Hellooooooo! Where on earth has the time gone? I'm sorry it's been so long. The boys went back to school yesterday after two weeks of school holidays. Last week was spent trying to fit in all the things we didn't get time to do during Liam's week-long Gwynne Shield rugby tournament. Talk about exhausting! How those boys all managed to stay awake on the field day after day is beyond me. Wouldn't have missed it for the world though and our team did great, winning three of their six games. Someone who is very glad that the attention has finally been taken off his big brother is Ali. Tomorrow is his 11th birthday, which we have been made aware of for quite some time, thanks to the ever increasing 'wishlist' stuck to the fridge for weeks. He'll hate me for saying this but Ali reminds me of Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - 'I want the world, I want the whole world' and 'I want it NOW!' Fortunately he is old enough to reason with these days and we've managed to talk him out of most things (e.g. a skate park, a skate ramp, a new skateboard and a mobile phone to name a few) but he still seems incapable at times at holding on to his money.
Like the other day when he managed to lose his wallet with all his birthday money from Grandma in it in the middle of a shopping mall. I wasn't at all surprised as I had seen it hanging halfway out of his pocket not ten minutes before. I was furious and he was beside himself, rushing around retracing his steps and asking everyone he came across if they had seen his wallet. To make matters worse, he was wearing a black fake Groucho Marx moustache which he had just bought at the $2.00 shop (it's amazing what you can throw away good money on in just 20 minutes without Mum!) He'd forgotten he was still wearing it and believe me it's pretty hard to get people to take you seriously when you look like he did! Fortunately by some miracle someone had handed it in to the security guards and he was soon reunited with his wallet.
A harsh lesson learned - pity his older brother didn't take more notice! The very next day Liam went to see the new Harry Potter movie with a friend in the city and managed to lose HIS wallet in the theatre. Thank goodness I wasn't there or I probably would have strangled him! Once again luck was on our side and someone else had kindly handed his wallet in. Great to know there are still some good, honest people out there at least!
Just as well for Liam too, as his wallet contained more of his hard earned Trade Me money. He's slowed down a little on his trades now - and I've taken over! Yes, I've finally taken a leaf out of his book. I couldn't believe how well he had done and with so many things coming up we need to save money for I decided I really needed to get my bum in gear and sort some stuff out. And sort it out I did! You name it, I'm selling it and I'm having a blast! I can see now why Liam gets so excited about it. I've followed his tips and kept my reserves low and it's really paying off, I haven't had a single thing not sell yet. I've got a massive amount to get through so I'm trying to stick to a routine of listing five new items every evening, so it's not such a mammoth mission. I wouldn't care if I only got a dollar per item, it's still better than sitting around here doing nothing and reminding me of all the money I wasted over the years.
Above all, I'm finding it so liberating! It feels as though I'm finally freeing myself of all my Sad Sally mistakes. I can't change them or take them back but I don't have to have them as a constant reminder and best of all, every dollar I make will go towards doing some real good for our family, rather than meaningless self indulgence. I've already noticed how much easier it is to keep the house in order now I don't have so much stuff everywhere. Once you start putting a value on everything you own it makes you really cynical. Last week I set foot in no less than FOUR shopping malls. Noel was terrified! He needn't have worried though, I couldn't bring myself to buy a thing! Why on earth would I buy more stuff when I'm having so much fun getting rid of the stuff we already have!
So yes, it seems as though I'm finally catching up on life again. I'm even catching up on the War on Debt calendar challenges! Having less stuff around is making it easier for me to get organised. Much as I love it, if there was one thing I would change about our house I would make it smaller. The more room you have, the more mess and clutter you have. Well, it's certainly true in our case anyway. Our house is two-storey and keeping it tidy is a neverending nightmare. Sometimes it really gets me down. I have seen all sorts of brilliant 'cleaning routine' ideas in the Vault over the years and thought 'ooh, I must remember that!' but I never could. However I'm proud to say I've come up with my very own weekly cleaning routine - one I can actually remember!
Monday = Run Day. This means, have a quick run around the house and make sure everything's in its proper place after the weekend.
Tuesday = Loos Day. Clean the bathroom and toilets of course!
Wednesday = Beds Day. Now I can always remember which day I changed the sheets!
Thursday = Furs Day. Vaccuum the house (which in our house inevitably means pet hair, hence 'furs' day)
Friday = Fly Day. As in let the dust fly!
Saturday = Flatter Day. Ironing, my worst job! Thank goodness for a DVD recorder and Gok Wan to make it more bearable!
Sunday = Bun Day. Time to fill up the tins with baking for another school week!
How easy is that? I'm pretty proud of myself for coming up with it, I don't mind saying. I'm also really grateful to the Vault and Forum for all the brilliant storage ideas. There are tonnes of them! I was supposed to write a That's Life! column on smart storage ideas for next to nothing and ended up using heaps of them myself! One thing which drives me mad about having such a big house is the lack of storage space. There are hardly any cupboards, particularly in the kitchen. I'll never forget a couple of years ago when the Campbell Live crew came to film and I was giving them a tour of the kitchen for a $21 Challenge feature. We'd already filmed the fridge and pantry and the reporter was on a roll. 'Ooh, what's in here?' he moved towards the kitchen cupboard 'Nooo!' I leaped forward to stop him, 'if you open the door, everything will fall out!' And that's the way its been ever since - until now! I read about so many terrific uses for old bookcases that I dragged our old one out from under the stairs and got Noel to trim it to fit under the bottom pantry shelf. It's even painted white like the inside of the pantry - now I have a perfect shelving unit, who would have thought! So thank you super smart SS'ers for your wonderful creative suggestions, I shall keep happily perusing them and see what else I can use!
I've even caught up with my $21 Challenge at last! It took me a while but I finally got around to doing an inventory of my fridge and two smaller freezers. I won't bore you with the details but my menu plan for the week looks like this:
Monday - Corned beef (from freezer), cauliflower (garden), potatoes, carrots (fridge) and cheese sauce.
Tuesday - Use leftover beef and mashed potato to make corned beef hash cakes, salad (fridge), peas and beans (freezer)
Wednesday - Crockpot Greek Lamb (from freezer) with Greek Potatoes (from the same thread as the lamb), broccoli and carrots (fridge).
Thursday - Chicken Cacciatore (chicken in freezer) with rice and fresh basil. Need to buy a red pepper.
Friday - Shark Sludge (a smoked fish dish from Ali's kids cook book!) with salad, potatoes and carrots. Smoked fish in freezer, will need to buy a lettuce and a couple of tomatoes.
Saturday - Sticky Sausages (Vault recipe, sausages in freezer) with potato/pumpkin mash and carrots.
Sunday - Roast Venison, roast potatoes, kumara, onions, pumpkin, gravy. Everything on hand.
So at the moment all I need to buy for the week is a lettuce, two tomatoes and a capsicum. I haven't needed to buy them yet but I think we should get well under the $21 mark! If we run out of yoghurt I have a sachet of Easiyo. If we run out of bread for Noel I have everything I need to make some. If we run out of cheese slices for the boys I can slice the cheese block in the fridge thinly with a vegetable peeler. Best of all, if I run out of grapefruit juice (highly likely) I now have some in ready and waiting in the orchard to squeeze myself! It's been interesting receiving feedback from National $21 Challenge Month. A lot of new people have been giving it a go, which is terrific. However the Challenge first started in 2006 and I quite thought with the increase in food prices since then that people may find it more of a struggle but quite on the contrary, I think everyone I have heard from came in well under! Just goes to show how much food we harbour in our homes and how creative we can be with it when we need to. It certainly doesn't do the rest of the family any harm, quite the contrary in fact. I asked Ali recently if he would like to choose something for dinner as a treat - 'you can pick anything you like!' I said indulgently. 'Hmm. Corned beef hash cakes?' came the reply. 'Sorry, I don't have any leftover corned beef', I told him. 'Rats - how about Lonely Sausage Risotto then?' he asked and was most put out when I had to tell him I didn't have any leftover cooked sausages either!
I've waffled on enough for one blog but it's so nice to be back on the planet again! Am going to finish with a quote I absolutely love from the Forum. It comes from the 'How has SS changed you?' thread and says: ‘I’m so glad to be feeding my family with love, instead of convenience’. What a wonderful quote and so very true!