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Showing posts with label home management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home management. Show all posts
Mapping Out The Vision - A Spring Re-Vamp

Mapping Out The Vision - A Spring Re-Vamp



Today is the first day of the school holidays and I feel that I finally have a chance to step back and examine this splendid life. As I have mentioned briefly, a number of different family events have meant that we have been running here and there since June.

During the last few months we have spent a lot of time on the road, living out of suitcases with friends and family or staying in hotel rooms. Whilst I love the place we stay in Sydney and love the meals, it is just so nice to come home.

Even though we have now been home for about 4 weeks, those busy weeks have seen lots of activity. Both boys were away at different times on school camps and they have had various sporting finals and events, parent teacher interviews and social functions.

During the past few months I also managed to take on some work. Luckily it is work that I can do in my own time, meaning that I have the school holidays off and can work from anywhere, provided I have an internet connection.

So with all that busyness finally finished, I am so excited by the opportunity to stop, breath and re-group.

The first thing we did was to get back into our garden, which was sadly neglected while we were away. Luckily we had a fair bit of rain which meant that things were 'wild' rather than 'dead'. It is time to undertake our spring planting regime which I love because there is so much potential and life in this season.

I am working on a new schedule which will enable me to carry out some paid work but still keep my family life in balance. At the forefront of my mind at the moment is re-vamping the following aspects:

- meal planning: slow change of meals to reflect the warmer weather and the availability of different seasonal produce.

- new budget: I have noticed a drop in fuel prices and a rise in grocery prices. This along with changes in the activities that we do means a new cash budget is required.

- new household routines: as we change from winter to summer we have different household routines, particularly with the jobs that need to be done outside. The boys are also older and are ready to add to their job lists.

- papercrafting: handmade cards and stationery are becoming increasingly popular and I am teaching more and more classes. I need to schedule my classes well in advance and have creative time for working on my new designs.

- health: re-vamping my activity schedule to reflect the warmer weather and to get back on track ( after way too many restaurant meals!!!)

- re-establish our sustainable living principles: Being away has meant that we often had to 'default' to choices that I would normally avoid. Time to re-examine the steps we take as a family to live a more natural, sustainable life.

And finally.............time to be .................slow.

Don't you just love spring. It is a time for a fresh start!
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A Vision Splendid
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Indulgent Ironing

Indulgent Ironing






Have you heard about the latest craze ........? Indulgent ironing!!


Okay, so it may not be the latest craze, but as it's originator I am doing my damnest to turn the world around and spread the craze of indulgent ironing.


It is simple really, all you need is a great DVD, podcast, CD or radio program and all your ironing paraphernalia. Then, iron away.... mindlessly off in a meditative state.... enjoying your movie, music or lecture.

I am always on the lookout for good ironing material. Often I podcast episodes from ABC Radio National, or borrow DVD's from the town library ( at the moment I have Singing In The Rain). But.... my latest indulgence is to record episodes of 'I Dream of Jeannie' and 'Bewitched' and meditate away in the 1960s houses that are depicted in those shows.

Oh...... the luxury of it all............... a perfectly ironed hankie and some nostalgia.
Last week when I was out and about I was talking to a woman who brought up the fact that she detests ironing! I launched into a starry eyed lecture about how indulgent it truly was and how it is so lovely to have some relaxation time with your favourite show whilst making a perfect, crease free pillow case.....

..... she replied ' Good! I'll supply the DVD and you can do my ironing!'

Oh dear! There are clearly two groups of people in this world.......... the sane and the insane.
I will leave it to you to decide where I sit. lol
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A Vision Splendid
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According To Martha ....Six Things To Do Daily

According To Martha ....Six Things To Do Daily




According to MARTHA who has positioned herself as THE world wide authority on all things 'homey' we should be doing the following 6 things every day in the home.



1. Make The Bed - because tidiness begets tidiness, meaning if you make the bed you will feel like cleaning the rest of the room.


2. Manage Clutter - we are meant to grab clutter every time we walk out of a room and encourage other family members to do likewise.


3. Sort The Mail - open, read and sort as soon as we bring it inside.


4. Clean As You Cook - rinse and pop things into the dishwasher as you are cooking ( great advice for those that actually HAVE a dishwasher )


5. Wipe Up Spills While They're fresh - almost anything is easier to remove if you attend to it straight away.


6. Sweep The Kitchen Floor - every evening after you have finished cooking so that dirt and grime don't build up.


Well..... sounds easy enough when you read it in a pretty little list. How do you rate in the Martha stakes ?
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A Vision Splendid
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So Dark Before The Dawn

So Dark Before The Dawn






I am really missing my morning quiet time. I like to have some time before the sun comes up to sit and ..... well just sit, or download all the ideas that raced around in my head throughout the night, or blog, or read or write lists.... and lists..... and then summary lists! lol


But the sun is coming up very late at the moment. It is after 7am which in my books is way too late! I don't have an alarm clock. I sleep with the blinds up so I can see the stars and hear the first bird warn me of the impending daylight. But 7am ? That means by the time the birds start, it is already close to 6.30am and I feel robbed of my quiet time.

I try to start each day with a strong morning routine. If I can get through that then all is well with the world. Households with children can be danger zones in the morning. Having a predictable steady paced routine is much better for everyone's mental health. Believe me, I have tried looking for that pair of shoes at the last minute only to attempt getting out the back door and realising that one child doesn't have a hat which means ' no play' - it is a much saner option to opt for the night before readiness programme and the subsequent peaceful morning.



After the whirlwind has left I can start my 'whip round'. Finish making the beds, swish the loo and perform the meditative daily sweep.


In keeping with my focus of health and fitness I have been taking the time to do some exercise and fuel up with a huge breakfast. Breakfast like a king and dinner like pauper.




Thinking back to my Grandmother's ways - routines were an integral part of life. Can you imagine the family getting up to have no fire going, not hot water, nothing cooked ..... because the wife 'didn't feel like it today' lol How times have changed!

Routines were essential to the running of daily life. Now days, we seem to be able to take it or leave it. If we don't feel like doing the washing, the family has more than enough clothes in wardrobes. If we don't feel like cooking there is always the drive thru! In my grandmothers day if she didn't wash, there were no other clothes. They had work clothes and church clothes. If she didn't cook, they didn't eat because there were no take away restaurants! I remember her telling me that on one occasion she didn't iron the pillow cases and they had unexpected visitors drop in and stay the night and when she had to pull out the un-ironed pillow case she felt humiliated because it was a great shame! lol Yes.... things have surely changed.

But back to my world....... I have to wait until April before daylight savings finishes and I get my extra daylight in the morning. Until then..... I will continue blogging away in the dark feeling cheated because the day is well underway yet the sun is not doing her job!
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A Vision Splendid
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The Rythm of Life Returns

The Rythm of Life Returns




Poster from Posterart.com

The long days of summer holidays are behind us and we are slowly returning to our usual rhythm. Today marks the first full week that the boys have been back at school.

After a summer of no shoes, lots of swimming and playing I have sent two bleached blonde haired, tanned boys back to school feeling most uncomfortable in their leather shoes!

It now time for me to turn my mind back to my rhythm. It's time to reshape the Vision Splendid and re-establish my connection with what it is that I am trying to achieve here.

Yesterday I did another radio interview with the local ABC. It was so nice to hear Fiona talk about how much she enjoys my site. It really gives me a tremendous sense of joy to know that others are empowered by reading my journey. Thank you again for the feedback and I look forward to building a stronger community throughout 2009.

So today I am pulling out my home management binder and revamping it for 2009. If you have a copy of my E-Book you can follow me - I am working through from page 18 on total organisation.

I have also started an audit of all the bills I pay. Have a look at the Simple Savings link on the left hand side which I am using to build more savings throughout the year. In January the focus was to look at all your bills and get a better deal. This is one site I always pay a membership for. It is a HUGE database of saving ideas - not just simple "use vinegar" type ideas, but I mean real ideas like where to find discount bread, meat, or stories of people negotiating cheaper insurance or how they have paid down debt etc. A very worthwhile resource.

As a list writer I love headings. I think in headings and boxes. So my thinking at the moment is grouped into the following headings. This sets out my focus areas for the next few weeks.

Finances: re-vamp budget, design new spending plan and organise bill payment system.

Household Management: evaluate current weekly plan and design systems. Look at doing LESS in 2009 by evolving simple successful systems for cleaning, ironing and home maintenance.

Baking: Invest time to save time - do more baking frenzies - find some interesting new meal ideas to add to our core group of meals.

Gardening: Plan out successive plantings to prevent the feast then famine approach that we had last year. Move towards supplying much more food from the garden.

So that's my 'thinking', which will then evolve into some projects.

Where are you heading in 2009 ?



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A Vision Splendid
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A Healing Home

A Healing Home









































This is a phrase that has been stuck in my head over the last few days. I must have seen the phrase somewhere and not read on, but somehow, those words have stuck in my mind.


Although I have not fully thought it through, the idea of a healing home is very appealing to me.


The thing that comes to mind straight away is the immediate home environment. We joke about the state of our houses and put housework on the back burner because there are more important things to do, but for me, the household environment has a significant impact on your emotions. It is difficult to wake up and feel good about yourself and have a good start to the day when you have to climb over a pile of junk to get out of bed and then are faced with last nights dirty dishes all over the kitchen! Contrast this with stepping out of bed in the morning and walking out into a totally clean kitchen. I know which one would make me feel uplifted.

So, the first step to a healing home for me will be a clear and uncluttered environment. This is easier said than done!



The second idea that pops into my mind when I think of a healing home is a place of comfort and joy. It has only been in the last five years or so that I have become more 'homey'. It struck me once that if you walked into my home and I wasn't here, you would know nothing about me or my family. There were no photos, nothing of significance to tell the story of who lived in the house. Once I realised this, I started to slowly bring a little of myself and my family to our home. I chose photos that brought us joy and we had them framed to put around the lounge room. I hung up other things like the cross- stiches that my mother made to celebrate the birth of each of our sons and some other significant gifts that we had. I didn't put out a lot of stuff, because I like a more minimalist look, but I brought out some things that celebrated who we are as a family.


The third thing I think of when I imagine a healing home is a fresh smelling. chemical free home. One thing I would really like to get established is a great flower garden. I am not sure what I would grow in it, but I would love to have long stemmed flowers to bring inside every couple of days. I love to have fresh flowers, but usually only have them once a year on a special occasion. Buying cut flowers is just not in my budget, so I really must try and grow more or take better care of the few roses that I have. I love the look they bring to the place and the smell. I really don't like fake air fresheners, they seem to stick in the back of my mouth! I would much rather boil some lemons in water on the stove or burn some pure essential oils with cleansing smells if I want to bring a scent into the house. The best smell however, is no smell at all, just freshness. ( actually, the best smell is baking cookies!)


The final thing that comes to mind for a healing home is a positive, safe environment without shouting and abuse, where spirits are uplifted and everyone has a sense of relief to be able to come inside and relax. A healing home is a peaceful refuge from the world.


What comes to mind when you think of a healing home ? Have you recently been trying something new? What do you do to create a healing home ?

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A Vision Splendid
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Monday is a Busy day

Monday is a Busy day







Phew! What a busy day.






Monday is the day I do all my running around. I start the day with what I call a 'home blessing'. It is where I do my normal morning jobs but add in a few others like vacuuming, washing sheets, dusting etc. I then sit down and write my menu plans and organise my shopping list.


By 11am I was done and headed into town for my usual routine. I stop at the Post Office and withdraw my budget money then I head to the petrol station and put in the weekly allocated amount for fuel. Then I do any errands that need to be done and finally I do some grocery shopping.



By 1pm I'm home and unpack the groceries and have some lunch. Then I have my 'office day' where I pay bills, organise any correspondence, update the budget categories etc etc. Today I met a friend online to test a 'virtual classroom'. It was very exciting. In this process I donwloaded Skype and 'found' my sister in Queensland.


At about 3pm I started the dinner and I then headed up to the back room for some therapeutic ironing. I really love ironing. I set up a little nest in our granny flat that usually consists of a DVD playing on the laptop and a cool drink. I then iron away. Lately I have been working my way through The Waltons - let me tell you it's very inspiring !!!






About 5.30 I headed back into the kitchen and made some lovely lasagne sheets. This is the first time that I have made fresh lanasage sheets. We have made fettucine before and it was magnificent. I am looking forward to tasting the lasagne. The eggs were given to me from a friend who is VERY proud of her new chickens. The plain flour is 91c a kilo and I used 400g and the mince was about $3.69. So, this is a very cheap meal indeed!







I am about to put tea on the table and then it will be showers and reading for the boys, a few extra jobs for me and then I will fall into my latest book that awaits me eagerly.


A busy day, but a joyfilled day! There is much joy to be had from working hard.



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Detailing A Simple Life - our budget

Detailing A Simple Life - our budget



I have been getting more and more emails asking for assistance in the areas of simple living, home management and budgeting. It gives me great joy to know that my writing is actually assisting you! Please keep the emails coming. I try and address them with detailed responses, just be aware that sometimes it takes me a couple of days to get through them all. I will also try and give more specific details in each of the posts I create.


In return, I ask that if you gain some benefit from my writing you put a link on your blog or send all your friends a link to the site and ask them to tell their friends!


At the moment I have turned my mind towards tightening our budget. I think it is because of all the news coverage about the current financial climate. I really feel for small businesses who are the first to suffer when there is less work around for people. It is okay for us to say we will cut out non-essentials like coffees, magazines, restaurant meals etc - but what if you are the owner of the restaurant, coffee shop or news agent who has to put food on your table. It really is hard, because the truth is, that in difficult times it becomes a case of 'everyman for themselves', meaning, if I don't have extra money to spend I am not going to eat at your cafe. The good thing is that the economy works in cycles, we just need to ride out this downturn.


So if I can't help you by spending money at your cafe, the only thing I can do is, as I have said before, swap you spinach for eggs, or jam for beans. This is the great Australian way - swapping the pickles over the back fence. We just need to re-establish these traditions.


I have just re-done our family budget again. Partly because I want to reduce it and partly because it changes every season because of changes to our entertainment and eating habits.


As my regular readers know I am an envelope girl. I have little bags for each area where money is required and withdraw the correct denominations of cash each week. Recently I have changed this from plastic bags to a little mini accordion file with labelled compartments.


I include not only amounts that I know we spend each week like food, fuel, entertainment but also include seasonal categories like clothing, holidays, Christmas birthdays. Whenever we need something I just go to that category and pull out the cash. This really works for us and it gives me tremendous joy knowing that we always have the money there for things that we need or if we want to go and do something as a family. There are from time to time expenses that I haven't thought of but because I have been doing it for many years I have it pretty well worked out.


Hubbie needed new shoes today ( I have begged him for weeks to replace his ones that were just about needing sticky tape!) and he was able to go and get the cash out of the folder. Number One son has a birthday party to go to on Saturday and I know that there is money there for a present. If the kids bring home a school excursion note or we want to hire a movie or go out for tea, the money is there. We don't have to worry about the guilt of knowing that we can't afford it but stick it on the credit card anyway to worry about "later".


We now allocate $365 per week, down from $449. The categories are:

Fuel

Holidays

Christmas

Birthdays

Groceries

Clothing/ hair

boat fuel

school

entertainment

pocket money

sanity money

kids banking.


This is separate to the amount I have for bills and savings. I always take savings out first and have a bills amount worked out by adding them all up over the year and dividing by 52.

Notes:

The kids pocket money is $5 per week. They use it to buy treats and save up for things.

The sanity money is $10 each that Hubbie and I have that we just blow or save or whatever we feel like. I allocate $150 per week for groceries but never spend that much. I usually spend under $100. I collect the extra money and blow it in holiday times or when we have visitors or at Christmas time etc. Sometimes I have to buy things out of that amount if they breakdown, like a toaster or something.

I love having Christmas already paid for. I love having our yearly resort holiday already paid for. There is great peace.


Having cash on hand is extremely powerful. I love the concept of poverty by choice. I like shopping knowing that I have a set amount in my pocket. It makes me really consider each purchase.


Are you a cash person ? Or do you have some other fabulous way of staying within your budget ? Do share !
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A Vision Splendid
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Wash on Monday Iron on Tuesday.............

Wash on Monday Iron on Tuesday.............




I never thought that I would find comfort in routine and rhythm. It used to annoy me that old people would wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday etc. I thought it was ridiculously old fashioned and heck, I needed my freedom! I didn't want to be tied down to any routine. I didn't need a day of the week to tell me what to do !


Instead of finding freedom in lack of routine I found disorganisation. Ironing became five minutes before I needed to put something on ( often running late) washing..... well it usually happened when I ran out of underwear and it would take all day to do it, not to mention the weeks of clothes laying around in baskets.

Over the years I have tried many 'systems' to be able to get things done. I would go ok for a while but then fall off the wagon and be back to old habits. Once I was married and added children to the mix it became increasingly important to have things organised.

Let me tell you that I still fall off the wagon from time to time, but it is a whole lot easier to climb back on again. The difference is that ( and I almost hate to admit it) have set days for set things. If I have something on a adjust things or do a simplified version of the day, but generally I stick to the pattern. Now don't think I can't come over to your house because Monday is my washing day or anything, I am completely flexible, but Oh the Joy of having things done and getting ahead and knowing that I just do a few things each day rather than spend a whole day trying to clean the house.


You will laugh when I tell you that my days are also colour coded. I use my calendar in OUTLOOK to work out all my tasks and put in appointments etc. It works fabulously for home management as well.


So...... At the risk of sounding completely obsessive here is the breakdown of my days in detail for those of you that have asked for this via email.


The basis of the whole system is having a strong morning, afternoon and evening routine. These tasks are done regardless of what is happening on a day. If I will be out all day or am doing a days work I still do the tasks, I just do them a little earlier to get through them.


MORNING ROUTINE - walk, shower/dress, load of washing/ breakfast / tidy kitchen/ make beds / sweep floor/ wipe the bathroom over.


AFTERNOON ROUTINE - iron washing/ organise dinner/ homework.



EVENING - clean up from dinner/ bath (sometimes) skincare/ PJs/ reading.

There is a lot in the morning routine only because I have slowly got there. I would NEVER have done this to begin with because it was setting myself up for failure. I think five good morning tasks is enough to create a habit.


Then I have a basic weekly plan that looks like this:


MONDAY - Home Management day ( mine is green). I do a ' home blessing' ( flylady.net terminology) This means I add a few jobs to my morning routine. I add vacuuming and dusting each room, wipe over screens and mirrors and mop the floor. I then go to the local Post Office and withdraw my money in cash. I fuel up the car on the way to town and do my errands which usually consists of going to the library, getting photos printed and then grocery shopping. When I get home I unpack and do up my budget books, pay bills and general office jobs.


TUESDAY - is my GARDEN, BAKE and MAKE day. ( Green) This is the day I work in the garden to plant new seedlings, move plants. build up beds, regenerate soil, bake goodies for the week like bread, biscuits both sweet and savoury and make dough and things for the freezer for times when I am too busy too cook. I have also made this my 'make' day for when I need to make soap, ginger beer, sewing etc etc



WEDNESDAY - is my business day. ( blue) I prepare classes and workshops to teach and make teaching resources and try and do some sort of training or personal development.


THURSDAY - A Vision Splendid day. (Pink) This is when I write my articles, respond to emails, update newsletters etc.

FRIDAYS - personal day ( purple) - I often update my scrapbook albums, teach a class if I have one on my books and I also do more baking to get us through the weekend.

SATURDAY - family fun day. ( yellow) We usually go to the river with friends and spend the day skiing, tubing, swimming etc. We often catch up with friends for dinner and have a bbq or something. In the winter my sons play soccer.

SUNDAY - day of rest! - whatever takes our fancy. We often do a bit more gardening, laze around, read the newspaper, play with the kids etc.

Overlayed over the top of that is the focus area for the week. Each week of the month has a different room allocated to it. for example, Week one might be the front two bedrooms, week two the kitchen etc etc. The idea is to spend 15 mins or so doing a job in that room. Soon you get to the stage where there is nothing to do in the room, for example, your bedroom where you just keep it maintained each day or week and there are no huge tasks that need to be done, except maybe cleaning fans and windows seasonally. Other rooms, like the kitchen, often need a focus clean once a month because the second drawer breeds extra utensils and the tupperware cupboard has a way of messing itself up each month.


Sounds rigid doesn't it! - Well, it's actually freeing. Once you get up and running a routine actually gives you time. I would much rather spend 30 minutes each morning doing a few jobs rather than a whole weekend trying to get a house in order.


Please don't send me emails saying it will never work for you because you work a 90 hour week and commute two hours in either direction. This is MY routine. When I was working it was quite different. The idea is to do what you can do throughout the week to free your weekends for fun and relaxation with your family. It really only takes 45 seconds to wipe over your bathroom in the morning. If you leave it for a week or two it will take you half an hour of scrubbing. The choice is yours!


So..... there it is....... not quite wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, but just as rhythmic and it gives me tremendous joy and peace knowing that my house runs smoothly and that I am up to date and when my friends from Sydney call ( as they did today) and say they will be arriving tomorrow I can relax in peace and turn my mind to the wonderful meal I will prepare for them to make them feel welcome.





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A Vision Splendid
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Making The Most of Your Waiting  Time.

Making The Most of Your Waiting Time.




Today I had some waiting time.


Waiting time often catches us by surprise. We rush to an appointment only to sit for half an hour waiting. We are meant to meet someone and they are late...so we wait.


I used to hate waiting time. I would constantly look at my watch. I would subconsciously practice the narrative in my head “My appointment was 1pm. It was half past by the time I got in” The more I looked at my watch, the slower the hands moved. I would memorise every poster in the room.


Now I am always ready for waiting time. I secretly love it!


Today during my waiting time I pulled my tiny notebook out of my wallet and began writing my lists. You know that I love a good list! Sometimes I can’t think straight until it is down on paper in front of me. My tiny notebook is made with a few pieces of paper about credit card size, cut up and stapled together. I have little tabs that break up the ten or so pages.

Today was very productive waiting time. First, I wrote out things that I wanted to add to my ‘sustainability’ list. You know, making more soap, growing loofahs, planting out the cucumbers, cutting up the towels for cleaning cloths. Next I got on a complete roll and began mentally going up and down the aisles of the supermarket writing down things that I could make instead of buy. Next I made a list of all the activities I could do with the kids in the school holidays- things that cost nothing or little but will be great fun. Then I made a list of jobs for my morning, afternoon, and evening routine , revamped my basic weekly plan and listed what jobs should be done during my weekly home blessing hour. In the time I had left I brainstormed all the places that I could go to get my goods and services locally avoiding the chain shops and trying to support local businesses.

By the time the waiting was over I was very pleased with my efforts. I had mapped out so much and developed a plan out of the fog that was floating in my brain.

Sometimes it is nice to wait. All I need is a little notepad, a great pen and my brain, then I am off.... a million miles away...... who’d have thought such tremendous productivity could happen right there in the waiting room. Give it a go... it beats a trashy magazine hands down !
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The Family Company - the best one to work for.

The Family Company - the best one to work for.



Our Family Boardroom.

No company could survive if they constantly missed deadlines, didn’t pay bills, had more outgoings than incomings, had staff that constantly yelled at each other, no filing system, no records. Can you imagine the picture? The company would fail for sure. It would be extremely stressful to work there and for the owners the burden would be unbearable.

Managing your home is no different to managing a company. Think of your home as your family company. If you were the CEO then all of your actions would be centred towards the betterment of your company, not any other company. Your company would come first.


How is your company running at present ? How is the monthly budget looking. Do you even know how you went this last month ? Do you know how you went this past year ? What are your filing systems like ? Can you put your hand on a piece of paper in under 30 seconds? Can you locate your tax summary for 2006 or your child’s immunisation records? How about a manufacturer’s warranty card or the insurance papers for the house ?


Does the company run smoothly? Are there standard operating procedures? Does each company member know what their job is ? Are tasks being performed or are deadlines being missed.


Is your company solvent? That is, are you financially viable ? Is your company going down the gurgler – is it falling behind year after year? Are the outgoings each month more than the incomings?

Who cleans the offices? What recognition does the caterer receive? When is the next board meeting and what is on the agenda?

Your family is more important than any other company in the world. Where do you priorities lie ? Do you give more to your workplace than your own home ? I am sure that you have heard the saying 'on your deathbed, no-one wishes they spent more time at the office'.

Here are some points to improve your family company.

1. Start a good filing system: even if you can't tackle the back log, from now on file every piece of paper that needs to be kept in a place where you or anyone else can find it in under 30 seconds.

2. Have a system for house cleaning and management. Develop a basic weekly plan. Break up tasks so you don't spend your weekends doing housework or washing and ironing. Remember, there are many jobs that fit into the 'stitch in time saves nine' category.

3. Grow some of your own food: Start with some potted herbs and move to planter boxes with a few vegies and then to garden beds. Growing food is economically sensible for a family, it is a fantastic activity to get children involved with and gives a tremendous sense of satisfaction that cannot be reproduced by any 'shopping activities'.

4. Finally take charge of your finances. If you are 'blocking' the truth, it is time to face your financial facts! You can't do anything about the problem unless you identify it and take charge! Work out where you are now. Look at my 'stop think do' programme on the left hand side for more tips. Taking charge can be extremely empowering.

5. Work on your logistics: Stop rushing around. Plan Plan Plan to alleviate chaos and bring peace to your household. Look at what you need next week or next month and do it now so you are not rushing around at the very last minute making everyone stressed. Group errands, minimise outside commitments and prioritise your home and family as Number One.

6. Work on your Family Relationships: If a company has disharmony in the workplace, they would call in an expert and do some personal development and team building exercises to improve workplace relations. Every company knows that when staff are happy and harmonious productivity goes up and staff turn over comes down. People are happy to come to work. Invest some time into improving your family relationships. Spend time together, schedule activities and outings. Have a family movie night where you make home made pizzas beforehand - each member of the house can contribute like a production line. Even a two year old can sprinkle mushrooms! Play a board game without the TV on or play a game in the yard or park. You will be surprised how it slowly changes thing if you invest the time.

7. Have a family meeting regularly. Kids love this, no matter what their age is. At the family meeting you can plan holidays, discuss behavioural expectations, talk about pocket money, discuss job allocations, give recognition for jobs well done. This is something you have to try - especially if you have children. They thrive on this sense of contribution they feel. When we first did this it was a little 'tongue in cheek' for me but once we got going I saw how fabulous it is. Now there is excitement when we announce a family meeting, or if things go off the rails wit behaviour, jobs etc we say 'I think we better call a family meeting' In our VERY serious voice LOL.

Try these steps and let me know your thoughts. Afterall, our family company is the best one to work for !
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A Vision Splendid
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A Stitch In Time Saves Nine

A Stitch In Time Saves Nine




A Stitch In Time Saves Nine.


This is a popular proverb whose origin is unknown, but was apparently made famous by Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women. There are various interpretations of what it actually means. There is the literal interpretation, that is, if you mend the tear when there is a small hole with one stitch it will save you having to mend it with nine stitches when the hole eventually gets bigger.


A more philosophical interpretation is one of avoiding procrastination. Do the job now before it develops into a huge black cloud that hangs over you and is much harder to do.


I like a practical interpretation. To me, A Stitch In Time Saves Nine means 'wipe the shower screen over a few times a week or it will take you 45 minutes of scrubbing mould on your hands and knees". Or what about " tidy each room, each morning, or it will take you hours of cleaning to get your house back under control" .

Whichever way you look at it, it comes down to a choice. You can do things as you go, or you can make your tasks much more difficult for yourself. I know which one I would choose. Last time I took ages scrubbing out the shower I promised myself ' NEVER AGAIN!'.
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The  Consumer World Thrives on YOUR disorganisation.

The Consumer World Thrives on YOUR disorganisation.





There is no doubt about it. Being disorganised costs you a lot of money. There are whole industries which would crumble if everyone was to actually get their act together and have some sort of order in their lives. Of course, none of us have order all the time and if you are anything like me you have times of being highly organised and then backslide into total chaos. My theory is that you have to have the occasional backslide into total chaos so that you can climb out of it and appreciate how good it feels when you are organised. A bit like joy – you have to experience the lows so you can recognise and appreciate the highs.


If your life is fast paced and chaotic and you have children, you will know what I mean when I say that being disorganised costs you money. In fact it will often cost you in other ways as well. Here is an example.

It’s 6pm. You’re on your way home from children’s after school sports and you have nothing organised for dinner. You remember the ad for some fried chicken in a bucket which tells you to buy it because it’s quick and easy and the family will love you for it. ( even though your arteries and your wallet won’t!) You call in and pay an amount which you know is the equivalent of about 5 meals made at home. The ad was right , the family does love it and there’s no washing up. ( actually the family loves it until about 40 minutes later when Dad has a gall bladder attack, the kids are ‘hypo’ and you’re left feeling grossed out and heavy)

There are many other ways that being disorganised costs you money, apart from eating unplanned takeaway meals. How many times have you lost something and bought another one, only to find the original one a few days later? Have you had to purchase something because you need it straight away and you know you cant’ wait until the next sale? Have you gone somewhere with the kids and spent a lot of money just on drinks and snacks because you didn’t have anything with you for everyone to snack on.

Here are my thoughts to alleviate the problem.

1. Schedule based Menu Planning: If you know that you are home late on Tuesday nights, have meals that are quick and easy to prepare scheduled for that night. You could also make a double batch of something on Monday night knowing that you will have left overs ready to heat up for Tuesday nights.

2. Start your Evening Meal in the Morning: Take 10 minutes out of your morning to cut up vegies ready for a stir fry that you can just ‘throw together’ when you walk through the door. If you are really organised you could even have the chicken or meat marinating in the fridge.

3. Always take snacks and drinks with you. This is important especially if you have children that seem to need ‘refuelling’ all the time. It takes very little time to pack some drink bottles, some fruit and some home baked goodies. It is extremely expensive to go to the cafe near a park and buy everyone a drink and a snack.

4. Have a ‘gift cupboard’. Buy things when you see them on sale for Christmas and Birthday presents. In the back of my diary I have a list of who I buy presents for. Throughout the year I scribble down ideas that come to me about what I would like to buy or make for people on my list. If I see an item or the makings of an item that are on sale or a good price I will buy it and put it away in the ‘gift cupboard’.

5. Pay Your Bills on Time: a lot of service providers now have a late payment fee if payments are not received on time. Our system for bill paying is very simple. When a bill comes in we write it on the calendar and clip it to the “bills to pay” clipboard that hangs on the wall in the office. On my ‘office day’ I look at the bills that are due that week and pay them. The money is in our bills account because we total up the years bills and divide the amount by 52 and put that aside each week throughout the year.

6. Group Your Errands: Save petrol by making less trips to town. Have a list of things that need to be done or purchased while you are in town. Running back to the shop for one or two things you have forgotten is a costly exercise.

7. Avoid The Supermarket: If you go to a major supermarket for your shopping try and go there less. Every time you go in ‘just to grab a couple of things’ you will come out with more than what you went in for. Why is milk at the back of the store and bread at the other end ? It is to seduce you as you walk around. If you are currently a ‘drop in’ shopper try to menu plan and shop once a week. If you are a weekly shopper try to move to once a fortnight. If you are a fortnightly shopper – can you be a ‘super planner’ and only go there once a month ? This is my aim. A once a month supermarket trip and the rest from fruit and veg suppliers, farmers markets and the local fish co-op.

8. Return your hired DVDs on time. We hired some DVDs for our sons sleep over last month. When I went to pay the lady she said “ you really should go and get one more because these will cost you $13, but if you go and get another one you will get them for $9 because of the deal we have”. I reluctantly went and got another movie. National Treasure 2 for the grown ups to watch . I say reluctantly because we had already been in the shop for 40 minute while we persuaded five 10 year olds to agree on movies that we deemed suitable. The slumber party passed, the grown ups didn’t get a chance to watch the movie and kept it for the next night to watch, which didn’t come off either. By the time I took the DVD back I had to pay $5 for the late fee for a movie that we didn’t watch and didn’t want! LOL. ( .... and we still haven’t seen National Treasure 2!)

9. File your Warranty paperwork When your kettle stops working, can you remember whether it had a one or two year warranty? In our ‘throw away’ society we seems to replace these appliances all the time. A couple of times now we have had items like toasters and kettle replaced for free because we still had the warranty card which guarantees the product for 12 months or two years and didn’t quite make it over the line.

10. Know you tax deductible Items. Do you have a good working knowledge of what deductions you can make ? There is no point waiting until the end of the financial year to find out that you should have kept receipts for your spending throughout the year. For Australian readers, the tax office has an occupation guide for most jobs that points out the deductions available. Know your list and make a file of receipts and paperwork to maximise your deductions and reduce your taxable income as much as legally possible.

These are only a few tips. I am sure that you will be able to come up with many more. Why not share a lesson you have learnt ? How has disorganisation cost you money? Or what is the best organisational tip that saves you money? By sharing ideas we can all progress in this area.
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STOP FOOD WASTE...... If you remember.

STOP FOOD WASTE...... If you remember.

















Imagine the scene.




I am at my supermarket. I unpack my groceries from the trolley. The young girl scans them and places them lovingly into my 'green bags'. I pay. I smile. I push my trolley out to the car park and load four of the five bags into the boot of my car. I take the fifth bag out of the trolley and walk over to the nearest bin and pour the contents in. Unopened cereal, a carton of milk, half a pumpkin, three oranges and a beautiful bunch of shallots!


....... what a crime ! I hear you say. What a complete and total waste! ..........



The fact is that Australians waste $6 billion each year by throwing away food. A 2007 study found that on average we throw away 4.2 kilograms a week! According to Planet Ark founder and environmentalist John Dee, the reason we throw away so much is because we are forgetful.



In our house in the past we have been extremely guilty of this. Treasures of archaeological significance have been found lurking in that space at the back of the rarely used for anything important middle shelf.



There seems to be some sort of weird mentality when it comes to the fridge. Last week the shallots took up residence in the front row, top shelf, - proudly sitting there ready for that Jamie Oliver cooking adventure. The cooking adventure gets postponed, or worse still we only need three snippets for a garnish and the shallots are put back into the fridge with the best of intentions I am sure ready for ....... not really sure of that ...... but will think of something good.......





Next week we bring home the avocado, half a rockmelon and the freshly seasoned, organic, free range chicken for the dinner party.After the party we clean up and put all the leftovers into plastic containers, because we can't let good food go to waste. In three weeks time when we are making way for the giant fruit platter that Aunt Marion has made for the family get together, we HAVE to throw out the left over chicken AND the plastic container because it has taken on a life of it's own and after all it's too unhygienic to use that container ever again.



Although we have the best of intentions, the truth is, if we can't SEE IT, we don't remember it.



Saving money on food has been a very important part of this new frugal lifestyle we are adopting. Here are some tips relating to leftovers.



1. MENU PLAN - work out what you are eating and shop accordingly. Plan your menus around your schedule. Easy meals on busy nights and adventurous meals when there is more time. Write your plan on a whiteboard on the fridge as a visual reminder for every one in the house. There is great peace knowing at 7am what you are eating that night and being able to defrost the meat in the fridge through the day.



2. PROGRAMME LEFTOVERS INTO THE MENU PLAN: - Make a meal one night and deliberately make extra for the next night. We often do this when I make lasagne. If there are leftovers after the second night I cut it into single portions and freeze it for lunches.



3. MAKE VISUAL REMINDERS: - I write a list on the whiteboard of things that have to be eaten or used up. If I use some chicken stock, for example, and pour the remainder into ice cube trays to freeze, I put it on my 'must use' list.




4. MAKE SMALLER MEALS: - My Grandmother always said "your eyes are bigger than your belly" meaning, you think you want to eat a certain amount but when it comes to it, you can only eat half of it. We often discuss the old fashioned idea of having much smaller meals and if you're still hungry then have a slice of bread and butter.



5. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS AND USE LESS: I really noticed when I made my cereal yesterday that after eating all the 'bits' I had a lot of milk left over in the bowl. After measuring it I found it to be 1/3 of a cup. Multiply that by seven days and I am pouring out half a litre of milk a week! This morning I overcame my phobia of having cereal pieces that weren't 'wet enough' by stirring thoroughly in less milk before eating. Simple!!



6. COMPOST: When you do have food scraps put them in your compost bin. This will turn back into soil which can then be used to grow vegies or herbs. This is the best form of recycling as studies have shown that about 40% of household rubbish is compostable food scraps. There are now bench top composters available if you live in an apartment.



You wouldn't throw away one in five bags of your groceries each week. You wouldn't cut up a twenty dollar note with a pair of scissors and throw it in the bin, so think about how much food you are wasting and how much rubbish you are producing as a result.


Making these small changes has not only helped our budget, it has also made a huge difference to how much rubbish we put in our bin each week.


If you would like more information on the Stop Food Waste Campaign you can visit the article from NOTEBOOK magazine http://www.homehints.com.au/great+recipes/1267/reading/food+waste+in+australia
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10 Weeks Into This Frugal Lifestyle

10 Weeks Into This Frugal Lifestyle




10 weeks since I made the Mental and Emotional Seachange Style Eccentric Decision or (M.E.S.S.E.D) to throw in my job and head metaphorically to the beach. I’m doing surprisingly better than I thought I would. I was frightened that my “chase the joy in life” phase may be just a passing mood. I was fully ready to accept the fact that I may get bored and head back to work. But, no….. the great social experiment continues and {shock, horror} the joy factor remains. Can it be that the joy from simple living is ongoing? Will I continue to experience the joy ? I’ll keep you posted!

What has changed so far in my simple, joy-filled lifestyle? Many of these changes have been implemented over the past few years, but NEVER have they had so much importance.

Before, sure, I would cook when the spirit was with me, but now I HAVE to cook so the children have something to eat when they get home from school. I HAVE to bake bread because otherwise we won’t have any ( …logical!......) I HAVE to grow veggies because we live 16 hours drive from the nearest store and the plane with supplies only comes once a month. Okay, that last statement may be stretching it a little, but my point is that I really enjoy doing these things and I love the fact that there is a degree of importance and reliance on these tasks being done.

I have noticed that the weather has become a MAJOR discussion point in our lives. We had always joked that in the older generation weather was the topic of choice in any given situation. Days were heralded as good or bad depending on the temperature, time the sun rose, whether there was a slight breeze and what time the sun started to go down. Sometimes there was much discussion about the link between the weather and the drying of the clothes. You know, “I had to get the washing out early because you have to get it in by two because it starts to get cold again’. Then there was “ I put the washing out by 7 and it was dry by 8”
Now Hubbie and I are becoming 1940s pensioners who are obsessed with the weather. We look outside and say “ good dryin’ day honey” or “this rain will be good for the radishes”. It makes me laugh because suddenly, there is such a connection with mother nature and the all important weather.

Since the M.E.S.S.E.D I have realized how important it is to have SKILLS. I have great skills in some areas but am completely lacking in others. This is a problem throughout my generation. Our mums burnt their bras and went to work, which was good in so many ways, but there was no-one with apron springs strings left that we could hang onto and learn by osmosis all the things that are required to be frugal and self sufficient. I am really regretting that I didn’t pay more attention to Sister Mary Martin during my sewing classes in year seven. If only I knew that I would really need those skills one day. At least she was able to teach me one thing – how to sew a good apron, and to date, that is the only REAL success I have had with sewing. Last week however, I did hand sew a felt pocket for my son’s IPOD and {God love the gorgeous child} at the age of ten…. he REALLY loved it. I will have to sew him some more felt features before he grows out of this phase and is too embarrassed to be seen with me in public!

There has been a major break through on the coffee front. As you may recall, one of my greatest concerns about commencing this social experiment was whether or not I would be able to continue to enjoy my signature coffee, a vanilla latte on skim. Last month when visiting friends in Sydney I noted that they were producing a mighty fine home brewed coffee. I had virtually decided that I would have to get a machine at home ( there I was trying to keep up with them and their surname isn’t even Jones). When I got home I remembered that about five years ago I got a free coffee machine when I subscribed to Family Circle magazine. ( Imagine how good it must have been) At the time I had a bit of a go, but couldn’t really work it and I put it in a cupboard in the shed and slowly spread all the attachments around the house. ( you know how you have that drawer in the office that has three dead batteries, two rubber bands, a deflated old balloon and the internal cup off the old coffee machine). So I made the decision that before I looked for one I would try this one out. After some searching through the drawers I found all the pieces and, with the help of some vanilla syrup I am now pumping out a pretty smooth, fair trade, organic, vanilla latte on skim. It’s as good as my favourite independently owned coffee shop in town, but…… added to the joy factor involved…… it’s a close second!

And so continues the journey to a more simple, frugal life. One step in front of the other, three steps forward, two steps back.
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A Weekend of Memories

A Weekend of Memories









I am very excited to be heading off to my annual scrapbooking camp today. Three lovely days at Camp Elim on the lake near Forster NSW. It is the one time of the year when I can catch up on my albums. I don't scrapbook like you see in the shops with all the piles of ribbon and flowers and sticks and anything else that can be found, to me it is more like a photographic journal. The important thing for me is capturing the story that goes with the photos, like a diary of our daily pursuits with photographs.




I do this in 'hard copy' because although everything is in digital format, the format changes every couple of years. As an example of this I look at my childhood which is on 8mm silent film. The projector doesn't work properly anymore and yes I could probably get it fixed and convert the films to DVD etc etc, but the format will change again before too long. Just think - we started with the 5 1/4 inch floppy disk and then moved to the 3.5 inch disk and then the CD and then the DVD - what will be next ? Realistically I will have to convert my photos into a new format about every 5 years or so.

So for me, it's the old fashioned way. I take photos and I get them printed then I put them into museum quality albums and write with archival inks and preserve them. In the future there will be no outdated technology required to view my history, just the naked eye.



I have all my photos sorted and printed into groups ready to go for my intensive album making session. I have made notes to trigger my memory about what I want to record on the pages and it will be head down tail up working hard all weekend.



Making albums brings me so much joy. For each of my boys I have written an album 'to' them. It is a series of letters and photographs starting with when they were growing in my tummy. It captures how I felt about the day they were born, bringing them home for the first time, when they took their first steps. They love to look at them and read them. It is my view that it reinforces in them how they fit into the family and how precious and loved they are. In our busy lives do we ever take the time to write a note to someone and tell them how precious they are in our lives ?

This is my chance to record history for my family.
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The Spirit of My Ancestors

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 !
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Doing Away With Disposables

Doing Away With Disposables





Step by step... little by little ... moving towards a more sustainable, frugal life.

You don't just wake up one day and decide to throw your job in and live off very little. It is like a great sculpture. Each day the sculptor chips away little by little, every day moving towards a masterpiece.

You start with simple things like planning your meals, shopping to a list, organising your budget better, saving money here and there. As you perfect those skills you move on to cooking more from scratch and purchasing groceries items only when you know they are on sale and using your stockpile for when they are full price.

Soon you are growing a few of your own herbs and maybe a tomato. Next you're using the car less and riding your bike more. Before you know it you are making your own pasta and the thought of soap making suddenly doesn't seem that daunting.

The latest step has been slowly replacing disposables. Cotton crocheted cloths are great to use instead of paper towel and washing up cloths and make great cleaning rags. They are very easy to make and take about two evening. When I say very easy to make I mean VERY easy, (coming from some one who has NO crocheting skills what so ever! )

Cloths can be colour coded. A good way to remember your bathroom cloth colour is to make 'blue for the loo and pink for the sink'. Once you have used the cloth, just throw it in with the washing for use again. This is my idea of 'sustainability' because of the ongoing use of the item. I no longer have to re-buy the replaced products.
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Processed Convenience Foods

Processed Convenience Foods





Take a look at my 'processed', 'convenience' food.

 I bought it yesterday with no packaging for quite a cheap price considering the volume. 

Once I got it home I 'processed' it, that is I peeled it all and chopped it up and put it into containers for the fridge. 

When hunger struck it was easy and convenient to grab out of the fridge. When the predictable ' Mum, I'm hungry' conversation took place it proved itself to be very 'convenient'.

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The Daily Sweep

The Daily Sweep





If you told me 12 months ago that I would be sweeping everyday I would think of it with dread. The hallways and loungeroom used to be covered in a lovely cream carpet which we chose when our first born son was a baby, not knowing how ridiculous it was to have cream carpet and a young family. When we closed in the back area of the house and reclaimed the laundry as living area we put flooring through all the areas except the bedrooms and office. As a result I now have to sweep everyday.

Rather than being a chore, I actually enjoy my morning ritual. It is quite shocking the amount that is actually swept up. All that dust and dirt was soaking into the carpets before because I certainly didn't vacuum every day.

I like the simple repetitive act of sweeping all the dirt and dust out the front door and back into the garden. I love that the simple act doesn't require any electricity or the latest state of the art vacuum cleaner. I love the feeling of satisfaction that I get when I walk back in and it is all clean once again.

There is joy in the simple rhythms of life.............
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