We highly recommend investigating embracing the Back to Eden Garden method.

Look at the size of this pumpkin! It is one of many large pumpkins we have recently harvested!

Here is the link to the Back to Eden webpage, for those that are also interested in embracing this method of gardening: //www.backtoedenfilm.com/

February's Budget-friendly Recipes

Hi Everyone! Here is a sneak peek at the budget-friendly recipes I have trialed over the last little while.

I will upload the actual blog posts detailing each recipe soon. Each of the recipes for these yummy looking cooked or baked items have proven to be well received in our household.

They have also all proven to work well within our current food budget, as many of the ingredients were able to be found in the pantry, freezer, backyard garden, etc with no special trips to the grocery store required.

The Chocolate Chip Biscuits were cooked today, but I thought I would still include the recipe with the others I decided to profile and share with you all, for the month of February. They are a fabulous yummy treat!

So here are some sneak peek photographs......

Homemade Pasta Sauce has proven to be a fabulous staple. The recipe I used had a handful of ingredients that were all on-hand. I highly recommend trying this simple yet delicious recipe yourself when it is posted.

A Fruit Crumble is always a winner as a dessert in our household. This recipe is easily adapted to make use of whatever fruit you have available to use. When I made this particular version of the recipe, I used apples, plums, pears and bananas.

A pre-cooked chicken can be used in a number of ways over several meals, which I will share in an upcoming post.

Accompanied by a tossed salad, made up of ingredients sourced from both the backyard garden and the pantry, this particular meal of Chicken and Salad was well received by all our household members.

This Savoury Sausages Recipe was one I adapted from a recipe, that was given to me by a friend, for Savoury Lamb Chops. Whether you choose to use lamb chops or sausages, the gravy like sauce is sure to please. The accompanying potatoes were considered to be very yummy also, I will share how I prepared those also!

Meat Loaf proved to be an alternative way to cook mincemeat for my family. Being a budget-friendly form of meat, I need to source and file away a repertoire of recipes for mincemeat.  This particular Meat Loaf recipe met with approval, and will no doubt be on the menu again in my own household.

Apples once again proved to be the main ingredient for a dessert that was enjoyed by my family. Home-made sweet shortcrust pastry is something I could prepare ahead of time and have on hand in the freezer I am thinking. It doesn't take long to prepare, however having it readily available could make the process of preparing a dessert just that little bit quicker in the future. It is certainly something I will give some serious thought towards, when I have some extra eggs available from our backyard hens.

This Chocolate Chip Biscuit recipe was one I adapted. I found it worked well and it is to be hoped that there will enough biscuits still available to go into lunchboxes next week. Other than the block of butter and the packet of chocolate drops, I managed to source all the ingredients from that we had already at hand in the pantry.

So there you have it. A brief introduction to several of the recipes I trialed recently. We also had lots of summer salads, as it is of course the season for lots of greens and such being readily at hand in the garden, and available for harvesting. These are some particular recipes I felt would be of value to share here, so others who are wanting some budget-friendly recipes could try them also.

Good food means good health. If the food we provide and prepare for our families are budget-friendly also, it certainly is an even bigger plus also! Watch out for the first recipe, which will be posted very soon! Bon appetit everyone!

Budgets & Beyond Surviving

Just surviving. No one wants to live that way. I for one am completely over just surviving from payday to payday. So creativity, shrewdness, innovation and frugality are just some of many things that have to truly step up, kick in and pave the way forward even more so from now on.

Enough is frankly enough. Change is wanted, so change has to be embraced. As someone once said, life has no remote you have to get up and change it yourself!

Sitting blubbering and woeing over there never being enough money, is NOT going to provide the change needed, and make the vision of moving beyond simply SURVIVING a reality. Anger and frustration need to... (NO! They actually MUST), give way to determination and resilience!

The challenge I am choosing to embrace is to completely revamp food budgets, menu plans, saving plans..... anything and everything that is tied up in the reality of keeping good food on the table, and frustration and anger at bay each payday.

Survival mode is old hat, and moving forward embracing POSITIVE change is the new black!

So the cost of living has increased. There is not much any of us can do about that. The challenge is to look at new alternatives, new ways and new means of approaching things. There needs be taken on a board something of a bull headedness approach to making things work better, for better and in a more timely fashion. I no longer have the patience to keep waiting and waiting on the hope for change. Enough is simply enough!

Greater frugalism needs to be weighed up and measured against the impact it will have at various levels.

Quality needs to be valued even more so over quantity.

Life may be richer if it is embraced simpler.

Abundance may in fact be best found in minimalism and less materialism, however that manifests itself in one's own neck of the woods.

Dietary needs need to be assessed and valued more so in an uncompromising manner.

More making from scratch, and more making things go further, needs to be embraced.

It is time to start looking more at what we already possess and making the most of those very things to make them go further and further.

One of the first things I aim to do is revamp the meal preparations that are done. I want frugal, healthy food being placed on our table and MORE money in my pocket!

My first personal challenge is to use what currently IS in the fridge, the pantry, the freezer and make it go as far as it can possibly go on the food front.

A VERY frugal foodie I am going to be! 

The big girl pants are truly pulled up. The determined grit present in my jaw. Like Jonah Lomu the mighty All Black I am charging my run across the field to the goal post!

Frugal. Friendly. Fabulous.

Watch this space for my first recipe!

Budget Confessions

I loathe grocery shopping. (Yes, this is now the second time I have officially stated that fact here in blogland!) Yet, it is a grim, stark payday reality that I have to put my big girl pants on and somehow work my way through going to do the dreaded grocery shop.

It is a grim, stark fact that housed within the bright well-lit aisles of supermarket land, there are grocery items to be sourced and found that members of my household often require. Need outweighs want. So, I simply have to do grocery shopping...... and try my best not to look as sullen and irritated as I often times can feel!

The juggles that are mine to do, while planning and then carrying out the grocery shopping each payday, are mind boggling at times. The dilemma of deciding how best to meet everyone's needs, when on a very fixed budget, is a source of repetitive stress. I am sure this is a truth that rings true for many others, who are likewise on a fixed budget, and perhaps also in a season of being a one income household.

Sadly, I can recall nothing from my educational experiences growing up, that provided me with some amazing ability to rise above this monotonous, repetitive and horrible juggle each and every payday.

Nothing comes to mind, when it comes to both menu planning and carrying out the required follow-up grocery shop. I simply do not recall receiving any significant educational guidance, other than that which I have since sought out myself now as an actual homemaker. I was by all accounts clueless, about the harsh realities of budgets versus the cost of living.

My school education, (and perhaps yours also), failed somewhat miserably to prepare me for this financial and dietary pickle I get to first-handedly experience again and again, when heading off to do the bi-weekly shopping run for my household.

I was really and truly clueless and am now learning (like so many others in the same boat), in a most harsh fashion, as I too try to wing it from payday to payday as the cost of living steadily increases.

I loathe grocery shopping. However, I loathe even more so the feeling that I am being set up continually to run on a miserable wheel like a poor little mouse. A running wheel that is driven by things out of my control.

I despise feeling like a poor trapped mouse running on a wheel. A mouse, who increasingly feels angrier and more and more exasperated by things beyond their control.

No matter how much I try to make progress while running this particular wheel, I see clearly that I am simply not making it. The fixed budget and the cost of living grow further and further apart.

I loathe being trapped in the cycle of trying to make ends meet, when what I am handed from the outset seems too difficult to deal with!

I am so tired of feeling irritated, frustrated and knocked down before I even set one foot in front of the other to take a step.

I am completely over simply SURVIVING payday to payday.

Being the grownup, with all the necessary burdens this mantle brings, is at times just too difficult. What bliss it appears now with hindsight to be a child. To be surrounded by adults who weather the storms of life when it comes to providing shelter, food, clothing, etc.

Being the grownup has some horrible challenges, and one of those horrible challenges for sure is making budgets stretch and making ends meet, in order to keep the household situation stable and secure. What a nasty burden it is at times!

I want to think smarter.

I want to implement changes that make significant change.

I want to move beyond struggle, beyond surviving payday to payday. I want to cast off a great proportion of the frustration and irritation that seems to cling to the hem of the mantle of a homemaker and household administrator, in the current economic climate.

I know I am not alone in this budget juggling battle. There are many, many other homemakers that are in the very same boat, all bailing water out as fast as they can also.

There are large numbers of us homemakers all trying to dig deep in the trenches, trying to keep things stable, secure and who all cling to some measure of hope that at some point things will perhaps be different.

How? What? Where?

There has to be answers with better results somewhere. This rotating wheel life has got to stop!

New ways. New budgets. New experiences moving forward. Each payday's arrival surely needs to generate less frustration. I am determined to seek a better way forward, because quite frankly: enough is enough!

Budget Realism

I loathe grocery shopping. It is one of my least favourite activities on the homemaking front. The continual battle over what to buy, with what money is allocated each fortnight, is one I constantly feel I loose before I have even started out the front door!

In our household for more years than need being mentioned, every payday I get delegated a certain amount of funds. These funds are tagged for food and petrol. Yet the reality is, these funds never just pay for food and petrol. They often also pay for socks, shoes, stationery needs for schooling, clothes, school trips, Christmas and birthday presents, haircuts, doctor visits, medical prescriptions, seeds for the vegetable garden, photocopying..... to name just a few of the extras that come to mind.

I do my best. Most things are purchased at discount stores and charity shops when they can be found there. I belong to a number of online groups where people can pass on their items to others freely, including several freecycling (recycling) groups. I administer a number of local buy, sell and exchange online groups also, so am doing what I can to try and meet the needs of my household as creatively as possible.

Yet I struggle and feel discouraged pretty much every payday.

For the last couple of years I have been working towards setting up a home-based business, with the hope of bringing in further income into our household. It is progressing slowly. I have put together and run garage sales, swap parties, attended carboot sales and school galas..... all manner of innovative and creative means of trying to keep within budget have been explored. Yet I experience failure so often, as I go about trying to make ends meet.

I have read frugal living books. I have trawled my way through financial advisement books that suggest ways to be better off, even wealthier. I have googled, youtubed, pinterested my way across the world wide web countless times, trying to make do and trying to make my delegated household budget go further and wider. Yet, the ability to do nothing more than simply survive seems to prevail a lot.

I know I am not alone in this struggle. There are countless other homemakers who will be experiencing the same. In these economic times, trying to live within a budget is simply tough and more often than not it is a source of considerable frustration because we repeatedly fail.

The reality of what money comes in and what money has to go out is plain disheartening. There is often little left by mid way through the second week of any budget fortnight. As the last few days approach, we regularly  face being completely bare in both the pantry and the fridge. A roll or two of toilet paper still being present, can at times even start to feel like a blessing!

Keeping things ticking over seems to be one of life's biggest juggles for many of us. Stretching an already stretched budget, is that quiet horrible secret that many of us live with. I for one am tired of the bite that it constantly provides.

When you have children you endeavour to keep things like dealing with budgeting an adult problem. You endeavour to keep them innocently unaware of just how much the grown ups are trying to keep things stable, secure and afloat. It is hard to hear their dreaming about things they want to do or would like to have, and realise that you simply may never provide it. Sometimes it is terribly hard being the grownup.

I have yet to figure out how to move forward better. I have yet to master what seems un-masterable. No doubt I will once again google some options to try and help me. Once again I will no doubt step up and try to fight the good fight in the bright lit aisles of the local supermarket. Seeds will yet again be planted in the garden, and cheap rolls of toilet paper will again be purchased to take up their position in the designated holdall. A much needed haircut and dental visit will simply have be put on hold again this payday due to budget realism.

May your household budget likewise stretch well this coming payday, as best as it possibly can.

Craftroom Chaos

It's a new year and one of my goals is to definitely get on top of all the unfinished of my scrapbooking, sewing, as well as the art and craft projects that are lurking, and waiting for my undivided attention.

Yet to make some headway on attempting to finish any of those projects, I have one bigger project that has yet to be approached first: the sorting and setting up of my home office and craftroom!

What has instead become a holding zone for multiple unfinished sewing, craft and scrapbooking projects, etc has also become a popular household dumping ground, simply because it is a convenient room to pile things into.

SIGH. It is simply overwhelming, when I think of what has to occur, in order to get things back into some semblance of workable order.

The intense summer heat at present is making it literally impossible to do anything outdoors (the backyard garden is being called the Food Forest at present!), so my focus has to be on things that are indoors instead. Therefore, what has been avoided for some time, now has to be faced.

Boxes and boxes of items need to be gone through. There are piles of papers that need to sorted and filed..... and that is definitely another major job that demands attention in the not too distant future also!

So wish me luck, everyone! One box of items will be sorted, purged and organized at a time, as there is simply no other sensible way to go about it.

Those the visit us are just going to have to accept the current chaos and remember they came to visit us, rather than our worldly goods!

I will have to work on not letting panic kick in, as it is all feeling so overwhelming at present. I have pulled a lot out of the room that has been used by and large as a holding zone, and it is now scattered around the living area in numerous piles. It seems too often one has to make a mess in order to clean up a mess (it is a sad reality, isn't it?).

I loathe living with visual chaos and things out of order, and at present the balance has so clearly tipped in the favor of it being declared nothing other than orderly disorder (and that is me endeavoring to give myself some measure of encouragement about the overall look of things on the home-front today).

Some music or a movie, plus some yummy edible treats may soon be required to help the old motivation stay at hand and at the ready....SIGH.

Breathe. Simply breathe, will have to be a motto embraced as I work my way through bringing order back.

So here are a few photographs of today's attempt to bring some measure of chaos back to order.....

This is the contents of one of many boxes of that have been stored away, out of sight..... a tangled mass of delicious sewing and craft materials! Once it is in order, imagine the fun that will be had... yet, in the meantime this is what has until now been secretly hidden away.

It is surely not all doom and gloom though, because as you can see with this open box, I have previously attempted at least to try and keep lengths of fabric in some semblance of order by creating individual bundles. There is at least some evidence of an attempt being previously made, even if it wasn't overall the best of solutions in the long term.

Still, I am sure this could look a whole lot better, plus it would be nice to see what is present straight away, rather than have to always rummage through bundles for what I am seeking!

So, this is what I have started over the last couple of days... small bolts of ribbon and lace, plus folding up bolts of fabric also. Doesn't it look SO MUCH BETTER!!

I love the fact I can now SEE what I actually have! What a change it has made already! Yes, it is still all having to be stored in a box until the furniture is all sorted out for the room, but hey! This is a far better and more workable system!

I will post up some final reveal photographs, once it is all ship-shape.

In the meantime, feel free to leave an encouraging comment, as your words of encouragement would be hugely appreciated! (No doubt it would all be good soul food, for this particular weary creative home administrator, digging her way out from under her craftroom chaos, one step at a time!) Wish me well everyone!

New Year Home Projects

Happy new year everyone! Here it is January 11th already. Where did the first part of 2016 go? Here it is almost half way through the very first month of 2016. Wow!

It feels like forever since I last blogged here, such has life been. Things have been very busy in our household, what with Christmas and all that it involves. Plus! With hubby off work and home on holiday over the last little while, there has been even more opportunity to get going on the interior painting projects and all the extra home maintenance and organization projects that needed attention.

In fact, the other day after a particularly busy and tiring day, his comment was that he was looking forward to going back to work, in order to have a bit of a holiday from being our number one painter and handyman person!

I thought I would let this blog post be something of a catch up post, to share an quick overview of some of the various home projects that have been the focus here lately. Then, at a later point I can share in greater detail about each of them, and even do some final reveal blog posts when they are fully completed.

Final reveal blog posts are always fun to see. Plus, it can be neat to see the journey taken along the way also.

But for now without further a-do, I will share with you some sneak peek photographs, so you can have a little look at what HAS been worked on, during our Christmas and summer holiday time.

So here they are, folks! Some photographs to let you have a sneak peek at some of the activity happening on the home-front at our place. You can have a little look in at what is taking place, to get us all ship shape and super sorted (hopefully) for the coming school and work year!

There has been a lot of painting occurring lately. We have become somewhat accustomed to paint pails being stacked in corners, and boxes of items being piled up and then shifted from room to room as it has been required.

The latest interior painting activities have been occurring in a child's bedroom, plus the initial pre-painting preparations have begun in the main bathroom also.

All the various stages along the way are great to see as they occur. There sometimes seems to be more time spent on the pre-painting preparations than perhaps the actual painting.

Filling in blemishes and holes takes time, doing any follow up sanding, and the washing off of leftover sanding dust all seem to take quite a considerable amount of time to do!

Preparation is of course essential to obtain a good finish, but it certainly does take some persistence and perseverance to get it done!

Seeing the still wet, first topcoat of paint is always exciting. It is a great stage to be at, because you know you are really making great progress at that point! Progress is always fantastic to see!

I have really been enjoying working on new layouts in rooms, and trialing new ways of displaying everyday household items around our home.

It can all make such a difference to how a room feels on entering it! I will enjoy sharing more about the layout changes we have been implementing in various rooms in future blog posts.

I will also really enjoy sharing more about the huge purge and sort I have been engaging in over the summer. I have some ideas in mind for my office and craftroom, which I am very excited about. Here is a sneak peek photograph of some sorting that I have been carry out lately.... there is nothing quite like seeing ribbons and laces being tamed at last!

So there you have it. Some sneak peek photographs of some of the activity occurring on the home-front here at present.

I am sure it is all going to come together soon, and we will then feel less like we are always living out of boxes. Such is life it would seem, when you are doing a reorganization and redecorating project on more or less a house-wide scale!

A new year. A new chapter. Love it.

Christmas Reflections #1

Growing up poor. It's an experience that shapes your life. That's what could best describe it, when I reflect back for a bit at my own childhood.

For much of my own childhood, my brother and I were simply that: growing up what others would deem poor.

As the Christmas week finally kicks in, it is funny what memories from times past come to revisit you. Today, I am remembering what it is to be growing up classed as poor.

I am remembering because of the power of social media. It is indeed quite a force to be reckoned with, this thing called social media.

Lit against the light of your computer, laptop screen or phone, you get to read other people's posted text messages, requesting a gift or two for a local family in need. There are multiple requests being posted up for donations of gifts for a needy child. Poor little souls all needing gifts. One, then two, sometimes even four.

It is quite heartening to read the reply comments. The comments with offers of clothing, a new-to-them toy, an edible sweet treat or a colourful trinket. Something, anything that someone has kindly remembered they have spare.

Suddenly Christmas morning will no longer be so dismal, so empty. There is the promise of a parcel or two for that particular poor family's child. Let's hope they also have an actual tree.

Growing up poor. It isn't fun growing up classed as poor. It is something that rubs off on you as a small impressionable child. It rubs off on you and it's effect lingers for a bit, when experienced within any given life time.

There are all sorts of definitions for the term poverty. It depends of course, on who is formulating those definitions.

There are multiple debates held as to what best defines child poverty.

I would hazard a guess that those who engage most in arguing over what best defines child poverty, may not necessarily have experienced it, in it's full emotional measure, as it is seen and known through the eyes and ears of a child.

Growing up poor shapes your experience of Christmas. A new set of pyjamas, underwear, a pair of socks are not received as begrudgingly as they might be in a more well-off household. The soft flannel or crisp cool cotton of nightwear fabric gets rubbed and fingered and valued for being new to the very grateful wearer.

One of the best presents I ever remembering receiving, was as a young adult, and it was a requested garden spade.

A spade?

Yes, a garden spade.

My grandfather had obviously done his usual careful research and had then gone out and purchased for me the best spade he and my grandmother could afford to gift to me that particular Christmas.

I had requested the gift of that spade. To see it there beside the Christmas tree, ready, wrapped and waiting to be handed over to me, caused a lot of pleasure that Christmas.

That spade represented a rite of adult passage, looking back. To now have ownership of my own garden spade meant I could get on and do what I wanted, what I most desired, what I most needed..... and that was to get on and become one of the next generation of able gardeners in a family of gardeners.

I would repeatedly know that possessing the ownership of a garden spade meant my life's path could, and would, be forever altered and changed.

Growing up under the mantle of being classed as poor, I knew firsthand if I could dig over some dirt no matter where I ever was, I could feed myself.

I could grow and provide food for both myself and whoever was in my current household.

Having watched my own mother again and again break hardened ground with a faithful garden spade, I repeatedly received the message to my impressionable child soul that a garden spade would be one of the very, very best tools to ever possess as an adult.

I learnt that one of the basic necessities of life could be best achieved with some sweat put into action. I learnt very quickly, being able to put food on the family kitchen table via some actions at the end of a spade could keep poverty a little further at bay.

I hate poverty. I loathe it.

It is a black, hungry dog that nibbles at the heels of small children and makes them realise they are different from their schoolmates.

It reminds them they are different, in the form of the clothes that they wear, the way their hair is cut, the toys and trinkets they have. It is there often lurking around the food they hurriedly gobble.

Growing up poor. It's rough on children. It's tough on single parents who are genuinely trying to make a life that is better, securer and changed for their children. Growing up poor, bites most harshly and most often at Christmas.

The commercialism, the materialism of Christmas knocks again and again at the doors of our poorer homes, demanding entrance and notice. All the while encouraging stress and deeper difference, as the calendar marks off each of the coming days of Christmas.

Just how many lights? Just how much tinsel? Just how much of this, that and the other could elevate us out of the pit of feeling extra particularly poor at Christmas?

How many food parcels? How many gift baskets? How many petrol vouchers would help us feel somewhat less poor when we are daily approaching this feast-time called Christmas?

Growing up classed as poor taught me this most important lesson: none of it.

None of it?

Yes. None of it.

We are only as poor as we feel. We only as poor as we choose to see ourselves poor. We are only as poor as we choose to cloak ourselves in a desire to repeatedly acquire, to have and to possess.

Choose your battles, and one of the biggest in life can be against being and feeling ever so unpleasantly poor.

You can make steps to conquer it best when you realise just what few blessings you actually do already possess.

You can conquer it best when you teach your children to have a focus on people and not possessions.

You can grab it by the horns and call it out of it's position of over-riding dominance when you keep Christmas simple and less about more.

You can choose to steer a path away from it when you look at what you do have, and make the most of it to bless others.

You can simply declare yourself far richer than you ever thought possible because you choose to exercise gratitude and lightly hold onto the stewardship of any extra that comes to rest at your door.

Growing up poor? Or growing up rich? The choice is most evident at Christmas.