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.

Advertisements

Blank Space

Today I have pirates running around my garden.

This is wonderful, seeing as the smallest pirate puked all over herself last night. It’s also brilliant because vomit leads to cancelled swimming lesson which leads to blank space in the schedule.

Blank space in a schedule can be filled. Filled with chores, with errands, with small tasks that seem to build up. Or it can be left blank.

Today I chose to do nothing in our blank space. The kids asked for a DVD, which held their attention for about half an hour. But while I was doing the dishes, the noises changed. Footsteps rushed off to the bedroom, and then came back wearing costumes. So now, there’s treasure, bad guys and ‘aaarrr me hearties’.

Blank space in the schedule can be great thing for kids and adults. We can choose to fill it, or leave it blank and let the whims take us where they will.

Letting my kids choose, and choosing not to drive to the supermarket, go to the park or mow the lawn has given us a little freedom in our day. If we’d gone to town, or even if I’d planned a craft activity or story time, I wouldn’t have happy little pirates running around in the garden. Opening the space to allow creative and imaginative play for the kids, and some time to sit in the sun with a book for me, has been good all around. No cranky, no complaints, and a little relaxation. Blank space is good for the brain, for the body, and for my ability to cope with life in general.

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.

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.

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!

Natural Chilblain Remedy

Autumn has not started, so under normal circumstances I wouldn’t be thinking about chilblains. But my current job means that no matter the weather outside, inside is always colder. And spending my days playing in liquid nitrogen means that my hands get pretty darn cold.

Thankfully after some research last winter, I found something that made a big difference to my feet and fingers. Lanolin.

Lanolin is just the grease that comes from sheeps wool. It is a natural waterproofing and insulating agent that is used in many commercial products. I have no idea why it works, but it was a saviour for me. It meant I could wear my winter boots rather than sneakers, which also meant warmer, less soggy feet.

I still had a tube of Lansinoh from when I was breastfeeding and would massage it into my feet and hands before going to bed (wear socks or you end up with slimy sheets). After a few weeks my feet didn’t hurt anymore, and I still have half a tube to get me through the coming winter. Now that I know what helps, I won’t have to suffer through painful winter feet anymore. And for that I thank sheep farmers, and nature for being so clever.