Times like these

Posted July 13th, 2010 by Penny Wise

Jul 13, 2010

So much for school holidays! Our household has been sick with the flu the entire time so far. And I mean SICK. We didn't set foot out of the house for ten whole days! Still, it was a great way to save money - we had to cancel our trip to the movies, ten pin bowling, you name it, we've canned it! The poor boys were heartbroken but I promised to make it up to them and they've certainly been having fun since. With another week of holidays still to go, our house is full of ragamuffins of all ages, shouting, laughing and singing at the tops of their voices, not to mention chasing each other with water pistols and wrecking my house in general. I love to hear them all having fun, the noisier the better!

I enjoy it even more since I finally worked out that I don't have to spend a fortune making everything 'perfect' for my children's friends. For years as soon as I knew someone was coming over I would clean the house from top to bottom (because as we all know, small boys pay huge attention to housekeeping and inspect every nook and cranny for dirt and dust). Once it was polished to my satisfaction I would then hotfoot it down to Mr Patel's to stock up on the most yummy and expensive potato chips, copious amounts of fizzy drink and some chocolate and lollies for good measure. It used to drive Noel crazy but I couldn't see it. It never occurred to me that the boys' friends didn't care what our house was like or what brand of chips we had - all they wanted was to play with their mates and my part in it all was absolutely miniscule. I didn't realise how bad I actually was until Alex came over one day a couple of years ago and made a comment about how much junk food we ate (as he and Liam munched their way through their second family sized pack of potato chips). 'We don't!' Liam told him, 'we only have it when you come round!' 'It's true, she always does it', Noel said drily. Good heavens! Is that what everybody thought? I couldn't bear the thought of the kids' friends going home and telling their parents we eat nothing but rubbish!

From then on I have prided myself on feeding the hordes the smart way, no matter how little we have in the house. This week I made a huge pot of Rhys Mellow's Vegetable Soup, enough to feed six of us twice and a double batch of chilli beef to go with our jumbo pack of home brand corn chips. We had plenty of powdered drink sachets to quench four thirsty boys for three days and I didn't have to buy a thing!

It's lovely to be up and about again and to see the boys running around and having fun. At least being comatose on the couch for a fortnight gave me heaps of time to catch up with all the new hints in the Vault. Have you checked them out lately? There are HEAPS of them! And just like the newsletter said it would, it's given me heaps of ideas to help with my $50 challenge month!

You know, sometimes it's the smallest savings that are the most rewarding. Take the other day for example. I was studying my own flu 'enhanced' reflection, admiring the bags under my eyes, the red nose and shiny complexion when I caught sight of my eyebrows. I had had them shaped a few weeks before and now I could see them growing back. Worse still, even Noel could see them so they must have been bad! Then I remembered a Vault hint I had read that very week, 'which said just follow the beautician's line'. She was right, I could see plain as day where the beautician had 'been' and straight away I knew what I had to do! I grabbed a pair of tweezers and although it took me a good few minutes amid lots of sneezing, I reckon I did a pretty good job. So good in fact, that I reckon from now on that's one job I can take care of myself, saving $20 every six weeks!

There's a lot to be said for small blessings, particularly as we've all been a bit down in the dumps lately, and not just because of the flu. As of this week we have been waiting seven months to move to Whangamata and we are feeling every day of it. Even more so since Noel has now started his new job and is commuting every day. On the positive side he is loving every minute of it! What he doesn't love however is getting home every day and still having a house to sell before he can stay over there permanently. What really grates though is that two weeks ago we thought things were really moving at last. We dropped the price by $40,000 and a very nice lady came round to view the property. She spent over an hour looking around and I was pretty sure she liked it. It looked as though I was right, as only ten minutes after she had gone the real estate agent called and said she loved it and wanted to come back in two days' time with her financial partner. It looked as though they were going to make an offer! We tried not to get our hopes up too much but we were bubbling over on the inside. After so long it was almost too good to be true! Unfortunately it was. We spent all weekend keeping everything pristine in readiness for our special visitors but to no avail. Neither we nor the real estate agent heard from the lady again.

At least the place is looking lovely at the moment now the drought is over and the weeks of rain have dried out, leaving a gorgeous show of spring flowers in place of the puddles. There's no nicer place in the world to live on a nice day and if Whangamata wasn't beckoning we would never leave. As it is, we have no choice now. Noel's job has started and we have to go. I just hope it's not too long now! People ask us 'why don't you just rent your house out?' but it's not that easy. It wouldn't be so bad if it was just the house but you can't expect a tenant to look after two acres of land the same way that we do and it's not as though we can offer a long term tenancy. So for now we'll keep plodding on and hoping the right person will eventually come along. I was really excited a few days ago when a big four-wheel drive we had never seen before crawled up the drive and a nice looking woman with two small girls got out. Did they want to buy our beloved house by the lake? Unfortunately not - they were just a family of Jehovah's Witnesses doing the rounds!

One thing I am proud of whenever prospective buyers come to visit is our homely country kitchen. It's warm, it's cosy and friendly and there's always something going on, such as a big pot of soup on the stove, or the smell of fresh bread baking and tins full of inviting looking baking. It's all thanks to Simple Savings and I know I'm not the only one, especially after reading this lovely Forum thread 'Who has been in your house lately?' What a difference this site and its wonderful members makes to our families, not to mention our diets!

Just the other day I was having a soppy SS moment and couldn't resist sharing it with Fiona. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it with you too! I wrote to her:

"As I write I have a huge pot of soup simmering on the stove. Next to it is a pot of home made chicken stock and on the other two elements there is a big pot of pasta and another big pot of chicken, white wine and cream sauce from the $21 Challenge book. Just wanted to say a big thank you to you and Matt for starting SS, if it wasn't for you I wouldn't be doing any of this!"

Isn't it funny, how I still feel like such a Sad Sally - until times like these when you realise how far you've come!

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