False impressions

Posted March 8th, 2007 by Penny Wise

Ah yes, it's back to reality alright. Back to stuffed penguins and pink starfish festooned in the driveway (courtesy of Tui) and dog poo on the lawn (also courtesy of Tui). Where did that holiday feeling go? Hardly feels as though I've been away, although Mr Patel from the local shop was very pleased to see me. 'Aha, Mrs 124!' he boomed, still quoting my old account number. 'I have a new computer system! You can be Mrs 324 now, just say the word!' 'No thankyou', I insisted for what must be at least the 15th time. 'It is my mission to save money, I am simply not disciplined enough to have a store account.' I grabbed my usual stash of Golden bread - at three loaves for $2 it's the cheapest I've seen and it's actually edible too - and made my way to the counter. 'What have you got that bread for?' he asked. 'I always buy this bread, we like it! It's very good value', I smiled, thinking that would please him. 'But that bread is for poor people, not for rich people! You tell your husband you need to buy different bread, not that one', he told me - serious as anything. I suppose I should have been offended but instead I was falling about laughing all the way home. So Mr Patel thinks we're rich? He obviously hasn't seen the pink starfish and dog poo on the lawn then. It's all Noel's fault - as far as Mr Patel is concerned, Noel is just da MAN. Talk about a turnaround. All the years when Noel was working on the farm and never set foot in his store, it was always me who did the shopping. It was always me who got glared at every time I added a new purchase to our account and every time without fail he would tap into his wee computer to see how much I owed first. It wasn't as though we were bad payers either - I always paid our account in full, every month without fail. But I obviously gave the wrong impression.

Then four years ago Noel changed jobs. He went from wearing overalls to a shirt and tie, driving a brand new company car and carrying a cellphone. From the moment he walked into Mr Patel's store he became his number one customer - and the perks rubbed off on me. 'Aha, Mrs Wise how is your husband today? He is always working very hard, yes? He is a VERY EFFICIENT MAN!' Not to mention apparently a rich one in his eyes now too, as from then on he would let me run up whatever I liked on our account and never once checked. Well sorry to shatter your illusion matey but the only way this efficient man and his inefficient wife are ever going to get rich is by cancelling credit accounts and buying 'poor people's' bread so we'll just keep on doing it. Mind you, it's going to be a good while before I can go shopping again anyway. Our fridge is so full of vegetables that there is literally no room for any other food, so I simply can't buy any! I'm getting soooo sick of zucchini and tomatoes but at least we'll save a small fortune in soup and pasta sauces when winter comes around, the freezer is full of it. Sophie Gray has a great recipe for Simple Pasta Sauce in her book 'Stunning Food from Small Change' and I've been using that one. Gets rid of a load of celery too. I must say a quick thank you to SS member Amy Diffey too, as I keep forgetting to send her an email. Several months ago Amy let me know of a website where I could purchase wildflower seeds (you can also read her hint here Send seeds for lightweight gifts) so I decided to get some and scatter some around the edges of our new orchard. They popped up in no time at all and we now have a gorgeous display of calendulas, cornflowers, alyssum and purple fluffy things! They really look a picture and will hopefully go forth and multiply for years to come. Big thanks Amy!

My little Homeopathic First Aid Kit has been getting an awful lot of use lately. Noel has always been a bit sceptical of me handing out remedies left, right and centre but he was forced to eat his words recently. The day before he was set to leave for school camp with Liam, he injured his knee and didn't know where to put himself. In the end he gave in and agreed to take some homeopathic Arnica from my kit. The next day it was right as rain and he was so impressed that he ended up taking the kit to camp with him. It also ended up getting plenty of use when Liam got eaten alive by mosquitos at camp, to treat Ali's migraines at the beach, to get rid of my hayfever, to reduce the pain and swelling of a nasty boil-like thing on Liam's shoulder just in time for school swimming sports and to ease my mum's upset stomach. I really don't know how we got along without it before but these days it's the first thing I reach for - it's saved me countless trips to the chemist!

I forgot to mention the other day, I have the best haircut I've had in a long time and guess who cut it? Me! My hair was driving me mad but I was trying to grow it and was too stingy to get it cut. In the end, I could barely see out and could stand no more, so decided to have a go at a Vault hint I had seen ages ago called Minimum fuss haircut you can do yourself! I was that fed up with it that I figured whatever I did, it couldn't look any worse, but as soon as I saw it I loved it. It's such a buzz when people say they like my hair and ask where I got it done, I have great delight in telling them I did it myself! It's the first step in my mission to 'Sort Penny Out'. I saw Naomi B on the Today Tonight show last week and thought firstly how lovely she looked, secondly what a great example of a Simple Saver she was and thirdly 'Egads, I could never go on TV, look at the state of me!' It's true, I have failed yet again in my ongoing mission to look presentable. OK, so at least I have half-decent hair now but my wardrobe leaves a heck of a lot to be desired, I never get around to putting make-up on and my legs always look as though I haven't shaved them for six weeks compared to the other smooth-limbed mums at the school gates. (I must just point out here that I DO actually shave them, it just never seems to look like it). On the plus side, at least looking permanently unkempt seems to be keeping me youthful as most people don't seem to think I've reached 30 yet (I'm 35 this year) but there comes a point when one does think one should start looking a bit more 'grown-up' and professional. Last month's 'haircare' help request in the newsletter gave a heap of great suggestions so I really must stop procrastinating and try some out. The old cliche about owners looking like their dogs is undoubtedly true in the case of Tui and I - unfortunately her Cocker Spaniel look is intended, mine isn't. Still, I am confident once again that the Vault will save me. This weekend I am determined to sort out my http://www.simplesavings.com.au/search/?q=wardrobe&tag=savingsvlt">wardrobe - there are some great hints in the Vault to help me and I think I'll give one of the hair treatments a go. I wonder what Noel will think of me going to bed with my hair smothered in olive oil and wrapped in cling film? I can't wait to see his face!

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