Miscellany

Mindful Sunday

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Sunday is my favourite day of the week. The week that was is behind us, and if I’ve played my cards right, the necessary weekend housework and socialising has taken place on Saturday. That leaves Sunday for relaxing, reflecting, and looking to the week ahead. Sunday always feels comfortable to me, a day to just be.

I’m looking forward to this week. I feel like all I’ve been doing for months is going to work, going to job interviews, and writing job applications. I’m now enforcing a break on myself and I’m so relieved to have some pressure lifted from my shoulders. This will be a week of taking it slower, revisiting exercise, reading, and catching up on Netflix.

This is also a big week at school for Moose. She’s due to be presented with an art merit award at school assembly on Friday, and I can’t wait to be there with Big R and Little R to cheer her on. And then on Friday night she’ll be going to her first school disco, and I’ll be going to my first school disco as a parent. I’m volunteering purely to spy on the littlies, it’s going to be so cute.

Today I’m going to finish off some odds and ends that I didn’t get to yesterday, and then I might take the kids out for a walk in the sunshine later. The trees are changing, autumn colour is everywhere, and leaves are sprinkled across footpaths and lawns. We’re in long-sleeves and long pants, but there’s no need for scarves and coats just yet.

And that will be it, the weekend complete. Simple, and perfect.

 

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Moments

Innocence, curiosity, learning

One morning, at home with just Little R and me….

Shall we go outside before it gets too hot? Ok, put some sunscreen on first. Here you go – face, neck, arms….Pop your hat on. Grab your ball. Let’s go!

 

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Hello dogs! Give them a pat. Gently!

Kick the ball to Mummy? That’s it, good kick! Ready? I’ll kick it to you now….

 

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Ok, let’s go down the steps. Careful, that’s the way, shuffle down backwards. Let’s go and have a look at the (practically bare) veggie patch. Look! There’s the silverbeet, it’s growing tall! And that’s a fig tree. The orange tree looks like it wants some water. Shall we water the garden? We’ll have to fill the watering can….

You want to go over here? Ok, let’s go to the playground. Wanna go on the swings? Ready, I’ll lift you up, one two three – up! Hold on tight. Let’s go! Weeee!

Ok, down the slide now. One two three – goooo! Again? One two three – weeee! Again?

 

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What’s over here? Some flowers, look. Aren’t they lovely. Oh! I just saw a butterfly! There it is! Let’s try and catch it….oh, no, not fast enough. Where did it go? I think it flew away. Bye bye butterfly! I can see some ants though, look at them all! Walking in a line. They’re very fast, aren’t they? There’s so many!

 

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It’s getting a bit hot buddy, might be time for some morning tea. Would you like something to eat? Let’s go inside. That was fun!

 

Linking up with IBOT at Essentially Jess and Weekend Rewind at Maxabella Loves

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Miscellany

Emerging from the cocoon

I love this time of year. Living in a place like Canberra, you can literally feel and witness the turning of the seasons. About a month ago, I could feel the onset of spring on my skin. The way the breeze wouldn’t chill me through to my bones, but rather just brush against me with enough coolness to raise goosebumps. I couldn’t feel the harshness of the outside air in my lungs anymore, the way it seems to burn during the worst of winter. The air smelled different, more lush and full.

 

20150909_165247 The camellias at our front door are in full bloom – they’re about 3 times as heavy with flowers now as they were when I took this photo a couple of weeks ago!

 

We’ve had a glorious start to spring in this part of the country, weather-wise. I can’t quite believe it, but we’re expecting summer-like temperatures this weekend. I almost don’t know what to do with that, there are so many possibilities and so many things I want to be doing! After the winter that we’ve had, we need to be doing things – outside and together.

I’ve written before about the spell that spring puts over me, and it’s doing it again. I can feel motivation and energy returning. I feel uplifted and hopeful for what the remainder of the year will bring. We have no plans, but plans will be made. I want to spend time with friends, having fun and laughing. I want to go on weekend road trips to visit family interstate. I want to experiment with new knitting patterns. I want to find myself having spontaneous picnics in the sun with my family. I want to walk in the bushland surrounding the city, listening to the sounds of the earth meeting my footsteps. I want to spend time in my garden, kicking a ball with my children, and lazing around on picnic blankets and reading in the sun.

Mostly, I just want to breathe deeply, and laugh, and feel the sun on my skin again.

 

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Miscellany

Life overtaking life

Hands + Hustle - black water

Lately, there just seems to be no time. I can’t quite believe it’s August and I’ve been back at work for 3 months already.

I haven’t found the time to blog here as much lately as I have wanted to, although I have certainly had plenty of blogging ideas churning away so it’s not for lack of inspiration, just lack of being in a position to do something about it when the inspiration strikes.

Winter has been harsh this year, and for the most part we have tried to escape it whenever possible by hibernating. But it hasn’t escaped us. Like most families in Canberra at this time every year, we’ve been hit hard with various illnesses in our household. Poor Little R seems to have had a runny nose since about June, and his first few months in childcare have seen him pick up the obligatory smorgasbord of bugs. He’s had colds, a minor bout of conjunctivitis, and most recently a 24-hour tummy bug which he kindly shared with both his parents too (Moose managed to sidestep it somehow, although she did vomit on the bus on a school excursion in the same week, but I put that down to motion sickness). The rest of us have also each picked up a cold at some point this season.

We’ve had to cancel so many plans with friends and family over the past few months thanks to illness, as have others with us. It’s felt like we’ve been cut off from our circles, isolated out of necessity. The kids have been bored, I’ve run out of entertaining ideas, and nothing could be done about it.

Moose also had a run of back-to-back injuries at both preschool and childcare. Firstly, she tripped over her own feet while running on concrete, scratching the side of her face and biting the inside of her cheek. Then the next day, she had a slip on some play equipment and split her chin open, requiring a trip to the emergency room and thankfully no stitches, only glue.  For a while there, I was getting called from either preschool or childcare multiple times every week thanks to both illness and injury!

My return to work has condensed what little time is available for everything else that comes with running a household. We’re finding that by the time we leave work at the end of the day, pick up the kids, come home, make dinner, eat dinner, have baths and read stories, the kids are usually not getting to bed until 8.30pm. We have to get up at 6am in the mornings to allow enough time to get everyone ready and out the door on time, so most nights Big R and I have to choose between only having around an hour of free time to ourselves to relax and enjoy our own interests before it’s time for sleep, or staying up late so we get more time to ourselves and being exhausted the next day. It’s a tough call. That free time at night is also the only time I have available now to tend to things like emails, bills, the shopping list and ordering the groceries, exercising….sometimes I’ll go days without a shred of time to pause and take time for myself.  This might just be business as usual for some people, but not me. I crave solo time, I need it regularly to keep me energised and feeling positive.

Yes, winter has been harsh this year. The house has suffered. The garden has suffered. The dogs have suffered. The kids and Big R have suffered. My mind, body and soul have all suffered.

Like I said, there’s just not enough time. Lately I have felt like I am always racing, racing, and just hanging on by a bare thread. I feel like if I am late or something unexpected happens, this whole bundle I am precariously trying to balance will be knocked over and will flatten me. My whole outlook from the previous year of “slow, simple and mindful” has been left by the wayside.

What I wouldn’t give for some warming sunshine, a lengthy catch-up with friends, and an assured few hours of alone time every week!

 How are you feeling at this time of the year – restful and chilled or completely run ragged?

Linking up with IBOT at Essentially Jess and The Weekend Rewind with Maxabella Loves and friends

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Miscellany

Household Miscellany – organising the groceries

Running a household, regardless of how big or small your family is or whether children are included, is a job on its own. It takes a LOT of time and energy to make sure those bills are paid, fill in all the forms, keep track of the family budget, file away the important documents, research the options for new purchases/home maintenance/insurance etc etc etc ETC ETC!!  The job is never done.

There are many made-up names for this job, of which some of my favourites include:

Household Business Manager

Family Secretary

Minister for Finance/Administration/Health/Foreign Affairs/Trade

The Boss

And yet, even with such fancy titles to describe the job, it’s surprisingly under-paid and under-appreciated!

I know that talking about how to organise your home stuff is, to a lot of people, about as interesting as watching the grass grow.  But personally, I enjoy reading about how other bloggers go about organising their homes and families!  It’s the kind of stuff I talk about with my IRL friends.  We love it!  The Mrs W of 15 years ago would probably be horrified if she knew that she would grow up to get excited and gossipy about domestic duties and organising.  Sorry to disappoint you Miss W.  But hey, nowadays you can wrap and accessorise a kick-arse birthday gift like no one’s business!

So today I had the bright idea to blog about how we I organise the groceries in our house.  I’ve tried a couple of different ways of doing this task, and recently changed my method in a mission to find the best fit for our family.  What are you talking about? It’s just GROCERIES for crying out loud I hear you say! Yes, buying groceries is not rocket science, but when you add the layers of work (talking about the kinds of jobs that pay, here) or study, and then children, and then all the day-to-day miscellany of having a house and a family, you need to find the best ways to be efficient with your time.

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Pre-kids, I used to take an early afternoon off from work once a fortnight on payday, to go to the supermarket and buy all our groceries for the fortnight ahead.  We got paid fortnightly, so I would shop only once for a whole fortnight to get it done and out of the way.  It helped me keep control over our fortnightly budget, once the groceries were done I knew I wouldn’t have to do them again for a whole two weeks.  I would write a fortnightly menu plan and grocery list beforehand so that I wasn’t filling the trolley with “unauthorised purchases” as we jokingly label them in our house.

But once Moose came along, I found it too difficult to get through the 1-2 hour shopping expedition with an energetic toddler in tow.  And then I found online shopping.  *Cue angelic singing and harps*.  Not only was it a complete novelty to buy the groceries in my pyjamas from the comfort of my own couch, but I saved time by not having to weave my way up and down and around the supermarket, deal with dodging around other people in the aisles, and unload the groceries at the checkout then back in to the trolley then in to the boot of my car then in to the house.  And because I was ordering a fortnight’s worth of groceries, the total cost was usually a big enough sum to earn me free delivery.  You mean someone will pack all my groceries for me and deliver them to my house for NOTHING?! All hail the digital age!!

Now that there are two little ‘uns in our house, and knowing that I would soon be going back to work part-time (I started back last week), about a month ago I started thinking about how I could make the process even more efficient.  I was starting to feel like it was taking me longer and longer to write up a whole fortnightly menu plan and grocery list, and then order it all online in one big go.  That whole process was taking me between 3-4 hours!  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So I have changed it up again.  My new process is a weekly shop – I write up a week’s worth of meals and the required groceries.  I don’t look any further ahead than just one week, if I think we won’t need something until the following week, I put it on the shopping list for the next shop in a week’s time.  And so far this has been working extremely well.  Here are the pros:

  • Even though I have to go through the task of writing up a menu plan and grocery list twice every fortnight now instead of only once, it takes less time to do it.  It’s relatively easy to come up with 6 or 7 homemade dinner ideas, but if you have to add on an additional 6 or 7, it adds on a lot more time as you start flipping through recipe books and magazines, scrambling for ideas….
  • And obviously, the online ordering part takes a lot less time too, because the order is smaller.
  • I was finding that once we got past the first week of the fortnight, we would be making quick stops at the shops two or three times in the last week anyway to stock up on things – such as milk and bread which had run out, fruit and veggies that had gone bad and had to be thrown away, etc.  Doing a weekly shop instead of a fortnightly one has really cut down the amount of extra visits to the supermarket.
  • It’s also reduced the amount of food we are throwing away, as we’re only concentrating on one week at a time so food is more likely to be used up before it goes off.  Which also means we are spending less money on topping up the supply of fresh food as it gets thrown away.  And because we are buying our groceries more regularly, we can enjoy eating fresher fruit and veggies, rather than stuff that has been hanging around for over a week!
  • Another lovely side-effect from this new arrangement is that I’ve made it part of my weekly routine with the kids on my day off from work.  At the same time I decided to change to a weekly shop, I decided it was time to boycott buying our fruit and veggies from the big supermarkets.  I was done with spending so much money on “fresh” produce, which never looked fresh to begin with, and which never had any taste, only to have it go completely rotten within a few days.  I was feeling so revolting from eating this stuff, I was sure that none of us were actually gaining anything nutritionally from it.  So I decided that I would only buy non fruit/veg/meat groceries online from the big supermarkets, and on my one day off with the kids every week, I would have those groceries delivered in the morning, then we would go to the gym, and on the way home go to the local fresh food markets to buy our fruit/veg and meat (and have a play on the playground while we were there) (and sometimes have a browse through the gorgeous bookshop too, because books).  We are loving our little weekly ritual together!  And the fruit and veg we are buying from the markets actually tastes like yummy, fresh fruit and veg!

There is only one down-side to the new weekly-shop method so far – our budget, which is still a fortnightly one because that’s how we get paid, is a little less controlled because we don’t know exactly how much we will spend on groceries each week.  But because we’re not throwing away as much food and not spending money on little additional trips to the shops here and there, I think in the long run it will still work out to be cheaper to shop more regularly.  I’m still tracking our weekly spend to compare it to our old costs, so time will tell.

I can’t believe I’ve just written over 1000 words on groceries. 

How about you – how do you organise the groceries at your place?  And do you get a kick out of reading about how other people manage their households the way I do?

 Linking up with The Weekend Rewind at Maxabella Loves

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Miscellany

What makes a home

It’s true that a home is where your people are, and a home is made of the things you love – be that a beautiful garden, books, art, pets….

But a home is also made of something else, something intangible.  A feeling, an atmosphere.  An effect on you that’s created by the composition of the windows and the view through them, the places where natural light falls, the colours of the walls and carpets, the surrounding trees and plants.  And when you’ve been in a home for long enough, that atmosphere also begins to be shaped by the memories you make there.

Before we moved to our current house, we lived in the first home that Big R and I bought together.  It was a lot smaller than this house, but a lot newer, and it was a lovely place.  From the moment we first walked in to that house at the first open home inspection, I could feel this “home” vibe.  I couldn’t put my finger on why it felt like home, the owners at the time had hideous furniture throughout, and the gardens were non-existent, with no lawn in either the front or back yards.  Maybe it was the warmth of the terracotta-coloured tiles through the house.  Maybe it was the way the afternoon light filtered in through the living area.  Whatever it was, I picked up on it straight away, and it felt right to be there.  I felt confident about this place.  Big R and I kept glancing sideways at each other as we walked from room to room amongst the other prospective buyers, with a knowing look that said “Yes, I like it here too”.  We put an offer on the place, and it was accepted and sold to us.  Over the 5 1/2 years we lived there, it never lost that feeling to me.  It was like there was something in the air, a pheromone that I was particularly susceptible to.  My heart was always warm there.  Visitors would tell us that they felt it was a cosy, homely, comfortable place too.  Even now, without being there, I only have to picture myself in the rooms of that house and I can feel that indescribable something.

watermarked - our first home

I was heartbroken when we eventually left that place for good.  I knew it had to be done, our family was growing and the house wasn’t big enough for us anymore.  It was meant to be a first house for a young couple like we were, or a place for a new family to have its beginnings like we did.  It wasn’t meant to be a forever family home though.

As we scoured new sale listings online everyday and went to house inspections every weekend for 6 months, I wondered whether we would ever find a place that would have that feeling again.  We had our list of “must-haves” for our new home – two living spaces, good storage, closer to the town centre, good schools nearby, etc.  But regardless of those things, I could tell whether a house was right for us or not from the moment I walked through the front doors.  There were plenty of houses we inspected where I wanted to walk back out again within 5 minutes of being there.  If a house didn’t have “that sense”, then there was no point pursuing it any further.

There were a handful of houses we saw that did possess that vibe.  We had quite a lot of disappointment along the way, as offers were refused and we were outbid at auctions.  When we came to view our new house for the first time, I could sense something even as I turned in to the street.  I already felt comfortable, safe, happy being in this place, and I hadn’t even seen the house yet.  Once again, as Big R and I walked through each room, we shot those knowing glances to each other.  The pull of this house was perhaps not as strong as the pull of our first house was to me.  We had some doubts about the size of the bedrooms and whether they would withstand growing children, teenagers.  But I still walked out of this house feeling confident, like I knew a secret.  And those doubts weren’t enough to keep us away.  We made an offer the next day, which was quickly accepted.  Our search was over.

watermarked - our new home

watermarked - family room

watermarked - kitchen window

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We’ve been here nearly 5 months now, and it’s been a hectic time.  Little R was born less than 2 weeks after we moved in, when we were still surrounded by towers of unpacked boxes, and finding our feet in our new dwelling (“Which key opens that door again?“, “Whoops, switched the wrong switch“, “Hey where did you put xyz?“).  But now that we are completely set up, making our own marks on this place and our own memories within its walls, the feeling of home is growing.  Our family is complete, the time for searching, busyness and stress is over, and the time to settle down, enjoy and simply just be, is here.  This home is feeling more and more ours.

 

Linking up with The Weekend Rewind at Maxabella Loves

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