Friday, December 28, 2007

We're all going on a summer holiday...

No more working for a week or two...
Fun and laughter on a summer holiday...
No more worries for me and you...
For a week or two.

Sorry if you now have that stuck in your head - I do as well :)

The van is packed and we're off on holidays up to Stuart's Point on the mid-north coast of NSW. We go up with Pete's sister Cheryl & her husband Lincoln (and the 20 month old triplets!) - Linc has been going up to the same caravan park since he was a kid - in fact *his* father went there as a kid, and they still go up there too, so it's a big family gathering. We feel like part of the family as well - this is our 4th year of going up.

I'm hoping for a relaxing holiday but unfortunately it won't be feet-up, read-a-book type relaxing - what with triplet wrangling *and* 5 yo wrangling.. It's good to get away anyway.

I just realised I haven't updated since before Xmas. Billy was spoilt (but not too much) by Santa, we had a great Xmas Day up at my mum & dads where we were all spoilt again, Boxing Day we kicked back & did very little! The last couple of days have been busy packing. That's it in a nutshell..

Well, an early start in the morning, so I'm off to bed. See you all in a week or so!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The stockings were hung..

Just got an excited boy into bed at 9pm - it could be a late night!

Yesterday we had our Xmas celebration with Pete's family at my SIL & BILs. 10 adults & 8 kids; luckily we rotate hosting between the 4 siblings and Pete's parents, and all put in for the food. We have another few years before it's our turn again :) A pleasant day - I got to cuddle all of my nieces & nephews (esp the new baby Cassie), there were no arguments (well maybe a couple amongst the kids!), the sun was shining, and we got to celebrate with family...

I spent today tidying up the house so that Santa could get in without tripping over and breaking a leg :) We did some baking (more shortbread - this time with chocolate on top!, and gingerbread to leave out for Santa) and Billy played with all of the toys he got yesterday. A pottering kind of day.. We opened family presents tonight (I got a dehydrator!!!), the newly created Santa sacks are laid out, Santa's snack is prepared - all is in readiness for the fat man.

Tomorrow we go up to my parent's house for lunch with my side of the family.

To me, Xmas is all about family & friends. To all of my blogging friends, I wish you a wonderful, happy Xmas Day filled with laughter and love. If you're travelling anywhere, travel safely.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fun with fabric paint!

I'm not in the least bit crafty, but it's amazing what can be achieved with inspiration from blogs, some old t-shirts, pillowcases, fabric paint & lots of bits of fabric rescued from the "rag bag".. Voila, Xmas t-shirts and Santa sacks!! Like Kris said about her Xmas decorations (which look great btw Kris!), it may need to be seen through a filter of pride, but we're pretty proud of our efforts! (I may need to dig out the hair-drier to make sure Billy's efforts dry - he was rather heavy handed with the fabric paint lol).

Friday, December 21, 2007

2008 - Time to work smarter, not harder!

For the past few weeks I've had thoughts running around in my head about next year. My motto for the year will be to "work smarter, not harder". I tried working harder this year - all that happened was that I wore myself out & disrupted the family - and I don't know that we're much better off.

Here I sit at the end of another year and I am literally exhausted. Mostly mentally, although physically as well as I'm not sleeping well due to stress. Financially we are doing ok, but there is certainly room for improvement. I've been too busy to watch the pennies and they've been getting up to all sorts of mischief :)

My plan at the start of this year was to start ramping up the business so that when Billy went to school in 2008, I'd be able to work full-time at home, finish paying off our debt and start saving for a new car - how things change in a year! Instead my income will be reduced significantly due both to homeschooling and not wanting to be on the treadmill anymore. So I need to be smarter with what we have rather than trying to earn more money.

These are some of the goals I've come up with so far:


* finance hubby's microbrewery from savings/earnings only - no debt - hopefully we have enough saved for this now. Even more hopefully it will get underway and start earning some money next year!
* get down to $10,000 non-mortgage debt ($6,000+ to pay off)
* look at non-stress alternative income sources that can work around homeschooling - does such a beast really exist??! lol
* save at least $1,000 in appliance repair fund (washing machine is on it's last legs) by June
* reduce present/gift spending - more homemade? LETS? We had a shocking year this year with the present budget - several weddings, births, 40th b'days - all out of the ordinary. Hopefully next year will be better but need to be vigilant.
* Go back to tracking expenses!
* Actual envelopes aren't working too well for medical / misc household - try virtual envelopes.


* only take on one large project per month (max) - that will leave time for other one-offs / fixes. I'm booked up until May already!!
* Try to work no more than a couple of nights / week
* start monthly newsletter back up
* Keep weekends free


* Enjoy it!!
* try to get into some sort of routine
* don't overcommit with activities


* me time each week

Steps to achieve above goals:

* Utilise LETS more
* Concentrate on grocery budget - more from scratch, bulk buying
* Stop buying lunch every time we go out
* Get garden productive
* Track expenses
* Take time to do things rather than just spending money

I'm sure I'll add to this over the next week or so!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

All sorts of dough!

After a session with my wonderfully talented chiropractor today, I had so much energy when we got home! I felt better than I had for weeks. I expended my energy in the kitchen - made some more of Little Jenny Wren's Melt & Mix shortbread, a batch of tortillas to go in the freezer and tried out a new recipe for hot dog buns - I made the buns with all white flour (since that's all I had), and on some of them, I sprinkled the top with garlic powder, dried basil & oregano - oh wow, it smelt like Subway while it was rising & baking. And the taste was sensational - will definitely be keeping this recipe!!! I felt very industrious!!

I had a bit of a re-org of money matters today too - closed my bank account with ANZ (I'd been using it for ebay sales but I'm not using it atm and it was costing me money), and opened another one at my building society for the TL sales. I also opened & counted the money jar that I'd been feeding sporadically (and occasionally raiding for parking money!) over the year - $81.65 - which will come in handy on holidays! It should buy a meal out at the club and lots of ice-creams at the shop :) I want to open a new ING account too, but have run into a bit of a stumbling block with that one as they need a bank statement which I don't have.

5 sleeps til Xmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

And now for the photos..

Preschool concert

Preschool 'graduation'

'Mess' journal

Looking around at the mess in our house at the moment, it's like a journal of our activities from the last few hectic days..

The Wiggles paraphenalia from the concert on Friday afternoon, the lollies & jackets from the Xmas party on Friday night, the water pistol prize from the b'day party on Saturday, the McDonald's junk (um I mean toys) from Saturday afternoon (yeah I fed my child that crap and am regretting it!), the pile of presents waiting to be wrapped from Sunday's shopping trip, the unpacked esky from the street party on Sunday night, the craft supplies unpacked from the trip to Spotlight yesterday, the ironing board still up from the urgent ironing job before the preschool concert last night, the unpacked backpack from the train trip we took with friends this morning.. We won't talk about the piles of dirty dishes, and the dishwasher that needs emptying, the piles of washing to be done, and folding to be put away.. We certainly won't talk about the state of the car - it's a little mess journal of it's own!

*sigh* - I think the clean-up fairies are on strike, guess I'd better go and make a start!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Closed for Xmas

I hung out my virtual shingle today to say that I'm now closed for Xmas. I still have one website that I'll keep working on (in between Xmas stuff), but the rest will all have to wait until next year. What a relief!!

Yum - I made some of Jenny Wren's Melt & Mix Shortbread today - if that's what she "throws together" for her family, I'd love to try her special stuff lol!

I got all of the non-immediate family Xmas presents wrapped today - gee it takes a long time with a 5 year old helping! I still have a few things to buy and maybe some more stocking fillers - will see what the "pile" looks like once it's all in one spot. It's secreted all around the house (and at my parent's house!) atm :) I have to go hunting for one present - I know we bought it, but I have no idea where we hid it!!! (That sounds like I've bought heaps, but I haven't really - honest!)

This morning we went grocery shopping (Aldi & then Bilo), posted the Xmas cards, and bought a pair of swimmers for Billy (30% off at Best & Less - does anyone remember that really horrendous Best & Less ad from years ago with the old lady??? - what a shocker!). Aldi wasn't too busy and is outside of the shopping centres so it was easy to get a park, but Bilo is in town and was shocking - had to park miles away and walk - luckily I didn't need much there.

Best things about today:
* Got heaps done

Currently Reading:
The Grass Memorial by Sarah Harrison - still! Having trouble with the sections on the Crimean war - reading about men dying of cholera while you're eating or just before bed is a little hard to take!
Jane Eyre via Daily Lit

To do tomorrow:
Home - well not really at home!
* Swimming
* Wiggles concert
* drop assignments into WEA - they want to keep of copy of the work I did for the Cert IV!
* work Xmas party


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Baker's Clay / Salt Dough

I made up a batch of "baker's clay" (I've also heard it called salt dough) this morning and Billy had a ball making Xmas decorations out of it.


This is the recipe I used:

1 and 1/2 cups hot water
1 cup salt
4 cups flour

Mix the salt & hot water in a large bowl. Add the flour and mix until sticky. Knead the dough for about 7-10 mins until smooth (I did it in the mixer). Bake your clay creations at 180 deg C for about 90 mins, turning once. The clay should be hard all the way through so leave it in longer if necessary.

Clay may be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for later use.


I'm not sure if the recipe is wrong or if I lost count while measuring - not outside the realms of possibility lol, but I "think" I only used 3 cups flour, and we only baked for about 40 mins Let me know if anyone makes it!

I guess you could add food colouring while you're making it to make different colours - we stuck with plain and plan on painting it tomorrow - or another tomorrow!


On another note, Billy's preschool concert & "graduation" was postponed tonight due to inclement weather which was disappointing. It will probably be held next week - let's hope we can squeeze it in lol. Personally I would've thought that given the fact that it's been raining on and off for the last few weeks, they would've had a back-up plan in place, but hey, that's just me!!

It did mean that I was able to get a bit more work done. I'm very, very slowly reducing the list.

Billy was quite sooky today - wanted lots of cuddles - and took himself off for a sleep this afternoon (which was rudely interrupted by the delivery man). Most unusual... Pete came home from work with a headache & aching, and has gone to bed early.. Could be something going around. I don't have time to be sick, so I'll have to be ok!!

Best things about today:
* Lots of cuddles
* Nice, peaceful day on the whole
* Realising that I don't have to frantically rearrange my life if B isn't well tomorrow.

Currently Reading:
The Grass Memorial by Sarah Harrison.
Jane Eyre via Daily Lit

To do tomorrow:
Home (in addition to the usual washing, cooking, tidying etc)
* grocery shopping
* make biscuits
* post Xmas cards
* comment on a few outstanding blog posts / memes
* wrap / finish making Xmas presents that I need to take on Friday

* create & post install CD for H
* send CD to K
* work on K's website
* answer M's email

Xmas cards..

all done..

I like to write one of those ubiquitous Xmas letters to send to people we like to keep in touch with but don't get to see much of. It was quite interesting looking back at all of the stuff we've done this year - not to mention pulling up last year's letter to use as a template and seeing the photo of Billy from 12 months ago! I personally don't like to send Xmas cards - I send a couple but am not into the whole "oh they sent me one, I'd better send one back" deal. Most of the ones I send are to distant (in terms of location) aunts and great-aunts.

I also wrote in a couple of cards that I've been putting off. One was a thinking of you card for someone I used to work with that I've recently heard has breast cancer. I'm not very good at writing cards like that - I agonise over whether what I write is appropriate, but I would be far worse in person so it's better for me to write than ring!

While getting the Xmas cards out I found 2 very organised Xmas lists from 2005 & 2004 - present list, budget, Xmas card list - very neatly written, stapled together & filed! 2006 was scrawled on a piece of scrap paper, and this year hasn't even made it to that lol.

Best thing about yesterday:

Having some time to browse in the library in peace while Billy was listening to the story at storytime!

Currently Reading:

The Grass Memorial by Sarah Harrison.
Jane Eyre via Daily Lit

To do today:

* Ring customer re TL order and then finish placing order
* Finish gifts for preschool teachers
* Decide what we can have for tea that's quick & easy
* Preschool concert / graduation
* Maybe go grocery shopping - it's raining and I don't think I'll find the motivation :)

* Return H's call
* create install CD for H
* work on K's website

Edited because I started the post yesterday and it kept the same date & time!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Homeschooling: Spain

A couple of weeks ago we finished our unit on Spain, but I've only just been organised enough to take a photo of the end result!

Billy painted the flag as the background of the poster, and we looked at things like the geography, culture (bull-fighting, flamenco dance, football), famous people (Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali), agriculture, and currency.

We also created castanets out of bottle-tops and learnt some Spanish words. The memory cards have been used a couple of times as various games in learning 1-10 and basic greetings.

To do list - trying to get organised!

Well, the microwave is clean, but I'm still scraping hardened jam off the pyrex jug :) It's slowly coming off with the soak & scrape method!

I really need to get organised - 14 days til Xmas!! So I'm going to post my to-do list on here - feel free to ignore :)

Currently Reading:
The Grass Memorial by Sarah Harrison - getting into it more now.
Jane Eyre via Daily Lit

To do:
* continue working on K's website
* create install disk for H
* put 1st TL order in

* storytime at the library
* write Xmas letter, start on Xmas cards
* write on other cards that I've been putting off

Monday, December 10, 2007

How NOT to make jam....

When you try to make strawberry jam in the microwave - remember to READ the recipe to see what size container you need, and not just rely on a rather faulty memory of what you used last time!

Do you think this will fit Lightening's Smiley Saturday criteria??! lol I'm sure someone out there is laughing :)

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Oh what I'd give for a sleep-in! I can't wait for a teenager that sleeps all morning rather than a child that wakes at the crack of dawn!

It's been a busy week - we were only home for 1 day so the house is a bit of a mess from stuff being dumped, dishes not washed etc. (actually that's probably an understatement!)

Monday we met up with friends for storytime at the library and then back to their house for a papier mache making day! In hindsight, it's probably not the best activity for a 4 and 5 year old - needs too much of an attention span - but Kate & I found it strangely therapeutic lol. We didn't leave there until late afternoon. The box of craft stuff is still sitting on the table :(

Tue was an early start as we had to drop the car in for a service at 8am. A long day hanging around in town waiting for it to be ready. There's not a lot open at that time of morning so we walked to a "cheap shop" that was open, looked around in there for a while & picked up a b'day present. Did a bit more shopping once the rest of the shops were open, then went to a nearby play cafe. I think after 5 years I was able to achieve nirvana - Billy went off to play quite happily with the other kids that were there, and I sat and read a book! It's an enclosed playground so I only had to look up every now & then to check he was ok. It only cost a couple of $ entry, but then I bought myself a cup of tea, and got Billy a biscuit - probably didn't get a lot of change out of $10. Could've been far worse!! (Like the lunch that we then bought at another cafe.. *sigh* Yes I could've packed a lunch to take but then I would've had to carry it around town, and quite frankly I couldn't be bothered...).

We visited the art gallery after lunch which was fun - the paintings in the current exhibition weren't really my cup of tea (too floral lol). They had a great kid's activity though - a worksheet with 3 different activities on it - firstly that had small sections replicated of 9 paintings on the sheet that the kids had to find on the big paintings and tick off their sheet. It really made us look closely at the paintings. One of the paintings was called Postcard from Port Fairy (or something like that), so the 2nd activity was to think about what kind of place would be called Port Fairy (thinking mythical creatures), and draw a postcard. The 3rd activity was to colour in a painting like the ones in the exhibition. This is the 2nd time we've been there while they've had kid's activities, and I was so impressed with them I decided to email the co-ordinator and tell (and thank) her and her staff. I got an email back on Thursday to say I'd made her & her assistant's day!

Wednesday we were at home - but other than a bit of baking I don't think we did much but recovered! We had road works right outside our house which was rather annoying (and very unusual since we live in a no through road!) Oh and my "T ot al Lea rning" start-up order arrived (I'm not allowed to advertise on the web at all even to say I sell it apparently in case I usurp their google ranking!) so that's why the split up letters - from henceforth it will be known as TL :) That was fun unpacking the boxes - Billy jumped on everything and declared it his! There's some wonderful books there - I love books :)

Thursday was Billy's last day at preschool! He was very excited! It also meant it was my last day of uninterrupted working :( I did 3 hours of work and then had to go and see a client to install some changes for them. On the way back from that I picked up a Xmas present (and looked in vain for a couple more).

Friday we had the ute in for a service - yes it's been an expensive week! (translation for the non-Aussies - a ute is a utility vehicle / pickup / vehicle than you can use to haul stuff around). Again an early start to drop it off - walk to swimming, then Mum & Dad picked us up and drove us back to their house. Mum offered me their car to go and do some Xmas shopping while they looked after Billy which was fantastic - I managed to get about 90% of it done, most importantly I got the stuff done that I couldn't do with said child in tow! That stuff is still hiding up at their house! (and the rest is spread out on the kitchen floor :( ) It was a late night by the time we got the ute back and then Pete was late getting home from work, so we had to hang around for quite a while before his train arrived.

Borrowing unashamedly from Crazy Mumma's layout :)

Currently Reading: The Grass Memorial by Sarah Harrison. "A sweeping story of love and loss over continents and generations" - only 88 pages in to it so far of 600, and it hasn't gripped me yet but will persevere.

To do this weekend:
* finish report for H
* continue working on K's website
* get photos together for J's website

* B'day party tomorrow - wrap present & write in card
* Decide what to make for preschool teachers & do it / help Billy do it

Right - best go and throw a load in the machine, and empty the dishwasher as a start.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Memes - The Big 8 and 7 random things

I've been tagged for a couple of memes recently and have just had a chance to look at them!

This one was hard!

8 Things I Am Passionate About
1. Family
2. Education choices
3. Frugal living
4. Being careful with the earth's resources
5. Friendships
6. Homecooking
7. Additives in food (see 6!)
8. Reading

8 Things I Want to Do Before I Die
1. Visit Egypt
2. Travel Europe again
3. Meet Helen (hi Helen!!)
4. Have grandchildren to spoil!
5. See more of Australia
6. Become more self-sufficient
7. Be debt-free!
8. Write a book

8 Things I Say Often
1. Billy, please stop talking!
2. Who left the light on???!
3. Quick, hurry up and ... (get dressed, get in the car, eat your tea.. ad infinitum)
4. I love you!
5. Are you listening to me?!
6. What was the best thing about today?
7. Argghhhh! I have so much to do!
8. There's no blood - you'll live :)

8 Books I've Read Recently
1. Lots of light trashy romance crap that don't need the brain turned on when I'm reading :)
2. Nurture by Nature by Paul Tieger
3. Blockade by Derek Hansen
4. Jane Eyre (currently reading it online via DailyLit)
5. Sole Survivor by Derek Hansen
6. Gardens of delight by Erica James
7. Secrets & Shadows by Mary Nickson
8. Getting started with homeschooling by Beverly Paine

8 Songs I Could Listen to Over and Over
1. Summer of 69 - Bryan Adams
2. Khe Sahn - Cold Chisel
3. Don't dream it's over - Crowded House
4. I don't like Mondays - Boomtown Rats
5. Daniel - Elton John
6. You're the one that I want - John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John (Grease soundtrack)
7. Constant craving - k.d.lang
8. To her door - Paul Kelly

8 Things that Attract Me to My Best Friends
1. Sense of humour
2. Similar interests - frugal living, vege gardening, homeschooling (not necessarily all in the same person!)
3. Non-aggressive
4. Honest
5. Similar philosophy in life
6. Positive
7. Make you feel good when you're with them - not constantly "taking"
8. Love of books

8 People Who Should Totally Do This Meme
1. Anyone who wants to! But beware - it's hard!

7 random or weird things

I was tagged by Lightening to do this one too.

Here are the meme rules:
1- Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So here goes with 7 things about ME:

1. I have vitiligo so I have blotchy white patches all over my body.

2. I am addicted to flavoured chips, particularly chicken & 'cheese & onion' - put them down in front of me and I will keep eating until they are gone!

3. I get obsessed with learning all I can about a particular topic - then once I've done it I move on to the next without doing anything about it!

4. I used to read the encyclopedia as a kid (see no 3 lol)

5. I used to own a copy of every book written by Jack Higgins (of "The Eagle Has Landed" fame) - including his pseudonyms.. I still own them but I'm sure he's written more by now!

6. I could live quite happily without a TV - but have a husband & child both addicted to it..

7. I had cravings for Hungry Jacks (like Burger King) when I was pregnant.

I'll tag:

Mrs P

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Christmas is coming...

.. I've got no idea if the geese are getting fat, but I do know it's time for this ostrich to take her head out of the sand about Xmas!! What is it about turning the page over to December that makes me go arrrrggghhhh??!! I still have a few people to buy for - which unfortunately means braving the shops - and a few things to make (still undecided as to actually what though!) Every year I vow to be more organised, but it certainly hasn't happened this year! Next year maybe? :)

I'm glad I wasn't taking part in NaPoBloMo or whatever it was called! I think I blogged less in November than I have for months. I've been head-down, tail-up trying to get work completed - I haven't made my self-imposed end-of-November deadline. Billy has one more day of preschool left, so that gives me one day left of child-free work (and I have to see a client in that so that cuts out several hours). I can see a lot more late nights in my future for the next couple of weeks if I want to get done anytime soon.

Everytime I blog lately I seem to be stressing over all of the stuff I have to do. Sorry everyone :( This is my outlet valve - if I don't stress on here, I might explode (which would just mean more mess for me to clean up lol).

So some positive notes - we've had a fairly social week - had a playdate with homeschool friends on Wednesday afternoon, and met a friend from the Simple Savings site & her son for a swim and play yesterday. Learning-wise, I can now count to 10 in Spanish lol, and more importantly so can Billy :) He's been learning "skip-counting" eg counting by 10s and 2s, knows lots about Spain now and has been busy being a kid.

Today we're dropping Pete at a cricket reunion day (ie they'll stand around, drink lots and swap tall tales!), while we go to Mum & Dads for lunch and the afternoon. Then we're all meeting back at my parents-in-law's house for tea. We've just made some Cornflake Nutties to take up with us. I seem to have done nothing but cook this week - 'we' made banana muffins (12), and a batch of Anzac biscuits on Monday (?) - there is now 1 banana muffin and about 3 anzac biscuits left! We made a carrot cake to take over on Wednesday - there is a smidgen left! I'm sure the Cornflake Nutties won't last past today either!

I was very thankful for a freezer meal yesterday - I hadn't gotten the fish that we'd planned to have out of the freezer and just couldn't be bothered cooking anything. I was *this* close to reaching for the emergency bag of chicken nuggets I have stashed in there when I remembered a meal of chili con carne lurking in the bottom of the freezer. It was a bit cooler last night, so perfect for it! I took it out of the freezer, dumped it in the saucepan and threw in an extra can of tomatoes. I took the meal-size portion of rice out of the freezer and nuked it - tada, dinner with no effort!!

Time to get ready to go.