Showing posts with label My Grandmother's Ways. Show all posts
Showing posts with label My Grandmother's Ways. Show all posts


The Secret To A Long Life.............

When my grandmother turned 101 in July she gave an interview to the local Newspaper. She told them that the secret to a long and healthy life was keeping busy and not worrying.

She failed to add that she grew all her own food, never smoked, and didn't drink. I guess if you are busy going about your daily work you don't have time to get old. Daily work keeps you mentally active and physically active. It is funny how no one went to the gymnasium in 1940 ! doing a hard days work was just part of life.

Now..... advertising tells us that work or effort is bad. We drive 1 kilometre to the shop, we have a clicker button that changes the channels on the TV because, lets face it, we don't want to have to get up and take three steps! We are so sedentary because we have machines that do everything for us. As a result we are completely out of balance as human beings. We are overweight, take medication to reduce our cholesterol and more medication to keep our blood pressure down.

Maybe if we took the 1940s approach to life, things would fall back into balance. Walking to the shop, digging in the garden, growing and eating our own food would reduce our waistline, our blood pressure and our cholesterol levels. The work would give us a tremendous sense of satisfaction that money can't buy and the changes we make would improve our family budget.

Then we would be as humans are meant to be. Balanced. Are we the only mammal that is self destructive?

Hubbie snapped the photo a couple of days ago. It is entitled "why do you ask?"


The Spirit of My Ancestors

This is the spoon I use to cook with.

It belonged to my great grandmother.

Considering that my Grandmother is now 101 years old, it is amazing to think that HER mother used it to cook with.

If you look closely you will see that one side is worn down from use over the years.
This is one of my most prized possessions. A couple of years ago I was a guest speaker at the View Club and took my spoon along to talk about the importance of writing down our stories. I accidentally left it on the table and it was collected with all the cutlery at the end of the meal. I went home without it and it took a couple of days for me to remember that I must have left it there. I was devastated and returned to the venue and raided drawers and drawers of cutlery with the owners to finally get it back! It must have gone into the dishwasher with every thing else. I was extremely lucky!

I really LOVE my spoon because every time I pull it out I am reminded of the spirit of my ancestors. Hard working, frugal living, self sufficient, simple people. Whether it was by choice or necessity, the spoon reminds me to live like it's 1940s. To be more family oriented. To cook from scratch. To be self reliant. To waste less. To save more. To have a grateful spirit.

I wonder what possessions of mine are going to be around for more than 100 years ? The answer that pops into my mind is unfortunately the millions of plastic bags I have used so far LOL !


Getting Ahead

"When you have time, you do things for times when you have no time".
This is what my Grandmother taught me about Getting Ahead.

We all seem to be so busy these days that we are always running behind. We are late for work, late home and then have to get something 'quick and easy' to slap on the table for dinner because we simply 'don't have time'. We run our children all over the country side, yelling at them to hurry up.

We flit from one appointment to the next, having quick catch ups with friends on the hands free mobile while swapping the kids from school clothes to soccer gear in the back seat of the car with the other hand.

Why don't we have time ? Over the years have they shortened the length of a day ? Was 24 hours in 1972 longer than 24 hours in 2008 ? If you believe the hype then you would conclude 'yes'.

In the 1950s women were told that they could have so much extra time by purchasing labour saving devices. Clothes washers, clothes dryers, dish washers, kitchen appliances - all saved the housewife a tremendous amount of time. BUT.... where did that time go ? What did we fill it with ? Work outside the house ? Coffee mornings with friends, shopping ?

Our lack of time is a cross between a problem of overscheduling and perception. If you were to make a list of your priorities in life and then compare it to your diary you might be surprised at the results. For example, you might say your spouse is the most important thing, but when you glance back through your diary you may find you actually spent more time having coffee with friends or shopping than quality time with your spouse. Honestly answer the question - do you do too much that is not really aligned with your purpose or priorities ?

The other reason we don't have any time is because of our perception. If you ask anyone, they are busy. It seems to be the standard answer. How many times do you hear people say "i'd love to do that, but I just don't have time". The truth is we all have 24 hours a day.

So, when I do have some time left over I do as my Grandmother says and try and do things for times when I know I won't have spare time. Last week I had planned to do so much in the garden, but the miserable rain kept me from venturing out too far.
Instead invested some time. I made huge batches of biscuits and muesli bars, made soup with leftover amounts and made cordial. I also got an extra loaf of bread on. I have been making crunchy cookies lately as they seem to keep a bit longer. I put them in glass Moconna Coffee jars on the bench -It gives me great satisfaction knowing that I have made them for the family and I know exactly what is in them. I also put a huge batch of dough into the freezer for stand by. I usually always make a double batch so that I can make cookies at short notice

These muesli bars worked out well. It's the recipe that just uses rolled oats, crushed weet-bix dried fruit orange juice and honey.



This is What 101 Years of Simple Living Looks Like....

This is my Grandmother who turned 101 on the 15th July. She still walks around, has a wonderful memory and she certainly has " all her marbles". She lived in her own home up until 6 weeks before her 100th birthday.

When the local Newspaper were interviewing her they asked her what the secret of a long life is.
She said it was 'keeping busy'. I guess that is true. I have never known Nanna to procrastinate over anything. She was always prepared for anything. Her freezer was always stocked with freshly blanched vegetables and she had frozen meals she had made bursting out of the huge chest freezer she had. We always joked that if the Apocalypse came, it would be okay, because Nanna's freezer could feed all the survivors! LOL

When asked if she made a wish on her birthday she said she didn't need to make a wish because she had everything she wants and needs. She enjoys living in the nursing home because she doesn't have to do her own washing, cleaning and ironing. She views it as a luxury.

When asked about society today, she said the children are little brats. Her thoughts are that children should be put to work early for their parents so that they learn to do the right thing.
She was asked if she had ever used a computer, and told the journalist that although she had used my lap top, the only mouse she has ever known is the one you set a trap for !

So.... 'keeping busy' is the key to a long and lovely life ? What was she busy with ? In the earlier days it was milking, baking, cooking meals, washing, cleaning, gardening, ironing, farming, knitting, sewing. Then, when she moved to town it was ......... baking, cooking meals, gardening, washing, cleaning, knitting, sewing....... hmmmmmm I guess she was just too busy to grow old.

So, what can I learn from this ? Am I doing my best in the areas listed above? Am I seduced by the advertising devil that tells me to slacken off, rest because I 'deserve it', buy because I 'deserve' it and think about myself because, after all, I am the most important person in the world! No.......... I think I will adopt the more humble life. I will work hard for the joy and peace that comes in knowing that I am 'ahead' and prepared for the days to come.

Proverbs 31:21
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.


We Apologise for The Break In Programming.....

The past two months have been a huge transition time in my life and in our house.

I have decided that I will leave my paid employment and come home. The reason it is such a huge transition is this. I used to be a teacher. While I was off work on maternity leave I did a law degree and in October 2005 I began working for a large law firm. I was admitted as a solicitor in 2006.

Working as a lawyer is really a great profession, despite what stereotyping may tell you. I worked in an area of law that really helped people in crisis. The best thing about helping them was that it didn't cost them anything. I enjoyed this because I enjoy helping people. I get a real 'buzz' from empowering others.

Over the last couple of years I had been questioning my priorities. Making money is a very good thing, as it gives you choices. But making money doesn't do it for me. It sounds like such a cliché but money doesn't necessarily bring me happiness. The lack of money ( and I have been there too) gives me anxiety where as the middle ground brings me joy. The problem with making good money in a job is that you constantly trade your time for the money. Throughout my life it always seems a shift between having lots of money and no time or having lots of time and no money. So I have been on a quest for the middle ground. What if I could design my life the way I want to. After all, nothing is permanent. If I make the wrong decision I can go back, can't I ? There are thousands of sheets of notepaper laying around this house with lists. When the going gets tough, the tough make lists! Lists of pros lists of cons, lists of values, lists of qualities, lists of strengths, lists of weaknesses, lists of assets and lists of liabilities. Lists of goals, aims,objectives. Not that I am into astrology but apparently I am the typical Libran- weighing it up all the time.

Then on the 19th of April I got a call to say that a friend from work had lost her husband all of a sudden. This was a lady who is a real role model to me. She has two children about 18 and 21 and they were a very close and loving family. I looked at her son and hoped that I would be able to raise my sons to be fine young men as well. There she was in her mid 40s - a widow. She had lost her beautiful husband so suddenly. As I sat at the funeral I realised that life is as delicate as a butterfly's wings. It clings to us like a fine spider web that is gone in a breath of wind. Yet we treat it like it is permanent, like it is set in stone, that somehow it is our right to have it for as long as we demand. Truth is, it can be blown away with any breath of wind like a dandelion seed.

With this new found perspective I listed on yet another list what really brought me joy and how I really wanted to design my life and how I really want to raise my children. It always comes back to the way of the old days. How did they afford to live ? Of course they didn't have many of the 'luxuries' that we call every day items, but human needs have not changed at all in the last 50 years. We still need water, food, shelter and love. The only thing that has changed is our unquenchable need for items introduced to us via advertising. We buy because we have a need to fulfill. The items fill that need for short period but then we need something else to fill the void. What is the void we are trying to fill ? We needs in our human psyche are not being met ? The great philosopher Epicurus surmised that we need friends, freedom and an analysed life, that is, to discuss the philosophy of life with friends, while sharing good food. I think I tend to agree with him.

So... once I made the decision there was no turning back. Suddenly there arose a further list of very important things. A To-Do-List of the mammoth proportions. Firstly, secure food. As I have always thought, my Grandmother would never have had only some parsley and coriander in the garden and told the kids to get in the car and take them to McDonalds! Of course there was no McDonalds and no car ! LOL

It was just taken for granted that there would be things to eat in the garden. So..... we built more garden beds and started studying up on when to plant and when to harvest etc. At the moment, there is not much to show for our efforts because it is winter, but the seeds are sown for a wonderful spring.

I have been doing quite a bit of reading. I have stated many times before that no matter what perspective an article is written from it always adds up to the same conclusion to me. Whether it is about green living, peak oil, permaculture, frugal living, voluntary simplicity etc etc it always comes back to living like it's 1940. So I will take on many things from the past whilst keeping the treasures of our modern society.

Only my closest friends can truly understand my reason for living my career, that is, "that I have an overwhelming need to till the earth while my children are young" LOL ! I am sure that many will believe that I have had some sort of breakdown. If you remember the very first episode of "The Good Life" you will be laughing now I am sure.

I guess this means it is time to put my money ( or lack of it) where my mouth is and commence the experiment. Can a thoroughly modern mum live freely in a modern world. Can she produce food? Can she cook from scratch? Can she knit socks(gulp!)? Can she raise chooks for eggs? Can she learn to sew properly (gulp!) and........ can she still afford to buy the occasional vanilla latte on skim milk that has become her signature coffee ?

I believe that my user name "BusyWoman" is about to become an extremely accurate assessment of the days to come. I look forward to it with a sick sense of excitement. I hope you will stick around for the journey.


Restoring The Vision Splendid

I have been doing a lot of reading lately on a number of topics - green living, frugality, additive free eating etc. I have said this before...... whichever way you turn it comes back to the same thing for me..... live like it's 1940.

Here's what I mean. If you decide that you are going to approach things from a green living perspective then you might group your trips to town to save petrol, shorten your showers to save water and money, save electricity, grow your own food, buy non processed foods, buy foods with limited packaging, buy second hand, not use disposables etc

If you are approaching life from a frugal perspective you will cook from scratch, work on a 'cash only' budget, make things instead of buying them, not spend money on non-essentials, barter or share with friends etc

Whenever I read these ideas for living I think that it all comes back to how people lived in 1930 or 1940. It seems that they had things pretty well worked out!

My Grandmother built a house in 1936 which was made with solid concrete using sand from the creek. There were two water tanks at the back of house, for rainwater or water from the well on creek bank when there was no rain. There was a well which was spring fed and crystal clear. My mum tells me it tasted better than bottled water. There was a big tank that was put up in the 1950s. It was for watering the garden and was filled from the well

All vegies were home grown as were the fruit trees and grape vines. All excess fruit and veg were preserved and made into jam and pickles.

A sheep was killed about once a week or maybe a fortnight for meat. Beef was shared with the neighbours. They also had ham and bacon which was salted and smoked in a square tank with sawdust. There was also chooks for meat and eggs

In so far as rubbish is concerned, nothing left the property. All scraps went to pigs and dogs. All packaging that was re used. My mum tells me that there was also newspaper in the dunnie!!!!

So... in today's terms you would call it ' self sufficiency', 'green living' 'frugality' 'the Good life' etc. I call it 1940s.
I think we can all learn something from this way of life.


Thnking Back

This image brings back memories. It is the inside of an EH Holden from the early 1960s. It's the same as the one my Grandmother had, except hers was grey.

My sister sat in the back and I sat in the 'back back' as I called it. It was a stationwagon and I was quite hapy to roll around in the back as a five year old. There were no seatbelts in the car, but we were lucky to ever go over 60km an hour LOL !

When I saw this car in the motoring museum at Inverell when we were on holidays I just had to snap some photos. It brings back some lovely memories.


An Entrepreneurial Spirit

As you would have ready earlier in my blog I am fascinated by the ways of my Grandmother who is now a healthy 100 year old. I believe that we have lost many of the good things about this style of living.

 I am not saying that it would be nice to go back to having no electricity and no running water but I think we can implement many of the ideas and philosophies from that time to benefit our modern lives.

One thing about the old ways that I love is the entrepreneurial spirit.

That is, the ability of people to create their own incomes. I am certain that it wold not have been viewed in such a romantic light back then, it was more a case of survival.

 If you wanted to eat then you needed to either grow it yourself or make some money doing something in order to buy your food.

There were no credit cards. If you didn't have the money then you didn't buy the goods. I often think that if it wasn't for credit cards and redrawing on mortgages we would be living almost like the Great Depression days.

How would you go if you got your weekly income out of the bank, held it in cash and new that it was all you had to sustain you for the week, or new that you had to actually save some of it to buy more expensive things?

In times gone by people created their own money without a job as such. Lots of people worked for themselves - the old idea of the butcher, baker, candlestick maker. My Grandmother worked hard to save money when it came in from selling wheat and wool. She also made money through extra things like selling eggs and turkeys.

Have we lost our Entrepreneurial Spirit ? Would we be brave enough to sell our services or goods for money ?
Would we be brave enough to know that if we worked hard we would make more money but if we were lazy we would make less?

Something worth thinking about.


The 6P Principle

6Ps = Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

I have written before about my Grandmother's ' one up' principle, that is, you have a spare of everything in the cupboard and as you finish one off you get another one to replace the spare so that you never run out of anything. 

This week I have made a list to fully prepare my stores cupboard.

I have worked out my usage, for example, I know that at all times I want a container ( 3kg) full of flour as well as 4 1kg bags in the cupboard.
This will take me some time to finish because I will only stock up when the products are on sale. The overall aim is to never pay full price for anything again.
If you watch the sales you will see, for example, that Vegemite may come on sale every 6 weeks and you may know that you go through 3 jars in that time, so I would buy 3 when they are on special.

If you let your items run out or run low, you will have to buy them when you need them rather than when they are on sale.

If you use the store cupboard idea of stockpiling, you will eventually get to the position where you only buy sale items each week.

This will cut your grocery bill dramatically. If anything unforeseen happens you always have your insurance policy.
 We all think that a ' disaster' will not happen to us, but sometimes it is the simplest thing that can cause problems, like blackouts from storms or floods.

 If there is no power, the doors of Coles can't open ! I wonder how many people were caught by the flooding around Newcastle - not caught by flood waters but caught by the shut down of services.

 The moral of the story always comes back to the 6P's.

The 6 P principles is the answer to how can you get ahead and work towards never paying full price for anything ?


Vintage Kitchen

These kitchen items are from my Grandmothers kitchen - dirty because I am in the middle of using them !

 I LOVE the old things that she used.

They are far more sturdier than what I can buy today and the fact that they are still in existence after up to 80 years shows that they are well made.

The spoon that I use to cook with is completely worn down on one side from my Great Grandmother and my Grandmother using it.

When I cook with it I always think of these women doing it so hard, yet not knowing any different. It makes me want to work that little bit harder.


Getting Ahead

" When you have time, you do things for times when you don't have any time". 

This is what my Grandmother taught me. 

The idea, in my words, is to get ahead that is, the 6 P principle. Prior Preparation and Planning Prevent Poor Performance. So... how does this work in real life ? Well...

Have a planning day. On my planning day I usually write out my menu plan based on our family schedule for the following week. I then write my shopping list from that plan. I also work out what I will wear for the whole working week (Tuesday to Friday ) and get those clothes ready. I also organise school uniforms ( although we still need to wash and iron through the week because the boys only have two shirts and two sets of trousers)

Have a cooking day. This can be simply 40 minutes of your time that you set aside for the purposes of getting ahead. I often make up a triple batch of cookie mixture ( usually Anzac biscuits) and only cook a few. I then roll the rest of the dough into balls and freeze. That way I can have fresh biscuits at 10 minutes notice. This picture is what they look like when they come out of the freezer. I just lay them on the tray and they still spread nicely, even if they are frozen solid.

Look Ahead: Don't spend today working on something that you need tomorrow. Anticipate your needs. Look at your calendar for next week or next month and do today what is required in the future. That way, if something happens and your time doesn't go to plan you can be at peace because you already have yourself organised. Believe me- if you can win at this one, it brings great peace but when you don't do it you are so cranky with yourself for leaving things to the last minute!
If you can get ahead, the rest time that you have will feel great! You can sit back and watch a movie, go out with friends or have a weekend away knowing that you don't have any black clouds hanging over you because you have the peace of being ahead. So next time you go to do something, think of what you can tack onto that job to " get ahead".


100 Years of Simple Living

On Sunday 15th July we celebrated my Grandmother's 100th Birthday.

 This woman is amazing.

As you know, she lived on her own up until a couple of months ago when she slipped while she was raking up some leaves and broke her leg. She now lives in a nursing home.

We asked her what the secret to a long and healthy life is she said " Just don't worry".

Maybe she is right.

 I think the home grown food, no smoking, no drinking and simple, purposeful, joyful living also plays a part, but I guess if you implement her life principles of prior preparation and planning then you will have little to worry about.

As the song goes, 'don't worry, be happy'.

What is it that makes you happy ? I doubt it will be 'stuff ' 


My Grandmother's Ways.

This is my Grandmother, taken on 27 September 2004. She was 97.

 She turns 100 on the 15th July 2007.

She lived on her own at home up until 2 months before her 100th birthday. I love this photo because if you look closely she is taking the tomato seedlings inside overnight.

These are some of the notes I took when asking my Grandmother about her life. She lived on a property near Dubbo in Western NSW. If you remember the show "Outback House" that screened on ABC, my Grandmother's house was in that region. The house was also situated quite near to the property at Dundullimul which is now a national trust property. You can check them out here.

Here's how she described her morning. ( Forgive the grammar - it's typed as is ! )

" I’d wake up get dressed go to the toilet – which was up the paddock , come back and wash. The first thing you would do was make the fire in the stove and put the kettle on, cook some porridge or rolled oats or something. If we had fresh meat we would fry chops, lambs fry and eggs with a cup of tea. Then go and milk the cows – all four of them. You’d get a couple of kerosene tins full. We’d keep about a gallon out a day for cooking, drinking etc. The rest was separated to make cream and both milk and cream would be put on and boiled and left to the next day and churned for butter ( kept in a cool place). We had no fridge but we had a cooler. It was on the back veranda in the shade. There was Hessian on the side. It was standing on four legs and inside it had shelves. We used to keep the meat there or corn it.

Next, wash up the breakfast things. There was no running water. In 1936 when the house was built we had two tanks onto the house – 1000 gallons each that was used for everything. There was one at the bathroom and the other for the kitchen. We never wasted water. If we ran short we used spring water. – carried in buckets until we got a windmill that used to pump the water and pump it up into the tank. We got the windmill in 1938/ 1939 it was a southern cross. We also had pipes from the windmill to the garden and we had a thing to put the hose on and we had to leave the tap turned on all the time. Even if the windmill was turned off it would still move and dribble out water.
To wash up we had a fountain sitting on the stove, like a great big cast iron tea pot – it probably held about 3/4/ gallons. Half of it was on the hob ( brickwork around the stove) to keep it hot but not boiling. The teapot was also there.
We’d use that to wash up. When we came to Tanners Creek we had a cast iron sink like the one here. We had a drain that went down to the bank of the creek.

Next I would probably bake cakes for morning tea – for the men on the property. Then we’d have a hot meal at the middle of the day. I had a square dish about 15 inches squares. I used to make a sponge cake with six eggs 2 cups of sugar 2 cups of flour and baking powder because there was no self raising flour. You’d beat the eggs into a froth with the spoon. One day I got a hand beater and would use that. I’d cut it in half and put some jam – whatever we had and make a sponge roll.
The jam was home made. I’d buy a 70g bag of sugar and make jam out of whatever fruits was there – peaches, plums apricots, grapes, strawberry, passion fruit.

Washing Day

Sometimes twice a week or once a week depending on how many dirty clothes.
When the boys starting growing up I’d wash 6 shirts and they were starched. The trousers then you didn’t wash them – just sponge them down. They came home in good clothes The working trousers were similar to jeans. They used to call them ……. Dungarees it’s a bit heavier than denim. It was work clothes.
You’d soak them in the tub and get the washing board and scrub them . Each man would wear 3 sets of clothes each week.Get two days out of each set of clothes. They had athletic singlets and real old blokes had flannel shirts.

So on washing day there were 2 sets of clothes per person 3 sons and a husband plus their good shirts and white singlets or navy blue singlet.

To wash the clothes you’d scrub them, then boil them then rinse them if you didn't have a wringer you’d ring by hand. I can remember we had the clothesline between two trees. I remember one time the clothesline broke. All the clothes were filthy again. I had been wanting a proper clothesline for a while. There was a fair space of ground at the back of the house where nothing was growing. I measured where he had to put the line. I made it triangular to dry whichever way the wind blew. When we got a rotary clothesline it went in the centre.

The sheets were all done on the same day. I mostly had a spare pair of sheets for each bed.
There was also tablecloths etc to wash.

Washing day was always Monday. Old Mrs Wales used to say “if the washing is not done on Monday, the ironing on Tuesday the week’s gone and nothing done” that was the way of the old people back then.

If it was raining ….. you had a veranda you’d wash the important things and hang them.

Tuesday was ironing day. Take all the clothes of the line and fold them up. The clothes were kept in a cane basket. You’d have an ironing blanket or ironing sheet and put in on the dining room table. You had three irons – iron with one till it got cod and then get another etc. We then got a petrol iron which you’ d pump up.

Sometimes I went up to the sheep yards and things didn’t get washed up. Sometimes you had to leave things. One day someone came unexpectedly and I hadn’t done all the ironing and they had to have un ironed pillowcases. I felt so ashamed.

When I worked out in the paddocks I wore Jim’s pants with a belt on – his waist was twice as big as mine. "

The Home Management Binder

Some call it a home journal, or household notebook. I call mine my home management binder.

 It is the master plan for how I run my household. It is important that I balance all the roles that I am given and do my best to keep things running smoothly. Because I am spread so thin between my children, husband, work, friends and other family members I need to 'go to paper' so that my thoughts and ideas are not heavy in my head.

The front cover has a wise quote from proverbs about the Proverbs 31 Woman. It says " She watches over the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness". When I was first married I tried to adopt this as a theme for my life. I must add that I always struggle with this ideal.

The sections in the binder so far are:

1. Family Finances: This is where I keep my budget, bills to pay, savings goals, debt reduction and net worth calculations.

2. Household Routines: I have been a flylady fan since 2000. This is where I detail my morning, afternoon and evening routines and have my overall cleaning and organisation plans. If you don't know what I am talking about visit

3. Shopping and Meals: This is where I have my grocery list ( I use a standard sheet in the order of the supermarket isles) I also have a list of favourite meals, menu planner (Although I generally use a magnetic fridge version), price book.

4. Travel and Organisation. This is where I keep my going away list, picnic list, camping list, first aid list, emergency preparedness list etc

5. Resources The final section is where I keep printouts of articles, ideas, budget tips, management tips etc. I am always on the lookout for ways to improve my family management and make my household run smoother.

One day I sat and asked my Grandmother detailed questions and took my laptop and typed out what she said. It took many days to complete this process. I will share her wisdom further on this website. It is a topic that is very close to my heart. I think that many families are out of control today because they have forgotten ( or never learnt) age old principles and methods of life management.

Living Simply Challenge Update

It has been extremely satisfying doing this challenge. Some things we have achieved, others we haven't attempted yet, but it is all a step in the right direction.

Here are the preliminary results:

* make up a food budget and take only that amount of money to the supermarket with you. - Done. I have $150 for groceries and this week spent $114.00. This is more than last week, but it includes extras for my grocery stockpile.

* create a menu plan for the week so you know what you need to buy for each meal. DONE - this not only saves you money , it saves time and your sanity because it stops you from getting to a weeknight later in the week and asking ' what on earth are we having for dinner tonight ?

* start tracking your spending. Done - usually do this anyway.

* start a grocery stockpile. I like this one and have done it at varying times over the years. My Grandmother always had a ' one up principle'. She had the item that she was using plus at least one more of it in the cupboard. When you finish the one you are using you put it on the list, start using the spare and then replace the 'one up' item.

* cook from scratch. - have been doing this for a while no.

* ban yourself from eating out or buying takeaway for this entire week. failed this one because I had to go to a farewell dinner on Friday night. I did only spend $20 though and that included a tip !

* shop for specials. - I always do this. I have had a price book for years. I will post some pictures of it soon.

* make your own shopping bags and fruit and veg bags so you're not bringing home plastic bags. Taking your own shopping bags is easy. The only problem that I have is bags for the fruit and veg. Loose potatoes, broccoli carrots etc are fine but it is hard to take loose pistachio nuts to the checkout ! I need some ideas here. Do you sew your own little bags for smaller fruit and veg/nuts etc? I often buy loose almonds, pistachios, beans etc and would appreciate some feedback.

* buy meat from a butcher, not a supermarket. Done. Luckily we have a great butcher in the little town I live in.

* stop buying individually wrapped or bagged groceries, like snack foods. Done.

* watch the unit price. - always do this using a price book. ( although once you have done your price book you will find that you just know your prices )

* look for and support products that have minimal wrapping. This has not been easy. Sometimes you are limited by where you live as to how easy it is to access particular products. Not eating preservatives does make this a little easier, in that it minimises your packaged foods anyway.

I am looking forward to the next challenge. I hope to maintain many of these principles.


Ideas From Our Family Meeting.

We held a family meeting last Monday to look at our lifestyle. The boys ( 6 and 8 ) love the idea of an eco challenge.

Here are the areas we will concentrate on:

Here are the ideas that we brainstormed:

1. Energy
a) Turn off lights when not in use
b) turn off appliances at the wall
c) Have shorter showers
d) install energy efficient light bulbs
e) use re-chargeable batteries

2. Watera) shorter showers and water saving showerheads
b) catch cold water when waiting for hot to come through – use this to fill water bottle and kettle
c) wash up in the small sink
d) flush when necessary
e) install water tanks

3. Transporta) Ride bikes to school and work
b) Limit trips to town – by planning and grouping trips
c) Get Dad to ride motorbike to town for smaller items/ errands
d) Walk
e) Find cheaper fuel, drive more economically

4. Garbage
a) Compost Food Scraps
b) Stop Getting Plastic Bags
c) Buy items with less packaging

5. Consumption
a) Don’t buy unnecessary things
b) Work on a cash budget
c) Use things sparingly-
d) Do instead of buy – make it yourself.

We will add to these ideas as we go.

What I find interesting is that everytime I think along these lines I think of living like my Grandmother on her property in 1940. There was no ' trendiness' about living self sufficiently it was just the done thing. We need to return to the old fashioned way of living for health wealth and happiness reasons.

The other thing that hubbie and I discussed when we were making this list was memories from our childhood. What struck us was - that the garbage bins we had were those tiny metal ones with the round lid - but today - people fill a giant wheelie bin every week. We also remember the butcher wrapping meat in paper and having paper bags or boxes when you did your grocery shopping. The bags and boxes were then reused a number of times then burnt in the fire. I don't know too much about carbon emissions and perhaps an open fire isn't now considered environmentally friendly - but in my opinion it was far better than shifting and burying tonnes of plastic rubbish around our garbage tips every year!


The Eco Challenge - Inspiration For A Lifestyle Change

Recently, a programmed aired on SBS called "The Eco Challenge". It was a show about two families who initially had their water, electricity, garbage collection and vehicles taken away and then given back one by one if they could meet particular usage targets. Our family got involved while the show aired and we tracked our electricity, water and vehicle usage. The 8 year old son really enjoyed doing this.

More recently we have been thinking about foods and additives. We were looking at my Grandmother's recipes ( she is 99 years old) and thinking that - there were no additives in her day - everything was made from scratch. She also operated under the principle of "Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Poor Performance" ( The Six P's). If she was late home and hadn't cooked a family meal, she could never just duck into town and buy a pizza !

Then... we started thinking more..... take riding your bike for example. If you approach it from a 'green living' point of view you might ride a bike to work or school or to the shop because you want to cut your pollution emissions. If you approach it from a frugal point of view you might want to cut your spending on fuel. If you approach it from a health point of view you might want to get fit, stay fit or lose some weight. Regardless of your viewpoint the reality is that living more of an old fashioned way is a winner all round !

So, we started on Monday. We didn't drive to town ( which is a 13.5km return journey) we walked to the boys school and picked them up and walked home ( 15 minute walk each way) and yesterday Hubbie rode with the children to school and then rode to pick them up. He then took his motorbike to town to do his errands rather than take the car.

So..... all steps in the right direction. Hopefully the results of this new style of living will be... health, wealth and happiness along with a sense of achievement. My biggest challenge will be cutting our grocery budget and not driving to town on the 4 days that I work. Hmmmm have to give that one some more thought.

April Theme: Re-organise and Transition

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