Sunday, September 30, 2007

September Groceries

I was trying to work out how many days this month had this morning over breakfast and couldn't remember if we were coming to the end of August or September. LOL. Maybe this year is passing a little too quickly for me. :-)

I know I'm no longer focusing on my grocery challenge but I wanted to blog about my grocery spending this month anyway. It has turned out to be quite an interesting month.

I was a little alarmed when I got about half way through the month and discovered that I had already spent nearly $300. I figured finishing my challenge was going to result in a reasonable blow-out in our grocery spending.

Well, I have just added up my total grocery spending for the month and it comes to $364.90!!!!! I think that might actually be my lowest total so far this year. So, go figure??????

What happened was that I did a bit of a stock up early in the month when I had an opportunity to (including $50 of fruit and veg). For the last 2 weeks I have only needed to do much smaller shops.

That total also includes $10 that I spent on Tim Tams for the teachers at my kids school (a little thank you for their efforts putting together the school festival recently).

So there you go! An unexpected yet welcome outcome. Perhaps I have made new habits when it comes to what we buy at the grocery store. I will continue to track my grocery spending (as I do all my spending) and see what happens in the upcoming months. It will be interesting to see.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thank God It's Friday

Well, it's been a HUGE week for me. So much has happened and I've now been out 3 days in a row!!! Which is some kind of mega record for me. Today's outing wasn't planned but DH needed to go to the town my favourite op shop is in so how could I not jump in for the ride? :-) I will post on my bargain finds in the next couple of days (hopefully).

It's funny to think that not that long ago (well about 18 months or so) I'd think nothing of running here there and everywhere all week. I must admit I'm quite getting used to and enjoying a slower pace of life where I actually STAY HOME a bit more. :-) The challenge as my health improves is to find the right balance and not get caught up in the busy-ness of life too much. Our lifestyles these days are anything *but* simple a lot of the time.

The school bus has just pulled up at the front gate which means that School Holidays have officially begun. :-) I will be in and out a bit over the next 2 weeks so my blogging may get a little sporadic. Please bear with me and I assure you I will get back to regular blogging in a fortnight's time.

I do need to post about the "you make me smile" award that Kelley has passed on to me (thanks Kelley - I'm getting there) and I want to post about my op shop finds. So I will be blogging over the next fortnight - it's just not likely to be every day. :-)

If you're bored in the meantime, you might like to browse through my archives. :-)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The End of Procrastination?

Some of you will have already seen this quote but I HAD to put it up here anyway as I LOVE it!!!! It was put up on the Simple Savings forum a couple of days ago.

"Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today. You may find that you like it and then you can do it again tomorrow".

Do you like that? It certainly made me smile. The only problem I'm having is that I've cleaned the toilets before and if I didn't like it then, why would I like it now? I do like playing on facebook though - so does this mean if I do that today and again tomorrow, I'm no longer a procrastinator? LOL.

Okay, perhaps this won't bring an end to my tendency to procrastinate. A friend of mine once said to me "Jodi, you're the Queen of Procrastination you know!" :-) I don't think he meant it as a compliment either but I figure it's better to be the queen of something than the queen of nothing right? LOL.

Yes, you may bow if you like. But I do prefer chocolates and flowers!!!!! :-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Dreaded "P" Word

Some of you might be thinking the dreaded "P" word is "perfection". Especially if you're a good little flybaby (um...I was going to say like me but it's actually "unlike" me lol - I'm not a *good* flybaby). Nope, not this time. This time the dreaded "P" word is PAST!

Hmmm.....well, like or not, we all have one (a past that is). I'm 33 (and a bit) years old so I have 33 (and a bit) years of a past. Actually, according to some schools of thought, I have more than 33 (and a bit) years of past - if you include my time in utero. I guess it doesn't matter how many years of it there are, the fact of the matter is that we all have a PAST.

Well, this has been quite an interesting week for me in more ways than one. I brought some of my past crashing into my present. That's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, in one instance, it's been quite a fun thing - sharing memories and prompting one another's memories. I won't give too much away about that one just yet.... but stay tuned. ;-)

Some other parts of my past that have cropped up in my life have brought up some very painful memories. Things that I *thought* had been sufficiently dealt with and left behind. WRONG! They had simply been stuffed deep inside of me, deep enough that I could pretend they didn't exist. Not deep enough that they weren't still affecting my life in some way (albeit subconsciously).

Somewhere along the line of my childhood, I became rather good at burying my feelings deep inside of me. It was a surprise for me to learn that about myself. You see, I always thought I was a fairly open person. What I didn't realise was that that was a facade. A facade that even had me fooled for many years. And under that carefully placed facade was a miriad of pain buried so deeply that I thought I'd successfully made it go away. I was wrong. All I had succeeded in doing was putting off the inevitable for another day.

I've mentioned before the fact that I had a nervous breakdown in May 2006. Physically it was the result of struggling with post natal depression for a couple of years. I was emotionally bankrupt. What was unexpected about this was I no longer had the emotional strength to keep all that stuff buried deep inside of me. Who knew that all these years I have been wasting valuable emotional energy holding all of this rubbish deep down inside me and trying to pretend it didn't exist?

In actual fact, this whole year has been a journey of me attempting to deal with those buried emotions and hurts. And it's been sheer hard slog. Not a lot of fun at all. Most of the time I desperately wish I could wave a magic wand and it would simply disappear. That my past wouldn't even exist.

Not only does it NOT work like that, it's important that it DOESN'T work like that. We can't erase the past anymore than we can pretend it doesn't exist. Whether we like it or not, it has played a part in *who* we are today.

BUT, we do have a choice about how our past affects who we are. Hard times suck. Hurts are hurtful. Let's face it, human beings have a great capacity to hurt one another. There is only 1 person I know who ever walked this earth that will never let you down and that is Jesus Christ. He was perfect then and he's perfect now. Every other member of the human race faces a huge struggle with imperfection. And as a result of that imperfection we are going to hurt one another and let each other down from time to time.

I have 2 internal struggles with this being a fact. The first is that I have very high expectations on myself. I am a perfectionist. I would very much love to be perfect (oooh, there's the other "p" word). And I tend to be very hard on myself when I don't live up to my own expectations. I'm particularly hard on myself if I let someone else down or cause them hurt. I find forgiving myself extremely hard to do.

The second internal struggle is that I have very high expectations of others. I rely on them not to let me down or hurt me. And when that happens, I find it very difficult to deal with. BUT, I don't tend to blame it on that person. I blame it on myself - that there is some part of me lacking that has caused that person to hurt me. Neither of these options are great. The fact of the matter is that most times when this happens, it's just a part of the imperfections of life. People change, people move on, people make mistakes..... Like it or not, it happens.

I have discovered something about myself this week as I've been reflecting on things. I am the kind of person who doesn't let go very easily. When something or someone means a lot to me, they mean a lot to me for LIFE. I'm not sure that all personalities are the same with this. I think some people move on from their past much more easily than others. Or perhaps some people have a greater tendency to simply forget things than others. A good memory is not always a blessing.

You know what? I'm not really all that sure where I'm heading with this post. LOL. I guess I want to point out the fact that like it or not, we all have a past and we can run all we like, but the past runs with us. Because it is inside of us and it is a part of us. But even if parts of our past (big or small) are bad, it doesn't mean that the bad has to stay with us.

You know the saying "that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger"? It's so true. I'm not saying I plan on putting myself out there to get deliberately hurt. But if we can make our way through hard times and hurts, we can use those experiences to grow in wisdom and understanding of our own humanity. I do want to point out that there is a difference between strength and bitterness. Strength brings with it an ability to see things from a new perspective. Bitterness will eat you up from the inside out and leave you with a hollow shell of a person.

I do think there is a balance that needs to be found. To some extent we need to move forward from our past. It isn't healthy to continue to live in a time that is now gone. It's also not healthy to deny the things that have happened in our past. If you feel like there are hurts in your past that need to be dealt with, I would encourage to find someone to walk this path with you. I have a wonderful counsellor who is helping me work through issues. I think without her I would be in danger of drowning in my own grief and pain some days.

Interestingly enough, I have heard the term depression to be described as being deeply repressed emotion. Since I have been diagnosed with having clinical depression, I have been amazed at the number of people out there who struggle with a similar condition. While I'm not for a second trying to play down the physical causes of depression, I can't help but wonder how many of those who struggle with it have a past that has been shoved so far down inside of them they can hardly acknowledge it existed.

I think I need to finish this post by pointing out the fact that I am in no way an expert when it comes to all things emotional and psychological. Our minds and emotions are very complex things. And each one of us is different. My hope in sharing some of my own journey is that it might encourage others out there who are struggling, to work on coming to terms with their own past and their own imperfections. Out of this acceptance I believe comes true love. Love of ourselves which in turn gives us freedom to love others more completely.

Sending you all ((((HUGS)))) just cos I feel like it. :-)


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

In the Shearing Shed

Well I spent the morning in the shearing shed this morning. The above photo isn't actually our shed but gives you an idea. DH wanted to take a photo of me with a fleece for the blog but I vehemently declined. :-) It wasn't our main shearing, just a half a day he and a neighbour were doing so I was just helping skirt fleeces (pull all the yukky bits off from around the edges) and sweep the board.

You'd think having been a farmer's wife for over 11 years now, that being in the shearing shed wouldn't be all that unusual for me. But it is. I'm definitely NOT a "boots and all" farmer's wife. As my DH puts it, I'm not a "farmer's wife", I'm simply married to a farmer. I'm still pretty "citified" when it comes to all things "farm". :-) I do usually cook for the shearer's but I don't work in the shed.

Of course, my DH has a very good reason for insisting that I'm not a "farmer's wife". The very first time we met, in general conversation, I happened to mention to him that I had no intention of ever becoming a farmer's wife. The very thought horrified me. Not that I really had an understanding of farming life as it is today. Other than the distances between houses and a lack of traffic, our lifestyle doesn't vary that much from anyone else's.

I have to admit, I quite enjoyed it. It did help that the guys threw their own fleeces onto the table for me. Otherwise I might not be able to even type this blog post right now. I'd need to build a lot more upper arm strength to be able to throw fleece after fleece. It's interesting though. You have to pick it up by certain parts in order to get a decent throw (I did attempt one) and have everything spread out on the table where you need it.

I think there is definitely something "simple living" about skirting a fleece. There's something about working closely with natural fibres that appeals to me. I really enjoyed the pace (which admittedly was slower than it would have been with our regular shearers). And I was able to just let my mind wander as I pulled apart pieces of wool and sorted it into different sections of the shed. Plus I've given my hands a very natural moisturising treatment. :-)

So I learnt something new today. And I think I'll add it to my "101 things I thought I'd never do" list. Perhaps I should post that list so I can keep a track of where I'm up to. LOL.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Electricity Challenge - Update 3

Woo Hoo! We had a better week this week.

Here's a quick summary of our average daily usage over the past 4 weeks:

Wk1 18.45
Wk2 15.68
Wk3 19.01
Wk4 14.45

I am SO excited!!!! Can't wait until the kids get home and see this! I slept in a bit this morning (which was much needed) so the reading wasn't done before they left for school.

To be honest, I was expecting it to be a little lower this week. There were a few days when the kids weren't home due to DH and I both being sick. I didn't do any baking and there were a few less meals cooked.

Then again, there were other factors due to us being ill that could have affected things in the opposite direction. Like DH being home more than usual and the TV running more. We *could* have resorted to using the dryer with all the washing we had but didn't.

So, all in all, I'm just feeling darn proud of our efforts! :-)

I got up this morning to no-one being home (DH and DS out checking sheep) and as I walked through the house there was only 1 light I needed to turn off!!!! That is a minor miracle because usually there are half a dozen. LOL.

Hot Water usage is also looking good:

Wk1 3.8
Wk2 2.6
Wk3 3.4
Wk4 2.1

I intend to continue on with my "electricity audit" this week. It'll be interesting to see what else I can learn about our electricity usage. :-)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My First Knitted Afghan

Well here it is - my first afghan, knitted using one of my circle looms. Boy, I sure have a better appreciation of the investment of time placed in hand-made items now. I lost count of the number of hours it took me to knit this. And a loom is the fast way of producing a knitted item. I hate to think how long it would take me to knit using needles. :-) But I had a LOT of fun doing it so the time doesn't really count does it?

How do you knit an afghan on a circle loom? Well this one is done in 5 separate strips which are then sewn together. I've done it in Crows colours for my little Crows fan.

I love the pattern that using 2 strands of the same coloured yarn produces on the loom. All I used was the basic e-wrap stitch (well that's about the only stitch I know how to do so far lol).

It seems to be a hit with my 9 year old. Usually you can't go wrong with anything in his football teams colours. Now my 3 year old wants me to make him one. Only I don't have enough yarn left to do that. Maybe I'll do something for him after summer (ready for next winter).

If anyone wants to try making one of these and needs further instructions, just let me know.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

There Was an Old Woman....

...who lived in a shoe (that bit isn't me). She had so many children she didn't know what to do. That's how I feel some days. LOL.

Now according to our local hospital records, I have given birth 3 times (as long as they don't mix up my records with the other person in the district that has the same name as me lol). Yet some days it feels like many, many more.

Well, today the lounge floor looked like I had many many more children. Literally!

Look at all those babies!!! :-) One of them even cries. My youngest two had a great time playing together today. They made a HUGE mess but at least the "feralness" seemed to settle down a bit after a rough start to the day.

Oh yeah, the "Old Woman" bit isn't me either. LOL. At least I hope not! :-)

This afternoon they were playing "hairdressers". I cut both the boys hair this week so it would seem "haircutting" is a bit of a theme at the moment. I was a bit concerned about this game but they assured me that it was only pretend and they wouldn't really cut hair. They used a red castanet (2 round circles joined at one point that clack together as a percussion instrument) as the clippers which I thought was quite inventive of them. :-)


So far today I'm having a tough one. Going out still takes a lot out of me and I went out last night to the kids school festival. I actually coped really well being out. Then I had a night full of nightmares. They seem to come when I've used up my emotional energy by being out.

This morning the kids are feral after being all sugared up last night (and before breakfast this morning - oops). I'm hiding in the office but it's not working - they keep finding me!

My 9 year old just stuck his head in the door and I almost lost it so he left again. Only to return a minute ago and quietly hand me a soft red ball (I think he may have won it last night). It's a stress ball. It made me laugh and he said "see, it's working already".

Now I'm crying. Cos I honestly don't know what I did to deserve a kid like that. :-)

Don't Forget to Vote

The shower length poll on the right hand side of my blog will be closing soon so if you haven't already added your "vote" go ahead and do it now. :-)

Thanks to all of you who have already contributed to the poll and the discussion on shower lengths. It's a great way to get us all thinking about what we're doing with the earth's precious resources.

I still haven't done anything more about a timer but I know I'm at least thinking twice about what I'm doing while I'm in the shower - trying to daydream a little less. :-)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Theme Song

I don't think I've ever had a theme song before. Okay, that's not entirely true. I did have a boyfriend once who chose a theme song for us. Probably what put me off the idea ever since. LOL.

If you haven't already noticed, I've been going through a journey of self discovery and making peace with my past in the last 12 months or so. I have a way to go yet but I finally feel like the real me is starting to emerge.

This song has been going through my head this morning:

(Amy Grant)

All of my friends are happy to stay
Here in this yard day after day
But something inside me has called me away
I don't understand
but I know I can't stay

I'm gonna fly
No one knows where
But I'm gonna fly
I'm lighter than air

Cause I have felt for the first time
I can be myself
No more faces to hide behind
Just a smile and a dream that's mine
Even if I am the only one who wants to fly

I'm gonna fly
No one knows where
But I'm gonna fly
I'll soar thru the air

All of my life seems I've waited
For the time to start
Being the person inside of me
Unafraid of being me
No more faces to hide behind
Just a smile and a dream that's mine
Even if I am the only one who wants to fly

If I had my life to live over again
I'd run barefoot, relax a bit more
And I'd talk to my childrenAnd I'd learn how they laugh
And I'd teach them how I've learned to fly

Cause all my life seems I've waited
For the time to start
Being this person inside of me
Unafraid of being me
Even if I am the only one who wants to fly
I'm gonna fly

I think at this point in my life it says enough about me that I would consider it my theme song. Perhaps not so much the first verse, but in particular these words:

"Cause I have felt for the first time
I can be myself
No more faces to hide behind
Just a smile and a dream that's mine
Even if I am the only one who wants to fly"

I used to have this song on a record of all things. LOL. Is that showing my age? But I no longer have the record or a record player for that matter. But I did manage to find the lyrics online.

What an amazing feeling to discover the "real" me. It feels so freeing. I'm looking forward to getting to know myself a little better. LOL.

What about you? Do you know who the "real" you is?

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I had a bit of a sad moment on Friday night. We took the kids to see a motorbike stunts demonstration with live band etc in a large shed. It was rather loud and I'm not up to being out amongst people too much yet. After about an hour, I went out to the car to give myself a break from the noise, the smoke and the people.

I sat in the car and worked on my knitting. I'm so pleased I've taken it up as a hobby. It really is quite soothing. However, I must admit to feeling somewhat alarmed that I was sitting there knitting instead of being inside in amongst the action. I guess I associate knitting with the grandmother generation. I had a slight moment of panic and a few tears at what I was afraid I had become (ie old). After all, if wasn't that long ago that DH and I were in the midst of organising such events as these. I think I was about 7.5 months pregnant with DS3 for the last event we were overseeing (not exactly the same as this one but similar). DH found it quite interesting as people kept asking him questions about it in the lead up to the event and on the night as they assumed he was involved.

As I sat there knitting and pondering the turns that life has taken, a peace came over me. I returned to the thinking about seasons that I began back when I wrote my post One size does NOT fit all . I think right now I'm in a season of rest and reflection. Sometimes I want to fight against this season and move into a more "interesting"season. It doesn't work like that though. I think one of the many benefits of a simpler life, is accepting that life has ebbs and flows and to a point, flows better if we relax and move with those ebbs and flows.

Let's consider the seasons for a moment. We think of seasons as being weather related. Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. But they are more than simply a change in weather. They reflect seasons in life. Times of life and birth, happiness and heartache, death, dormancy, rest, hope, reflection, colour, vibrancy.... all of these words and many more may spring to mind.

You could relate these seasons to a day. During our "winter" season of the day we sleep then in the early morning (or not so early for some people lol) comes the spring. The hope of all that a new day brings. As the day progresses and the sun reaches it's peak, we have the warmest part of the day or the "summer". Then in those twilight hours (often accompanied by beautiful colours) we have the "autumn" and the winding down in preparation for another night of rest (winter).

I used to think that life was a nice straight line. You were born at one end of the line and when you died the line stopped. Now I'm wondering if life is more of a spiral. We move round and round through the seasons many times in our life. Perhaps not always in the same order and often varying in length. After all, the seasons in nature are constantly changing and bringing with them an element of surprise.

Being in a "winter" doesn't mean that the end is near. It's simply a time to rest and reflect. A time to recharge the batteries, to learn and to grow and be ready for the spring-time when it comes.

We need to be careful when we compare ourselves to others. Perhaps we aren't in the same "season" as them right now. What's right for one person won't necessarily be right for another. Perhaps it will be at another time. Perhaps it never will be.

Whatever season you're in right now. Take the time to enjoy all that that season brings to your life. There is richness and beauty and meaning in every season of life that we experience - if only we take the time to notice.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Science At Home

I like to use Epsom Salts in the bath when I have one. Apart from being good for your skin, you absorb the Magnesium and Sulphate through the skin. I seem to need more magnesium than I'm getting from my diet so it seems like a nice simple way to get it into my system. The sulphate is supposed to help with ridding the system of toxins. I'm no expert when it comes to this kind of thing but I figure anything that *might* help without a risk of being harmful is worth a go. I also tend to chuck it in the kids bath. They all suffer from dry skin (was excema when they were younger but has improved to the level of dry skin) and the Epsom Salts in the bath seems to really help with that.

I'd heard the cheapest place to buy Epsom Salts was a horse supply place so when I had the chance of being near one, we went in to ask about them. I thought I was doing the right thing asking for Magnesium Sulphate when I went in to this place that hardly looked like a shop at all (and was behind a scrap yard of all places!). All I got was a blank look from the guy behind the counter. Eventually he asked me if it was the same as Epsom Salts. LOL. Next time I'll just ask for Epsom Salts. Anyway, it cost me $2.50 kg. Last time I purchased a 1kg box from Woolworths it cost me $5.71 so it's quite a significant savings.

Are you wondering how all this relates to Science at Home yet? LOL. I'm getting there. On Sunday I had a bath using these Epsom Salts. I was in a lot of pain and couldn't keep painkillers down so I figured a soak in the tub might help - as well as help with not getting dehydrated. Because I had a 5kg bag of Epsom Salts I decanted some into a glass jar.

Yesterday when DS got home from school, he asked me what the white stuff in the jar was. Not expecting it to mean anything to him, I told him that it was Epsom Salts. Turns out he DOES know about Epsom Salts. I think this 9 year old knows a LOT of stuff that I have no idea he knows.

This term he's been involved in a program called "Challenge". It's designed for kids who find regular work reasonably easy and challenges them in other ways. So far I've been really impressed with the program (it has a fantastic teacher running it who has a gifted child of her own so she seems to really understand them). And DS seems to really love it.

Now he's quite excited to discover that we have Epsom Salts at home and wants to show me an experiment they did with an egg at school. You add Epsom Salts to the water and a fresh egg that sinks to the bottom, will float instead. I asked him if he knew why that was. He said it was to do with hard vs soft water. Adding the Epsom Salts to the water makes it harder and therefore stronger and able to hold the egg up. So there you have it - I learnt something new. My understanding of hard water is limited to how it affects how much washing powder you need to use! LOL. If you live in an area where there are a lot of minerals in the water, you need to use more washing powder to get the same results. If you use something like rainwater which is very low in minerals, you need to use less washing powder. So I guess with Magnesium being a mineral (I have no idea about the sulphate part), by adding it to rainwater, you do indeed make the water "harder". What I didn't know was that "hard" water means it is stronger.

It's nice to know he's having fun and learning some new things at school. Next he wants to show me how putting an egg into vinegar with make the shell go soft. Should be interesting.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Electricity Challenge - Let There Be Light

Yesterday I began my more in-depth investigations of our power usage. I've decided to break it down into manageable pieces.

Step 1 - a check on what light bulbs we are currently using.

I counted up a total of 16 lights and 3 lamps in our home. These 19 sources of light carry a total of 26 light bulbs.

The bathroom light is a heat lamp and has 2 specialised light bulbs and 2 heat lamp bulbs (total of 4 globes).

One of the outside lights has been replaced by 2 spotlight bulbs.

In the rest of the lights we have:

* 4 standard fluorescent lights
* 6 compact fluorescent globes
* 9 standard globes

It actually surprised me to find that we are still using 9 standard globes in our home. We have been transferring over to the compact fluorescent globes but as DH is the one that usually changes the light globes, I hadn't really realised how many are still to go.


1. Buy some more CF globes so that we can replace those that are standard globes. Now that they are available in various shapes and sizes I want to retry them in our touch lamps as well (they longer style don't fit). I did some playing around on (thanks to Ali who mentioned them in a recent post) and I'm estimating we could save ourselves around $100 a year simply by doing that. The 6 that we have already replaced are saving us $60-$80 a year (these are based on average figures so only a very approximate figure).

2. I noticed that currently we have 1 of the specialised light globes in our bathroom not working. Since both globes turn on when you switch on the light, I'm thinking we may as well keep them this way as I'm assuming we only use half the amount of power. I also need to investigate these light bulbs a bit more to determine if there is an alternative that uses less power available.

3. The spotlights outside are great when the kids want to play outside after dark. It's especially handy when we have friends over and they all want to go outside (when it's not too cold). The drawback is that they use a lot of power and we have to switch them on for quite a long time if we're going out and returning after dark. DH has spotted a set of solar powered sensor lights in our local hardware store. They cost $100 so I'm keeping an eye on them and if they come on sale we'll buy a set to put up in the carport (where we currently have no power). I think this would eliminate the need to leave an outside light on when we're going to be out late.

4. Our lounge room light takes 3 globes. We currently have CF globes in them but I would like to experiment with a lower wattage as they seem quite bright and we rarely need a very bright light in the lounge room. The good thing is, if I purchase some lower wattage globes first, we can always use them in rooms like the toilet where a really bright light really isn't necessary, if they turn out to be too dull in the lounge room.

So there you have it. It feels really good to have developed some kind of action plan. I figure every tiny baby step is a step in the right direction. And if everyone were to take 1 small step a week, imagine the difference all of those added together would make. :-)

If anyone has come across any other solutions to reducing electricity usage through lighting - I would love to hear them.

P.S. On the topic of showering. Did you know that if you have 5 people in your household and each of you takes 5 minutes to shower, you could save yourselves around $300 a year by switching from a regular shower head (using 23 litres of water a minute) to a water saving shower head (using 9 litres of water a minute). The water saving shower heads do take a bit of getting used to but I now LOVE ours. At first it feels like a lot less water, but the pressure of the water you do get is really good. You need to commit yourself to a couple of weeks trial to allow yourself to get used to the difference. I think the benefits from both electricity and water usage are well worth the effort.

If you'd like to do your own calculations for potential savings in replacing light bulbs and showerheads click here and then click on "Energy Saving Calculator".

Monday, September 17, 2007

Electricity Challenge - Update 2

Oh oh! Our electricity usage is heading in the WRONG direction!!!! Hmmmm...... The kids aren't back from Granny's yet but they're going to be a bit disappointed to find that our efforts are not paying off - YET.

This week we've used 133.1 units (I'm guessing they're kWh's).

Compare that to 109.8 units last week (with no one in the house for 2 of the days) and 129.2 in the first week I measured. Basically our average daily usage compared to our first "test" week has risen by around 0.5 of a unit. Not heaps but still a step in the wrong direction. I think I'll try and do a bit of an "audit" of sorts room by room this week and see what I can come up with.

Hot Water on the other hand HAS improved which is surprising considering we've had more overcast days. So I think we're doing better with our shower lengths. We've dropped from 26.6 units the first week to 23.7 units this week.

Speaking of shower lengths. My attempts to find a shower timer this week were met with some interesting responses. Some store people had never even HEARD of them. Most people looked at us as if we'd grown 2 heads. Like "what on earth do you want one of those for?" Isn't it sad in this day and age with all the publicity about water shortages that people aren't more aware of things like this?

With our lack of rainfall these past couple of months, we're facing the same dilemma of water shortages we were facing this time last year. Not enough to get us through the summer. So our shower length issues are now more about water than they are about electricity.

I have found some shower timers online. I'm just tossing up on what the best thing to do is. I do have a regular timer than I could put in the bathroom to use. Whether DS would remember to set it before he gets in the shower is debatable. Then I have the choice of a sand timer style for the shower or an electronic timer. The sand timer is 1/4 of the cost of the electronic timer and won't require batteries at any time. The electronic timer allows us to set in our times (rather than a set 4 minutes) and may be more appealing to DS and therefore he's more likely to use it. So I'm still undecided.

One thing I have been doing is trying to take note of how long I'm in the shower for. The other day it took me 3 minutes from when I left our room to when I returned. So that's 3 minutes to get the shower going, undress, shower and dry off (our room is right next door to the bathroom). I didn't have to wash my hair though and I was trying to be *quick*. I'm not sure how long I would *usually* stay in the shower for.

How many people know how long they shower for? What would you consider a quick shower length, a regular shower length and a luxury shower length to be?

I've added a poll to the blog about regular shower lengths. You'll find it on the right hand side of my blog - so everybody please add your shower lengths (I've not done a poll before but I'm assuming your response will be anonymous). It'll be interesting to see what results we come up with. :-)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Working Hard

Our backyard is really starting to take shape now. Yesterday DH and the kids went into town and got a trailer load of bark chips to put under the swing. Hopefully that will help to keep the weeds down, as well as providing a softer fall surface. We've recently changed our swing set from the toddler swing in the centre to the roman rings so the kids are doing all kinds of fancy tricks (along with having a few more spills).

Here are DH and the boys unloading the trailer of bark chips. My kids are blessed with a wonderful father and I hope someday they come to realise and appreciate that. I love it when they do things like this together. It's so much easier now that DH isn't working quite as much too. No amount of money can replace these times together. :-) DD was going to help but was too involved in watching the latest Barbie movie on TV and decided she would rather be doing that. LOL.

If you look carefully you can see my pea plants in the background of the photo. They have outgrown their frame and seem to be preferring to hold onto one another rather than getting a good grip on the support that is there. Which is fine until they get a battering from the winds we've been getting lately. Still, we're getting some peas from them which is great.

DH also got the site for our garden shed semi-levelled yesterday. He had to shift some dirt to build it up level with the backyard. Over tea last night I asked him who he was going to get to help him put the shed up. He informed me that he and I were going to do it. LOL. Apparently it's not heavy or anything - he just needs a hand steadying it. DD piped up and said that perhaps we could have a family day putting up the shed. :-) Isn't she sweet? So it looks like the 5 of us will be putting up the shed together which will be a nice project. And nice to be able to look at the shed and remember putting it up together.

I have my times when I mourn the fact that I no longer have a baby (now that the children are getting older). Part of me would love to have another one. But days like yesterday remind me that there are some wonderful parts to children growing older - like being able to do things together. :-)

In the afternoon we had a bit of a baking spree. I baked a banana cake and some chocolate chip biscuits. Then DS decided he wanted to make some peanut butter sweets that are in a recipe book he got for Christmas a couple of years ago. DD wanted to make some honey biscuits that she had a recipe for from school (they've been learning all about bees and honey). As we were finishing off I was talking to them about how it's a good skill to learn how to cook. DS is something of a perfectionist and wanted me to finish off what he was making. I told him it didn't matter how it looked but it was more important that he practise the skill as that was the only way he'd get better.

I'm thankful for the fact that my MIL had a similar idea with her boys and made sure they knew how to cook. I was all "cooked out" come tea time so DH made dinner. :-) He does have a limited range when it comes to his culinary abilities but I'm sure not complaining.

Our youngest sure loves his trailers and couldn't resist the opportunity to hook our trailer onto his tractor while it was still in the backyard. LOL. Then he enlisted the help of his older brother and sister to see if they could in fact "tow it". When I went out to take the photo they tried to enlist my help but I politely declined. :-) The older 2 are pretty obliging to DS's scheme's most of the time. At least there were no jumps in sight! Which reminds me, guess who ate his broccoli last night. LOL. So there are some health benefits to taking him to see motorbikes jumping off ramps!

This shows how he has attached the trailer to his tractor. It has a pin at the back where a trailer can be attached but because this was a freebie there wasn't a trailer with it and we can't order them individually. DH is *planning* on making something for DS to attach to his tractor - we'll see if he gets around to it before DS outgrows it. :-) It doesn't actually *need* it but he is so trailer crazy that we know he'd LOVE it. There is a practical aspect to it as well though. DH was watching DS reversing his tractor yesterday. The steering apparently works the same way as a vehicle and DH thinks if he had a trailer on behind, he'd not only know how to reverse a vehicle when it comes to driving but also how to reverse a vehicle with a trailer. Skills like that in a farm kid can come in VERY handy when dad needs something put away etc. :-)

Unfortunately DH and I have come down with a vomitting bug today. We thought we'd missed it when the kids had it a couple of weeks ago. It makes me doubly glad that we took the time to do things with the kids yesterday. Today MIL has driven out and picked them up as DH and I aren't really in a great way to be looking after them (especially getting food for them). It just brings home to me that fact that we really don't know what tomorrow is going to bring and we have to seize each day that we have. Not out of fear of the future, but in appreciation for what that day brings. I won't go into detail of what my day today has brought so far though. LOL.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Christmas Dishcloths

I was quite excited recently to spot this green, red and white variegated cotton in Spotlight. I hadn't planned on knitting any dishcloths just yet (as I have plenty) but the idea of washing dishes with a CHRISTMAS dishcloth really appealed to me. LOL. Here's a photo of my first attempt. I've used the same pattern as I used for the facewasher I made although this one is bigger (I cast on 60 stitches instead of 45).

I also thought they would make good gifts that aren't gifts if you know what I mean. When you want to give someone something without making too much fuss. Being so small and light they should post well too. I'm hoping they'll have some more the next time I get near a Spotlight (doesn't happen all that often) as I only bought the 1 ball to experiment with.

Thanks to Rhonda at Down to Earth, I found this website with lots of different dishcloth patterns on it. So now I'm having fun experimenting with various designs. They even have a rating so you can choose patterns that are easier or more difficult depending on your skill level. Naturally I started with a level 1. :-)

This one has knitted up quite a bit smaller, although it seems to have a fair bit of stretch in it. It's certainly a forgiving pattern for mistakes though. LOL. It's basically 2 rows of straight knitting, followed by 2 rows of knit 1, purl 1 (except you start and finish each row with knit 2).

I did find the cotton much more difficult to knit with than the baby wool I started with. Not sure exactly why. I now have 8-ply wool on my needles and that is much easier to knit with than the cotton as well.

I seem to have a few projects on the go at the moment. And my cardmaking has taken a backseat for now. I'm too consumed with my looming and my needle knitting. LOL. I'm currently trying to finish a blanket for DS on one of my looms. And the wool currently on my needles is for a felting experiment I'm trying.

So if I disappear from blogland - you'll know I've gotten completely hooked and can't tear myself away from my knitting. LOL. I still can't believe I'm even doing it, let alone enjoying it this much. :-)

The Powers of Broccoli

Last night we took our children to "Crossing the Gap" which is a group of motorcyclists that do jumps and fancy stuff with their bikes etc. On the way home at around 9pm we expected our 3 year old to fall asleep fairly quickly. However, he was full of beans and couldn't stop talking about the bikes and making the noises and talking about how he could do all of that. LOL. Mum (that being me) is sitting in the front seat wondering about the wisdom of having taking him to see such stunts. This conversation follows:

DS: I will do that with my bike.
Mum: Will you? Maybe when you're bigger. (I'm imagining him riding his bike off the end of our sheep loading ramp).
DS: I will do that tomorrow. (I was thinking maybe like in 20 years or more) When I'm bigger.
Mum: I think you should wait until you're a bit bigger.
DS: Broccoli will make me bigger. Tomorrow.

At this point I'm trying hard not to laugh too loudly. I'm not sure even broccoli can make him big enough by tomorrow. And at the rate he eats broccoli (like never) it's going to take a long time before that'll help make him bigger. :-) Perhaps he means he's going to start eating broccoli tomorrow - the kind of tomorrow that never comes.

Can I be fussy and want the broccoli tomorrow to come but not the tomorrow where he starts jumping bikes (with or without a motor) into the air off a high ramp? :-)

Just after this conversation, all went quiet in the backseat of the car and I turned around to look at him and he's fast asleep!!! Must have taken him all of 20 seconds after his last sentence to fall asleep. I love how kids can just drop off so quickly. Wish I had that knack!

And while we're on the subject of kids making us laugh. DH has just appeared at the doorway to the office. The vacuum cleaner has been running in DS's room for a few minutes now. DH appears holding the end to the vacuum cleaner wondering how DS is going vacuuming his room. ???? It's going to take him quite a while to cover his floor with just the hose end of the vacuum. LOL. I guess it was too much bother for him to find the end to the vacuum cleaner. So instead of taking a few seconds to look for it, he takes MUCH longer to vacuum the floor instead. Gotta love a 9 year olds logic. LOL.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Op Shopping

While we were away, I popped into another op shop. I basically only have 2 op shops that I visit when I can. Neither of them are close to where I live. I've tried others but these are the 2 I've had the most success with so I tend to stick with them. I don't think all op shops are equal. Some are well laid out to make it easier to find things. Others have a crowded mess which I find somewhat overwhelming. Some are a lot cheaper than others. If I can buy something brand new from a discount rack for cheaper than an op shop item is priced, I'm going to leave it in the op shop (unless it's something I REALLY like or have found hard to find).

My mood will often determine how successful I am when it comes to op shopping. If I'm going to spend most of the day shopping (as is sometimes the case due to our location), I need to visit the op shop first while I'm feeling fresh and in the mood for browsing. If I'm not feeling like browsing, I'll tend to give the op shops a miss as I'll do a quick walk round and then leave again. Those kinds of visits don't seem to yield any "finds".

Op shops also present something of a danger for people like myself who get a real "buzz" out of finding a bargain. There's a temptation to purchase things simply to get a "bargain". But it's not a true bargain unless it's something you really need or can make good use of. In my early days of op shopping, there were items I bought and never used. They ended up back at the op shop and my couple of dollars was essentially wasted (thankfully not completely wasted as most op shops make use of the money in the community - sadly not all these days though).

I was very proud of myself on Tuesday. I found the most beautiful winter jacket in DD's size that I almost bought. Had it been a size bigger I would have snapped it up. However, chances are, with the colder days coming to an end, it would have taken up space in her cupboard only to need to be redonated next year as she's likely to have gone up a size by next winter. So I left it for someone else to enjoy.

It's been a while since I've visited this particular op shop. I don't find them all that great for kids clothes but I found quite a few things for myself this trip.

These are both 3/4 pants so will be great for summer. All of my pants from last summer are now too big, so being able to pick up a few from the op shops will certainly help with restocking my wardrobe. I now have 5 pairs of 3/4 pants for the summer - ALL of them have come from op shops. :-)

This jumper is so warm and soft. I actually

found 2 jumpers that I liked but decided to only buy 1 and this was my favourite. It's a Sussan brand so should be of reasonable quality.

This is a plain long sleeve top for me. It's a lot more purple in colour than the photo is showing. I'm not sure yet whether I'll attempt to add something to the front to jazz it up a little or whether I'll just leave it plain.

I couldn't resist this skirt when I saw it. It's in immaculate condition. The top is a cardigan with a single button. I have a nice pink tank top that I think would go well underneath. Now all I need is a reason to wear it somewhere. LOL.

As an added bonus, they were having a sale on clothing. This particular shop is a little more expensive than my other favourite op shop but all items of clothing were on sale for $2 each this week so my additions to my wardrobe cost me a whole $12.00. Can't complain about that kind of price tag! :-)

I'm always on the lookout for books for my 9 year old DS. He is a very avid reader and devours books very quickly. I love some of the older books and we don't own many books in the "small novel" type range. I think he'll really enjoy these old Choose Your Own Adventure books. DH was very pleased with my find. He told me that even he enjoyed reading choose your own adventure books. And he's not what you'd call an avid reader. :-) They cost me $1 each. I don't come across books like these very often. There are plenty of old cookbooks, magazines and adult romance books in op shops but not so many books suitable for children.

So another successful haul. Sadly, still haven't come across any wool/yarn bargains in the op shops yet. I'll keep looking though. :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A New Trend

Well it would seem that my 9 year old DS has become quite popular at school. The drawcard? Home grown peas fresh in their pods!!!! LOL. It would seem that all his mates want some of his. I nearly fell off the chair in shock as he was telling me how they all beg to share his fresh peas from his lunchbox.

Eat ya heart out Mr Arnott's and Mr Smiths. Peas have overtaken tiny packets of chips in the "cool" stakes! LOL.

P.S. I think I now have Google Reader kind of sorted out and I have managed to scrape a tiny handful of brain cells back from their site (think sweeping glitter up off a table lol). :-)

Brain Strain

Today I'm suffering from Brain Strain. I blame it on the blog. LOL. When I first started this blog, I was happy (and quite frankly amazed) that I'd managed to even get a blog happening. You see, when it comes to computers, well let's just say I'd probably be the "dunce" of the class. I remember as a teenager I would get frustrated and accuse our computer of being "stupid". My dad would remind me that a computer couldn't be "stupid" and it was down to the operator. Gee, thanks dad.

Okay, so I admit it, when it comes to using a computer, I would rate it up there second only to parenting in the "this thing makes me feel like an idiot" stakes. In other words, I have no idea what I'm doing!

You may notice that I've added a little subscription type thingy to my blog. I don't really know what it does but I noticed other blogs had them so I decided to add one to mine. LOL. I'm hoping to figure out in time exactly what it does (stop laughing at me!).

Today I'm trying to figure out this Google Reader thing. It's all Kins fault really. She mentioned it a while ago and it seemed like a good idea at the time. LOL. Of course, by the time I get my head around that and get it all set up..... well, not sure I'll have any brain cells left for a post today. :-) I'm sure there's a faster way to do this - if I just *knew* what it was.

BUT, in my defense, while computers have never really been my "thing", my brain isn't 100% back to what it used to be. And I figure the best way to learn is by doing. I've already learnt to do a few things that I couldn't do before. Although, the more I read other blogs, especially blogs about blogging, the more I realise there is a HUGE amount of stuff you can do with your blog.

In the meantime, you'll have to put up with my fairly basic blog. I'm just hoping I don't accidentally delete it with all my messing around trying to make it more "fancy". LOL.

If you think this is a post about nothing - you're probably right. Most of my brain cells have leaked out on the google reader site. I must go back and see if I can retrieve a few.

In the meantime, I will add this. If I can do this - anyone can. If you've been considering starting your own blog but not sure how you'll go either in figuring out how, or thinking of things to blog about. I say, go for it!

If you're looking for me.... I'll be over at Google Reader hunting for the remains of my poor worn out brain cells. :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Keeping The Home Fires Burning

We often hear of the term "keeping the home fires burning" in reference to the importance of one parent staying at home full time. The idea being that part of this person's role is to make the home a warm and welcoming one (just like a warm fire makes a home feel warm and welcoming). There is another kind of "fire" in a home that needs some effort to keep alight though. That of the relationship between a husband and wife.

My DH and I have been married for over 11 years now. In some ways it seems like yesterday that we got married. In other ways, it feels like a lifetime of ups and downs through that decade plus. I don't know what the average length of a marriage is these days, but I do know that now more than ever we have to be prepared for a lot of hard work if we wish to keep our marriages for a lifetime.

For those of you who have been through a marriage or long-term relationship breakdown, my heart goes out to you. Please don't feel in this post that I'm saying you could have avoided that happening. I understand that relationships break down for all kinds of reasons, some of them unavoidable. I guess what I'm really trying to do with this post is reflect on my own marriage relationship and what we've learnt so far.

My DH and I have what I would describe as a reasonably good relationship. We seem to be well matched personality wise and we're more than just husband and wife, we're best mates as well. That doesn't mean though, that it's all plain sailing and that our marriage so far hasn't been without it's problems.

To be honest, in some ways it surprises me that we survived even the first year of our marriage. It wasn't the easiest of years. DH was working very long hours in the family business and being paid a pittance of a wage. I was working part-time in a job that caused me a lot of stress and while my income wasn't huge, we chose to put that away in case we fell pregnant - so that we weren't used to living on 2 incomes. Combined, DH and I were earning around an average income. We took on too many other commitments so much of the time we did have together was spent focused on these pursuits. There was a marriage break-down within DH's family that tore us apart in ways we weren't expecting and alienated us from his family. Issues with other siblings and so on. It felt like we were living in a pressure cooker.

When we had our first child after not quite 2 years of married life, DH continued to work long hours while I stayed at home with the baby. It wasn't until we had our second child and DH was around a little more that he even realised how much of our first child's early years he had missed out on. I struggled with a certain amount of loneliness and isolation that being at home with a young baby can bring and the times that DH was around, I was ready for him to give me a break from the baby. There wasn't a lot of energy left to connect with him.

There was a certain amount of conflict with DH's work and our need to live closer to where he was working. Unfortunately, when we finally moved out to the farm, while we did get to see a little more of DH (on and off throughout the day), it also brought the conflict to our back door. We still felt like we were living in a pressure cooker.

I was the kind of mum that was very attached to my children. The thought of leaving them, especially overnight, caused me a great amount of grief. On the couple of occasions that we did manage to leave them, I would feel so sick the whole time that it was hard to relax and connect with DH.

Over and over I have heard people say that it is important for a husband and wife to spend time together away from their children. Whether that takes the form of a "date night" or a few days away together is probably less important than the fact that you get away and have that time without children on a regular basis.

It's only now, almost a decade after having my first child, that I'm finally learning the importance of that when it comes to "keeping the home fires burning". Comments like "absence makes the heart grow fonder" and "quality time is more important than quantity time" leave me somewhat confused.

What I've found in my marriage relationship is that the less DH and I talk to one another, the easier it becomes NOT to talk to one another. That the more time we spend together, the more time we WANT to spend together. And that we need QUANTITY time together before we actually reach the level of QUALITY time.

I guess that's another gift that Simple Living brings to our lives. The opportunity to spend quantity time together. To relax, chat, go away for a few days or whatever. In the past, we've often been too busy. A couple of years ago we instituted the idea of a "date night" where we'd drop the kids off at Granny's and have a meal together. The idea was there but the institution proved somewhat difficult and I think we managed to get out about 3 times during that first year, instead of once a month like we'd planned.

This year, with life at a slower pace, we've managed to get out more often. And now, in the past 2 weeks we've been away from the kids overnight TWICE. lol. It wasn't originally planned quite that way but it's how things have worked out. We find when our lives get busy, it's our time together that's the first thing to be sacrificed. I know it *should* be more important to us but I guess it puts up the least resistance to being dropped and so that's what happens.

I think it's also one of the sad things about families living so spread out these days. It gets harder and harder for couples to get away and leave children with extended family while they get a break and the opportunity to rekindle their relationship with one another. We were very blessed this week as my parents are not as busy as usual right at the moment so they had the time to come over (they don't live all that close to us) and stay with the kids in their own environment while we went away. Add to that the fact that DH's parents own a shack which is empty at this time of year and we were given an opportunity that didn't even cost us a lot of money. I know it isn't always that easy so I feel very grateful that we were given this opportunity.

On the first morning we both slept in until 9.10am which was quite a surprise when we're used to being woken up much earlier. LOL. So surprising in fact that we hadn't bothered to set an alarm and we had to leave at 10am as we had booked the car in to get the windows tinted. Funnily enough we managed to have a cooked breakfast as well as shower and get ready to go in less than 50 minutes. When you've spent a decade getting kids ready, you forget how long it takes to get ready when you're just the 2 of you. :-)

So, we've had a lovely time away. The opportunity to catch up on some sleep as well as some beautiful meals together. And we've talked and connected and recognised the fact that this is something we need to do more often if we're going to "keep our home fires burning". :-)

With all the lovely benefits of DH not working so much this year, I'm not sure if I'm going to want him to return to a full workload next year. It's going to be interesting to see what happens.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Electricity Challenge - Update 1

Well we're now at the completion of our first week of the electricity challenge.

The figures look great. Our average daily usage has dropped from 18.45 to 15.68 and average daily hot water usage has dropped from 3.8 to 2.6.

Unfortunately, we were also away for 2 days last week. LOL. So that would account for the drop in usage. :-)

The kids came with me this morning to see where the electricity meter was and how I read it which was great (they were actually ready for school early - amazing!).

In my mind, this challenge is as much about raising our awareness of not wasting electricity as anything and I think it'll take a while before the kids form new habits of turning lights off and opening their curtains etc. I'm hoping by filling in our form each week, it'll serve as a regular reminder to them (without me specifically nagging them).

At this stage I've set our form up to run the challenge for 10 weeks. So we'll see what happens over that time frame.

For the form I used a basic table in Word format with the headings running across the top line:

Date : Last week : Today : Week's Usage : Average Daily Usage : Last Week Hot Water : Today Hot Water : Week's Usage : Average Daily Usage

It would be so wonderful if we *could* get our average daily usage down to around the 15kWh per day. Not sure how realistic that is. Whatever improvements we make will be good though. :-)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Bit of Fun

This website was posted by someone on the Simple Living Network. It's good for a laugh and a bit of fun:

I thought DH might get a bit of a laugh out of it so I showed it to him last night. Turns out the laugh was on me as I couldn't get him off my computer. LOL. My computer is the one connected to the internet at the moment. We'd had a rather stressful day with the kids yesterday between one thing and another. I think he found it to be quite a good stress release. :-)

Go on - have some fun. You know you want to. :-)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

One Size Does NOT Fit All

I think I've mentioned before the fact that I find my journey toward a simpler lifestyle can at times be a little lonely. I find myself questioning if I'm really doing the right thing when others around me seem to be heading in the opposite direction, more in flow with the rest of society. I have found the internet to be a wonderful way of connecting with others who have similar ideas and ideals.

BUT, I find at times I need to be careful to appreciate other people's ideas and journey in life and not simply follow their path blindly. It's great to be challenged and to get ideas from others but that doesn't mean that everything I read will be the right thing for me. After all, we are each made unique and our path in life is going to be unique to us. Just with all things, there isn't a "one size fits all" when it comes to Simple Living.

I want to talk about a few specific examples that have been floating around in my mind lately.

Let's start with being a stay at home mum. In a 2 parent family, having 1 parent at home certainly helps to simplify our life. I've seen the frazzled look of some mother's who work full-time and can't help but feel sorry for them and thankful that I'm in a position where I can choose to be at home. The question I want to raise though is can we really say that being a stay at home mum is best in *every* family situation. Obviously there are instances where the choices are very limited (for example, in single parent situations).

I have a friend who recently returned to work. She has 2 young children that go to childcare while she is at work and she suffers from a lot of "mother guilt" from leaving them. I've been trying to understand where that guilt stems from. Is her heart's desire to really be at home with those children full-time or does it come from some externally imposed idea that the best thing for her children is for her to be at home with them? She cites money issues as her reason for returning to work. Money issues that probably shouldn't be an issue given her DH is on a VERY good income. But on digging deeper, I can't help but wonder if *money* is what she considers a "socially acceptable" reason for returning to work. That any other reason would make her feel that she is being selfish. You see, when you dig a bit deeper you find that she really loves her job. She enjoys the kind of person she is when she is working and her DH notices the difference as well. He likes who she is when she's working. And for them at this time the extra money does help to release some of the extra pressures in the home. Can we really say that her improved self esteem, improved relationship and less financial pressure in the home is *worse* for her children than attending a quality child care centre and seeing a bit less of mum? I just don't think it's all quite as clear cut as that.

I guess what I'm trying to say with this is that we are all unique beings with unique circumstances and we need to feel free to make our decisions based on this, without feeling any guilt or pressure from either "side" of the argument. I'm all for encouraging people to stay at home with their children if that's what they WANT to do. I do feel sad when people say that's what they WANT and yet can't or don't find a way to make it happen. I'm all for encouraging people to follow their hearts desire - wherever that may lead (within reason lol). If your heart is calling you home, find a way to make it happen. It's a very worthy calling in my opinion - that of a stay at home mum. BUT, if it isn't, don't let guilt weigh you down. What you're doing may very well be the best thing for you and your family at this time.

Homeschooling is another one that I've come across. I've read many homeschooling blogs who advocate that homeschooling is the BEST thing for ALL children. No ifs, buts or maybes. How can they really know what the best thing for MY children is? Homeschooling is a great option for many families. But again, there isn't a "one size fits all" when it comes to education. We're all different. Why can't we celebrate our uniqueness rather than trying to "guilt" people into thinking one way is the only way to do the BEST for their kids? Not that all homeschoolers have this attitude - I guess some are just very passionate about what they believe.

Another area I've come across is frugality. When it comes to how we spend our money, we're all different. So I've been spending $100 a week on groceries for our family. I love to share about that and challenge myself and others to do better. Challenges are a great way to promote change. Does that mean that if someone spends more than that on their groceries, that they're not frugal? Or at least not as frugal as me? Not at all. I'd be the first to admit that I'm more frugal in some areas of the budget than I am in other areas. I work with what works for me and my family. You have to work with what works for you and your family.

So I've been trying to work out where all this guilt comes from. I was reading a magazine article yesterday talking about how competitive mother's can be about their children's achievements. It's getting so bad that some mother's have dropped out of playgroups and other similar things as they're sick of the competitiveness that goes on. I can't help but wonder if at least some of it stems from our sense of inadequacy. We fear that if we're doing things differently (or our children are) that somehow we've gotten it wrong. After all, we all want to do the best by our children don't we? And let's face it - parenthood is HARD.

I do think parenthood, simple living and celebrating our own uniqueness can all go hand in hand. But only if we accept that "one size does NOT fit all" and that we need to find our own path in life. The one that is RIGHT for us and our families. :-) And when I'm finished writing this post, I need to read it myself. Because when it comes to putting pressure on myself to do things like this person or that person or feeling that I *should* or stressing that I'm not being the best parent possible - well, I'm about the worst culprit you'll find. :-)

Friday, September 7, 2007

September Menu Plan

Well I'm running a few days behind with posting this month's menu plan. Ooops. LOL. Anyway, here it is....

1st Scrambled Eggs
2nd Meat Pie, Chips & Salad
3rd Tuna Patties
4th Away
5th Away
6th Vegetable Bake
7th Blade Steak with leftover Vegetable Bake
8th Lasagne
9th Leftover Lasagne
10th Garfish
11th Corned Beef
12th Southern Fried Chicken Strips
13th Soup
14th Pizza
15th Turkey Rissoles
16th Yellow Bread (French Toast)
17th Tuna Mornay
18th Roast Lamb
19th Lamb in Gravy
20th Pasta Bake
21st Southern Fried Chicken
22nd Sausages in Gravy
23rd Quiche
24th Snapper in Fish Coating
25th Roast Chicken
26th Leftover Chicken
27th Macaroni Cheese with Vegetables
28th Hamburgers
29th Chops
30th Pancakes

Most of our meals are served with a variety of 4-5 different vegetables. Which vegetables will depend on what's on sale any given week. I usually do potato and then 2 green and 2 yellow/orange veg with a substitution of purple/red veg for one of the other coloured veg when I can get it.

As it happens, I already have all of the meat I need for this months menu so I will just be buying meat as it comes on sale as a "restock". I try to do this most months as it really helps the budget if I don't HAVE to buy meat any particular week. I find some weeks a lot of what we eat is on sale and other weeks there'll be nothing.

To make it easier, I base our menu plan around the following guide:

Monday - Fish (one week we'll have tuna and the next we'll have fresh fish - the tuna helps to balance the cost of the fresh fish)

Tuesday - Usually a crockpot meal or a Roast (also done in the crockpot)

Wednesday - Something easy as it's my town day. Usually there are leftovers from the night before than can easily be turned into something different by adding a gravy or other sauce.

Thursday - No/Low Meat Meal like a pasta or rice dish or soup.

Friday - Fake Take Away night

Saturday - Meat & Veg

Sunday - Something Simple like quiche, pancakes, leftovers etc.

We don't have dessert as a "regular" thing but I usually try to plan something for a Friday night as part of our "Family Night". Other nights we'll tend to have dessert if DH feels like it. LOL. Then it's usually tinned fruit with ice cream.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Voting to Help Needy

Just an update on this. The group owner of "Knitting for Brisbane's Needy" has just this afternoon received confirmation that their group has won the vote for cash grant finalists competition. So a HUGE THANK YOU to those of you who took the time to vote for them and/or passed the word around. :-)

4-star Style

DH and I are not what you might describe as "corporate high flyers". In fact, I don't think either of us have ever been on anything bigger than a 12-seater plane. And top level accomodation for us would be having our own bathroom, rather than sharing a bathroom like we do most trips when we take our camper trailer. lol. Even before we had kids, if stayed in a motel it would be of the "budget" type variety.

So it was a bit of a treat for us this week when we made a very quick trip to Adelaide to look at a truck for the farm. We left the kids with Granny and took off overnight. Not only did it provide a welcome break for us both but I particularly enjoyed it as DH was paying our way from the business account so I didn't have any "budget" concerns. LOL. We've talked about taking a business trip together for years but this is the first time we've actually done so.

Of course, being our "own" business, it wasn't the same "splash out it's on the companies account" that you hear about or see on TV. LOL. I was really pleased to get a last minute deal with a 4-star accomodation place for $140 including a cooked breakfast. When we got to the dining room on Wednesday morning we noticed our cooked breakfast would have cost us $38 for the 2 of us. So it ended up being quite a good deal really. I looked on some of the last minute type websites and then emailed the place directly asking what they could offer. Their offer worked out about $25 cheaper than those websites so it was worth asking.

Eating breakfast in a posh dining room complete with linen tablecloths and serviettes was quite a novelty for us. :-) We wanted to order room service the night before (just cos we could lol) but we'd been to a buffet for our evening meal so no matter how much we wanted to, we just couldn't see ourselves consuming anything else. LOL

It's been quite a number of years now since we've stayed in accomodation with a mini bar. This one they'd certainly thought of everything (including panadol AND berocca). But sheesh! Why do they have to inflate the prices so much? Do people really pay that?

Anyway, we had a lovely time. I had a chance to do some shopping and picked up a few "bargains". The shoes I was wearing turned out to be huge money savers too. They're still fairly new but I've worn them a few times without problems. Not for doing the walking required for 3 hours in a large shopping centre though. As my feet were rubbed raw my walking got slower and slower, so I fitted less shopping in than I might have normally. Not a problem. I'd picked up a bargain pair of RED shoes (are you reading this Kelley cos it's all your fault!!! lol) in Target. $39.99 down to $5!!! So I decided to swap shoes.

Picture me balancing on a toilet seat in the public toilets with handbag, shopping, 2 pairs of shoes, socks and a packet of band-aids. LOL. I'm surprised I didn't lose both the band-aids and a sock down the toilet. Why didn't I close the lid you may think? Well, naturally I was trying to multi-task at the same time. LOLOL. I'm sure it would have made for quite comical viewing. Thankfully I had complete privacy (as far as I know anyway).

I'm convinced though that Kmart trolleys have some kind of "stuff magnet" in them. I popped in there for a couple of things and left with half a trolley load!!! Why does that always happen to me???? DH tends to shake his head at my shopping efforts. I always go with a list but about half way through I have to admit to him that nothing I've bought so far was actually ON the list but of course it was all stuff that we totally NEEDED - I just didn't know it at the time I wrote the list. LOL.

In actual fact, I did quite well this trip. I did buy a *few* things not on my list. But they were things that I'd in the back of my mind to buy if I saw a good deal. Like a gameboy game for DD for Christmas discounted from $59.99 to $10 (plus I had a voucher so it was really FREE).

On the way out of town yesterday, we stopped at a fruit and veg shop that we haven't tried before. Turned out to be well worth the stop. I don't think either the shop attendant or the other customers could believe their eyes as I loaded up the counter with bag after bag of stuff. My total spend was around $47 but I bought:

20kg bag of potatoes (we'll be busy eating potatoes for a while) $6.99
3 x 1kg carrots at $1.20 each (we've been paying $1.89-$2.59 here)
4 x 2kg apples at $1.99/bag (here they're $5.99)
large bag bananas at $2.99 kg (they've been $7.99kg here)
1kg mandarins
HUGE whole cabbage
whole cauliflower
1kg tomatoes
2 zucchini's
3 large sweet potatoes
2 sweet corn
3 heads broccoli

I think that is all. It looked like a LOT of stuff for under $50 anyway and should keep us going for a couple of weeks. It's a real pleasure opening up our fridge at the moment and seeing all that FRESH and HEALTHY produce. :-) We have a very FULL fridge at the moment!!!

I also stopped at a Coles store for some pantry staples plus a few meat specials (we have a fridge/freezer in the car) and picked up some fresh fish along our way home as well. So we arrived home with a car FULL of shopping, but thankfully most of it was food. DH had to unload me and the shopping so that he'd have enough room to pick up our kids. LOL.

As for the truck -well, DH decided to buy it. He'd already done a lot of research on it so it was kind of expected that he would. The poor guy has been looking at trucks for the past 5 years and keeps putting it off due to the seasons not being great. Unfortunately our old truck (which is over 30 years old) is getting less and less up to the task. This *new* truck is only 20 years old. LOL. Anything newer is out of our price range right now. But it'll be more reliable, cost less in fuel and enable him to take more grain per load than our existing truck. DH is quite excited about it, which is nice. It makes me smile when he's happy. :-)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Felted Bags

Well the bags for my nieces are now almost finished. They both have unusual names so I liked the idea of putting their names onto the bags. My thinking being that with unusual names, they may not have much with their own name on it. However, with issues of stranger danger, I didn't want someone to see their names if they were out and about and use that as a way to become too familiar with them. So I decided to place their first initial on the front of the bag and their names under the flap where they get to see them but if they're out, no one else can see it.

I'm really happy with how they have turned out and DD has already asked me if I can make her one too. At the moment I'm trying to work out if I can make her one while she is at school and give it to her for Christmas.

I bought the glitter fabric paint and love heart buttons from Spotlight. The sequins were some that I had in my "stash" already. I've found the process of making these bags so special. I hope they get as much enjoyment from them as I've had making them. :-) And of course, there is more fun to come as I look around for some special things to put inside.

Monday, September 3, 2007

10 Frugal Things

This is my Tuesday post. I have to post it Monday night but it is *meant* to be my post for Tuesday. So if the date says Monday, you'll just have to pretend. LOL. :-)

Recently a topic was started on the Simple Living network encouraging people to share 10 things that they do to stay frugal. She was in particular looking for those that perhaps were "less common or obvious".

I thought it was a great topic for discussion so I've copied my own response here:

"Great thread. I think even the really "obvious" ones are still new to someone at some time. I know only about 3 years ago I was one of those "someone's".

1. Tracking our spending has to be the biggest one for us in terms of how much difference it has made to our spending.

2. Having goals for the "why's" of frugality.

3. Putting a debt chart up on our office wall as a visual reminder of what we're trying to achieve (that's finished now so I need a new visual reminder).

4. Having some pictures of our sponsored children on our family room wall as a constant reminder of how much we truly do have.

5. Regular decluttering. I find I'm less inclined to buy things when I'm in declutter mode.

6. Being part of a forum like this where there is regular encouragement, inspiration and like minded people.

7. Becoming more aware of the damage consumerism is doing to our environment - I find money alone isn't always a good motivator but something like the environment helps keep me on track.

8. Budgetting a small amount for "treats" and having that in cash so that we never really feel deprived and know if we really want something we can. Now that we give ourselves spending money I can understand why the kids always want to spend my money and not their own - it's kind of nice to hold onto. LOL.

9. Menu planning - seems to cut down both our grocery bill AND our take away bill.

10. Knowing prices - with groceries, clothing etc. Taking time to shop around, waiting for sales etc.

Wow - I'm actually amazed that I came up with 10. I thought I'd only have a couple to share."

So, now it's over to you. What 10 things do you do to stay frugal?

Let the Challenge Begin!!!

Today is the first day of our electricity challenge.

Meter readings last Monday were 21322.8 for regular electricity and 3230.2 for hot water.

Meter readings today are 21452.0 for regular electricity and 3256.8 for hot water.

That makes our usage for the week:

Regular - 129.2 or 18.45 units/day average (3.69 units per day per person)

Hot Water - 26.6 or 3.8 units/day average (0.76 units per day per person)

That's already a LOT better than our last bill but a dramatic drop was expected. This is our much lower usage time of year than winter.

I'm going to attempt to read the meter around 8am on Monday's for continuity. I'm not sure what time last Monday I read the meter so we're not exact here but close enough.

One of the things I'd like to get done over the next day or so is compile a list of suggestions for things the kids can do to reduce our electricity usage.

Here's what I've thought of so far:

* Turn off lights if you're the last person to leave a room.

* Open your bedroom curtains instead of using the light.

* Dress for the weather (If you're cold - add jumper, socks, beanie etc. If you're hot - find shorts, t-shirt etc).

* Wear clothing (not underwear) more than once if it's not dirty. Hang or fold it when you take it off so it doesn't get creased. This will reduce the use of the washing machine and iron.

* Every time we open the fridge door, cold air escapes and the fridge motor has to run to cool it down again. The less amount of time it is open, the less cold air will escape. Try to decide what you want before you open the fridge. Avoid standing there staring and letting all the cold air escape.

* Watch less TV. Go outside instead of turning the TV on. Play a game, do a puzzle or find something to do other than watch TV. When you do watch TV - make sure you turn it off as soon as you're finished.

* Keep your showers short so we don't use as much hot water.

If anyone has any other ideas I can add to this list for the kids, please let me know in the comments section. :-)

Also, can anyone tell me what kind of store might stock those timers that are waterproof? I'd like to put one in our shower so DS can time his showers - he seems to get in a daydream in the shower.

So, the challenge is on! It'll be interesting to see what the coming weeks bring. :-)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

Today is Father's Day here in Australia. We began the day nice and early when our 3 year old woke up and then woke his older sister up so she could play with him. :-) I told them it was okay to wake up their 9 year old brother as he'd sleep through almost anything.

We did presents in bed. The kids had some hand-made cards and DD had also made a book about her dad. They're always the best presents aren't they. :-) I've been picking up all kinds of little treats over the past month or so. Capaccino sachets, chocolate, magazines, nuts... that kind of thing. So that should keep DH going for at least a day or so. LOL.

I did buy him a very "traditional" present. A box of hankies. In my defense - that was what he asked for for Father's Day. :-) He's not exactly a hard man to please.

And just in time for our electricity challenge, we also bought him a solar powered light for his shed and one of those torches that you wind up instead of running on batteries. :-) I love giving gifts that will pay for themselves over time! In terms of saving us money in the future that is.

The kids were so sweet about the Father's Day breakfast. J (the 9 year old) decided in honour of Father's Day we should get out the good plates, glasses and cutlery. So he and his sister set the table very nicely while I cooked bacon and eggs. J was having a wonderful time getting everything organised. He buttered the toast and then when I had added the bacon and eggs, he served each person at the table - carrying the plate on the palm of his hand with quite a bit of flair. :-)

It was lovely to all eat breakfast together as a family. We tend to sit down to the evening meal together but it's rare that we'll all be there at breakfast at the same time. Quite interesting to drink orange juice from a wine glass while still wearing my pyjamas too!!! LOL. And an interesting sight to have a waiter wearing pyjama's (and they weren't even matching tops and bottoms lol). DH was the only one dressed as he'd had a shower while we got breakfast organised.

Then we were off to church with a BBQ lunch afterward. Stopped by to see DH's dad on the way home but he was out so we left the present and card with his mum. I'll ring my dad later and he'll have to wait a few weeks for his present.

We've not been home long. I've had a cuppa with DH and helped him eat some of his nibblies. :-) Then I told him he should relax and watch footy this afternoon. So what's he doing right now? Hanging clothes on the line!!! I guess he might sit down and watch the footy after that.

So I hope those of you who are celebrating Father's Day in some shape or form today have an enjoyable one. :-)

I think it's a great reminder to show those we love how much we do love and appreciate them. Whether that be with a card, a call or a hug - it doesn't have to be expensive to say "I love you". :-)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

New Beginnings

I love new beginnings! I love Mondays as they signal the start of a fresh week. I love mornings as they signal the start of a new day. I love babies as they signal the start of a new life. I love tiny little green shoots as they poke their heads out of the dark soil in the garden with all the promise that they bring. :-)

September 1st. The start of spring and bringing with it the promise of all things new. :-) Usually we get to this time of year and we're looking forward to shaking off the winter blues and enjoying a bit more sun. Not sure it's quite the case this year with all the warm weather in August. But, the sentiment is still there. September 1st is symbolic of "all things new". In my mind at least.

I didn't really set myself too many goals at the beginning of the year. I've just been reading over my January posts and I had some ideas of what I wanted out of this year. But I didn't really set goals as such. So I've decided I'd like to make some goals and plans for what I want to achieve between now and the end of the year.


My health has had to be a big focus this year. Particularly my mental health. I feel like we're actually getting somewhere with that. I still continue to see a counsellor on a weekly basis and it's hard to set any kind of timeline on that (as to when we'll be finished). As part of that though I am working on a reflective life story and I would like to complete that before the year ends.

Winter has proven to be a difficult month in terms of physical health. I guess there are no surprises there. That has meant that my physical fitness has declined somewhat over that time. This week I have just gotten back into exercising daily so I'm looking forward to rebuilding that fitness again over the coming months.

With the colder weather and feeling a bit blah, my healthy eating has slidden a bit. Today is the day to get back on track with that. Making healthier choices and cutting down (not out but down) on the amount of non nutritious food that I put into my body.

I'm happy about the fact that I've lost just over 10kg this year, bringing my total weight loss since my heaviest weight to just over 20kg. I have around 6-7 kg to go to reach my healthy weight range and would really like to achieve that before the end of the year.


Last weekend when we went away in the camper trailer overnight was fantastic. It was a great time for bonding as a family. It would be good if we could get away (even for a night) in the camper trailer at least 2 more times before the end of this year.

DH and I would also like to get away for a night or 2 without the kids and reconnect. It's never easy to find time to spend together when you have young kids who need a lot of time and attention.


My decluttering attempts have been very stop start so far this year. In some ways they need to take a lower priority than many other things in life. But I'm working on doing 15 minutes of decluttering a day on the days I'm up to it. I'm setting myself the goal of decluttering 15 grocery size bags (or equivalent) of clutter to be gone from this house by the end of the year. I think that's around 1 a week so not too lofty a goal.


I plan to continue on with my attempts to vegie garden. I'm hoping to be able to grow lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, beans, corn and pumpkin over the summer. Plus strawberries - yum!!!. We'll see how we go. Last night we had fresh lettuce and some fresh peas from the garden and the kids all thought that was great! :-)


I've made a start on a blanket for J on one of my looms which has been sidelined a bit with my dishcloth knitting attempts. I'm hoping to get that plus several dishcloths knitted. Also a felted bag for DD and a couple of other smaller projects.

I'd also like to make a start on DD's baby scrapbook. I've never scrapbooked before so I keep putting off starting. :-) If I could just get 1 page done I think that would be a good start.


Our budget was already trimmed at the beginning of the year. So far I've been happy with the attempts that I've made to keep it down even further. I'm not sure how much of a surplus we're likely to end up with this year but I need to keep reminding myself that it's already been cut back drastically so simply getting through the year without running out of money is an achievement in itself. This will all get reviewed in January, ready for a new budget to begin on February 1st.

We'll be working on the electricity challenge for the next few months. That and not overspending on Christmas are probably my 2 financial challenges for the rest of this year.


I'm already well on my way to organising presents for this year, including some I've made myself which is something new for me. I like to have the present buying etc wrapped up by 1st December if I can.

In past years I've kept a change jar to use for special treats for both Christmas and the January holidays. I've been a bit slack on that this year so I'm going to try and focus on that over the next few months and see if I can generate a few $$ toward these.

We haven't made any decisions about where we'll be Christmas Day this year. Last year we did something unique and snuck away in the camper trailer for a couple of nights. It was our first Christmas with just our family and wonderfully simple and relaxed. If DH's sister decides to come home this year I guess we'll be under a certain amount of pressure to spend Christmas with his family. I guess we'll just wait and see what pans out. My family has already had *Christmas*. They celebrated while they were all together in July. We couldn't make it unfortunately.

So there is plenty happening and plenty to do. But not so much that I'm feeling overwhelmed so I think I have the balance about right for now. :-) Makes for a nice change.