. Does your mum work? Do you have the latest gadget toys (before they drop in price of course)? What about a shack or a boat? Are you busy enough that you have to book in to see friends at least a month in advance? How stressed is your life (with more stress adding to your importance in society somehow)? And the list goes on.

I was relaxing in the bath last night and reading the Wellbeing Good Health Guide that I bought from the newsagent the other day. It's not a cheap magazine and I certainly don't agree with all the things they print but a lot of the articles really make me stop and think about my life. I love reading stuff that encourages me to think and challenges my thoughts and ideas. If you've not heard of it before they have a website at www.wellbeing.com.au .

The article was titled "Desperately Seeking...Me" and written by Melissa Rimac. She begins by talking about the horrible word "should". You know the one.... "I should be a good mum and allow my kids to play sport, take music lessons and ferry them here there and everywhere so they'll grow up to be well rounded adults". "I should be able to manage it all...work, home, family, volunteering...." and the list goes on. I'm sure we could all come up with hundreds of sentences or thoughts that begin with the words "I should....".

Here's where I REALLY struggle with the whole peer pressure thing. It's so much more subtle than the old "c'mon, 1 drink isn't going to hurt anyone" type pressure that happens at school. It's ingrained in us as we grow up in society. It's all around us. Everyone else is doing it so how can it be bad for me?

What's that saying? Something about if you're calm while everyone else around you is panicking then you obviously don't understand the situation. That's how I feel when I make choices in life that are different from those who are around me. I love my friends - they're wonderful people. But at times I feel like the direction I'm heading in life is so different to where they are heading and that scares me. It scares me that somehow I've got it wrong.

I don't want to be a leader. I don't want to be different. I want to follow the crowd. And yes, if the mob of sheep I was following all jumped off the edge of the cliff - I would probably feel quite nervous not to do the same thing myself. LOL.

Problem is, what the majority of society seem to be doing and where they are heading just isn't ME! I guess I'm on a bit of a journey at the moment to discover who the real me is. All my life I've tried so hard to please everyone else. Somehow the only way I could feel positive about myself was through the approval of others. And we all know how impossible it is to keep everyone happy. It's a very self destructive way to live.

Here's a quote from the article I mentioned that really hit me between the eyes.

"...the hollow approval of others is much like a sugar hit. Sure, it may give you a quick surge, but it hardly provides much sustenance or nourishment. Rather, it leaves you depleted and almost frantically seeking out something more wholesome."

Hmmm... how true is that. I think it leaves me seeking out the next sugar rush - and then I end up just plain tired and flat when the "blood sugar levels" of my emotions *crash*.

Here's another section that really spoke to me:

"Like the contrast between a lovingly prepared homecooked meal and reheated muck that's been in the bain-marie for a couple of hourss, choosing the mass produced option is like starving yourself of essential nourishment; your instinctive, unique and intrinsic thoughts, feelings and heartfelt desires."

I'm not trying to say that friendships aren't important or that how other people view me doesn't have it's place. I guess where I'm trying to head with my own understanding of myself is that it can't be ONLY about that. And that even if there is no-one else on earth who thinks the same way I do, that doesn't necessarily mean that I am *wrong*.

My head is a whirl of questions, thoughts and ideas. It's an exciting time in my life as I try to understand who I am and how I do or don't fit in this world. I still feel quite nervous about the direction my life seems to be taking. But I've decided that's not an excuse to abandon the journey.

One thing I do know - I never want to stop learning, growing and changing. So it's okay to follow this path and see where it leads. And if down the track, it no longer suits me, I can follow another path. If that leads me back to where I am now. So be it. That doesn't mean the journey hasn't been meaningful and an opportunity to learn and grow.

And if you're reading this and thinking "she's totally flipped a lid" - well that's okay too. We're all unique with a unique path to follow in life. It's time for us all to dare to be who we were designed to be. :-)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

In Shock

I was doing some basic calculations this morning when I was responding to someone's question about grocery spending on the Simple Savings forum. Before I tried to be actively frugal our weekly grocery budget was around $140 a week. At that stage we had 2 young children and a baby and from what I could figure out I was doing *okay* (ie not being excessive in my grocery spending). To keep up with a growing family and inflating prices, I had worked out that an approximate increase of 5% per year for the grocery budget kept things on track.

Based on those figures our grocery budget this year (3 years on) would be around $160, maybe more. The way my 9 year old DS eats, I'm sure I could have easily justified increasing it even more than that. But I've worked out the difference in what I *could* be spending and what I *am* currently spending ($60 a week) adds up to over $3000 over the space of a year!!! Now I'm in shock!!! I have to keep going back to the calculator and rechecking the figures because I'm sure I must have made a mistake somewhere. lol. How's that for an incentive to continue my "$100 a week" challenge?

Some people think of frugality as being deprived or "poor". To me it's about trying to be a good steward with what we have, getting more for our money and being able to stay at home with my children. Whatever way you look at it - how can you describe finding a *bonus* $3000 in the budget as being poor or deprived? LOL. I call it being rich. :-)

Frugality is also about making choices. That $3000 is enough for us to have a family holiday. What great freedom to have so much choice within our finances! I think we'd rather take the holiday than having the extra in the food budget. :-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mother Hubbards Cupboard Has Now Been Restocked

Not that you could really say that my cupboard (or fridge or freezer) were bare, despite going almost 2 weeks without shopping. In fact, I was quite surprised at how easy the challenge ended up being. I obviously have a tendency to keep plenty of food on hand without even realising it.

In the end the only one who really noticed my lack of shopping was my 3 year old when the apples ran out. He quite happily eats oranges but he LOVES his apples and usually eats a couple a day. He ate the last apple on Sunday morning so Monday ended up being the only day he had to go without an apple. Despite being allowed to take pocket money and buy lollies at the supermarket yesterday, I think mum buying apples was the highlight of his day. :-)

I was expecting to spend around $100 to stock up again yesterday so was quite pleased when the total came to just under $80. DH made a comment on how much food I came home with. I even bought a 900g tin of milo and a packet of Nutra Grain (school holiday treat) within that total. Plus a few meals of meat. It did help that both potatoes and oranges were on special this week. Nearly half of what I spent was on fruit and veg though. I do look forward to the day when we can produce at least some of these from our own yard. It's a pity I've had such a struggle with growing broccoli (although fingers crossed I'm finally winning the war against the bugs) as it was $9.99 kg at the supermarket. I bought one floret and that cost me $3.05. I probably should have looked at the frozen broccoli but we much prefer it fresh.

To be quite honest I'm actually scratching my head a little as to why my grocery bill seems to be staying low so easily at the moment. I keep kind of waiting for the axe to fall where I suddenly have no choice but to spend more money in order to "catch up". I don't really know... we still seem to have a lot of food on hand. We do need cereal and some meat and will soon need to buy up on some spreads like Vegemite and Promite.

Oh well, it doesn't actually matter. It's a good problem to have I guess. I just don't like the unexpected. So I don't want to be thinking everything is travelling along fine, only to discover I've been kidding myself. LOL.

We do have a separate take away budget which does help with the grocery budget. At the moment we allow $100 a month which usually buys us 3-4 meals depending on how we use it. And we all get pocket money (DH and I included) so I don't have quite the same *need* to buy treats with the groceries (although I still do from time to time).

This month will actually be easier too as we'll be away for a few days and that is going to come out of a different budget. I find it more relaxing if I don't have to think too much about budgets when we go away. So at the end of each year, a certain percentage of any money in the budget that hasn't been spent gets set aside as "blow money" for the following year - we'll use some of that for our few days away.

So, 2 shopping weeks to go this month and about $300 left in the kitty if I'm to keep below $400 for the month. I'm feeling pretty confident about making it. Can't wait until August though - that should be a fun month as there are 5 shopping weeks (since my regular shopping day is Wednesday, I count the number of shopping weeks by how many Wednesdays in the month) even though the number of days in August is the same as the number of days in July.

Monday, July 9, 2007

School Holidays

Well today is the first day of our mid year School Holidays and the kids are fighting like cat and dog. *sigh* I know they'll settle down once they get used to being home (and once the 3 year old adjusts to having his "turf" invaded). At least I *hope* things settle down.

I'm trying really hard to be proactive rather than reactive but it's not always easy. I remember in the past people talking about all the things they planned to do with their kids in the holidays and wondering when their kids got to have a break. I think though, as kids get older, they get more and more *used* to being entertained and the holidays can tend to drag on.

One thing I do want is for my kids to look back on their school holidays as a positive time.

So in an effort to be "proactive" I have posted a list of reminders for the school holidays on the fridge. Here's a copy of it:


Everyone would like to have an enjoyable school holiday, so here are some things to remember:

• Speak nicely to one another. Think about how your voice may sound.

• Be tolerant

• Respect one another’s need for space

• Get one activity out at a time. When you move onto something else, pack away what you’ve gotten out so that we don’t have a BIG job to do at the end of the day.

• It’s cold and wet a lot at the moment so keep your eyes open for opportunities to go outside (when it’s sunny and not too cold) as there may not be many – and it’s good to get some fresh air when you can.

• You can watch TV until 10am and after 4pm but everything MUST be packed up before the TV goes on in the afternoons. Other times will be by negotiation and dependent on the weather.

• Remember to eat breakfast!

I've also posted a list of ideas for snacks. I just hate it when the kids are constantly asking what they can have to eat. Here's the list I came up with so far:


If you’re hungry and would like a snack, the best thing to do is decide on what you’d like to eat before asking mum or dad if you can have it. So instead of coming and saying “can I have something to eat”, you come and ask “can I please have a biscuit” (this is just an example).

Snack Ideas:

• Fruit (need to have piece of fruit in between other snacks)
• Toast
• Biscuits
• Popcorn
• Baked goods (eg bun, cake or whatever we have made)
• Sultanas
• Yoghurt
• Cheese

I've also posted a list of *special* activities for each day. I have a few things in the cupboard that are only gotten out during times like school holidays. The kids have access to all their toys plus some writing/drawing things - but these are little extras that they don't have regular access to.

So far we have:

* Hama Beads - these are a great low mess craft activity. Small plastic beads are put onto a peg type board and when the design is complete - you iron them so that the beads fuse together.

* Special Craft Box - with pipe cleaners, pom poms, googly eyes, popsticks and all kinds of things for making.

* Special Textas - magic markers, erasable textas, blendy pens, stampers. Over time we've collected some different kinds of textas that are great for rainy days or a school holiday treat.

* Card making - if we have a birthday or special occasion coming up.

* Craft Kits from Cheap as Chips. I have some that you make up little creatures with and some that are a sewing activity to make a puppet.

* Bubbles - for outside play. We seem to have collected all kinds of different bubble blowers. Straws make great bubble blowers too.

* Cooking - a great one for entertainment and also to provide those much needed snacks that the kids are constantly looking for during the holidays.

* DVD day - where the kids are allowed to watch DVD's all day (instead of being restricted to certain times of TV watching).

For each of our home days, I've allocated just 1 special activity for the day. Most of the day the kids fill in their own time. But by having 1 special activity to look forward to each day, I'm hoping that my children will look back on their school holidays with good memories.

Tomorrow we're having an outing to town to do the grocery shopping. While we're there we'll visit the library and have a special lunch at the bakery. I don't find it possible (or even necessary) to go out each and every day but an outing every now and then helps break things up a bit.

What ways do you tackle the school holidays and what types of things do your kids enjoy doing? I always enjoy hearing new ideas and what other people are doing.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Chicken Wraps and Knitted Wraps. Not a good idea to get them mixed up either. Not sure my knitted wrap would taste all that great and I try hard not to wear my chicken wrap (although they do have a reputation for being a tad messy lol).

I'll start with the knitted kind first. Here's a few photo's of my completed project. I'm trialling them in a small size this time. If you want to see the photo up close, just click on it and you'll get a full page view.

This is the wrap I've just finished making. I used 1 strand of 8 ply black wool and 1 strand of black feathers yarn (held together as if they were a single strand). The loom used was the yellow loom (largest one) and used in a back and forward motion (as opposed to going around and around the loom) using all pegs. I wrapped using an "e" stitch (the only stitch I know how to do so far LOL) - wrapping 2 pegs and then skipping 1, wrapping 2, skipping 1 and so on. I just stitched until it was as long as I wanted then finished it off with the most basic method for finishing a flat item. A very simple project (which is what I wanted given I've just started).

Here is me modelling the wrap. I wore it to church this morning and it was beautiful and warm (we have a very cold church building). DD has decided she wants me to make her one as well. :-)

You can wear it any number of ways. I'm getting the giggles here as I'm not used to being a model. LOL.

Now I've just gone silly. But what I was trying to show here was that it can be folded in half and worn as a regular scarf as well.

So there you have it. If you have any questions about the method for making one of these wraps, just let me know.

Now, onto CHICKEN WRAPS. :-) Which we had for tea last night once I had the tortillas made. They turned out very yummy. I used a cut up chicken breast coated in a bought chicken coating called "Southern Fried Chicken". One of these days I'll hopefully figure out how to make it from scratch but for now it's just babysteps, babysteps...one thing at a time. We added grated cheese, grated carrot and shredded lettuce (plus whatever dressings were desired - I don't have any) simply as that's what we happened to have available. Sorry, I couldn't take a photo for you - they didn't last long enough! LOL.

As I was making the Tortillas, I wondered to myself whether or not I'd bother doing them again. It was a bit time consuming. Mind you, I wasn't in any hurry so I did enjoy just rolling them out quite slowly. The mixing them up and the cooking are both quick and simple. Rolling them out was the more time consuming and tiring task.

However, once I'd tasted one, I knew I wasn't going to be able to go back to bought Tortillas. I think I've grown up with preservatives in all my food and it's not until you start to eat more "real" food without them that you realise how much of a taste they really have (the preservatives that is). As I was eating my first wrap, it was quite a strange sensation. It was like all of a sudden I could taste the preservatives in the bought ones (in my memory that is) by the contrast in taste with the freshly made ones. So, it's looking like I'll need to do a few more push-ups to build my upper arm strength ready for the next time chicken wraps are on the menu. LOL. Mind you, rolling them out wasn't a bad upper arms workout in itself.

Here is the recipe, with my own adaptations made:


1.5 cups wholemeal flour
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup warm water

Combine dry ingredients into a food processor or electric mixer with dough attachment. Add oil then gradually add water until it forms a dough (I used an electric mixer with dough attachment and found I mixed the last of the dough together with my hands while kneeding - not sure if a food processor would be different to this or not).

Kneed for 5 minutes and then leave the dough to rest (for how long I'm not sure, I think I allowed about half an hour or so).

Divide into 10 pieces and roll into a thin round shape.

Cook quickly in a hot, lightly oiled frypan until they bubble and start to brown (takes less than a minute most times) then turn and brown on the other side.

If you're not using them straight away - wrap in a damp teatowel to keep them soft. You can rewarm them wrapped in alfoil (as you'd warm bought ones) but I just cooked them straight before we ate them (DH made them into wraps as they came out of the pan - can't get much fresher than that! :-) ).

Saturday, July 7, 2007


Today the whole family has been home. It's beginning to feel like that's a rare occurence these days. No football today so we all enjoyed a quiet day pottering about the place. Actually, DH has just taken DS to a sleepover party but up until mid-afternoon, we've all been here together.

I spent some time in the kitchen. The kids helped me make some buns (I made the dough in the breadmaker) and then I made some pies. Mmmm....there's nothing like the smell of baking to make a house a home. :-) Warm fresh pies with real chunks of beef and real butter in the pastry!

DH spent most of the day outside building a gate and fence and painting it to match in with our house. I'm so proud of him. He's used all recycled materials except for the hinges, latch and 1 post.

The gate he cut down from a rectangular gate that must have been a part of the garden here a long time ago (there was a very old house here that we had to bulldoze as it wasn't really in good enough condition to fix up). It feels really special to have a part of this farms heritage as part of our home - like a connection to the past in some way. The fence he built out of some pieces of timber he found under the shearing shed. Even the paint was paint we had leftover from painting the front verandah. :-)

In thinking about making a house a home, it got me thinking about how far we've come in the past 5 years. From making the decision to build our own house and move here, to designing the house, getting it ordered, built and then trucked here. And THAT is really only the beginning!!! Verandah, fences, garden, lawn, base infill, carport, steps.... and the list goes on.

Here's some of our progress:

This is what the place looked like just after it had been unloaded from the truck. Dirt all around and some pallets for steps. My FIL did end up rigging up a kind of handrail for those "steps" for me as I fell down them one day (during one of my seemingly endless trips between one house and the other with all our stuff)! They were our front steps for a few months. :-)

Now, just over 2 years later, this is what it looks like:

You can even see DH's gate to the side there. :-) The next stage is to put down some slate around this garden area and up the front path. We have plenty of it on our other farm (an earthy colour slate not a black slate) so it seems like a good material to make use of. There is currently some gravelly type stuff on the path to the front door (otherwise it would be a complete mud bowl) but it's a lot of work trying to keep the weeds down. My poor roses have taken a bit of a battering in recent weeks with heavy winds and heavy frosts. They'll bounce back though. You can't really tell, but there are flower carpet roses in the garden there as well. I'll have to take another photo when they're in full bloom. I LOVE them as they flower for so many months of the year (and unfortunately this month isn't one of them).

It's good to reflect on the progress we have made as at times our minds are so full of what we want to do next that we feel like we're not getting anywhere.

OK. One last photo for today:

Can you really have a home without a pet? This is Max and he's my baby. He's less than a year old and has such a beautiful nature. He often "stands guard" at the back door (or curls up asleep on the mat). Our backyard is to the north so most days it's a nice sunny spot. And if he's hungry he likes to duck inside as soon as the door opens and see what little tidbits the kids have spilt under the table. I love it - makes my clean up job so much easier. :-)

I guess that's enough photo's for today. I might post some of the backyard another time. I'm sure my tortilla dough has had enough time resting. My arms have been getting a good workout today - rolling out pastry and now kneeding and rolling (well I'm about to roll) tortilla dough. Chicken wraps tonight with homemade tortillas (hopefully - this is my first attempt lol) and fresh lettuce I picked from the garden only half an hour ago.

Loom Knitting

It's true what they say - loom knitting is addictive!!! I bought a set of looms from the Fox Collection kind of hoping that I would make use of them. I'm supposed to be working on finding a hobby or two. Something to give me some relaxation and fun. When I saw these in the catalogue I figured if I didn't enjoy using them, the kids possibly would. Not sure how much a of look-in the kids are going to get! LOL. Just kidding! The good thing is, there are 4 looms and I can only use 1 at a time (unless I want to have several projects on the go).

If you're wondering what on earth I'm talking about, here is a picture of the looms:

I'm finding them so quick and easy to use. And it's amazing the range of things that can be made on them. My first 2 projects were a hat and small scarf for myself using a cream yarn called Rustica.

It varies in thickness throughout the ball so I figured even if my stitches weren't even, it wouldn't show (I can blame it on the wool lol). Each of these took me about an hour to make and cost me $2.50 (the wool was $2.50 per ball and each took around a ball to knit). So I'm putting some of my spending from last month to good use and there is a potential there to save money as well. I was looking at buying a cream scarf from Kmart recently for around $7.

On Monday I began making myself a black shawl using 8 ply wool combined with feathers yarn. It's almost finished and I'll try and post a pic when it's done. It's taking me a little bit longer than an hour (so far maybe 5 hours?) but it is quite a bit bigger. It feels so soft and warm - I can't wait to finish it so I can wear it!

I find it so exciting to wear something that I've actually made myself! I can't believe I'm knitting! I was hopeless with needles so it's not something I'd ever seen myself doing. Perhaps I should make it number 3 on my "101 things I thought I'd never do" list. :-)

Friday, July 6, 2007

The "I didn't grocery shop this week" Challenge

Various circumstances have altered my week so that I haven't yet done a grocery shop. I don't have any other *need* to go into town other than to buy food so I've given myself the challenge to see if I can make it until next Tuesday without needing any groceries. Since I shopped Wednesday last week, that will be just under the fortnight between grocery shops.

Today is the kids last day of school for the term which gives me a little bit of breathing space in terms of finding suitable things for their lunchboxes. It does provide a little bit of an added challenge though in the sense that they tend to eat more during the holidays - particularly in between meals.

Here's a bit of a run-down on potential problem areas:

FRUIT - Obviously this is something I would usually buy fresh each week. We have run out of bananas but do have 3 apples, 1 pear and about 2kg oranges in the fridge. Also some frozen stewed pear, a tin of pears and a tin of apples. So we *should* be able to manage on what we have left for the next 4 days. One thing I don't want to do during this challenge is make compromises to our health.

VEGETABLES - I have almost enough potatoes for 3 main meals so should be able to stretch to that. Monday night on the menu is tuna patties and I have 1 meal left of Deb potato which I usually use for tuna patties (that way I don't have to make the mashed potato in advanced). I have enough yellow veg with several kg's of carrots, a whole butternut pumpkin and 1 sweet potato. Also have 1/2 red cabbage and about 3kg of frozen peas. So that should get us through until Tuesday. Of course, my next challenge will be that next week I'll have to stock up fully rather than adding to what I have on hand - fingers crossed lots of fruit and veg is on special locally next week.

BREAKFAST - Could pose a challenge. We are nearly out of most cereals. I have just made up some more muesli so that will help for DH, DS and myself. The kids often have toast in the school holidays but there is only 3 loaves of bread left so not sure how we'll go there. Was thinking I'd make up a batch of crumpets but flour is getting low so I may have to choose between baking snacks or making crumpets. Need to investigate a little further here.

BREAD - 3 loaves of white bread left in the freezer. Do have a batch of Soy & Linseed in the breadmaker now. Hoping DH will eat that and leave the white bread for the kids. We tend to go through about 1 loaf a day so just need to make that stretch out a little. If I can come up with lunches that don't involve bread, that will help.

SNACKS - I had been planning a bit of a bake up for the school holidays as the kids are constantly looking for something to eat. Being low on flour is a bit of a challenge. Do have plenty of ingredients to make yoghurt so will need to make sure I'm on top of that given it takes about a day by the time it sets and then chills. Also have plenty of popping corn. It's really only a few days so we should be able to get by.

There is definitely no shortage of food in this house. No danger of anyone going hungry. I think the biggest challenge will be making sure everyone still eats a fairly healthy diet and being a little more creative than usual where they are a few gaps in what we're used to eating for particular meals.

Actually, I'm quite looking forward to it. Don't mind a bit of a challenge. :-) The best bit is going to be the head start we'll get on the grocery spending challenge for the month!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Menu Plan for July

Here's a list of what we're planning on eating this month. There's a few days missing and I deliberately haven't included dates this month as we'll be away for a few days (and thought it best not to publicise the exact dates we'll be away). :-) The only meat item I need to buy for this plan is 1 meal of fish. I do like to be at least a month ahead in my meat supplies as that way I can just buy meat when it comes up at a good price.

I've decided to give up on using the menu planning sheet from www.cindysporch.net as I find it too frustrating having to wait until a few days into the month to do my plan. So I've made up a basic table in Word and that's working quite well. Today I made some changes and it was so much easier to just make the changes on the computer and then print off another copy.

I was just looking at last month's menu plan. Only 11 changes made for the month. LOL. But that's okay as it's meant to be a plan not a straight jacket. :-)

Anyway, here is the list.

Corned Beef
Corned Beef Hash
Pumpkin Soup
Southern Fried Chicken
Sausages in Gravy
Tuna Patties
Spaghetti Bolognese
Mince & Lentil Loaf
Macaroni Cheese
Turkey Patties
Toasted Sandwiches
Beef Pie
Tuna Mornay
Tuna Mornay
Lamb Chops
Pasta Bake
Chicken Kebabs
Fried Rice
Fish Fillets

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Moments Like These.....

I just had to share this. My 2 school age children did the MS Readathon during June and before tea tonight we were adding up the number of books they had read and how much sponsorship needed to be collected. As with a lot of fundraisers for kids these days, there are certain prizes that can be won if sponsorship reaches particular levels. DS had just reached the $35 level which is the minimum for getting a prize. DD was $4 under. Mostly the kids have been good at understanding the importance of why they're raising money and enjoying the reading challenge, but naturally they're aware of the prizes as well.

Anyway, DS disappears and comes back a moment later carrying $4 he'd pulled from his own money box. "Here, I'll sponsor you $4", he told his younger sister. He's 9 years old and gave up his own money (more than a weeks pocket money at that) so she wouldn't miss out on the prize (a cardboard castle or some such). I came so close to bursting into tears. DH just whispers to me "these are the moments as a parent you don't want to forget".

I'm just so proud of him!

DD then decided that since he sponsored her, she'd like to sponsor him as well. It was a very close brother-sister moment that I was so grateful to witness. :-)

It just floors me at times how giving my children are. I hope it's a trait that continues into their adult life.

A Couple Of Photo's

Now that we have our computer up and running again and a new memory card for the digital camera, I can share some more photo's with you. I love looking at photo's on other people's blogs. I guess it makes them that much more personal doesn't it.

Well, here you go. Now you get to see what I look like. :-) This is me on my birthday with 2 of my children. The eldest is behind the camera. There's no significance to the number of candles on the cake - I really am 33! Honest. :-) DH just stuck a few candles on there so the kids could sing Happy Birthday. Funnily enough, DH did most of the singing as a solo as the younger two were more interested in watching DS taking photo's. LOL. The youngest did enjoy helping me blow out the candles though. :-)

This is my first attempt at card making (well, first in quite a long time anyway). Also my first attempt at quilling. :-) The kids have all been fascinated by these sheep! I thought they looked very cute when I saw them in my folder (creative papercraft) and wanted to give them a try. I think this will become a Father's Day card for my FIL. He really loves his sheep.

Hope you enjoyed those. Fingers crossed I'll get around to posting a few more photo's over the coming months. :-) Have a great day!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Thank You So Much!!!!

Thank you for all your kind birthday wishes yesterday and for those who popped by to help my counter reach 1000 on my birthday. I had a LOT of fun throughout the day reading your messages and watching the counter gradually get closer to 1000 (and then surpass it!!!).

My day was truly wonderful. Everything I've always dreamed a birthday might be and more. It began with beautiful birthday wishes from my family. DH had decided to carry on a family tradition I began a few years ago and titled "mum's crazy wrapping". I was trying to cut back on the amount of rubbish surrounding birthdays and figured that the only reason fancy wrapping paper was so exciting was because we had created that tradition to be so. Now we use pillow cases, doona covers and tablecloths to wrap the larger gifts, often tied up with scrunchies or belts or sometimes just a knot in the fabric. The kids think it's a hoot to see what "crazy" idea mum might come up with next. So DH bought a bucket load of treats for me and stuffed them all into this pillow case shaped to cover my triangle pillow. The kids and I had a great time pulling them out one by one, trying to guess what they might be with our hand stuffed in the pillow case. LOL. There were chocolates and chips and bottles of Lemon, Lime and Bitters. Plus my birthday cake - a packet mud cake that DH made up for me during the day (he's quite a whizz with a packet cake!). And a packet mix of white chocolate and macadamia nut biscuits (my favourite) which he also whipped up during the day (mmmm.... nothing like fresh baked cookies for morning tea on your birthday).

I think my most unique gift came from my MIL. A container of imported cherries!!! I felt quite decadent nibbling on imported cherries on my birthday. :-) And they were delicious too. I did get some money from my in laws and my DH as well so I get the fun of spending it as well as the gift. :-)

I think for the first time this year I've really given myself permission to pamper myself on my birthday. I soaked in the tub for a while and even filled it high enough that I could put the spa jets on. The I gave myself a facial, manicure and pedicure. It was all truly decadent. Of course, the best bit was DH doing my cleaning jobs for the day while I was doing all that. Could a girl ask for any more? I am truly blessed by my DH. Honestly not sure that I truly deserve him.

We finished the day by going out to dinner with some wonderful friends. I'm not yet up to coping with large groups of people so it was really wonderful to have a quiet evening, just enjoying catching up. Of course, the time passed all too quickly as it often does when you're out with friends. :-)

Most of the day it rained and that didn't bother me one bit. I've lost count of the number of birthdays I've had where the weather outside has reflected the way I've been feeling inside. Not this year! :-) It could rain all it liked, inside the sun was definitely shining!!! :-)

I know the next 12 months will have its ups and downs, like all years do. But I feel somehow stronger and more ready to face what is ahead. I feel so loved by my God, my family, my friends and.... myself!!! :-) God is Good!

Monday, July 2, 2007

On Getting Older

Well, today I'm a whole day older than I was when I woke up yesterday morning. But being the day the old counter ticks over a full year instead of a day, I'm kinda a whole year older as well. Well, not quite. I wasn't born until 10 minutes to midnight (was almost a July 3rd baby) so the counter doesn't *officially* click over until after I'm asleep. I refuse to wait until then to celebrate though. :-)

I think this year is a significant one. I'm 33 and I'm finally glad to be me! :-) I still have some ways to go with the counselling I've been doing but there have been some changes from within and I feel different. Good different. I feel like I'm glad to be here. Glad to be me. That I was meant to be born. That I was meant to be pink (that's my inner child's description for being a "girl"). I'm glad to be pink and I can celebrate my "pinkness". This is a significant step for me.

I've been thinking about the term "old" as this birthday has been approaching. I've come to the conclusion that it's a relative term. When I was 13 and all my friends turned 14 I thought 14 was "over the hill". Now 14 seems very very young. :-) I thought being in my 30s would make me feel old. But surprisingly it doesn't. You have those odd moments when you feel a little stiff and sore (actually not so many of those now we have a new mattress) and *feel* old but generally speaking, I don't feel any different (age wise that is) to how I felt last year or 5 years ago and even 10 years ago. So perhaps I'll never actually *be* old. I'll just be me. A little more experience under my belt. Hopefully a little more wisdom. But not *old*. I guess in time I'll find out.

My mum is someone who has aged gracefully (and beautifully). I guess it helps that she's never really *looked* her age (at least a decade younger most of the time). But she's never seemed to have a problem with getting older. Those milestones people talk about dreading haven't seemed to be a problem for her. In fact I remember her being most offended when she was given a "29 again" card for her 30th birthday. She didn't have a problem with turning 30 so didn't see the necessity for such a pretense. I found that curious at the time but maybe now I do "get it".

So, I'm 33 years young and for the first time in my life I feel like I'm truly celebrating the fact that I was born. So in some ways it's really my first true "birthday celebration". Does that make it my *first* birthday? Or perhaps my first *happy* birthday. :-)

Sunday, July 1, 2007


Well it's officially no longer June but I think I'm going to need my "reduce the trash" challenge to run for a little longer than a month.

DH and I have been working outside this afternoon and there's been lots of recycling going on.

Yummy juicy weeds and snails and millipedes from the garden have gone to the chooks. They're having a great time scratching through my offerings looking for bugs and will nicely turn them into eggs for me. :-) In a day or so I'm thinking I'll gather up what's left of the weeds (they don't eat them all) and dump them into the compost. Hopefully the chooks will leave some droppings on some of them too to add some fertiliser to my compost. We have a long term plan to make better use of our chooks in turning and fertilising our garden soil. That requires a bit of infrastructure to be built so for now I just do what I can by hand (when I have the time and energy).

DH has been cutting up some old plastic bottles for me to cover some of our poor little seedings that have been getting munched to death by an array of bugs. Fingers crossed this helps them get to a stronger stage so they can withstand the bugs. We're just making things up as we go along here so who knows whether this is going to work or not. In the meantime, it's helping us reduce our trash. :-)

DH is really on a roll this afternoon. He's found an old wooden gate that he's going to sand back and paint. He wants to build a gate so that the backyard is accessible from the front area of the house (will make it easier for the kids to come to the back door instead of the front door when they get home from the bus). That'll save us a few $$ in materials and adds to our recycling/reducing landfill efforts.

I was asking DH the other day how our quantity of rubbish is going and apparently we are doing better. We fill a green wheelie bin around once a fortnight which I don't think is too bad. I'm not entirely sure that includes our office rubbish though as DH often collects that just before he does a rubbish run. Hopefully we'll soon have a shredder and can compost more of our paper waste.

So that's where we're up to for now. Heading in the right direction but with plenty of room yet for improvement. :-)