Glutton for punishment

Posted June 12th, 2006 by Penny Wise

I admit, I came very close this weekend to giving in and rushing off to the nearest electrical store to get a tumble dryer. With the run of bad weather we have been having, the pile of dirty washing was almost as tall as me. Both drying racks were strewn with damp washing which seemed to take forever to dry and the two loads of washing on the outdoor clothes line had been consistently rained on for eight days. ‘It’s no good!’ I wailed to Noel, ‘I’m just going to have to give in and get a dryer, we can’t go on like this’. ‘Don’t panic, I’ll help you – we’ll get the lot done this weekend!’ he assured me, and the mission was on! We cranked up the log fire and stood the racks in front of it (at a safe distance of course) and before I knew it, the first rack-full was dry and quickly folded and aired to be replaced by another load, and then another. Washing lines were strung across the back porch and hung with clothes, bucketfuls of muddy rugby gear was put in to soak and gradually the monstrous pile began to dwindle. Wonder of wonders, later in the afternoon the wind actually began to blow in a helpful direction! The racks were transferred outside onto the deck and the washing from eight days ago finally was dry enough to remove from the line. All in all, we managed to get no less than eight full loads of washing clean and dry in one day – what a team! What a relief too, that’s one challenge I won’t be keen to go through again for a while, but at least next time I’ll be prepared!

Talking of challenges, what a fantastic response there has been to Barb Kane’s $21 Challenge, I think the number of members eager to take it up has risen to around 50 over the last few days, what a brilliant effort! I’m starting my challenge today and it’s just as well because the last week has been another expensive one for the Wise family. Yes, we’ve been spending time at the vet’s again; not with Ella for a change but Dudley. I could tell something wasn’t quite right with him a few days earlier, but I was so full of the flu that I couldn’t smell the tell-tale pong of an ear infection until it had reached the chronic stage. As soon as I realised, I headed to the vet to pick up his usual ear drops; these usually work like magic and I was surprised to see 48 hours later that he wasn’t feeling much better. I decided to leave it another day or two and keep giving him the drops, but the very next morning Dudley decided to take matters into his own hands. As I was bundling the boys into the car to take them to school, Dudley ran out the door straight to the car, something he never does (Dudley doesn’t ‘do’ mornings very well). There was no way he was letting himself be left behind, so I gave in and decided he could have a ride to school and back. I lifted him up into the car and was horrified to see that one of his eyes had turned completely blue and was surrounded by yucky gooey stuff. The poor dog was desperately trying to tell us he couldn’t see! So off we went to the nearest vet, who took one look at his eye and almost fainted before referring us straight on to another vet. Further tests showed that he had a huge ulcer behind his eye (ouch!) and he had absolutely no vision through it. So, he was swiftly booked in for an operation to sort out both his eye and his ear and the following day I picked the little chap up again, very sore but once again able to see. I was extremely grateful to the vet, but unfortunately am now another $500 worse off. Will it never end?

I vowed to the vet that I thought that guinea pigs would make a far lower maintenance pet for us in the future, but we both knew this was not going to happen as this weekend heralded the long-awaited arrival of Ali’s very own puppy. Tui the Cocker Spaniel is just six weeks old and came to our home yesterday. She is black, with a white blaze on her chest, just like the native NZ bird with the same name. With this in mind, I congratulated Ali on an inspired choice of name, but he informed me that in fact it had nothing to do with the bird, but rather that we had driven past a billboard advertising Tui draught beer on the way home and thought it had a nice ring to it. She is absolutely delightful but I am starting to think that ‘Chewy’ would have been a more appropriate name, so I am going to head to the Vault to get some ideas for low cost puppy toys. Noel also didn’t appreciate it when Ali dumped her in our bed at 2.00am this morning announcing that he couldn’t sleep because Tui kept trying to eat him. Talk about a glutton for punishment!

All in all it was a pretty hectic weekend. A fantastic night was had on Saturday watching the All Blacks play Ireland at our local stadium! We had booked the tickets weeks in advance – being loyal members of the home team’s fan club, we had the privilege of being able to buy our tickets before they went on sale to the general public. This also entitled us to pay less for our front row seats! What an amazing family night out for under $20 each – the kids received free goody bags with All Blacks posters and memorabilia plus drinks and snacks to keep them going through the game – we didn’t have to buy another thing. We were treated to spectacular dance and firework displays and our front row view was brilliant, enabling us to take heaps of photos of all our favourite All Blacks. We proudly sang along with the national anthem, joined in the Haka and even got a ‘thumbs up’ from new captain Richie McCaw! An unforgettable night for little cost; as the Vault so often says, it is well worth joining some of the many clubs around to make some terrific savings. I have kept everything from our night out, tickets, newspaper clippings and so on and will compile them along with the photos into a unique album for Liam’s birthday, as a permanent reminder of his first All Black game. A low cost present that will hopefully mean a great deal to him for years to come!

With a hectic weekend like the one just gone, it’s a wonder that I have managed to get organised in time for this week’s $21 challenge, but I think I’ll get there. I have really enjoyed reading all the goings-on in the discussion forum, there are some great meal suggestions being aired! I had to laugh when I read of one member who examined her pantry prior to the challenge and realised she had somehow managed to accumulate no less than 11 cans of corn – I’m not quite that bad but almost, so I think this week will be a perfect opportunity to get through some of it! It really is amazing what you can find to make a meal out of if you just take the time to have a decent look. I was convinced last week that I would have to go shopping, but once I looked in the freezer I saw plenty of things I could use and that’s the whole point of the challenge! So, tonight for our first meal we are having roast chicken. This is one which I bought on special a couple of weeks ago and put in the freezer. I have plenty of vegetables to accompany it and our family always has Yorkshire Puddings with our roast dinner, which are super cheap and easy to make and a great filler. I couldn’t believe it when I started seeing frozen ready-made Yorkshire Puddings being advertised in supermarkets, I’ve been making them for years! If you don’t know how to make them yourself and would like to save a few precious dollars on buying them, hide('penny')email me.

At least I’ve got the first meal sorted, although I’m nowhere near as organised as some of the other SS members doing the challenge. I should be alright for tomorrow night’s dinner too, as the chicken is a large size so there’s bound to be leftovers – well, I’ll make sure there are! I’m going to head back to the Discussion Forum where there are some great recipes for Rubber Chicken (this is where you make a whole chicken last three meals) so who knows, we may still be eating it on Wednesday! Have baked chocolate chip cookies for the kids and made enough soup yesterday to last me a few lunches, so haven’t had to dip into my $21 yet. Best of luck with the challenge everyone!

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