Sunday, January 11, 2015

Menu Planning - How do I do it?

Each fortnight we like to menu plan. When I don't do it, we overspend and forget vital ingredients needed for certain meals. We don't live in a town that has a variety of items so we often have a 15-20 minute drive if we need anything we have forgotten. I try to avoid this if possible as I drive a lot for work and often don't want to do any more than needed.
All we use is 2 separate pieces of paper. One piece we write down the days of the week x 14 [ie wednesday to the following tuesday in a fortnights time].

                                                            Home made lasagne -Yum !

Each fortnight we go through our pantry cupboards and our freezer and see what we have left [ie if there's mince and pasta and pasta sauce we will make spaghetti bolognaise or lasagne and immediately write that meal on our menu plan.
We then write down any ingredients needed [ie we have the mince and the pasta but no tinned tomatoes so onto the shopping list page we write 'tinned tomatoes']. And we continue with whatever we have left over in the freezer / cupboard.
This way works for us as we only have a small freezer and we don't want foods to be in there for too long either.
Once our fortnightly menu plan is done we go through and write on our list anything that is needed for those meals. Mostly my husband does the grocery shop now which is great as I tend to browse more and he is a 'get in and get out' kinda guy ;)

Some fortnights we have to buy very little and other fortnights we need to buy a little more. It always varies. I also keep each menu plan. I can't ever really use a menu plan again as what we have in the freezer / pantry always varies but I like to keep them so that I have a record and it gives me ideas of what I can cook and reminds me of meals that were / weren't nice.

We usually try and include one or two vegetarian meals and one or two pizza nights which is usually on a friday night as our weekly treat.

Our menu this week [I'm halfway through our fortnight so I'll start with from now until next tuesday is as follows ].

Monday - Chow Mein Mince
Tuesday - Chow Mein Mince on toast [leftovers]
Wednesday - Zucchini Slice and Salad
Thursday - Chicken Schnitzels and pesto wholemeal pasta and salad
Friday - Pizza and Garlic Bread
Saturday - Teriyaki beef cheek and rice
Sunday - Honey Soy Chicken and rice stirfry
Monday - Pan fried chicken and salad.

[Each fortnight our days planned for certain meals may also change depending on our routine / plans etc] . If we have a late night due to my girls dancing or something we may switch to pizza that night instead of friday night if we don't have alot of prep time.

This year I have also started a notebook collection where I am keeping the menu plan, shopping list and shopping reciepts together and I'm challenging myself to notice where I am overspending and really keeping an eye on the budget to ensure I'm not going over it and actually trying to come out with more money.
This fortnight I did the groceries and overspent as I purchased some hair ties, ice bricks etc at the Aldi school sale for my daughters as they needed new ones.
I think once hubby goes back to doing the shopping these little purchases won't happen as I won't be there to be tempted.

So how do you menu plan? Do you menu plan? Stick to your shopping list or not? Would love to hear what everyone else does :)

January Goals

                                          Goals for January

So this year I have decided to do monthly goals rather than yearly. Would you like to join me? Write down in the comments section what your goals for January are and we can look back and see how much we achieved :)

* To get MY DD#12 cupboard installed in her bedroom [she currently has a vintage cupboard we were given by friends in 2006 and it was suitable for her when she was a baby but the hanging space now she is tall is not so good for her clothes to hang down].

* To use vintage cupboard in our front room as a storage cupboard to tidy up our entry.

* To start meditating again even if it's only for 5 to 10 minutes a day.

* To go to bed earlier every night. [I've had way too many late nights during our summer holidays and a lot of stress on me has made this even worse].

* To get our front deck stained whilst I'm on holidays from the 24th January to 2nd February [weather permitting].

Lets see how we go. I'm hoping all if this can be achieved.

I will post back once January is over. Would love to hear what your January goals are if you are called to share.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2014 Recap

What a year 2014 was. A year of many ups and a year of downs too. Life is often always too busy yet always so precious. It's never perfect but I like to acknowledge the perfect bits. 2014 started with a trip to the waterslides with my besty, her son and hubby and my girls followed with trips to the beach, my very special nephews 1st Birthday, both my girls getting medallions for PBL at school, my little brother getting married to the most beautiful wife he could ever wish for..., a trip to Coonabarabran to see my most beautiful Nan and other family out there, meeting Will Zillman , celebrating 13 years married to my beautiful husband and my awesome parents celebrating 35 years of marriage, NSW winning State of Origin, the girls both getting awesome report cards, and being able to work with some cute alpacas at some wonderful community events, the birth of my absolutley gorgeous little niece Lucy in October, Ella performing beautifully at her dance concerts , my Grandfather coming to her concerts to watch her and getting Most Outstanding for Pre Senior hip hop, and Ella graduating from year 6 and gaining a place at a school we never thought we'd be able to send her too. A Lovely Christmas spent with both sides of our families and all my neices and nephews. I have no idea what 2015 will hold but with my friends and family by my side it's full of promise already.

Disclaimer : Photo above is not my photo. It was taken off the internet and credit is in the picture.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


I'm really starting to struggle with the phase of parenting I am going through right now. Parenting so far has come easy to me. I am trained in Early Childhood so when both my girls were born it was a natural transition for me. Sure I had my up and down days but we adapted easily to routines, fun activities , discipline etc.
Now though as my oldest daughter is about to turn 12 and my youngest turn 9 I am finding it the hardest so far.
All of a sudden the things we found fun to do together [playdough, painting, craft, playing in the sand pit, going to the local park etc] seem to be diminishing. These things aren't 'cool' anymore. There's a change in the air and I feel lost, scared and unsure.
I'm not trained or familiar with this age group. I am constantly torn between wanting to give them their independance and some freedom but worrying that I will give too much or not enough.
I am second guessing myself constantly.
Do I let them cross the road and wait for the bus by themselves? Do I let them walk to the corner store on their own? Do I let them have sleep overs at friends places that I don't really know? How much freedom should I be giving them on the laptop / internet etc? What can we do together on a limited budget on the weekends that they think is fun?
Sometimes when big decisions are to be made [such as what high school should miss 12 yr old attend next year], I am conflicted with where I should be sending her and where I am comfortable sending her.
I feel torn between society's expectations and my own. I want to empower my children to make decisions for themselves yet feel as a parent I should be making the final call on these decisons as they are, after all , children.
Do others feel like this? Is it this hard for all parents? Is it something I am always going to struggle with? What things can I consider that might help me in the next few years? I'm open to any advice / input from others. If I bounce these thoughts off others I constantly get told that I will always make the best decisions for my children. But will I?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

My best tips for saving money

I wanted to share some of my best tips for saving money with you all.
I seemed to live simply before I even realised that, that is what I was doing. It somehow just happened as I have never had a very high paying job and either has my hubby. We seemed to just cut costs when we had to and learnt tricks along the way.

Grocery Shopping / menu planning
The first part of living simply and the main thing that we cut back on was grocery shopping.
We menu plan EVERY fortnight [and when we don't, we spend more money that is necessary].
We sit down every monday together and look at what we have in the cupboard and the fridge and freezer and we plan meals around what is left. Then we write down any ingredients needed for those meals and that is what we buy.

We stay away from school snacks / packets and bake from scratch, we pop our own popcorn, we buy fruit and veg in small amounts more frequently to avoid throwing out anything that has gone rotten.

We freeze our bread and bread rolls and defrost when needed rather than letting a loaf go bad.
I also freeze the baking I do, muffins, slices, cakes etc in portion sizes so they are ready for the lunch box and we do this also for my cats chicken wings and kangaroo mince etc, all frozen in portion sizes and then defrosted.

We don't buy resealable bags instead use containers, we wash dishcloths and don't buy disposable ones, we make our own laundry powder that lasts about 3 months and costs about $7. I use vinegar to mop my floors and in a spray bottle with water to wipe my benches and that is it. I also use it in my bathroom so I avoid spending money on household cleaners too.

We shop at Aldi as it's so much cheaper and only buy odd items at Coles if needed.

We go to Woolies during the week and grab the marked down meat and freeze it straight away.

We always eat the leftovers.

We freeze portion sizes [for example we know if we use 500 g mince for spagetti bolognaise it's too much when added with pasta so we freeze in 250 g lots and get double whilst still cooking enough for us to enjoy a meal and possibly leftovers the next night. If we cook a slowcooker meal instead of having the exact same thing for left overs we make a pie with puff pastry and pour the leftovers in and top with more pastry and add some veges and it feels like a totally different meal.

We don't buy cordials, juices, fizzy drinks and only drink water only with the odd smoothie made or a coffee or tea for us adults.

Now our combined income is low. Like I mean the four of us live on approx 40k a year. We have a mortgage and a car loan,car registration,  insurances[car, house and health], rates, internet and phone bills, electricity , and probaly more I can't think of and we never miss a payment.
How I do it is.....
I add up what each payment is fortnightly and total it... When I get paid that full amount goes into a bills account and all of those bills are direct debited. There is always enough to cover it all so I never have to worry about owing money to anyone.Whatever money is left is then spending money [which includes my car petrol, school things that pop up etc].
If anything extra pops up then I will pay and go without anything I want in order to make sure I am paid up in full.

We save money on power by turning all lights off at night when a room isn't in use. We charge our mobile phones in the car where possible. We use hot water bottles for warmth and occasioally use our gas heater.
We turn every powerpoint off when we aren't using the appliance [except the fridge].
We don't have a dishwasher so we hand wash.
We rarely use the clothes dryer unless it's raining for days and even then we hang the clothes over a clothes horse to dry as much as we can then put in the dryer for less time than what would have been required originally.

Everyday living
I often buy free books on amazon for my kindle rather than paying for books.
We op shop for clothes / books and homewares [basically all of my clothes are opshopped] and we also buy cheap specials from chain stores [e.g I just brought my nephew $1 long sleeve shirts from K Mart and my daughter $3 ones when on special].
I Layby big items if needed and pay off bit by bit.
I do surveys on Valued Opinions and often get sent $20 vouchers from coles or bunnings etc and put them away for christmas time when money is always tight.
I shop around, online, instore etc and search for the best bargain before I purchase any item.
We don't buy newspapers but make the most of the free local one and online news. We stopped buying magazines.
We accept hand me downs. Most of our furniture comes from our parents when they have finished. We rarely buy anything new.
We are happy not having the biggest tv, an ipad, ipod, etc and live without.

Beauty Products
I use coconut oil for hair treatments and moisturising.
I use bicarb and water as a hair wash and facial scrub.
Honey as a face mask.

Any my best tip of all?
Don't buy unnecessary stuff that you don't really need.
I like to live by the quote

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

I hope this helps you with some ideas. There are probably 100 more ideas that I have forgotten but these are our main tips that we ude all the time :) Money is way harder to earn then spend, so I spend it wisely ....

Much love...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The annual tradition of hibernating

Once again I'm hibernating. It seems to be becoming a winter tradition for me now. But these 3 months hibernating feel good. They feel needed.They are refreshing and calm and simple.

So what have we been up to?
April was a Busy month. My younger brother got married and it was the most amazing wedding and such a special day.
We  then took a trip out west for 4 days to visit my Nan. I hadn't seen her in 5 years and it was so nice to spend time with her and for my daughters to spend time with her. I also enjoyed 2 weeks off work which was much needed and much appreciated. Whilst visiting we stopped off a the observatory and the girls love it up there. A lot of the trees were growing back after horrible bush fires.


This winter we had our first ever frost. We live in such a warm coastal climate a frost is rare yet we have managed about 3 so far. Crunchy ice on the ground is not something we are used to and luckily we don't get it often. One particular morning as I rushed off to work I took a quick photo as proof as I couldn't believe my eyes.

I June I  broke my left big toe by a broken cupboard door dropping onto it. It was extremely painful and only now starting to feel better yet still achy at times. You can see the left toe is so swollen :(

We've also had big decisions to make for our little family. Decisions I'm still not settled with. Decisions that have made me, as a Mum unsettled and unsure and stepping out of my comfort zone.
Decisions about my oldest daughters schooling. All I can do now is hope we chose the right decision. Hope that she will be happy and that everything works out.

And to finish this little post is a pic of my little man Jovi. He's growing up so fast but luckily is still very snuggly.

Until next time :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014


It's been a while since I've been on here. Winter 2013 came and went and my hibernation continued. I had to take a step back, I did this on all social media type sites. I watched from afar on facebook, pinterest, you tube, and blog posts.

I turned into myself and focused on getting through each and every day as best and as slowly as I could, savouring each moment.

I think sometimes I get so overwhelmed by everything. I read other peoples posts on facebook, others blog posts and watch you tube clips and Pinterest pins and I start comparing. I start to feel that maybe I could be better, could do better, could have more and I forget where I am and what I have achieved.

This blog felt like it was pointless at times because I was living so slowly and our daily rhythms so mundane that no one would want to read what I was writing. So I stopped.

Once I realised this happening I decided to step back. I decided to stop comparing, stop wishing and wondering and just start living in the moment. And to do this I had to take a break.

A constant inspiration though was only selectively reading a few blogs that are very likeminded to me to keep up my motivation and keep focused on my own goals.

For now though, I do have plans for this blog for this year. I don't know how often I will post and I'm not going to make a new years resolution like past years as I feel there is too much expectation. But what I will do is take each day as it comes and post when I have the time, energy and personal inspiration to do so.

I hope you hang around.

I'll leave this with a few pictures of the past few months :)

My little Australian Mist Jovi is growing up....

                                                               Our vege garden

                                                      Delicious home grown strawberries
                                                         My first attempt of a home hair cut.

Thanks for visiting :)