Crikey, I haven't seen so much of my husband in ages! It's the economy affecting his line of work you see - everyone's too scared to buy or sell anything at the moment. For someone who works such horrendous hours he's loving the peace and quiet but of course there's the downside being the less you work, the less you get paid. Like many people we are going to have to be prepared for a drop in income over the coming months and do our best to cope with it accordingly. I know I should be nervous at the prospect but in truth I'm actually quite excited at this enforced opportunity to pull together as a family and see how well we can get through these tough times. I'm so grateful for our cattle, sheep, chickens, vege gardens and orchard; thanks to these we should never go hungry. Hmm, maybe we're already better prepared than I thought!
Noel's job may not be in demand at the moment but he certainly is - he's had three different job offers in the last month! One in Gippsland, Victoria, one in the Bay of Islands and another not far from where we are now. Nice to be in demand yes, but the thing is, we just love living in our little patch of paradise by the lake, growing and eating 'slow food'. Slow food, not surprisingly is the opposite to fast food and I've loved the expression ever since I read about it in this month's issue of Women's Health magazine here in NZ. When you're a slow food fan you think about your food in a different way. How is it produced? How fresh and nutritious is it? Does it harm the environment or animal welfare? What does it taste like? Basically slow food is the same as the 'nude food' celebrated at Simple Savings but call it what you like, with 83% of Kiwis visiting a fast-food restaurant at least once a month, I'm glad the word is getting out. The journalist in question spent a week transforming her lifestyle from fast food to slow food. In seven days she went shopping for fresh ingredients, learned how to cook them from scratch and enjoyed the physical, mental and emotional benefits of her change in diet. Not only that however, but by the end of the week she noticed not only a difference in her food bill but also in her credit card bill. Apparently you don't feel the need to splurge on that new top, another glass of wine or bad takeaway when you already feel nourished. Interesting logic - and I bet she's right. Like Fiona always says, don't shop on an empty stomach. I guess that theory works even better with a tummy full of slow food!
Maybe we should start encouraging Slow Drink as well and encourage people to drink the cheapest, most natural beverages they can. In a classic case of the world gone mad Noel was telling a colleague about a great supermarket special on beer the other day. 'I just picked up 24 bottles of Waikato for $24!' he said proudly. 'Jeez', his mate replied, shaking his head. 'That actually makes beer cheaper than water!' We all had a good chuckle about it but it's a bit sad really. You can buy good quality beer in a nice glass bottle for $1 each, yet it will cost you three times as much for water in a plastic bottle. I was already opposed to buying bottled water in the first place, but am even more so now!
I forgot to share the results of my Biggest Loser challenge outside of the SS Weightwatchers Forum thread too! I am proud - and somewhat gobsmacked to announce that I have reached my goal weight of 60kg! At the time of writing I have lost 11kg in 11 weeks. I actually lost the most weight kilo-wise but was pipped at the post by a lady who managed to lose a whopping 16cm from her waist! She has been struggling with her weight for years so it was lovely to see her do so well. We got tested for all kinds of things at the start and finish of our challenge and as well as the weight loss on the scales I have also lost 5% body fat, along with 11cm from my waist and 8cm from my hips. No wonder all my trousers have been falling down!
I still can't believe that I fit into a size 10 for the first time in 15 years, I have to keep checking the labels to make sure it's not a dream! My mission now is to make the most out of all the clothes I can no longer wear. Noel helped me declutter my wardrobe at the weekend and gave me an honest opinion on everything that was now genuinely too big. I ended up filling three black rubbish sacks full of clothes! Some of them I'm embarrassed to admit I've never even worn and still have the tags hanging off. I'll do my best to sell some of them on Trade Me but I've never had much success with selling clothes that way. I guess the op shops will do very nicely out of me! What I'd really like to do is hold a clothes swap party - they sound like so much fun but I'm too shy to ask anyone!
Considering the state of most people's bank balances at the moment, I'm amazed at the shocking state of service we've encountered in shops lately. For example, the other day I took Mum shopping to buy a new stereo as she had been unable to get her old one repaired. We shopped around as all good Simple Savers do and were amazed to find that in all the stores we went in, not one salesperson approached us, even we were often the only people in the store and the shops all looked noticeably over-staffed. It was obvious what we were looking to buy and had been studying the different models for quite some time but not once did anyone seem to acknowledge our existence. Each time we got fed up with standing around like a couple of plonkers and walked out - there was no way they were getting a sale out of us! Only once did a chap approach us in one store and while very helpful he wasn't remotely interested in selling us one of the cheaper models; he was hell bent on steering us towards the $400 and above models. Fortunately I remembered one of my favourite hints about 'whistles and bells', kept Mum's requirements in mind and we returned home without parting with a cent.
It's not all bad though. Take my wonderful local electrician. Usually I don't talk that way about him but he's saved me money and a huge headache in the last few days. I've been having trouble with my washing machine for months and had got another electrician to come out no less than three times as he was convinced it wasn't the washing machine which had the problem but the water pump. By the time he left the water pump was working a treat but the washing machine was still taking up to six hours to fill up and wash a load! Eventually I reached the end of my tether and rang the other local sparky. Instead of charging me to come out, he gave me instructions over the phone how to take the washing machine apart and clean the cold water filters - there's one at the end of the pipe and another in the back of the machine. We duly did this and hooray! No more problems after months of swearing and pulling my hair out! Best of all, no cost!