Week 3 ~ 52 Weeks of Gratitude

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This one is an easy one to write about. Around this time 8 years ago I had not long ago had an Ectopic Pregnancy which resulted in the loss of 1 tube, this was from our first and only “successful” IVF round. I had previously lost a baby at 18 weeks many, many years before. Hubby and I weren’t far off coming to terms with the fact we wouldn’t have kids of our own and considered/started researching adoption.

We started to plan a working holiday in Canada while we were young and thought we would just spend some time seeing the world. 6 months later, 2 blue lines appeared, much to our joy!!
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After we welcomed our little girl into the world, imagine our joy when almost 2 years later we were so, so lucky to welcome a little man into the world, even though both deliveries were accompanied by drama and my husband missed the birth of both our children. We have our pigeon pair. They truly are the loves of our lives.

As for extended family, I am so lucky to still have my nan around (she celebrated her 90th birthday last year), and she takes an active role in our kids lives. Unfortunately both mine and hubby’s parents live a few hours drive away, they are supportive and the kids adore them, not to mention our many other members of our extended family (Miss S is the only girl grandchild on both sides). We truly feel blessed and overall very lucky, they are easy to be grateful for.

Christine xx
family-4To see previous posts from the Gratitude Challenge, click the links below:

  • Week 1 ~ Why start this challenge?
  • Week 2 ~ Spouse / Significant Other.

Grocery Budget Busting

Usually tomorrow (Friday) is my grocery day! But this week, tired of the overwhelming mess in my pantry, I’ve decided to challenge myself by not grocery shopping – or at least drastically reducing the amount spent.

The honest mess in my pantry.

The plan: Use as many items in my fridge/freezer and pantry as I can.

Exceptions: I am allowed to purchase Milk, Bread/Wraps, fresh salad ingredients and fresh fruit (lunches and snacks). But ONLY when I’ve run out of the items we already have.

I have plenty of items to bake snacks for school – biscuits/cakes/slices, my freezer has enough meat and misc. items in there, as does my pantry. There were some things I’ve purchased because they were for a recipe that I never made (Tamarind Paste anyone).

My normal grocery budget is $180/week to feed a family of 4 (2x adults, Miss 5 and Mr 4). Overall, I would love to cut that down if possible.

My Goals:

  •  To save as much money as possible from my grocery budget.
  • Stop unnecessary overspending.
  • Get creative with my recipes using food I currently have available.
  • Declutter my freezers (we have one fridge/freezer combo plus an additional freezer).
  • Declutter my pantry.
  • Become more intentional and smarter with my grocery shopping and hopefully get my budget down as much as possible.

What I will report back: Recipes used, actual money spent on purchasing groceries and what I bought, updated pictures of my pantry, a list of anything I’ve thrown out (because of out of date etc) and amazing discoveries (because who knows what’s actually in the freezer & pantry).

CHALLENGE: Look in your pantry and freezer – could it do with a clean out? Instead of throwing out and being wasteful, could you maybe skip a week (or 2) grocery shopping and save yourself some money? What difference would this make to your family?

Let’s bust this grocery budget!!!

Christine xx

Back to School Baking

After a 6 week break, today is Back to School! New year, new teachers and this year, 2 school runs. My son starts Pre-Prep 3 days a week over East, my daughter in Grade 1 over North. Fun times.

Yesterday, in leaving-it-to-the-last-minute fashion, I decided it was probably time to get a bit of baking done in preparation for the new year. I didn’t go crazy overboard, but I did manage to bake enough school snacks to last at least the next week or 2 and think this will be my new Sunday afternoon thing. Just one or 2 items a week will see us with a good variety before too long.

First off I hit google for inspiration (surprisingly not Pinterest this time hehe), made my grocery list and went shopping.

Rice Bubble Choc Chip Biscuits – These were delicious. They have Mini M&M’s (I chose
the ones from the baking section as they were slightly cheaper with more in the packet then the actual M&M brand (25c and 5g). The first batch probably needed an extra few minutes and the second batch a few less, but the kids definitely approved. I found the recipe here.

Milo Slice – this was another first for me. Kids are a fan of Milo, I bought a big tin, so why not. This was my favourite sweet recipe of the day and will certainly be added to my regular cooking rotation provided the kids like it. The Organised Housewife had some great ideas, and this is where I found this recipe.

Zucchini Slice/Muffins – everyone probably has their favourite Zucchini Slice Recipe. So if you have one that absolutely works for you, use this. But here is the one I used and it works beautifully.

  • 5 eggs
  • 375g zucchini (I just used 1 largish one and it was about 350g and still worked out fine)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 4 pieces shortcut bacon
  • 1 cup SR Flour
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used Devondale Colby)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste (optional)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180c (160c fan-forced) and line lamington/slice pan (or in my case, use silicone patty liners in muffin tray)
  2. Dice bacon & onion & fry in small pan with a teaspoon of oil (I also added a teaspoon of crushed garlic in this step, again, personal preference, add it or leave it). Let cool slightly. (I prefer to add this step, as the kids don’t like the “raw” onion and I think it gives the dish a nicer flavour)
  3. Coarsely grate zucchini & cheese.
  4. In a large bowl crack the eggs, add the salt & pepper (if adding) and lightly whisk.
  5. Add zucchini, cheese, flour, oil, bacon & onion mixture to the eggs.
  6. Mix until well combined.
  7. Pour into slice pan or divide evenly into muffin tray and bake until brown on top. 30-40 minutes for slice or 15-20 for muffins.

This recipe made about 18 muffins (but as you can see, they aren’t large ones, so possibly 12-18 depending on how large you make yours) or the slice will make approx 12-18 slices, again depending on how big your pan is and how big you cut your slices.

 

Mini Pizza’s – this one is fairly quick & easy. You can customise this to make it your own.

  • Pizza Bases (I purchased 2 thin & crispy bases for $3 from Coles)
  • Passata (or Tomato/BBQ Sauce or Tomato Paste)
  • Grated Cheese
  • Topping of choice. I kept this batch simple with just 1 stick of cabanossi), but you could use your favorite pizza toppings, leftover chicken, veggies, the sky is the limit.

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180c (160c fan-forced) and line baking/cookie tray.
  2. Cut Pizza Bases into circles, I used my Tupperware Scone Cutter.
  3. Top with
    sauce, toppings of choice and cheese.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese has melted and slightly browned.

This recipe made approx 15 mini pizza’s and was quite quick & easy. You could add more toppings, make your own base or mix it up as much as you like. Next time, I might make my own base and then put them in the base of my muffin tray to make them slightly rounder to hold the toppings better. Would be a great way to use up leftover meats, or to throw together while making pizza for dinner.

In preparation for this week I have also boiled some eggs, so now I just need to make sandwiches, add some fruit and I’m done. I have kept a few of each of these baked goodies out, and have put the rest in the freezer, so I don’t have to worry about it going off and I have the variety started to be ready for packing the lunches daily.

Next week I will be baking the 100 cookie recipe and deciding on a cupcake flavour (still tossing up between plain vanilla or something a bit different like Apple & Cinnamon or Banana). You can find my other lunchbox ideas from Term 4 here.

Do you have a favourite lunchbox recipe? I would love to see it!!

For all you parents who are sending their kiddies off to school for the first time today: Good luck! My thoughts are with you as I know there will be tears shed (from you and/or them). For the returning mummy’s & daddy’s – we made it! Today, hubby and I are both. There will be tears & celebrations as this new chapter starts.

Lots of Love

Christine xx

 

Planners Gonna Plan

Last night and today I have spent some time researching and contemplating exactly what I want for my 2017 planner. I have room left in my old Bullet Journal, but something about starting fresh in the New Year just makes sense to me and gets me excited about the new year.

I was lucky enough to receive this Binder Journal from my Mother-in-Law, which is great, just a bit large to fit in my handbag and carry around every day (which is what I LOVE about my current Notebook/Bullet Journal) and doesn’t have room for all the things I ideally want in my journal. So I will be utilising this gift at home, so it’s there for hubby to glance at, in a place where we walk past daily and right next to the home phone (Yes, we still have one of those haha).

I had been considering a Binder for my next journal for a few reasons:

  1. I wouldn’t have to re-do my long term goals or collections every time I started a new book.
  2. I could just remove a page if I didn’t like how it looked and it wouldn’t affect the overall look of my journal or affect the spine of the book from ripped/cut out pages
  3. I could keep everything together – even though I utilise my Index in my current journal, it is easier to see how things have evolved and been kept all together.
  4. I can print out the daily/weekly pages instead of drawing them out every month (again, because I like keeping all of my month together, I was having to find a chunk of time at the start of each month to do this) – Now I understand that the creativity of the journal is what I love love LOVE about it, but towards the end of this year it was more a thrown together chicken scratch look as there was just no time to dedicate to those pages, as a result, I didn’t like the look of them and I barely used them as I had been previous months.
  5. Greater Flexibility.

While on holidays I visited a Kikki-K store and purchased A Sentence A Day 3 year Mini Journal as well as a Gratitude Mini Journal. I absolutely fell in love with them both and these now live next to my bed. I will be starting A Sentence a Day on 1 January but have already done 1 entry in the Gratitude Journal. I did consider purchasing a planner pack while there, but instead purchased some re-fill inserts. I wish I would have held off on these, but they have given me a good idea of exactly what I want and need.

I came across a fantastic resource for FREE printable planner pages and I have now purchased a Kikki-K Planner for the outside cover while Boxing Day Sales are still on. Now to work out what I really NEED to keep me on track this year. So I started a list:

  • Year at a Glance, Birthday/Anniversary page and Monthly Calendar Overview
  • Daily/Weekly Spreads (Trialling these until I find one that suits this new layout, but I like The Weekly Plan, Enjoy Every Moment and It’s a Wonderful Week from Eliza Ellis)
  • Finances – Budget, Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, Shopping Lists – basically all things money
  • Goals – both Short & Long Term as well as Travel Wishlist, Level 10 Life, Fitness etc
  • Hobbies – Sewing/Embroidery & Blog
  • School – Studying, Work, P&C Meetings etc
  • Household – Cleaning Schedules, Wishlist/Long Term To-Do’s/Needs/Wants

I think this encompasses all that I need in a journal from looking at my current Bullet Journal. I do have some collections I would love to move over (my Bookshelf & TV Series tracker mainly) but I may or may not re-do them as I don’t refer to them as often anymore, this may change in the new year. But the beauty of this system is, I can add it in later on or change the tabs, or add another tab in at the back for these.

Over the next week, while I wait for my new cover to arrive in the mail, I’ll be playing around with the layout, working out printing and putting together my new binder. I’ll share the completed project when it’s finished.

I’m excited ~ the possibilities are endless.

Christine xx

We’re all going on a Summer Holiday

Packing for a holiday can be tricky. It is an unavoidable part of taking a trip though. So here’s a little something I utilise for kids clothes that makes mine (and their) lives so much easier. And all it takes is a little planning and several of 1 item – a large Ziplock bag!


This was what I need for Mr L (almost 4). I pack enough clothes for 1 week (we are going longer, but will wash in that time). 

Generally I pack:

  • 7 pairs of jocks
  • 7 shorts
  • 7 shirts
  • 4 spare pairs of jocks 
  • 2 sets of pj’s
  • A set of swimmers
  • Jumper
  • Jeans
  • Set of nice going out clothes and another pair of jocks

Get out a pile of large ziplock bags. 

  • 7 bags – In each bag put in 1 shirt, 1 shorts and 1 jocks – that’s now 7 days of decisions made. All he has to do is grab one bag and his clothes for the day is in there.
  • 1 bag – For pj’s and spare jocks. 
  • 1 bag – Jumper and jeans. 
  • 1 bag – swimmers
  • 1 bag – good clothes and another pair of jocks and socks (because he’ll definitely be wearing shoes with this outfit)


All bagged up and ready to pack.



Both kids (Miss S and Mr L) get the same treatment with packing. They can now easily find what they need because it’s all set in bags. I also threw in extra socks in case they were wearing shoes if we go to theme parks or walking etc. but it all fits much easier doing things this way. The ziplock bags act as a “vacuum pack” of sorts and works really well to fit in more then enough for our holidays. 

Yay for packing hacks.

Christine xx 

Merry Christmas 

What a wonderfully relaxing day today has been so far. Kids slept in until 7am! I could hardly believe it! 

It’s a raining drizzly summer Christmas here today, so the new swimmers and pool noodles have been flung to the side in favour of Pie Face and Roller Skates (and me playing with my new Fitbit Blaze). 

We’ve eaten way too much (as you do) prawns, baked ham, crackling and salads – YUM! Pavlova in the fridge for afternoon tea before heading next door for Christmas dinner tonight. 

Santa sent our kids a text message (not one of those paid ones, I sent a text to myself, saved the number and made the picture as Santa Claus) telling them that there is a present waiting to be put together in the shed at home with a picture of their joint Swing Set. They were so excited and can’t wait to get home 🙂 Last night for the first time we took the kids to Christmas Eve Church service. It was beautiful and the kids loved the carols, the video they showed with kids telling their version of Christmas and Jesus’ birth, but the supper afterwards was their favorite part (luckily it wasn’t midnight mass, just an early evening short service). 

I hope whatever you are doing today it is filled with love, family and friends and brings you great joy. 

Merry Christmas from my family to yours. Much love,

Christine xx 

Budget Conscious Party Season

For most of us party season is in full swing. Christmas parties left, right and centre. However, in our family we have 1 birthday left, my mother-in-laws 60th. 

I have been madly helping with party prep – decorating and cake making is generally my domain 😉 which I love. So here’s how I managed to decorate this 2 night party for under $150.

Paper Lanterns are pretty and fairly simple. These one were only $2.00 each at a discount store. 


I purchased a sheet of diamonte strip “stickers” and also diamonte ribbon. First off I added the diamontes top and bottom, 2x AAA batteries and using my hot glue gun I attached diamonte ribbon around the middle. 


And lit up:


Next I used some white and purple crepe streamers and purple & silver balloons to decorate the top of a gazebo. This is the end result looking up:


Bit windy. But with some time and effort, this is really effective and looks awesome. 

Next is probably the most expensive part of the whole decorating process, the champagne bottle with bubbles. This is so suitable for my mother in law, but totally worth the added expense and made a gorgeous photo prop/backdrop.


And last, but certainly not least, the streamer wall with the addition of the 60 balloons.


This would also be an awesome photo backdrop with a row of balloons at the top & bottom instead of the large numbers. We got packs of streamers from The Reject Shop for around $2.00 each, the large bows were a Christmas decoration and $3.00 each. 

These decorations did take me time, but mostly fairly cheap. The large balloons were our biggest expense at $10-$15 each, so without these it would greatly reduce costs for sure. 20 packs of balloons for $3.00 each, hired a tank of helium from Spotlight for $40 (plus $100 refundable deposit) which also isn’t necessary if you don’t have the large numbers and champagne bottle, it would probably be cheaper to just purchase a few helium balloons for the tables/floor decorations from big w or spotlight. 

Sometimes the simple decorations are the most effective.

Christine xx

And so it begins….

My Facebook sabbatical / technology lite time starts now. I have asked a friend to keep an eye on things, scheduled posts and changed the header pic of my Facebook hobby page, I’ve let friends and family know and almost a week ago started a countdown timer courtesy of 99 Days of Freedom on my personal page.

All custom orders have been picked up, Facebook is deactivated. I have had many questions running through my head, and also people asking me. How long will I actually last? Not sure, I’d love the whole 99 days, but will be satisfied with the school holidays (until February). Will I miss out? Not on the important things that are right in front of me. What will I do? Anything I want! Spend time with family and friends.

Yesterday, I turned all notifications off on my phone, I deleted unnecessary apps and I reduced the number of email accounts I own and got all 3 necessary inboxes to ZERO! I’m starting this “experiment” fresh with no distractions.

I still have Instagram to post pics of the kids and our family time so family and friends can stay up to date. Since deleting Facebook/groups/messenger apps from my phone approx 1 month ago I found that not only do I have more time available when I don’t sneak onto Safari and browse Facebook but when I scroll through Instagram, I’m done really quickly. I’m not click baited into reading an article that really doesn’t interest me and it’s not a time vacuum wasteland. So for now, Instagram stays.

I have happily taken up reading again and actually started enjoying sewing. It’s only a few days in from the start of the holidays but am already feeling lighter, less overwhelmed, less stressed and more inspired. I’m encouraged by this and am hoping the feeling continues and increases for the whole time.

6 days down, 93 to go.

Christine xx

Searching for Something

Have you ever thought, once I finish xx I’ll be much happier/less stressed/less busy/more relaxed. Yep, I’ve been there, often. And coming into Christmas season, even more so. Because there’s always just one more thing to do.

My list seems never-ending and I feel like there’s no-one to help. It’s a struggle. But I’m hoping I can almost see light at the end of the tunnel. You know those moments when it’s all just too much. That’s how I feel right now. As any mum or dad could attest, parenting is a juggling act, add an extra ball, and then another, and another, and another into the mix and one day you will get to full fledge break down point and drop all the balls if you aren’t sure when enough is enough.

I’m trying to be less busy, but it’s not as simple as wanting it and then BAM – no longer busy. I wish it was that simple. I have a plan, but i’ve now discovered, it takes more work then just making a plan. This week coming there’s kids to be looked after, the Christmas Raffle Hampers to finish putting together/making, raffle tickets to sell, house to be cleaned, meetings to be had, kids extra-curricular activities to do (including the running around for these), sewing clothes to complete an order, and market stock to finish making before Markets on Friday & Saturday – so basically 5 days to fit all that in…

I wish some of these things could be put off, just to give me breathing room. But no. I’ve already put some things off and now here I am. So starting today:

  • 5am wake up times SUCK, but it will help me get things done.
  • I will be ruthless with my to-do list.
  • I am going to kick ass and tell my to-do list who’s boss!!!!
  • I will turn off my phone.
  • I will not multi-task.
  • I will completely finish one item at a time until I can cross it off my to-do list.
  • There are certain items that MUST be completed on certain days, I will schedule these in and complete them before I do anything else that day.
  • And finally – I WILL SAY NO!!! I’ll get REALLY good at it.
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This week’s sewing related to-do list – Buttons to be sewn on shorts & skirts, Hair Bows to be made, embroidery work to be cut out ready for Markets on Friday, 5m of white felt cut into A4 sized squares (used for backing a lot of work) and hooded towels ready to be sewn.

We all get the same 24 hours per day. How can we best use our 24 hours to our advantage? One determined half hour at a time.

Christine xx

Toy Room Bombsite

Toys, toys, toys. I’m pretty sure they just explode in our household. It’s literally a ticking timebomb. Neat, neat, neat BAM messy! 

So last week I spent an hour cleaning, sorting, dusting and throwing – and then another 15 minutes sharpening pencils.


This was the mostly before photo, I started cleaning and then snapped this photo.


A week later and I’m happy to say that it still looks pretty much like this! I honestly keep forgetting the value of a 5 minute pickup and getting the kids involved. Yes, at 5 & 3 they do complain, but not as much when I get in and do it as well. And it’s not actually taking 5 minutes as I am now constantly reminding them: put that away before starting to play with this. And it’s working! HALLELUJAH!!!! 

I know my parents have gotten quite upset with my new “no toys at Christmas” rule, asking what in the world should they buy them. But this mess is the result of not caring. It’s the second major clean up in the last 3 months and I’m not sorry there are less toys. The kids have barely batted an eye at the missing toys and I highly suspect they haven’t noticed. 

I’m looking forward to a less messy, not so toy filled Christmas and getting back to what I love about Christmas – family, memories, traditions and food….