Head in the sand

Posted November 20th, 2008 by Penny Wise

How's this for my favourite quote of the week? "It feels good to be working towards something positive rather than worrying about doom and gloom". As written in the Forum by Mandy G in the Recession Challenge thread she so kindly started after reading my blog. This thread and the people in it have saved me so much money this week! Simply knowing there are other people out there doing it too has really strengthened my resolve because quite frankly I was pretty crap last week. Don't get me wrong, we have been doing really well on most things but it has become painfully obvious since starting this challenge that our family's biggest money drainer is still buying food and drink when out. It really makes me kick myself because let's face it, it's SUCH an easy thing to fix! How hard is it to keep a few bottles of water in the fridge to take on journeys, or pack a few snacks from home? Super easy; yet when it comes to us actually doing it, we're super rubbish.

Still, on the positive side, at least this challenge has really helped identify a major problem area and when I read this comment from Pat in the same thread, I realised that I have still come a very long way. Pat says "I used to be happiest when I had lots of jars of Chicken Tonight, pasta sauces and Kantong stirfry sauces in the house because it meant an easy life when I was working full time! Now I am happiest when I see all my pantry containers full of flour, oats, sugar and milk powder and my freezer full of meat and bread." Well said Pat, sounds just like me! The family has really been enjoying all the extra baking I've been doing and even Noel makes the most wonderful scones (better than mine, Ali reckons!) My biggest food challenge at the moment is not opening 'How to be a domestic goddess' by Nigella Lawson, which I borrowed from the library this week. I have never seen this woman in action or read any of her books but after checking out some of her recipes online I was positively drooling. Ever since I have been dreaming about making Peanut Butter Squares and Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes. Fortunately my Recession Challenge forbids me from rushing out and buying the double cream and cherry jam I need to make them, which I have a feeling my waistline will thank me greatly for, as well as my wallet!

So back to the Recession Challenge thread, I just want to say a big thank you to Mandy G and everyone else who has contributed. I was guilty of sticking my head in the sand and thinking 'Recession? What recession? We're still alright, aren't we?' when the truth is, none of us know for sure when things are going to run out or the money's going to stop rolling in. So thank you ladies for getting this ostrich back on track quick smart! One thing that is really bugging me however is Christmas. I'm feeling really stingy and don't want to go spending anything unnecessarily. The boys tried to write their Christmas lists yesterday but even they don't know what they want. Ali managed the following: 'Ginger beer, something for Minnie, something for Ella and something for Nushka'. Well that's the dogs sorted out but as for everyone else, I really have no idea! Sixteen-year-old Alex summed it up pretty well the other day, saying "I don't want anything but I still expect to get something". We're all the same I think - none of us really want or need anything, but we'd all be really disappointed if we got nothing! So what do you do? Buy something for the heck of it or look like a Scrooge? I know Santa is going to really struggle with filling the kids' stockings this year because he's been following the Simple Savings calendar all year and really doesn't want to add any more useless clutter which is only going to gather dust or get thrown away, simply for the sake of filling up a gap in a stocking. If anyone has any helpful ideas for useful stocking fillers for Santa, please let me know and I'll pass them on to him!

At least there was plenty of Christmas spirit to be found in our town on Tuesday night, when I gave a talk about Christmas on a budget to a packed cafe. What a great night for Simple Savers! There were home made crackers, gifts in a jar and all sorts of beautiful handmade decorations and centrepieces but what really got the crowd going was my home made Baileys, taken from the Vault. I kid you not, in the space of a few seconds they turned from a quiet and respectful group into a gaggle of giggling Gerties! Must have had more of a kick to it than I thought! Needless to say it went down a treat - I think a lot of people are going to be enjoying their own bottles for Christmas in our area!

Work is still quiet for Noel and the weather is beautiful so he went out fishing recently with a buddy and between the pair of them they caught $300 worth of fish! We enjoyed some fresh and got the rest smoked, which is great as it freezes really well and makes a super quick and cheap meal. I do have to share one small confession however, which was NOT supposed to be part of our recession challenge. Yesterday was a really hectic day and we absolutely refused to buy takeaways but wanted a quick and easy meal for when we got home. We decided for the first time in almost 18 months to get a couple of frozen pizzas. The verdict? YUK! We were so looking forward to them, yet we all agreed it was the worst, most manufactured meal we had eaten in a very, very long time. After enjoying so much delicious seafood and veges from the garden this week, what was supposed to be a treat turned out to be a complete let-down. To think we used to eat like that all the time! I don't think we'll make that mistake again, recession or no recession!

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