Saturday, June 29, 2019

Around here

Around here it's the start of the Queensland School Holidays and I'm looking forward to having some extra time with my kids.  This year we have four 10 week terms however this term seemed extra long for some reason.  We have had a fair bit of rain this week so everything is looking green and extra bushy.

My veggie garden is a bit empty at the moment so I need to get some more planting done this weekend so as to not waste the space with nothing in it.  The little veggie garden has brought me so much joy just popping out to the garden to get 1-2 spring onions to pop in with the mashed potatoes or grab some basil or coriander to go on top of our meal.  The beans are finished now and they were so easy to grow so will definitely plant those again.  My chickens are all laying now so having 3 fresh eggs a day has been a real treat.

I was so excited to win a $250 Woollies grocery voucher last week from our local shopping centre. There were daily prizes to be won in June.  All you had to do was to spend $30 at Woollies or $10 at a specialty store.  I had two dockets and went on line to enter the competion and half way through realized you had to upload a photo of your docket which is a whole another thing which I couldn't be bothered with [mostly because my computer is playing up and I couldn't easily get it going] so I put the dockets aside because I couldn't be bothered.  Later that night I thought if I can't be bothered, maybe others can't be bothered as well so I took a photo of the dockets loaded up the software got my photos and went back on line and entered all the info.  A few days later I got a message on my phone to say I had won a $250 voucher and to come to Centre Management and collect it.  OMG I was so excited and with school holidays here with the kids home we always spend more on groceries so now I have the extra money and I won't need to borrow any from my bills fund.  It was very exciting for me and having grocery money for me is way more important than say a voucher for clothes or decor items. I'm so grateful for the Gift Voucher. and I also entered again so I'm sure I can win another voucher before it ends tomorrow evening.

I don't have any photos to post at the moment as they are on my old computer and I'm having trouble accessing it at the moment so for now I have one photo of my "Week in the Life" book which arrived yesterday.  I print my books through Blurb and love their quality.  This project is very near and dear to my heart where you document a 7 day period in your life once a year.  Things change, interests change, sometimes you move schools, house etc. and by documenting these things from one year to the next you really capture what it's like in your life in any given year.  This is my 12th year doing this project which Ali Edwards created.  She runs the project once a year and depending on her work schedule it can be at different times of the year.  It so happens that in 2018 and 2019 it was the same week which included Mother's Day in Australia.   It's always a treat to include that special day and the cards my kids give me including them making me breakfast in bed of waffles and ice cream.

In the last couple of weeks I have seen a lot of Instagram stories of younger Mum's with small kids getting on the "simple living" bandwagon.  I think it's great and it's funny how those things come in waves all of a sudden.  A quote from one of the Mum's [IG Finding Harmony] said "Convenience is the thief of experiences" and this is so true....growing a small veggie garden in the back yard and picking the items to cook for dinner is an experience which brings joy.  Ordering Uber Eats and having the same meal would not bring the same experience or joy, not even counting for the money side of things.  Learning how to make home made pasta as a family or home made pizza dough brings an experience for you and your children and with that memories.  

We all know that "slow living" or "simple living" is not easy because if you want pizza sauce you have to make it and therefore it takes time and a big kitchen clean up afterwards however the flip side is when you eat that pizza with that homemade sauce it brings such joy [well for me anyway it makes me happy that I made it, it's fresh and has no chemicals and it tastes truly amazing].  If you want to live on property and have animals you have to tend to the animals water and food and mow that expansive lawn so whilst it brings more work, it also brings more rewards and joy.  

The other thing that's going around is the Barefoot Investor book and the Barefoot Investor for Families.  These are absolutely two books that every person should read as they are life changing.  Whilst it's has the word "investor" in the title it's all about managing your money, getting the best out of your home loans, bank accounts, insurances, saving money for a rainy day [aka mojo account] ie 6 months of living expenses as people lose their jobs and if you have a mojo account whilst being without a job you can put food on the table, pay your mortgage and concentrate on getting another job which is already a stressful situation.  Add to that you had no money to keep things afloat and life can get extremely stressful for families.

I wrote about it here where my kids put on a family dinner party for 7 people with a budget of $50.  They had to work out a menu, check the pantry, go online to see what things cost to buy that was on their shopping list and then I took them to the shops and they had to walk around and find all the items themselves.  They 150% loved doing this.  Both of them are good cooks and make breakfast, lunches and snacks and bake however teaching them to cook main meals and shopping with a certain amount of money added another huge valuable lesson for them.

I love budgeting, I love numbers, I love spreadsheets and I love having my money organized and have done so for years.  Early in my adulthood I didn't have it all sorted however once I did, I never looked back.  

Years and years ago I helped a friend of mine with her budgeting when she felt things had gotten out of control.  One thing I did was to get her to buy a carton of diet coke from the supermarket and take her one drink to work everyday instead of buying it at the local lunch/sandwich bar.  Lets say she bought a carton with 24 cans and it was $20 [you can actually get them on sale for $16 now however we will stick with $20 for this].  If she paid $2.50 per can at the sandwich bar and bought 24 cans it would cost $60.  So buy swapping to the supermarket bulk pack she saved $40 without giving up her can of soft drink she had at lunch time.  So she hasn't had to sacrifice giving up her drink yet she was able to save $40 and lets say she had a can a day over one month that could be 2 cartons from the supermarket and saving $80 which could go towards paying off her credit cards.

I also read this article this week and it just goes to show budgeting is not scary and in fact it gives you more control to do what you want with your hard earned money.  Outside you mortgage, food is a pretty significant cost to families.  If you spend $300 a week on food that's $1,200 a month.  If you spend $350 a week on food that's $1,400 a month.  If you cut your food down to $200 a week that's only $800 a month.  So cutting the weekly food bill from $350 per week to $200 per week you can save $600. You could pay off debt or put that into your mortgage and save thousands over the course of the loan.  You could also save it for a family vacation or invest it or put it into your mojo account.

I love that it appears that this simple living and trying to be more sustainable is catching on to younger families.  Zero waste is impossible in today's modern world however I believe in everyone doing their little bit and collectively we will be better off.  The Marie Kondo which took off here in Australia in January high lighted to people that we do have too much stuff and that it's okay to let go of some of that stuff.  I think the hardest part is letting go of things that there is nothing wrong with them when you have paid good money for them....letting go of things makes us feel lighter.  Once we realize this we don't spend money to buy the latest fashions or decor and therefore we don't need as much money.  Op shopping is so in and not considered to be beneath people and finding great buys at the op shops becomes a bit of a challenge to bargain hunt.  I recently wanted a big casserole type of pan so we went to the op shop and I got exactly the one I was looking for all for $6.50.  I've used it heaps of times and it has been perfect.  

So it's great to see families are getting behind growing some food in their suburban back yard and making more food from scratch.  It's also amazing for little kids to learn this stuff as well which is how I have raised my kids.  I hope you all enjoy the school holidays if you have them and this beautiful Winter weather in Queensland.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Around here - DIY Lip Balm Workshop

Around here we are at the tail end of the weekend with a rainy day on Saturday and a beautiful sunny day today.  Only 3 more weeks of school before the holidays and lazy mornings at home which is always nice to look forward to.  Our 3 chickens are laying eggs everyday and I'm loving having fresh eggs on hand.  Not so much the chicken that keeps escaping under the fence or over the fence which is driving me nuts.  I do not want chicken poo near my entertainment area or want the chicken in the veggie patch so the struggle is real....keeping that chicken in.  The other two happily stay in their fenced off area.

This morning Sienna and I did a DIY workshop on how to make lip balm and a body perfume at Biome at Paddington.  They also have stores at Indooroopilly, City and Balmoral in Brisbane.  It's a beautiful store with lots of Eco friendly items to purchase and/or learn how to make your own make up, skin care products and house hold cleaning items.  The workshop was $20 per person and you got to take away 3 little jars of lip balm each.  You could make lip balm and/or perfume using essential oils.  The class is very popular and there were 16 people around the table today.  The workshop space is beautiful and we both had a lovely morning.

This is a list of recipes you can make they have on their website that you can make at home.   You can bring your own jars in and purchase ingredients to make them just like a bulk food store.  These places are becoming more and more popular and the DIY of home cleaning products etc. are becoming more important as we move away from cheap and nasty chemical cleaners.  They also sell a lot of things for your DIY like bottles and sprays etc.  If you get a chance to visit one of their stores or do a workshop I can highly recommend it.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Around here - 7 Day Challenge - Additive Free Lifestyle

Last night we finished off the 7 day challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  We do a lot of cooking from scratch however this was a whole other level of knowledge about making our food even better.

Yesterday I made some home made spreadable butter which took about 5 minutes.  I made it in the Thermomix however it can be made in a normal food processor.  So quick and simple.

During the webinar last night I learnt that there is more than one name for MSG [at least 129] and where food says no added MSG could mean it's already there under a different name.  I know my Mum reacts badly to MSG and that dates back to take away Chinese food.  These days even our local Chinese food shop advertised no MSG on the front of the shop so I assume none is used.   Monosodium Gultamate [MSG] is a flavour enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats.   This is a list of some of the things that MSG can react in people.  One of the ladies in the webinar last night said that after Chinese food her lips and mouth go numb and tingling.

Facial pressure or tightness
Numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck or other areas
Rapid fluttering heartbeats
Chest pain

If you were trying to avoid MSG, naturally you would be looking for MSG on the label and if it's not there you may think it's safe.  This is an article from the Sydney Morning Herald referring to 129 names you need to avoid in order to avoid MSG.  It's a mind field.  Just take a look at this list below which is from the article so to see it up close click on the link above for a more clearer picture.

In the webinar Tracey & Jo went through what could be a normal day's food and they put a post it note on the wall for every preservative they found.  So the typical day was cereal in a box, wrap with ham, a Tim Tam for afternoon tea and roast chicken and a packet of noodles for dinner.  This was just an example and obviously there may be salad on the wrap and fruit for afternoon tea as well.  In just that little scenario there were 30 preservatives or numbers in that one days worth of food.  Again it wasn't junk food or take away food and could be considered a relatively healthy day of food.  We can avoid these things if you know how to swap them or make them.  No one is suggesting you never have a Tim Tam because we know that Tim Tams are really a treat and you wouldn't be eating them every day so that's not a problem.  It's being armed with the information so that you can make more informed decisions for your family when making or purchasing goods from the supermarket.  

I've enrolled in the 30 day course that starts on the 17th June and the course is open for another 30 days after the finish so if you want to go over the course material or life gets busy or you are away on holidays you have time to get through the information.  Approximately 2 hrs per week and you don't have to do it in one block of time you can watch a video interview while you are cooking dinner.  If you don't want to do the course there is lots of free information and recipes on their website as as mentioned in my original post you only have to listen to the 7 day challenge podcasts and you might think differently about wanting to learn how to avoid these things. Knowledge is power and then you have the option to choose for yourself when shopping.

At the end of the day food is food and the less processed the better for our health of ourselves and our loved ones.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Around here - Home Made Recipes - Addictive Free 7 day challenge

Following on from my earlier post about the 7 Day Challenge with Additive Free Lifestyle I have been whipping up a storm in the kitchen.  These are the things I have made in the last couple of days.

This "Easy BBQ Sauce" recipe, and I can tell you the smell and flavour and taste is amazing and it only took me 30 minutes to make it.  The recipe has Thermomix instructions along with normal stove top instructions so anyone can make it. OMG you have to try this.  No more store bought stuff for us.

I then made the "Pizza Sauce with hidden veggies" next.  I used up whatever veggies I had in the fridge and didn't go to the shops so I didn't use broccoli or cauliflower however I chopped up beans and spring onions and fresh thyme from the garden. OMG again this is delicious.  I used some of this on our home made pizza last night.

BBQ Sauce on the left and Pizza Sauce on the right.  I have a few more jars in the fridge/pantry now.

Making homemade pizza using this pizza base recipe.

Home made pizza using the pizza sauce I made.  I went a little overboard on the mozzarella.

Today  I made some Lemon & Chia/Poppy Seed muffins which takes less than 5 mins to whip up and then 15 minutes in the oven.  I used half chia and half poppy seeds for this recipe however you could use one or the other depending on your taste.  I have always love the lemon and poppy seed flavour. The muffins have a nice crust exterior and soft on the inside. So quick and easy and they are in the freezer now ready for afternoon tea after school next week.  The recipe has Thermomix instructions however you can just use your mix master or food processor as it's simple as putting all the ingredients in together and then mix for a minute or so.  Super quick and it's quite a wet mix.  

I also made this loaf of white bread today as well.  I haven't found a white loaf recipe that I like, even though we have the most amazing bread roll recipe so I gave this recipe a go.  I let the bread prove in a glass bowl with glad wrap on top out in the sun in the back yard until it doubled in size which was about 1.5 hours.  I'm quite happy with the loaf and I've sliced it up ready for toast or sandwiches. No nasty chemicals and I'd give it a 9 out of 10.