Two weeks in a nutshell

Posted December 26th, 2007 by Penny Wise

Yippee, am finally back on deck! Has it really been two weeks? I've probably forgotten half of what I was going to write about now but will try to sum up the last fortnight in a nutshell. Firstly for anyone who doesn't already know, I am able to reveal my mysterious birthday present from Noel - a new toilet! Hardly the most romantic gift in history I know but I was delighted! The people who owned our house previously were not 'ower particular' (to coin a James Herriot phrase) and as a result our avocado green plastic toilet was RANK. Being an en-suite too, it hardly made for sweet dreams! No matter what I used, that toilet was permanently gross. But not any more! I have a beautiful sparkling white ceramic loo which is proudly cleaned to sweet smelling perfection with all manner of SS cleaners, I've had great fun trying all sorts of them! My gift of a toilet gave me (and everyone else) plenty of laughs and for the first time in 13 years, I haven't woken up feeling sad on my birthday. If the outcome had been different, our first son Luke would have been turning 13 on the same day but instead of dwelling on what I didn't have, I thanked my lucky stars for all I did have, such as my two other beautiful boys carefully bringing me breakfast in bed and a husband who knew me well enough to know that I would absolutely love a new toilet!

Fast track to Christmas and check this out! Thanks to the $100 in food vouchers I won, everything we needed for Christmas food and drink cost me a total of just $6! We couldn't have stuffed ourselves with any more food if we had tried and thanks to my SS ways, Christmas dinner was pretty much stress free. All the vegetables except the potatoes were already prepared and bagged up in the freezer, so all I needed to do on the day was pop them in boiling water. Everyone contributed something, from wine to fresh beans from the garden. I made 36 chocolate truffles and couldn't wait to show off my handiwork but we were all too full to eat them on the day! The only thing I didn't try out which I had wanted to was the recipe for home made Baileys liqueur. The cheapest bottles of Scotch whiskey I could find were only $3 less than the ready-made Baileys, so by the time I had bought all the rest of the ingredients I needed to make my own, it would have worked out quite a bit more expensive. Shame, as I was dying to try it out but I was too stingy! In the end, on Christmas Day we had roast lamb, roast chicken (so much cheaper than turkey!), roast potatoes, boiled potatoes, kumara (sweet potato to non-Kiwis), pumpkin, broccoli and beans (all from the garden), carrots, peas and gravy, followed by Christmas pudding and brandy butter with home made ice cream. We were going to have a barbecue in the evening but it was pouring with rain so instead Noel cooked us all some fresh snapper he had caught the day before and we enjoyed that with the leftover veges plus various salads and garlic bread, followed by fresh fruit salad and Hokey Pokey cheesecake. Add to that copious bottles of wine and beer and nibbles - a veritable feast thanks to Mr Patel! I still ended up with one whole extra large chicken which is still in the freezer - I bought two instead of a turkey but found I only needed one on the day and of course there are enough leftovers to survive for quite a few days yet! Suffice to say, by the time my diet starts on New Year's Day, I will probably have another 10kg to lose...

While Christmas was a very pleasant day in the end, there were a couple of scary moments which threatened to put the cobblers on our festive season. First was on the Saturday night before Christmas. We were supposed to be going to a barbecue at friends' but I was still too ill so we decided to all stay at home and thank goodness we did as by chance Noel went outside and found Liam's beloved dog Hubble collapsed on the front porch. Why is it that if something goes wrong with our animals it's always on a weekend or after hours when the clinic isn't open and you have to pay double fees? We rushed him off to the vet where he was diagnosed with diabetes and given a shot of something which soon put him right but we were duly warned that the medication would make him VERY hungry. What an understatement that was! While we didn't know what was wrong with Hubble initially, one thing we did know was that the same fate would not befall him that had ended Tui's life so suddenly just a few months before. Hubble eats very little and has never been a scavenger - but his injection turned him into a monster! Round and round he prowled looking for food. We fed him his dinner, he wanted more. We fed him leftover Shepherd's Pie, he wanted more - he even tried to eat the cigarette out of Noel's hand! Worst of all, he crawled under the pool table to where the Christmas chocolates were hiding (to keep them away from Minnie supposedly) and one by one he emptied an entire box by sneaking them outside and depositing their wrappers in a field. Unfortunately they were meant as a Christmas gift for our friend Ivan so we had to go out and buy some more on Christmas Eve! Excellent Simple Savings Hubble - not. Still, at least he was still with us and it was slightly better timing than 11.30pm on Christmas Eve when Minnie somehow got hold of one of Grandma's earrings and ate it. Having had friends round for the evening we were all full of cheer and rather a lot of mulled wine and I was just about to sneak upstairs with the Santa stockings when Grandma rushed past with Minnie, who was protesting loudly at having fingers stuck down her throat. She had found Grandma's festive pom pom earrings just too appealing and while we managed to retrieve the red fluffy pom pom, the holly had disappeared for good and as to the whereabouts of the large metal hook - well, we had a fair idea where that was and were all doing our best to get it out without waking up the boys! There was no way any of us would have been legal to drive and we were all horrified but mercifully we found the hook in the nick of time before having to pay a horrendous sum to call the vet out at midnight on Christmas Eve!

Christmas Day went without a hitch and I was very proud and happy to see what great Simple Savers we all were. Out of all the gifts I had bought, I think I had only paid full price for two of them. The boys absolutely loved their new trampoline and spent almost the entire day bouncing, even in the pouring rain. Noel proved that he really is quite romantic after all and gave me my very own 'Santa sack' full of presents, which he proudly informed me had all been purchased Simple Savings style. He simply went around The Warehouse looking for little stocking fillers that he thought I would like - little scented candles, a set of wine glasses (as he knows I always break mine), a photo frame for my desk, even a pair of pink boxer shorts! My favourite of all though were a cute pair of little blue Croc shoes. I have to admit, I've never really been fond of these but I was so touched that he took the trouble to choose me a pair of shoes that I loved them anyway. Just as well, as the next gift I unwrapped was - another pair of blue Croc shoes! 'They had a 'buy one, get one free deal on!' he grinned, 'and I figured the dog would soon chew up the first pair anyway so I got you another the same!' In return I gave him a book from NZ Gardener called 'From Your Plot to Your Pantry', a book of the BBC series 'Planet Earth' (which was reduced from a whopping $79 to just $24!) and a photo album, full of photos which I had stashed away for the last four years, documenting the very first day we moved into our shambles of a house, followed by 'before and after' photos of all the projects we have done since, from burning down the old garage to planting the vegetable garden and harvesting his first veges. When you see it all in order like that you can really see what we - and especially Noel - has accomplished; the place has been completely transformed! I think he was quite proud to see everything he had done, and rightly so. Of course, there are still quite a few pages left in the album to fill - the next ones will hopefully be of our newly painted house! Although we're still waiting to get past the undercoat stage...

Even Mum and I gave each other Simple Savings gifts - I gave her a copy of Sophie Gray's 'Enjoy!' (hardly a surprise as she had been hinting so heavily!) and she gave me a beautiful necklace I had been eyeing up in a local shop for ages. How was it a bargain? Well, it came with a set of earrings that I didn't want, which had put me off buying them, knowing that I would never wear them. Well my dear Mum had gone into the shop, explained I didn't want the earrings but loved the necklace so they agreed to sell her the necklace only and for $10 less! When Noel had gone fishing a couple of days before, he commented on all the people who he had seen spending Christmas at camping grounds and was quite surprised but even he had to admit the festive atmosphere between everyone at a place like that would be appealing. So I'm trying to convince him for next Christmas! We haven't got our tent yet - we're waiting for the right one and Noel is still adamant that to get set up for camping will be too expensive. Honestly, where does he think I got the idea from! I'll just have to show him all the camping hints in the newsletters and the Vault, along with the free tipsheet. If you wonder where Noel gets his unusual gift ideas from, you don't have to look far - my father-in-law thought it was a huge joke to give me some toilet rolls for Christmas to go with my new toilet! To tell you the truth, I was even quite chuffed with those - they are a far more expensive and luxurious brand than I would normally buy myself and they match the loo perfectly!

And so that was Christmas. I'm sorry it's been so long between blogs, I'll probably remember all kinds of things later that I've forgotten to write about but that horrible virus gave me a heck of a pounding and now it looks as though I've passed it onto the boys. Not that it's stopping them bouncing on their new tramp, even with a temperature. Liam somehow managed to skid along the tramp on his nose yesterday and took the skin off the entire length of it, so he has a huge scabby stripe right down his nose today! I hope everyone else has had a wonderful Christmas - Gumboot Girl I am looking forward to hearing about your Christmas spent camping, do tell so I can show Noel! I do confess to buying him a portable barbecue for Christmas in the hope of paving the way (not to mention it can be used on the boat too) - of course I researched it thoroughly first and made sure I got the best deal. In fact I even braved the horrendous maze called Bunnings to ensure I got the best value for money! Luckily Noel thinks it's great and his new 'From Your Plot To Your Pantry' book has got him all motivated too. Yesterday he whipped up too Zucchini Loaves using a recipe from his new book and decided to finally get our bargain food dehydrator out of its box to have a practice drying various foods. Unfortunately the potato slices dried for too long and have the potential to break teeth if not careful. The zucchinis would have turned out nice but he made the mistake of drying bananas sprinkled with brown sugar on the rack above and it all dripped onto the zucchini! The bananas in turn refused to dry at all and just went all gooey - in fact, one of them got stuck in the lid and now the blasted unit refuses to work at all! Not the most successful outcome but you have to give him points for trying!

Want to comment? Become a Simple Savings member »

January 2015

December 2014

March 2014

December 2011