Random Tip

Use your skills to save money. If you can knit or crochet, make some dish cloths. Acrylic wool works well, is washable and the reusable cloths save you money because you don’t have to buy dish sponges.

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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.

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.

Take Some Time

I couldn’t tell you how many people I know that don’t take enough time for themselves. My ‘me time’ only happens when the kids are in bed. I know others whose time is taken up by second jobs, looking after ailing parents, or looking after grandkids. I know people who fall asleep as soon as they sit still because they are constantly doing things. It worries me. And it tells me a lot about how we view ourselves.

‘Me time’ is practically a buzz word. We should all be getting some, taking some, making room in our schedules for some. But is it just talk? Do we look back at our parents and grandparents and say “where was their me time?” I can cope because they did. Do we look at our children and say “they are growing, they need my time more than I do”. Do we think it is just a hippie way of avoiding doing the housework? Or is it actually necessary?

I’d encourage taking some time for yourself. I know my mum didn’t have much until we were older, I know my grandmothers barely had any. I know my father and my grandfather’s time was taken up with work and family. They didn’t take much time for themselves.

But here’s the kicker, me time looks different for everyone. Some people tinker in the shed, others potter in the garden, play golf, have a cup of fancy tea, read a book or watch a favourite TV show. You don’t have to take a full day at the spa, or even spend an hour listening to devotionals or meditating. Just a little bit of time, that’s about something you WANT to (not need, have to, or think you should) do.

So there’s my opinion. Take some time. You don’t have to meditate, or even be alone. Just do something for you, that’ll make you happy. Or just fall asleep on the couch at 11am and catch up on some lost sleep. Looking after you is just as important as everything else you do.

Food, partially crunchy

I can bake. It’s something I’ve always had an affinity for. I love doing it, and I love seeing people enjoy the results. But I’m still learning how to cook.

I’m not awesome at meals, but I’ve found a few that are simple, tasty and my family are big fans. It makes me feel better about my cooking, but I know I still have a long way to go.

One of the dishes that everyone is always happy about is Sweet Potato Soup. It’s simple, filling and really good with a crusty roll.

Ingredients:

Sweet potato – sliced (any number is fine 2-8 depending on how big your pot is and how many people you’re feeding)

one brown onion – sliced

water enough to cover your veggies

powdered chicken stock – estimate based on your amount of water and packet directions (if you have homemade stock or broth, use half water/half stock)

Method:

Bring to boil and allow to simmer without a lid until reduced to approx 3/4 volume

Allow to cool slightly and then blend to a puree ( use stick blender or freestanding – you may need to do batches in the freestanding blender)

 

And that’s it. Not difficult, and you can use the same recipe for pumpkin soup, or pumpkin, carrot and potato. You can switch out the stock for veggie if you want a vegetarian option. It freezes well, and it eats well.

Enjoy!