Good Days

Some days you realise that everything just went well. Sure the kids had their moments, and so did you, but overall, things just worked. We had one of those this week.

The autumn sun was bright, the kids were happy, and we got things done. Spending most of the day outside, we walked to the library, and did the craft activities. It was also memorable because I had won a ‘who borrowed most’ prize for their February/Valentines/Book Love extravaganza.

We played at the park on our way home, and befriended some random kids who were also having fun playing.

We made pici pasta from a Jamie Oliver recipe for lunch. The kids loved it, and it was an extra fun way to sneak in leafy greens to their diet. Parenting win!

We weeded the garden and mowed the lawn. I love my push reel mower. Everybody else thinks I’m crazy, but it’s great exercise, he lawn gets mown and I’ve expended nothing but time and elbow grease.

And after an adventure-some day, the kids slept like tiny exhausted logs. Granted, child one was having a farm day and it was just me with numbers two and three, but we managed a lot of things I’d been trying to make time for, and had a bunch of fun.

It wasn’t until the next day that I realised how good it had been. In the moment I was just trying to keep the kids occupied while getting the jobs done. In reality, we’d had an entire day of quality time, doing healthy, worthwhile activities, with minimal arguing and no tantrums.

Total shocker: an entire day with no one chucking a hissy fit, or stamping feet demanding this, that or the other.

I think this will be my model for home days now. Sure, working days, or kinder days, or after school activity days will look different, but home days are going to be outside days, chasing days, walking days, adventure days. Days where I can look back and say: Today was a good day.

Eat the pantry

I’m trying to save money. With birthdays coming up, saving for Christmas, saving for a home and hopefully taking my kids on a short holiday, I’m trying so darn hard to save what I can.

I’ve been eating the pantry and shopping the freezer. Sometimes, until you look, you have no idea what little gems can be found. Some unmarked freezer bags with savoury mince, tuna pasta sauce, and cans of five bean mix hiding in the back of the cupboard.

I managed five meals from one cook with the dubious art of ‘use what you’ve got’. One slow cooked beef mince stew gave me the base to make five different meals for my family. Some extra cooking required on the day, but with the base complete, it only amounted to boiling pasta or spuds, or making a dough and throwing it in the oven.

And all from stuff I had on hand. No visit to the supermarket, no rushing out for take away (which we don’t have here, anyway) and no stress about what to cook, with five meals done (I put two in the freezer for another time).

A little thought, and a lot of hope, made my day. I’ve saved money, used up some of the odds and ends, fed the kids healthy meals (sneaky veg included) and I’ve realised that I’m getting better at this frugal stuff. Yay for me, yay for my savings plans.

Tuna Pasta Cheat

Some days food is a lot like hard work. And if you haven’t planned ahead, the work seems to multiply exponentially.

I had a cleaning day on my own, and the kids all had lunch at their respective school/kinder/daycare so the only person I had to feed was myself.

I looked in the cupboard for that elusive item to jump out and say ‘eat me!’, and for the first time ever, something did.

Tomato chutney.

Weird, I know, but pairing it with pasta, tuna and passata I got a really good tuna pasta.

And it was easy. I cooked my pasta, drained it and threw two tablespoons of chutney in the saucepan, half a cup of passata and some tuna. Gave it a quick mix to warm it through, dumped it on the pasta, grated some cheese and woo hoo! Lunch.

Simple, cheap and filling. Also pretty darn tasty.

Water, water everywhere

It rained yesterday. Really rained. All day rain. It’s something we haven’t seen here in a while. For mid autumn, we’ve been fairly rain free, and I’m grateful it’s finally back on the weather agenda.

Most of my home is run on tank water, and if it doesn’t rain, we have no water. So behold my joy when we go almost two inches in twenty four hours.

Sometimes my crunch is only semi-crunchy, other times it gets extreme. When the options for water include carting it in at great expense or hooking a hose to the mains to fill the tank, extreme crunch is the option I’d rather take.

So here are my extremes:

  • catch water in clean buckets to use in the home or garden
  • use the water to bucket flush the toilet, feed the animals, half fill the bath or sink
  • use the water to rinse/soak laundry
  • use the water to wash the floors or car
  • use the water for cleaning around the house or bathing pets

Okay, some of it isn’t extreme and is merely sensible, but any water you don’t have to pay for is a bonus. For me, tank water is a great option, even if you only use it in the laundry, it’s a cost saving, and grey water can be reused in the garden.

So yes, after the rain yesterday, I now have buckets full of water roaming around my garden. Yes it looks weird, but I have dog water now that I don’t have to pay for, or empty the tank for. Yay me.

Winter Preparation

Winter is here, so I’ve thinking about heating. Staying warm. Managing not to freeze in a house whose draughts I haven’t worked out yet. And yes, I should have done this in May, but things can get crazy busy around here.

I have two major issues that need looking, and a small list of others that need to get done because we’ve been inundated with rain and wind.

And this isn’t just a matter of staying warm, it’s a frugal necessity. Electricity prices have increased so much that running the electrics for our household is enough to make me cringe. So in order to lower our heating bill, I need to fix some things.

A large hole in my bedroom wall. It was patched at some point, but the patch has fallen off and is currently sitting on my mantle piece. It not only lets in cold air, but the cat keeps watching the hole as if he’s expecting a mouse. Not cool.

There is also a big louvre window next to the back door. It doesn’t shut all the way and in order to keep any warmth in the house we have to keep the kitchen door closed at all times. Not possible with three kids going in and out.

And these are only the big things. When it comes down to really hunting out the issues, I’ve found at least three other ways that my house is losing heat that I will have to pay for. So while wearing layers and using extra blankets is fine, I want to make sure that the money I will be spending on heating doesn’t just float out the window or under the door.

So start the list. Check under and around doors, windows, cupboards housing plumbing and ceilings for draughts. Check for water leaks next time it rains, is it leaking in through the window? Do you need to replace the seals? Are the gutters running well? If you’ve noticed any mould in bathrooms or under sinks, clean it now, no one needs to get sick.

It sounds a little petty, but all these little things can cost you money, and it does add up. And when paying for winter utilities, every dollar saved is important.

Todays’ Treat

My kids are like any others, they love a treat, but I’m a frugal crunchy mum at heart, so I try to make treats I feel good about giving them.

Tonight we had a pizza picnic party sitting in the lounge watching Family Feud. And my kids loved it! For them, homemade pizza is fun and tasty. Yes they still request Maccas on occasion, but it’s neither in the budget or locality.

I’m still working on getting the refined sugar and processed foods out of our diet, and I don’t know that I’ll ever give up my caffeine or chocolate entirely. But that’s OK with me. My kids deserve a treat sometimes, and heck, so do I.