Showing posts with label The Six P's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Six P's. Show all posts


Garden Update

The garden is coming along steadily. I can't wait until the weather warms up a little to be able to get right into it.

At the moment we are growing tomatoes, lettuce, corn, capsicum, carrots, beans, peas, broccoli, radishes, strawberries, passionfruit, coriander, parsley,mint, zucchini, silverbeet. The corn that I have in is starting to go well, so yesterday I planted a lot more.

 We also planted extra beans.

Once the weather warms up a little I will put in lots more so that I have some staggered harvesting. I have been really enjoying the garden. I close the front gate and in my mind I am on 3000 acres.

The day I can sit back and eat a cob of corn freshly picked moments earlier will be the day that I can sit back in a state of joy and say that all is well with the world!


The Family That Cooks Together..........

We have just had a wonderful weekend of eating and cooking. I had to go to the Hunter Valley for a work conference on Friday and Saturday and managed to pick up some favourites reds and some lovely cheeses. On Saturday night we had a bbq at a friends house and enjoyed said wines and cheeses.

On Sunday we went water skiing before I had everyone over for a Chef's Toolbox party. If you haven't seen this before, you MUST have a look. I went to a party a couple of weeks ago, somewhat reluctantly, with my Mum. I was so surprised ! It was brilliant, nothing like what I expected from a party plan. Chef's Toolbox is an Australian company that sells cooking equipment and bakeware.

Catherine, the demonstrator, did a 10 minute talk then all the participants used the demo stuff to prepare a meal. We made a Thai chicken curry and caramel chocolate tarts. One person chopped chicken, another stirred the coconut milk etc. When it was all done we looked through the catalogues, made our orders and then sat and enjoyed the food with a glass of wine ! It was great so I quickly booked a party.

Yesterday we did the same recipes that I did at the first demonstration. I got loads of freebies for being the hostess ! The products are exceptional quality. The cookware is expensive as a one of purchase, but excellent value ( the saucepan I want is $149). They have a lifetime guarantee so I am prepared to save to get them. The bakeware is very reasonable with most pieces being about $39-$49. It suits the needs of all budgets.

I told Catherine that if I had the time, I would become a consultant. It is so aligned with my passion of empowering women and cooking from scratch. I also know that party plans go VERY well in regional areas because we just cannot access the quality products. There are no department stores to duck in to.

After the party No 1 Son made pizza dough in the breadmaker and cooked a great pizza for himself. Not bad for an almost 10 year old ! Today I made a big batch of choc chip cookies and put a big amount of dough in the freezer ready for busy times. Hubbie made rock cakes tonight because he has to go away tomorrow and these seem to have become his signature dish !

The Chef's Toolbox scales allow you to use one bowl for weighing all ingredients. They allow you to press a button and 'zero' the scales each time you add something. This means you only wash up one bowl ! For example, you put the bowl on the scale and then zero it and add 300g flour and then zero it again and add 90g butter and zero it etc etc

So, here is the rock cake recipe:

300g self raising flour

90g butter

1.2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger ( heaped if you want a stronger taste)

2 tablespoons of sultanas

1 egg

3 tablespoons of milk


Sift flour and rub in butter with fingertips - keep rubbing until the mixture resemables breadcrumbs. (Hubbie says the secret is 'cool hands' - this cracks me up !)

Add sugar and ginger and stir through. Add fruit. Beat egg and add milk. Make into a stiff dough. Place spoonfuls or small handfuls onto a buttered tray and bake at 220C for 10-15 minutes. Turn onto a rack and cool.

Hubbie also makes pretty mean scones - I mean real ones with buttermilk ! The world, in my experience, is grouped into two classes of people - those that can make great scones and those that can't. Last time he made scones he had to ride his motorbike to town because he didn't have any buttermilk. When he got home I saw him laying on the bed reading a water ski magazine. When I said 'aren't you making scones' he told me that he was waiting for his hands to cool down, because his secret ingredient is 'cool hands'. LOL - you gotta love the man- he takes his cooking very seriously !!

The chocolate chip cookies are really easy and the kids love to make them - yell out if you don't have a recipe and want to try mine.


The Stockpile

After a successful shopping trip on Monday the stockpile is up and running again. If you haven't heard of this concept before, my aim is to have enough 'stores' built up in my cupboard that I only purchase things when they are on special.

I have been doing this for so long now that I have a sense of the rotation of the specials, that is, that Vegemite may come on sale every five weeks and during that time my family will use 3 jars so when it comes on special I will buy 4 jars to cover it.

If you're just starting out, take a percentage of your grocery money and use it to build up your stockpile. Each week you can devote more money to the specials and then you are left with a base line of weekly things that need to be purchased. If there are no specials to be purchased in a particular week the money just goes in the jar for next week.

I have found that I save so much money shopping this way and can 'eat out of my cupboard or freezer' any time I need to which is great in emergencies or when you want to save all your grocery money one week or if you are so busy you can't go and do a 'proper shop'. It prevents you from doing 4 runs to the grocery store a week to get ' just a couple of things' which over the week adds up to more than your usual budgeted amount.


Monday Monday ....

Today I am off to do the shopping. Not just any shopping, but my 'extreme shopping'. Frequent readers will know that I take my grocery shopping pretty seriously! LOL

The good thing about shopping today is that I won't have the children with me, so there's a dramatic saving straight away ! I will also go to ALDI which is about 40 minutes away. I go with a friend and we share the petrol cost. It's also a nice day out to go to a place that has shops that we don't normally see.

I am looking forward to getting my menu planning sorted out, my budget money up to date and re-stocking my stockpile. We let it run down over the summer because we were going to be away so much and I wasn't working, so we used up much of our stores.
I am almost finished updating the sections in my planner For those of you that asked about it, I will update you on the inside workings of it once I have completed it.


The Proverbs 31 Woman

Some years ago, and I can’t remember how, I stumbled across this concept of the Proverbs 31 woman. It is a verse from the bible. If you are ‘anti religious’ or simply not religious, don’t switch off just yet ! View the concept as you would any quote from Ghandi, Stephen Covey, Tony Robbins or any other personal development ‘guru’.

The basis of the verse is a mother telling her son what sort of woman he should look for in a wife. That basic idea written thousands of years ago has been the basis, particularly in America, for women to adopt a particular way of life, that is, the mother who serves her family.

I personally love the philosophy behind the ‘concept’ of the proverbs 31 woman. I will paste the full text here for those of you that are not familiar with it. Once again, I ask you to put your religious position aside and read it as a text. I have kept it in the ‘old’ language for effect and you must remember it’s about 2000 years old.

10 A virtuous woman who can find? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he shall have no lack of gain.
12 She doeth him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant-ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and their task to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and maketh strong her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is profitable: her lamp goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She spreadeth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh for herself carpets of tapestry; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh linen garments and selleth them; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing; and she laugheth at the time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and the law of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her, saying:
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her works praise her in the gates.

I love this ideal. The proverbs 31 woman is loving, intelligent and entrepreneurial. When I read through each verse it gives me ideas of how to work harder at aspects of my life.

I am reminded that by doing my husband ‘good and not evil all the days of his life’ I am insuring a good marriage. I have found that over the years the more I do for him the more it is returned to me. I find it a sad part of society today that many relationships break down because of this ‘why should I do that for him, he never does that for me’ philosophy. Going out of your way to do things for your partner brings gratitude and then it turn they do something for you and the cycle continues.

When I read through this passage I am reminded of the importance of the 6P principle. When it snows I want my household clothed in scarlet – meaning that I have an emergency fund so that if something goes wrong I am prepared.

I also think…..

- I want my husband to have full confidence about the way I manage the family finances and plan for our future.
- I want to be entrepreneurial , that is, I can invest wisely and see a return on the vehicle I chose to build our family wealth.
- I want to be ‘strong for my tasks’ in that I think it is important to remain healthy and look after myself physically.
- I rise early and prepare the day for myself and my family

Of course, the verse that always gets me off the chair and into action is the one which mentions “she watches over the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness”

I believe that society’s view of the stay at home mother is significantly shifting. It is slowly crawling out from under the grip of the feminist model that degraded the role of being “just” a mother or the idea that ‘serving your husband well’ was a form of oppressive slavery that had to be fought against!

Rather I see society as slowly shifting towards a model where even career women take off extended periods of time to ‘invest’ in the growth of their children by being the stay at home mother. There are even now ‘stay at home’ fathers !

I have been a teacher and a lawyer and a stay at home mum. I know which, by far, is the most important job that gives the best return and it’s nothing to do with money. The best return is when you make home made tortilla wraps and your six year old says ‘ the ones you make are so much better than the ones from the packet’. Joy of joys ! :>)


Back to Busyness

My holidays are over and life slowly returns to 'normal'.

On holidays this year Hubbie and I promised each other that we would try and retain that 'holiday' feeling when we got home, that is, to relax and remain calm and contented. Day by day, however, that seems to be slipping out the window.

I have been back at work for one week now and find myself longing for a little bit more time at home to ' get on top of things', although. I am not really sure what those ' things' are.

I did achieve a lot on my three week break. We got through quite a bit of decluttering - something which always feels good. It seems, however, that there is always more to do.

This year I have been fully implementing the GTD or 'Getting Things Done' management system, not only for work but for home as well. I have 'dabbled' with it before, but this time I think I have it set up much better. If you have not heard of this before it is a cult movement based on a book by David Allen. Probably the best place to start reading would be to search in Wikipedia. Note, however, that my version is slightly different and true GTDers might be critical of my sidestepping of the system.

The basis of the whole system is this flow chart:

The first time I looked at and followed it through I thought 'yeah yeah - that's obvious'. But the beauty of this system is fully understanding it all and being able to consistently implement it.

So...... I will give my 'at home' example because if you are a professional you probably have something similar to this running at work.


This is the point where you write down any little ( and I mean little) thing that comes into your head. It could be anything from "buy cat food" to " backpack Europe".
 Don't sensor it, don't sort it- just write it all down.
There is no correct way to do this - digital or paperbased is fine, but you must only have one "collection" point so there is no use having it on your computer if you can't add to it at a moments notice. If you are away from the house or the computer is off it's impractical. I have chosen a gorgeous little notebook with a sturdy cover that is small enough to fit in my handbag. ( BTW I have a small stationery fetish !)

The notebook is your 'mental' inbox and you also need a physical 'inbox'. Start with a tray - but if you are tackling many aspects of your life you may need an 'in box' or an 'in bench'. LOL.

So... the idea is that everything filters through your inbox. So when I am doing something and have a thought such as " I must remember to do the ...." or " I'd really like to put hooks on the back of the doors for the boys' hats" I write it down. The idea is to get EVERYTHING out of your brain.

To process the 'stuff' firstly you see if anything can be done with it. Say you pick up a piece of paper from your intray. If there's nothing to do on it straight away - you either trash it, put it in your someday/maybe file and add it to you someday/maybe list or file it for reference.

If there is something that needs to be done you either - do it - if it will take less than two minutes, Defer it - put it on your calendar/ diary for when you will do or delegate it - get someone to do it or deal with it.


If something has multiple steps to completion it is called a 'project' and needs to be added to your projects group. You also have a series on lists called 'contexts'. So I have lists page headings @SHOPS, @SCRAPBOOKING. @HOUSE, @COOKING. @KIDS, @PERSONAL CARE

So, for example, when I am checking through and processing my list of dumped items from my brain I move the note that says "buy scrubbing brush" to the @SHOPS" list so that when I am at the shops I look at my list and everything is there.


Each week you look through your system and work out your MIT ( Most important tasks). I usually do a daily scan of my notebook - takes about 30 secs. Then work out the next actions for any projects you are working on.

David Allen also uses a Tickler or 43 Folders. The 43 folders are a folder for each day (31) of the month and 12 for each month. If, for example, you want to pay a bill or read an article but not until Thursday 29 March you put it in the 29 folder behind March. Google '43 folders' images and you will see lots of folks using this system.


The idea is that when things re systemised, organised and you know what the next action is it will prevent procrastination.

THE STORY SO FAR.......................

As you know I am obsessed with the 6 Principle anyway. Having everything downloaded from my brain is very freeing. I like the way it breaks things into contexts so that I can think in terms of 'boxes' that i can section off my life into rather than having a 'jumble'.



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STOP THINK DO: Are You Ready For A Merry Christmas

Most people start complaining about Christmas in October. It often coincides with the appearance of decorations in the shopping centres.

Instead of complaining about how quickly it is sneaking up, be proactive and get yourself organised. Aim to finish all your shopping and preparing by the end of November so that December is stress free and you can really sit back and enjoy this social time.

1. Make a list and check it twice. Never wander around the shops thinking 'what can I buy for my mother-in-law'. I keep a list throughout the year in my diary. I write things down as they come to mind.

2. Can you DO instead of BUY. Are there things that you can make from the heart ? Can you sew, cook or craft. Can you make a scrapbook album or write a poem. Can you give someone vouchers for your time e.g. 10 free lawn mows or foot massages. Be creative - it will make a memorable gift.

3. Less in More As I have said before, we buy 'gifts' from the worlds' most useful gift catalogue. You can buy a goat for a village, sink a well, buy school books or medicine.

4. Create Strong Family Traditions Traditions give us a framework to pin our memories to. We always put the tree up on 1 December and wear Santa hats and play old fashioned Christmas music like Jingle Bell Rock ! The kids always look forward to it ( and funnily enough, so do I)

5. Plan Plan Plan Get out your notebook and make your list. What are you eating, where are you going. What can you do now to make things run smoother for busy times.

Christmas is a season of joy, not stress. Remember.... don't fall into the habit of busyness.

STOP. THINK. DO. Take this time to celebrate the joy in your life.



Step Four is: PLAN PLAN PLAN

Planning stops things from sneaking up on you. Planning reduces your stress. Planning gives you time to save money or time to do something little by little.

Plan what you will eat for the week.
Plan what you will where and lay everyone's clothes out the night before
Plan what is coming up in your next week or next month
Plan for big events many months out
Plan you errands to make better use of time

Good Order Is The Foundation Of All Good Things - Edmund Burke


When Disaster Strikes..... It may not be what you think !

I have always loved the idea of 'being prepared' as you know, but I have a certain amount of complacency.

 After all, I tell myself, we don' t live in a hurricane area, nor a flood area and I often think that I should probably be ready in case the small airport we are close to ever has a terrorist attack or we are evacuated because of an explosive threat, but then I get side tracked and it goes back on the ' must do one day ' list.

Now my thinking has changed, and no, I am not burying weapons in the backyard or building bomb shelters. I don't know what the disaster is that I am preparing for which greatly changes the way I prepare.

The biggest disaster we all face is personal. It could be that the breadwinner becomes ill and is no longer able to support the family, it could be a dramatic change is your small business, it could be that family member becomes ill and requires a full time carer. Sometimes you could never have seen the 'disaster' coming.

Hubby and I were talking about this recently with the horse flu virus that has invaded our state.

 It has meant that all racing has been shut down and no horses are to be transported.

I didn't think too much of it at first, but it had now stretched on and the flow on affects must be terrible. What if you were the man who worked behind the bar at racing events, what if you bake bread for the canteen, what if your charity group runs the coffee stand at the local pony club. The flow on effects are enormous.

My point is..... we never know when disaster will strike, so we always need to be ready. Disaster may be on a large scale like a flood, hurricane, power outage or it could be on a personal level, like losing your job. It may be an instantaneous event or it may be a slow steady change.

Rhonda from Down to Earth recently wrote about the ABC interview she heard on the subject of peak oil If you tune in, the story starts about half way through this audio programme.

We may not notice the changes too much at first. As they say, drop a frog into boiling water and it will jump out. Drop a frog into cold water and slowly increase the temperature and it stays there, oblivious to the danger, until it is cooked. The moral is be responsive to gradual change.

But wait...... what if I'm wrong ! What if peak oil is a myth, what if climate change is a myth.... what if I make all these positive changes for nothing ? LOL If I'm wrong, we have made our selves healthier wealthier and wiser for nothing ! ( read sarcasm) The reality is that you are a winner, whichever way it goes.

So, on a practical level, how do we make these changes. After all, not all of us are lucky enough to retire to the coast on acreage with just ourselves and our partner (like the lady in the ABC story). Some of us have to still educate our children, pay off houses, work to put food on the table and build a future. So we need practical advice.

Stay tuned.... and send this site address to your friends and family so that we can create a network of support, for simple ideas that families can implement easily.


Changing The World - one air pot at a time.

Do you remember these ? These are called " air pots". They were around in the 70's/ 80's. They are a giant thermos with a pump top that holds about 2 litres of boiling water or icy drinks.
My obsession began quite a few years ago, BC actually ( BC = before children). As we were sitting somewhere eating take away that starts with a big 13th letter of the alphabet I spied an older couple with their basket and their thermos having morning tea/lunch. It really struck me that what they were doing was not only healthy it was extremely frugal and they didn't have any rubbish. We, on the other hand had spent 20 bucks to clog our arteries and pollute the earth.
So, ever since, I have christened these folks " thermos people" to the point that when we drive places we point them out. "look honey, thermos people".
All the thermos people I ever saw were older folks. Even folks with huge 4 wheel drives and caravans bigger than my home who certainly didn't look like they needed to save money were using their thermos! So why aren't young couples and families applying the thermos principle ? We need it the most. We need to still pay off house educate our children etc. We can't afford to be pulling into takeaway shops !
So..... the tradition began. We became thermos people and encouraged others in our age group to become thermos people as well.
I remember travelling around western New South Wales and pulling into the park at Dubbo and making coffee for hubbie and I and snacks and drinks for the children, with home baked biscuits and cake and felt the greatest sense of joy - which I call " joy of joys". I even have the vintage table cloth ! Oh !!!!!

The air pot obsession was simply an extension of the thermos principle. When I saw my very first one I couldn't believe that they still existed. I remembered them from my childhood. I just had to have it. IT WAS THE ULTIMATE THERMOS !
Since then I have taken it everywhere and showed it off so very proudly! Then a N Friend's husband found one in amongst second hand items that was brand new in a box with original paperwork ! - We were soooooo excited and couldn't believe our luck. I ended up finding another one for K Friend last week for her birthday. The funniest thing was that her other friend had also got her one so now she has two - one hot and one cold !
They are sooooooo brilliant. We waterski and picnic most weekends so we always have byo coffee and food. The savings are extraordinary ! Do the maths. Even if we only bought one coffee each Sunday theres a $300 saving.
We laughed so hard today because down on our river a vintage car club turned up for their morning tea stop. They all got out of their old cars and got their thermos' out and that's when I spotted it - on a table further up the park - an air pot ! I had to hold myself back from going up to bond with them, and ask them if it is an original still in use and discuss the longevity.
I held back.... after all.... I didn't want them to think I had some sort of air pot obsession !!! LOL
Anyway, my challenge to you all is this. Firstly, if you did grow up with an air pot or if you were/ are 'thermos people' I want to hear ALL about it.
Secondly, if you are not currently thermos people, then make a start ! Next time you travel anywhere pack a picnic lunch and pocket the savings! Do the maths and work out what you can save.
Thirdly, as you drive around this great country of ours ( our yours) take note of the ' thermos people' and think about how they save their health, their hip pocket and the planet.
Fourthly, spread the word ! Help me in my individual quest to revive the air pot world wide !


Feeling Personally Organised

Do you ever feel that you can’t keep up with life and that it just happens while you run to keep up with the pace.

The idea is to take control so that you become proactive instead of reactive. This means that you will be prepared for events beforehand rather than reacting to them when they become urgent or important.

The tools you will need to feel personally organized are:

1. A diary
2. A calendar
3. Menu Planner
4. Shopping List
5. Budget Book

The calendar needs to go on the wall at home and the diary needs to be big enough to write in yet small enough to carry around.

In order to get ahead you need to set up your diary. Remember, you start where you are. Don’t think you can only start doing this at the beginning of the year.

Firstly, birthdays. Fill out a list of all the birthdays for the year. Then go through and mark them in your calendar. When you go to mark them in your calendar/diary you will need to firstly mark the date and then secondly put a note in the week before that says “send off card” or “ buy present” or whatever you do for that person. It may just be that you send a special email on the day.

Mark in any other dates. I, for example, mark in all the school holidays and try and plan when I will take leave throughout the year.

Now whenever you receive notification of any events you need to not only put them in the diary but put a reminder a week or two out from the event depending on what sort of preparation is needed for.

I have discussed the concepts of menu planning, budgeting and shopping before on the website and you can scroll down to the category searches if you need further information.

The idea is to be dealing with things before they become urgent. The more ' ahead' you are the less stressed you are.

What can you do today to be prepared for something that is on you horizon ? If you deal with things on the horizon they are the size of ants. If you leave them until they get closer and closer those ants become elephants and you will be trampled.

Please let me know different ways that you do things in advance. It could be as simple as making lunches the night before, buying Christmas presents in January or once a month cooking, I would love to hear from you.Please also let me know if you require more detail. Would you like to see the charts and forms I use in my home management binder or mu budget books/ menu planner etc. Do you need a copy ? Please email me. My address is in my profile.


Wash on Mondays, Iron on Tuesdays

Well, maybe not that programmed, but Monday is my stay at home day so I always have "Monday Jobs".

These usually include:

Paying Bills
Doing the Budget
Menu Planning
Calendar Updating
Organising my clothes for the rest of the week
organising sports clothes for the children

Rhythm and routine are important parts of life.

If you can spread your tasks over the week you won't have one day where there is an impossible number of tasks to be done.

Doing things little by little brings peace to your day.


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 ?


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 ' 


Menu Planning

Why Menu Plan ?

There are many benefits to planning out your meals before hand.

- It brings peace to your evening and stops the " what's for dinner" drama

- It prevents panicked take away purchases

- It saves time and money - you only purchase what you need and can have meals ready in advance

- You can plan meals thoughtfully if, for example, you have have family members with special dietary needs or are trying to plan healthy balanced meals or to lose some weight.

How to Menu Plan

1. The No-Brainer Method. This is as simple as " if it is Monday it's Spaghetti day" etc.

2. The Rational Roster Method: This is where you may do a two or three week list of meals and just work through the list and then come back to the beginning

3. The Schedule Matched Method: ( My favourite). This is where you look at your schedule for the next week or fortnight and plan your meals around it. So if you know you won't be home until 5.30 on Tuesday you plan a quick meal or if you are not home to really late then you make sure you plan a meal the day before that has leftovers etc.

In order to carry out this method successfully I suggest that you take the time to list about 20 or so meals.If you don't have that many in your repertoire it's time to search for some recipes or ask some friends or family about their favourite recipes.

The next thing is to group the meals. I use three headings a) quick and fresh 2) leftover style and 3) gourmet ( meaning time consuming)

Now you can match your meals to your schedule. I think it is always a good idea to have some meals in the freezer ready to go as well. You never know when you may need a standby meal. Next time you are cooking, just cook some extra and freeze it.


Christmas in July

No I am definitely not talking about those functions and parties everyone seems to be going to. 

Perhaps I should call this post THINKING ABOUT CHRISTMAS IN JULY. 

Most people ( me included) start complaining when Christmas decorations and 'gift idea' catalogues start appearing around late September. But the strange thing is that many people leave their gift shopping until the last minute and have to battle the crowds and are left with the age old dilemma of what to buy people in your family. You even hear them talking about what you buy the person who has everything !!!! ( Isn't the answer obvious ??)

I want to start thinking about Christmas so that there is no rush. Without prior preparation and planning we end up buying complete rubbish and maxing out credit cards buying STUFF for people that already have enough STUFF.


So, remember the phrase Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Poor Performance (The Six P Principle).

Think about these things: 

1. Who do you want to give a gift to. Make a list

2. Will you make a gift or buy a gift.

3. If you start now there is plenty of time to make thoughtful gifts

4. If you don't want to give STUFF then do what I have done for the past two years - buy a goat in a village in Bangladesh in the recipients name. Last year we purchased school books, a water well for a village and a toilet. Visit Tear Australia and get a copy of their "World's most useful gift catalogue".

Anyway, the challenge I put to you all is .... be prepared. Refuse to be sucked in to the marketing concept that people will know you love them by what you buy them. 

Think carefully. Start your purchases now. Mail order from small Australian business houses. Make thoughtful ethical purchases or make it yourself ! Nothing says I love you like the investment of your time !!!!

Let me know your ideas for gift giving or home made gifts.


Time Time Time

"I never have time for that......"

We all have the same 24 hours in a day. I read an interesting quote once that said something along the lines of ' never say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same time every day as Mother Theresa, Gandhi' etc etc ( must try and find the exact quote one day).

The truth is instead of people saying "I don't have enough time" they should say " I choose not to do that" or be totally honest and say " I usually waste my time watching television instead" or " I spend so much time on the telephone/ internet/ reading trash that I don't have the time to do things that may be more important".

So if we all have the same 24 hours - what do YOU choose to put into them. I choose, amongst other things, cooking from scratch because the benefits to my family are tremendous. My children are calmer, my budget is better and I have a sense of tremendous satisfaction from the efforts I put in.

I choose not to watch commercial television. I have never seen an episode of All Saints, ER, CSI, Grey's Anatomy or any other TV show that I hear people talking about. I can remember when Australian Idol was on and there was a picture in the Newspaper of Guy Sebastian and Shannon Noll - ready for the big night and I had no idea who they were! I thought they must have been sports stars of some kind.

I guess it is always a case of Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Poor Performance ( the six p's). I work four days per week and I work long hours. Weekends are often taken up with activities for my sons, like sports or outings. In the summertime we usually water ski from early morning until sundown. Therefore, as my Grandmother says, " when you have time, you do things for times when you don't have any time". This means that when you make a batch of biscuits you double or triple the amounts and freeze the leftover dough. I always do this on Mondays so if the biscuits run out mid week it is a five minute job to throw some more in the oven. Or you may have a 'cook up' and have some meals ready to go in the freezer to just heat up for times when you are too busy or too late home to cook.

Another important thing is to menu plan the week before, around your schedule. Have more involved meals on nights where you are home earlier in the day and quick meals like stir fries on the busy days. Sit down and make a really good list of all the meals your family likes. If you are stuck, go to the library and look at the food magazines and get some ideas to try. You may be surprised what you find.


My Baking Centre

This is one shelf in my baking centre.

Cooking things from scratch means you must have all your ingredients easily accessible all of the time. My baking centre is a cupboard right next to my stove. It is at eye height.

When I am cooking I can reach in for one thing at a time, use it and then put it back. This helps with the cleaning up process as well. I would like to have nice glass jars, but I don't have a lot of space and circular jars don't tessellate so I had to opt for rectangular containers instead.

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