Jings, so much to write but so little time lately! First I must proudly announce that my recent Lotto hunch was right - I WON!!! OK, so it was only $36 but still a nice wee profit and just goes to show I was right about my week being extra lucky. Not sure about this week though - for starters, why does my life revolve around cleaning up poo? In the last week alone the cats have left me FOUR discarded rabbit's bums in the downstairs toilet to clean up. The worst though was a few days ago. We were already running late for school and had two extra kids to pick up on the way so I bundled everyone in the car and shut the door with a sigh of relief - then the smell hit me. Liam, walking around with his eyes shut as usual stepped in a dog poo on the way to the car and had managed to get it EVERYWHERE. On the back of the seat in front, on his own seat, all over the door and carpet. Honestly, I could have cried! Mercifully I remembered a newsletter from many moons ago which had a help section on stinky cars, not to mention a brilliant product I also heard about in the Vault, called Nilodor available from supermarkets and pharmacies. Just a few drops of that stuff worked an absolute miracle on my stomach-heaving car interior and while we were all very late for school at least we managed to survive the journey without having to ride along with our heads stuck out of the window. As for poor Liam, the embarrassment of having to tell his principal why he was late for school was punishment enough!
Last week was Labour Weekend in NZ - the last real opportunity to take advantage of some decent sales before all the prices go through the roof leading up to Christmas. So I spent almost all of it shopping! Well - trying to shop. The idea was that I was going to get as many of the kids' Christmas presents and stocking fillers on my list while they were reduced. They all had a minimum of 20% off and some as much as 50% so it would have been a huge saver. Unfortunately I had two rather large obstacles - the kids. Well, three if you count Noel who had disappeared fishing for the day instead of staying home with the boys as I had originally planned. Gone are the days of being able to sneak Christmas and birthday presents into a trolley while an unsuspecting little person sits in the trolley seat facing the opposite way! Hence I returned home with precious little and was really quite miffed to have missed out on so many bargains. On the positive side, Noel returned with enough fish to last us for three days' worth of lunches and dinners!
At least it kept him happy for a while, as he keeps saying there's no food in the house. I beg to differ, there's plenty - it's just there is no crap food in the house, which I'm very happy about. Unfortunately it doesn't suit Sir - he likes seeing the pantry full of things he can just grab. Tinned spaghetti, tinned soup and baked beans - all of which are full of wheat or maize thickeners which the kids can no longer have. So the other day he took himself off and said he wanted to do his own shopping. He returned with the most boring looking shopping bag I've ever seen! I have to say I was impressed. Plain blue and white tins of Budget this, black and white No Frills that - it really did look hideously boring. It's all the same on the inside though isn't it? I guess he has been a bit neglected lately while I've been trying to keep everyone else fed with wheat-free food. I can't be bothered cooking anything separate for me so I just eat the same but Noel is a typical bloke, he would rather cut off his right arm than not be able to eat what he wants. The food mile thing is really annoying me too - the other day I wanted to get some Easiyo Fruit Squirts to try in Liam's favourite strawberry yoghurt (we don't have the luxury of fresh strawberries here yet, only gold plated ones) but I balked when I saw the price. So I thought I was being really clever when I saw a similar product in the kids' snack department, called Watties Fruit Squirtz. I checked the label and thought these would do the job just as well. Better still, I could save $2 on the same quantity! I was most impressed with my saving and thought it would be a good one for the Vault, so it really irked me when I got them home and read the tiny print at the bottom, 'product of China'. Great - so I saved $2 on pureed fruit but it took thousands of miles to get to my pantry. What a bummer - I think I'll just wait for the cheap strawberries to appear...
Ali has a new pet - a baby chicken called Speckles. A lady up the road has heaps and asked if he would like one - I think she would have happily given him 20 if Noel had let her! He just loves Speckles to bits and spends ages outside with her every day, helping her integrate with the big chickens and making sure she's OK. Talk about a protective parent! Mind you, I think he may be taking the parental role too far. I almost fainted the other day when he came into the kitchen in tears and said 'one of those fat white chickens was being mean to Speckles and chasing her away so she couldn't have any food', he said, wiping away angry tears. 'Don't worry mate, she'll be OK', I tried to explain about the pecking order but then came the reply 'It's OK Mum, I sorted her out. I wrung that horrible chicken's neck!' 'WHAT! I gasped in dismay, imagining all sorts of ghastly horrors in the chook pen. 'Yep - I did it with a stick!' he explained proudly. 'You mean you tapped her with a stick?' I asked hopefully. 'Yep!' came the reply. I breathed a sigh of relief but still couldn't restrain myself from going out and doing a quick head count!
Things have been pretty hectic around here lately but I have still managed to try out some new tips. I got so sick recently of my desk being covered in little scraps of paper with reminders for this and note for that. What I really needed was a new whiteboard but I was feeling too stingy to buy one at up to $20 for a decent one. Then I remembered a tip I had seen a while ago in the Vault. I know I got this from the Vault, I just can't find the tip! I got a certificate sized picture frame which I had bought for a couple of dollars in a Warehouse clearout but never used. I just took it apart, put a piece of plain white paper behind the glass, put it back together and hung it on the wall. I just write on the glass with the white background behind and you know what? It's the best dang whiteboard I've ever had! The whiteboard marker just wipes off and doesn't leave a single trace - unlike most purpose-made whiteboards. So thank you whoever it was that donated the tip - I'm sorry I can't find it to link to! Another tip I have been having lots of fun with lately is the 'Honey Ointment for Eczema'. I have been wanting to make this ever since I saw the tip but didn't have a good enough reason to - until now! Liam has been suffering with dreadful eczema on his hands and fingers, really cracked and painful. I was determined not to use steroid cream on it but we had tried everything else I could think of. Then I remembered the honey ointment! The only thing putting me off was the beeswax - where was I supposed to get it from? I decided to look on Trade Me (in other words eBay for Kiwis) and found heaps of the stuff. I managed to get enough beeswax to make 10 batches of ointment for just $6! It only took a minute to whip up a batch of ointment and the smell was divine. In less than 24 hours and only two applications of the ointment Liam's fingers are looking much better and I've found it makes an awesome soothing balm for dishpan hands too!
At last it looks as though summer might be poking its head around the corner and I can't wait to get outside and do stuff with the kids. The local pool is open so we can now go for a swim every day after school - this worked so well last summer, everyone was so happy and spent heaps of quality time together. It's so cheap too - in fact I worked out the cost of buying one of those DIY family size swimming pools compared with swimming at the community pool and I was amazed to find I was wrong - getting a pool of our own was still far more expensive than using the community one, even with three of us going there every day! Ever since I read a recent newsletter on after school activities it's had me thinking. I used to spend a fortune on things to do after school and not even because the kids asked to do anything, but because I felt they should. I could see other mums all running themselves ragged with ballet, tennis, swimming club, you name it and thought I had to do the same (not ballet though, obviously!) Some things would cost me an arm and a leg and then I'd be all miffed when the kids lost interest after a couple of sessions. So from now on I'm leaving it up to the kids. If they really want to do something, fine but whatever it is, it can't be expensive. Then at least jt's not a huge waste of money if they decide they don't want to keep doing it. Both the boys want to do athletics, which starts on Monday and only costs $10 a year for one session a week from October to the end of March. Ali has joined the St John's Ambulance Cadets, which is excellent value for money and they get to go on all sorts of trips and camps too. Liam is starting weight training, which is free thanks to the help of a college weight training teacher who I asked for advice and is willing to coach him. I think it's going to be a busy summer and it's all thanks to that newsletter for providing food for thought on what else is available. Another bonus is that I get to swim with them every day too - much needed exercise for me!
I've been spending every spare moment writing for other people lately, hence the lack of blogs! There is a Christmas feature coming up in the December NZ issue of Next, out November 12th and my weekly That's Life! column is starting in November - Issue 45 is the first one I think. Most fun of all though was the trip I made yesterday up to the big smoke to talk to a lovely group of ladies all about Simple Savings. It was so neat to meet so many likeminded people and I was really impressed to see how many of them were already doing things like making their own baby wipes and so on. I was telling Noel about it last night and I had never realised before how few likeminded people there are in my life. Not that there's anything wrong with that of course - I know all kinds of wonderful people but we talk about completely different things. Being able to talk with a large group who all 'got' Simple Savings was just brilliant. It left me wanting to be part of their motivated, friendly group myself! At least I won't have to wait too much longer before I can talk SS style with friends again - have you checked the Forum lately? We're finally starting our own SS Savings Groups in NZ, yippee!