Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thinking on Frugality or Thrift

I while back I was really into reading blogs about money, and thrift - in particular The Simple Dollar.  Recently I picked up my reading of them again.  I am really enjoying Owl Haven and The Frugal Girl.  Rhonda's Down to Earth, an Australian blog, also touches on many of these issues.

However, I am coming to think that thrifty living comes quite naturally to me.  It must be how I was raised.  My parents have always been of the school that, if you can't pay cash, you don't need it.  Expenses were always saved for and there was always the make do attitude; also as my parent's garage testifies nothing that could possibly be of future use is thrown out.

So many behaviours that are identified on blogs as particularly 'thrifty' just seem par for the course to me:

-menu planning and working off a shopping list;

-minimising food wastage;

-hunting for specials, shopping around, and waiting to something is a good buy;

-buying secondhand - Mum and I love thrifting.  You can get some great buys.  DH and I went to a church fete on the weekend and picked a Fisher-Price ride-on lion for $10, they are going for $30 on ebay, not sure of their new price.  Also picked up a big box of trains and tracks (ikea brand) for $5 - I think that is actually for DH:);

-accepting hand-me-downs.  Ginger has got a lot of her clothes either handed down or thrifted.  Recently we got given a whole pile of size 1 clothes and leather shoes by one of the Mums at playgroup.  Big saving on the shoes, as they are brand new.  Lots of our tools, kitchen utensils and furniture around our house are hand-me-downs too.

Passed on by a Mum at playgroup

- eating-in, and taking food and water on excursions - I even pack food and water for trips to town.

-cutting the top of bottles and tubes to get the last of the product out.

What particular thrifty habits are second nature to you?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Household Tips from Children's Literature: Anne of Green Gables

Anne "You haven't scalded the dish-cloth in clean hot water as I told you to do," said Marilla immovably. - LM Montgomery.

I soak my dishcloths - when I remember (just keeping it real) - in boiling water and a few drops of eucalyptus oil.  Then leave to dry over the tap.  Freshness in every wipe!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook March 28 2011

Outside My Window...
Clear skies and cool breezes.
I am thinking...
that I love autumn and am really going to miss it if we post somewhere tropical next posting.
I am thankful for... 
a thick doona (quilt) and flanelette jim-jams at night now the nights are getting cold.
From the learning rooms...
Ginger successfully stacked a ring on her stacking toy by herself.  I am learning all about English cookery of the 40s and 50s.

From the kitchen...
Trying a Japanese pork dish for dinner and I am cooking a plum sago pudding for dessert.  I made an apple crumble friday night for dinner to use up some soft apples, DH made custard to go with it.  But, we have much more custard than we had crumble, so now I am making a plum pudding to use it up with- which in turn will doubtless leave us short of custard.  Ah, its a vicious cycle!
I am wearing...
3/4 length pants and a pink striped long sleeve top.

I am creating...
bed skirts for the spare beds.

I am going...
to hang out 3 loads of washing after this and mop the floors.  I hit the ground running this morning and got lots done.
I am reading...
LM Montgomery's Anne of Avonlea and Jane Brockett's Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer.

I am hearing
the kettle bubbling and the wind blowing in the trees.

On my mind...where has the last year gone!  And, where do my days go:), I am thinking of keeping a time diary for a few days to find out - I have a feeling blogging might account for a lot of it.

Around the house...
floors to mop, toys to pick up, some sewing to finish off and kitchen to clean.

One of my favorite things...
Gooey, sticky, unctious almond meringues made by DH this weekend - good thing he took most of them to work with him.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Make bread to go in the new bread tin DH bought me at the markets yesterday (its so good to have married a man that knows me), keep an eye on my pudding for the next 3 hours, clean the outside of the windows and weed, weed, weed:)  And, later in the week we have Toowoomba show day (yay! - I am not in hospital this year so we can go) and Ginger's birthday party.

Small window into my life...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Children's Books from the Antipodes and a Giveaway

As I was reading Ginger one of my favourite childhood stories yesterday it came to me that I should introduce my readers to some of these gems by authors from Australia and New Zealand.  I have taken a photo of one of the classic pages of each so you can get an idea what they are about.

Mem Fox is one of the giants of children's literature in Australia.  Two of my favourites are Possum Magic (started her career) and Time For Bed.  Look at the illustration in Possum Magic - don't you just love Grandma Poss's house slippers!

Time For Bed

Possum Magic
 The Hairy Maclary stories by New Zealand author Lynley Todd are just brilliant.  Beautifully rhythmical with lines like "Hercules Morse as big as a horse".  Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy is the first in the series. 

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy

Mr McGee by Pamela Allen is so much fun.  Mr McGee lives under a tree and is always getting into trouble.  There are many other books in which Mr McGee appears - eg Mr McGee and the Biting Flea.  Another great book for rhyming.  Bertie and the Bear is also worth hunting down.

Mr McGee

Isabella's Garden by Glenda Millard and Rebecca Cool was only published last year and was a birth gift for Ginger.  It is the story of a single tree through all the seasons.  Beautiful language and illustrations.

Isabella's Garden

And finally a counting book - don't you love those roosters - The Hilton Hen House by Jo Hinchcliffe.  Just a lot of fun.

The Hilton Hen House


At our recent lifeline bookfair DH and I got a little carried away and ended up with a duplicate copy of One Woolly Wombat by Rod Trinca and Kerry Argent.  So if you would like to enter to win a secondhand copy (the cover is a little worn but the contents are perfect) of this counting book for your child, grandchild or future child, please leave your name in the comments and perhaps tell me what your favourite picture book was as a child - or one your children enjoy now.  I will post anywhere in the world.  I will draw the winner next Wednesday (just be aware Australia is ahead of the rest of the world - your morning is our evening).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook - March 21 2011

Outside My Window...
Thick fog, it is 8:30am and it still hasn't cleared.  Up here on the range it often hang arounds for days.  It feels very autumnal.
I am thinking...
of the poor people in Japan and those heroes who are risking their lives to bring the reactors under control.
I am thankful for... 
finding the tick on our dog Monty before it did any serious damage.
From the learning rooms...
Ginger has learnt the word star, and is beginning to understand the concepts of 'in' and 'out'.

From the kitchen...
DH had a busy day yesterday baking and preserving - monte carlo biscuits (ever so rich), banana cake, chicken pot pie and quince preserve.  I need to put together a pumpkin gnocchi dish for dinner tonight.
I am wearing...
jeans, pink striped long sleeve top, socks and black mary-janes.

I am creating...
strips of quilting for my quilt.  I made quilts for both Ginger and DH for Christmas, so now I need to finish mine. 

I am going...
to take Ginger to storytelling at our church this morning, then hopefully she will manage a nap before we have to go out again to the chiropractor.
I am reading...
John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany (still) and Seek and You Shall Find by the Taize community.

I am hearing
Radio National with a story on hospital admittance predictors, as well as Ginger laughing as she chases the dog.

On my mind...
what we are going to do with the children if the weather continues like this for Ginger's birthday party.  Also, how is my baby almost one!

Around the house...
laundry in the dryer rather than on the line because of the rain, bed sheets to change, floors to mop and some major weeding needed in the back garden before the party.

One of my favorite things...
cups of hot tea - particularly now I have some yummy blends in the house.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
add button closures to 5 cushion covers I sewed last September which are gaping open!  Also, clean out the bedroom closets (bedroom zone on flylady this week), and make bread.

Small window into my life...

Friday, March 18, 2011

On My Mind: Neville

Joining in Rhonda's On My Mind series.

Late in spring (here in the Southern Hemisphere) we put in a watermelon vine from the local country markets.  Recently it grew a watermelon. 

My husband named it Neville.  His (the watermelon's, that is) little sister was called Ophelia.  [My husband is following cyclone nomenclature here - alternating male and female names in alphabetical order]  Ophelia met a sad end when a possum ate her.  Fortunately DH had already constructed a possum proof safety net over Neville when this tragedy occurred.  We actually didn't think Ophelia was big enough yet to need protecting, but we are new to this gardening game and it turned out she was still attractive possum food. 

We harvested Neville yesterday and hope that we will get another watermelon before the weather turns too cold.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lent - a time for caring

This was in our local paper this week and I thought it was so interesting that I would reproduce it here.

As we in the Southern Hemisphere are awaking to the newness of Autumn, Spring is knocking on the windows of the folks in the Northern Hemisphere.  This is of interest to Christians who begin the season of Lent.  The English word Lent has its origin in the North; in the language of Dutch speakers, their word "lente" means the season of spring.  Lente is the noun form while the verb form is "ontspringer".

How does this relate to our Christian concept of Lent?  In terms of Christian growth and development, the church season of Lent, as in the season of Spring, is about pruning back old growth, (addressing old habits that stunt Christian practice), cutting off sickly branches (dealing with our apathy and don't care attitudes).

It is about fertilising (assuming personal responsibility for immoral standards) where needed and being busy with watering cans (supporting children and youth) and the like.  Spring is a busy time in the garden.  Lent is a caring time in God's garden.

Growth is most prolific in spring.  It is the season that welcomes the delicate growth of myriad new shoots, and countless new blossoms with their promise of fruit harvests.

Transpose this to the Christian season of Lent.  Be grateful for your life.  Cherish your life.

Be active in maintaining Christian values.  Actively cultivate Christian values in family life.  Life doesn't just happen.  Passivity is the seedbed for weed growth.  Passivity is the seedbed for weed growth.  Passivity of spirit is the seedbed for growth of immorality.

During the Lent let us sucumb to the powerful but gentle hand of the greatest gardener of all, Jesus Christ.  Allow Him to prune where he sees necessary.

Ask for his rain on the infertile soils of our spirit.  Spend time in prayer and reflection on Sacred Scripture.  Above all, root out of your vocabulary "I don't care" and "There's nothing I can do".

Do care and there is something you can do.

~Sr Rita Grunke, Crows Nest Catholic Parish

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Tour of Ginger's Nursery

Yesterday as I was cleaning Ginger's room I realised that, despite intentions to do so over a long period, I have never posted pictures of Ginger's nursery.  Actually, I haven't posted much recently at all - no single reason for that; but Ginger's walking is certainly making things lively around here.

Ginger's room is a mish-mash of newly purchased items, items sourced from other parts of the house, gifts and op-shop (thrift shop) buys.  The small chair by the cot was my father's when he was a small boy - it was built by Ginger's Great-great Grandfather.  Love having some family history in the room.

I love pictures for children's rooms.

These are Belle & Boo prints (from Etsy) that I bought a few years ago. They used to hang in my sewing room. But, I don't have a sewing room now that we have a nursery!

These were specially purchase from Sarah Jane on Etsy. I had been eyeing them off for a couple of years waiting for our baby! I love the 'read with me' print which you customise hair and dress colour for. I am, however, slightly dubious about whether I should have purchased the blonde haired girl. I thought it was a safe assumption to make, that two blonde headed individuals would produce a blonde headed child. However, Ginger is showing signs of having auburny hair.  The frames are from Ikea and the mats are just scrapbooking card cut to size.

The bookshelf used to be at my Nanna's. We painted it white. The lamp is from Ikea and used to sit on my desk.  I love the lampshade (also Ikea!). The change-table we found for $15 at St Vincents. We (read DH) just gave it a fresh coat of paint. We picked up the change table mat secondhand at Greensborough Market in Melbourne last year.

This poster I picked up down in Melbourne. From the wonderful stationer, Zetta Florence. I had it laminated and block mounted.  My MIL made the emroidered wall hanging.  So sweet.

The cot my in-laws bought us. The mobile above the cot I finished on Sunday - I may do a tutorial sometime soon.  It replaces one that Ginger broke by pulling on it.  We switched the others around the room.  The flutter-by I made at a church craft group, it is painted silk.  The viking ship mobile was sent over by my inlaws - they bought it in Denmark.

This Ikea bookshelf also used to sit in my sewing room!  The sacrifices we make for our Children :)  Ginger has many books - many are mine from Childhood, some come from my Mother's 35 years of teaching lower primary and we added a whole lot the other weekend at the local Lifeline bookfair.  Some time soon, I must do a post on children's books we are enjoying.

I made the quilt for Ginger in the weeks leading up to her birth. The elephants and birds are hand appliqued on. The pattern is from Cath Kidston's Sew book.

I finished the curtains (sorry about the light in the photo) the day Ginger was born, they were hung the morning I went into hospital. For other would-be mothers, a note of advice: I don't recommend clambouring around the floor, cutting and pinning curtains at 9 months pregnant, you will do bad things to your lower back.  We hung them just before I went to the hospital. The fabric I picked from samples my MIL sent over from the UK.

If you have any questions just include them in the comments and I will respond.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook - Early Autumn

Outside My Window...
Darkness, as evening seems to draw in earlier and earlier.
I am thinking...
how nice it is to have my chicken in the fridge marinating for tomorrow night.
I am thankful for... 
a dear friend with whom I spent a weeking sewing.  And, for a husband that looked after Ginger for 6 hours while we went to a Girls' Stitch-In.
From the learning rooms...
A baby girl who can walk, clap hands and say five words.  Each month I seem to have a different child.

From the kitchen...
A vegetable thai green curry, fortunately leftover in the fridge from the weekend - since I discovered at 4pm that the roast chicken I was planning for tonight's dinner needed to marinate overnight.
I am wearing...
ballet clothes and a t-shirt, having just got back from ballet in time to feed Ginger.

I am creating...
A birthday dress for Ginger.

I am going...
to finish cleaning up the kitchen, as DH has gone off to study, then put on a Lark Rise to Candleford and keep working on Ginger's dress.  I will have to tackle my first zip placement this evening.
I am reading...
The Prayer of Jabez and John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany.

I am hearing
the fridge whir, the dog scratch and crickets chirping.

On my mind...
how much I have to do before Ginger's birthday, and what party activities and food we should have on the day.

Around the house...
a stack of laundry to fold, DH wants biscuits (cookies) to take to work for snacks and a blanket that will need to be re-washed because we are having major water quality issues in our shire and the blanket is, after being washed this afternoon, now covered in mineral stains.  Such a pain.

One of my favorite things...
chocolate, and I am feeling the pain of giving it up for lent.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Ginger's swimming lesson, a pointe class, defence playgroup, lots of sewing, and a bathroom deep clean.

Small window into my life...
The Girl's Stitch-In I attended this weekend.