Sunday, April 17, 2011

Winners are grinners

And thanks to Bosisto's, we are pleased to have three lucky winners of the Bosisto's Eucalyptus Packs. Drawn today using our family friendly methods ~ a giant pack of cards with a name assigned to each card.  Conducted in the confines of our loungeroom under strict family conditions & principles ~ three winners were pulled from the pack of over 20 entries.  :D

The first card drawn ~ Serendipity Kimmie

The second card drawn ~ Perfectly Feline Carina

The third card drawn ~ Scather

All winners have been sent a message advising them of their win.  All three have won a Bosisto's Pack containing a can of eucalyptus oil, eucalyptus spray and the new eucalyptus washing powder ~ which is a total winner and leaves clothes clean, fresh and free of nasty chemicals.

I need to say a HUGE thank you to the manufacturers of Bosisto's ~ I am thrilled to have been able to have such a wonderful prize sponsored by an Australian made and owned business. Again - no money has been exchanged but I cannot encourage readers strongly enough to at least try the new laundry powder and know it is a truly Australian product AND it allows you to use the grey water from your machines on your garden. 

Way before its time, natural and effective. Bosisto's has products which have won me - let them win you too!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Yes Verruca ~ it's the bank's fault...

Don't you just love waking up early ~ to sunshine :D

No spending or bill paying required today. A good thing too ~ poor old NAB is having 'technical issues' and no pension has been paid into the account. Heard a lot of bitching about how terrible it is salaries have not gone in, wages have not transferred out, automatic transactions have not occurred ~ do people with incomes really put themselves that close to the wire without a little 'secret stash' for emergencies??   Just asking...

Now I can hear the swearing and cussing of 'who does she think she is', 'where does she get off' and thinking how can I be making such generalised statements. Believe me when I say, we used to live pay to pay, enjoying dinners out, weekends away, takeaway and such without putting anything away and wondering where it all went week in week out. Pay the rent, buy the groceries, buy CDs, go out every Friday, Saturday, use a taxi and whinge about how little we were paid for the work we did. Been there OK?!

I am a NAB customer whose disability pension did not get paid into the account as scheduled. Am I left stranded? No. Am I going to starve? No. Am I inconvenienced to the point of mayhem, agony and financial crisis? No. Can we manage for a day, or two? Or three even?  Yes we can.  Why?? Because even on a pension with a mortgage, children, hubby on carer payments and (now) $26,000 of debt to pay off, we 'squirrel' an emergency buffer of $10pf - 10% of our income - away for emergencies and unexpected events (like broken talus bones) to ensure we have enough to carry us for about a month.

Each time that buffer becomes a month buffer - one full payment of approximately $600 can be paid into our Line of Credit, or onto our (NAB) VISA card.  It's a habit we had while earning a regular wage and one we have maintained in $5-$10 increments every single week. Sure - panic might set in from time to time because having an 'emergency stash' of $300-$600 can be scary - but no where near as scary as having a $zero emergency fall back. 

As seems to be the case this weekend with so many screaming they are in trouble, inconvenienced with the none receipt of their weekly, fortnightly and monthly pay cheque. Come on grown-up peoples - get your personal finances and butt coverage in order. If only in a small way...

Yes - the NAB's services are substandard - especially as society expects - no, demands an instant fix or 100% timeliness in the banking, telecommunication and insurance industries' business practices.  Yes - I agree business offering a service should provide, especially when charging fees for the privilege of simply using that particular business over any others (sadly I have to include Hellstra's stranglehold on landlines in that statement) but sometimes things go wrong and, regardless of whose fault it may be or what technology failed to perform to ones expectation (including that of the relevant service provider) - cover your own behinds people and pre-empt the unexpected but not totally unavoidable with some sensible saving practices.

Has there problems with banks and technology in the past? Yes. Did people not learn anything when this happened a few months back? Especially those who were customers of NAB and previously affected. Was there nothing that suggested individuals should be a little more prepared for the 'just in case'??  Mind you - when the Commonwealth automatic teller machines went on the Fritz and issued more cash from the whole than requested - heaps took the 'chance' to access extra funds than their entitlements. Sure ~ just about everyone was asked to repay after being tracked down via personal identification numbers entered into the ATMs ~ and the Commonwealth had to do the tracking for weeks of those unwilling to advise the bank of the overpayments.

I didn't plan to break my spine and reduce our two incomes to one within a year of acquiring a mortgage.  We didn't plan on a global financial crisis to reduce that one income by 20%. We didn't plan to fall dependent on benefits for a period of time (be assured, this is not going to be case within the next 6-12months). It was never the plan to spend four years as a single income family with a newly obtained mortgage.

But we did plan to live within our means, have the capacity to fulfil our financial obligations on one income, adjust it to fit that dictated by the GFC and to save 10% of our income(s) when there in whatever capacity. We did plan to be able to cover our obligations on a single income and not rely on two full time wages. This is how we had around $7000 when I first became incapacitated in 2007. This is how we were able to have an additional year paid onto our mortgage without dipping into those savings. 

These savings paid for medications, doctors, surgical appointments, scans, therapies and transportation before disability support payments (and the all important pension card with its medical and pharmacy discount entitlements) were granted. Which all aided our request for a period without mortgage repayments while we adjusted to a weekly drop of 50% on that single income to benefit payments only in August last year. 

So really ~ what are people complaining about a 24 hour delay when we used to have manual payments. We are a society of Verruca Salt's and we "want it now" ~ when we can't we have a tantrum, expect 'Daddy' to fix it or we will grab and scream until we get it, only appeased until the next 'thing' comes along.

Just saying...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Turn Left at the next Corner...

Ever get stuck in a rut?

We are a little stuck in a hole. And finding it a little hard to call out for help ~ only because Husband and I are the only ones who can help us. You know how it goes - don't you?

I hate hate HATE clutter - the mess - the disorganisation which continues to hang through this house and, rather than wait for Husband to help, I am just going to deal with it by myself. It's not Mands Mission for nothing. Yes, feeling a bit bull headed tonight...

Don't get me wrong ~ my dear Husband is a wonderful man. He is caring, helpful and able to bring a smile to my face. He worries about our wellbeing, how I am feeling, what he can do to ~ but he procrastinates, doddles and fluffs about before getting to the job at hand. Mind you ~ in the work place he is nothing like this. Focussed, meticulous and almost anal in his need to make the finished product/event as perfect as possible regardless of what it takes ~ why cant that happen at home?

So that's it. I can't rely on him stepping up to the plate without incentive, chocolate, yelling and tears. And I just can't do that any more. Actually while I have MWP**, I can get those tears up over burnt pancakes ~ funny story that ~ another time... I will go over board but right now - I don't care...

Can you tell its all getting a bit too hard?? 

This garage sale just isn't happening, the weather is crappy and motivation is just not around in any amount. I've decided to help clear a lot of this clothes clutter, I am going to have a $1 sale. Although there might be a few things for more than $1, the bulk of anything already sorted for the garage sale which still hasn't occurred will be $1. Heck if someone wants 100 pieces and says $100 - and there are some 'excellent' peices in the mix, pffft - I don't think I care.

*sighs* Sometimes I wish no spend/low spend was a choice not a necessity. Feeling a little low & deprived today ~ I am tired and ultimately finding it a struggle to even get up out of bed. Yes - I know - its that stupid time of the month when I become the Mad Woman Possessed** ~ should be normal by tomorrow...

Don't get me wrong ~ there have been some great goals kicked. We can add to the list of debts gone ~ the Council Home Help account has been wiped clean, giving an extra $5 to the fortnightly budget. Unfortunately, the Gas and Electricity company has hiked up our minimum payments by $10 a fortnight ~ so little extravagance will come from that gain! *sob*

Pears are stewed and bottled, chicken pie is made and I've made some zucchini, ham and cheese muffins for lunch tomorrow ~ although I might make some fruity ones in the morning because there is half a bottle of pears which might not 'keep' because it was not filled to the top.   I am so going to bed ~ 

Night y'all ~ will chat tomorrow ~ when I am in a more amiable and uplifting mood...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Weather Wise

In recognition of an amazing seven days of weather ~





Wordless Wednesday herehere and here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Three Jars of Apples

I bottled three jars of apples ~ successfully!

What's more - I winged it!
Before I started out I jumped on to Simple Savings (my most favourite savings website) and searched for methods to do this. I searched 'bottling', 'preserving', 'canning' and, while there were plenty of methods and descriptions, when you've never done this before using old pasta or jam jars and lids, it can be a little daunting. I've made pate, using butter to seal in the meat paste and stored them in the fridge, and I've cooked up sauces and beetroot with a friend, using one of those Vacola steamer things and all the new bottles and seals.  I've even made jams using wax top seals. However, I've not done it solo alone.

And I've never used recycled jars, old lids and the oven alone. So I was a little daunted by the prospect. Reviewing some suggested links about 'how to' water bath, vacuum seal and other such techniques, I read up on various methods of how to boil water, put in a rack and get the lids to seal. I looked at diagrams with explanations which, by the end of it all, had me more confused than when I first decided this would be a good idea for storing apples, pears, tomatoes and ratatouille - considering there is no room left in the freezer due to frozen versions of these, and meat, potatoes, etc and more!

Mostly I kinda made it up and took pictures as I went to help determine any errors made along the way. Best news is, there were no mistakes and the pop-up buttons all sucked back in with a resounding 'thunk' - eventually. Ahhh - patience - I am glad I was *grins*

First I grabbed half a dozen glass jars and the matching metal lids. I knew they had to be metal and these all had that rubber inner rim already adhered to the top - this apparently means its limited to reuse opportunities but didn't effect the outcome this time. The jars and lids went into the sink, covered and filled with hot water. 

I left them soaking while I peeled the apples (16-20) and then grabbed a scourer and went back to scrub the jars to ensure all the paper and sticky gum from the old labels were removed. 

The jars (not the lids) sat in the oven - set to 160C - to dry and sterilise. You need to have the glass quite hot when it comes to putting the food inside, so always remember to use mitts or a folded tea-towel when handling them. 

While the jars sterilised, I made the stewed apples. I cut and quartered the apples, then cut just over half into chunks - because this is for apple crumble, I wanted to keep some of the apples as pieces and not have it like a puree or sauce. 

Placing all the apple into a pot with about 1/3 cup of hot water, I added 20 cloves, a teaspoon of mixed spice,  and a tablespoon of brown sugar. If the apples were tart or granny smiths, I'd probably have added double the brown sugar. Constantly stirring and mixing the apples, they softened and mooshied down nicely. Once happy with the consistency, I removed all the cloves from the pot. 

Before getting the hot jars from the oven, a clean tea towel was laid onto the side of the sink. If using a wooden chopping board, I'd probably do the same - you don't want hot glass in contact with a cold surface and risk cracking. The jars were filled with apple and the syrup/juice to about a finger width from the top of the lip and, wiping away any drips of apple from the rim, the lid screwed onto the jar as tight as possible. Again, as the jar is hot and filled with hot apples, its best to use a tea towel to avoid burning hands and fingers.

After the lids are screwed on nice and tight, you wait for the button to suck back in. This took about 30minutes ~ and all the will power in the world to not press it down, fiddle with it, check it over and over while waiting. You know that watching a kettle doesn't make it boil faster right? Well, neither does watching for vacuum seal buttons to suck back in. In fact, it was when I turned around the first one sucked in with a resounding 'thunk'.

Talk about excitement ~ you'd think something miracualous had occurred ~ this was the first bit of bottling I had undertaken solo alone in my life and I am SO proud it worked out so well. With no room left in the freezer for keeping foods stored, I can now get more out of (or in to) the pantry.

The Week Ahead

Sadly the forecast is for rain, rain and possible rain. We might get to top temperatures of 15, however 12 and 13 degrees seem to be the average expectation. *sobs* So, the fire is blazing, the house is warm and once we know what SmallBoy's options are after seeing the surgeon tomorrow, it's going to be a cooking and cleaning kind-of week methinks!!

Preserving wise ~ With new found confidence to push me on, I've got about 3 dozen pears to get bottled.  I've also got zucchini, tomatoes and onions for a ratatouille type mix to bottle. I might even give green tomato pickles and something spicy with leftover cabbage. If you've got any suggestions, please feel free to contribute *hint*

Money wise ~ We've made an enormous dent into the debt with the paying down of one account completely and finalising the outstanding balance of another. This week is 'poor' week when talking about income - but horribly expensive week with the mortgage, personal loan, credit card and 'all' the technology payments. I'm considering putting my mobile on a low pre-paid account, I don't use it terribly much and can link into Internet through the wireless when home for no charge - that should suit me fine. 

Entertainment wise ~ I've got some really cool stuff planned for the first week of the school holiday ~ if a trip into surgery is not required (can't give you any hints in case 'someone' reads this online *grins*). SmallBoy is a little sad, bored and disappointed he can't do things - not even simple activities like going on a tractor ride, exploring the junk store, climbing a tree. He is over playing on the computer, using the Xbox and reading books. *sighs* 

That's it for tonight. We've still got $11-$12 in the budget for this weeks groceries and milk will be needed tomorrow. Husband's mum has been up and left a few bananas for us ~ better than chocolate and definitely more expensive! I've not got a lot of fresh green vegetables left however there is broccoli, spinach, peas and beans in the freezer - some bought frozen plus some I've frozen. These will go into a pie during the week, no doubt. Possibly a big pot of vegetable soup is on the cards to use lentils and other dried beans I've discovered in the pantry.

Will let you know as the week goes on ~ its a real case of how low can we go. I'll be making savoury muffins and scones for some yummy lunches in lieu of sandwiches as we are out of bread. Personally, I am grateful for the opportunity to introduce alternatives to Husband and SmallBoy, alternatives that can be included in the lunch box on a regular basis. This should be fun *cheers*

Night y'all xx

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ker-thunk ~ Thursday night

Oh its been a weird day...

Sticking to the challenge of only spending $21 on groceries and sundries is on target. We needed milk ($3), frozen beans ($1.79), wholemeal flour ($1.99) and splurged on some choc-coated ice cream icy-poles ($2.99) for SmallBoy - and us of course. *grins* So far we've spent $9.77 ~ leaving $11.23 to go through until 13th. If bartering continues as well as it has, it will only be milk and some dairy required - especially as the cat food aspect is sorted with Coles' brilliant special on Whiskas on the 31st. I didn't go back...

Everything set for payments have gone through successfully - no problems at all. We had funds available to cover SmallBoy's MRI ($60), his pain medications ($20.95), as well as those expenses on the day of his accident. The Council will no longer accept the $5 per month for the overdue home-help fees but will accept $10 per month. If I pay it at $5 per fortnight, it will be easier to manage and should be paid out earlier than scheduled. 

Lots of work has been going on about the house - more with the garden and weeding the Big Bed, getting ready to access the blackberry for its fruit and then pulling it all out. THAT will be a massive job and I am handing that part over to Husband! Physically some of the weeds get me struggling - I cannot imagine even trying to pull out blackberry vines. Heck changing the sheets on the queen-size beds is nigh on impossible for me!! Fingers crossed this delightful weather can continue for a few more days weeks ~ its making the outside work so much easier to accomplish.


A Medicated-Free Month
It's been about a month since I stopped taking pain medication. Yes, I ache and there is a level of constant of tolerable pain ~ but it is a part of what goes on for me. But it does not define me. I have never 'been' my disability, despite several people close to me in various levels using this as a reason to define and categorise me. I've always said I have currently limitations and inabilities - this does not seem to have been heard as intended, rather an excuse to not do.

Goals, hope and dreams for the future are clear and attainable. Wants and needs are too. I want to be stronger and fitter than I have ever been. I need to be living a simpler, less stressful life and one which can be reflected as sustainable and manageable. I want to get to Queensland ~ to find a section of land within reasonable distance of beach and mountain. I need to be somewhere warmer. I think our family will flourish in an environment of daylight, dark nights and warmer weather. I want to be a self producer - maybe a stall holder of natural goodies, or a bartering co-op, or some learning/teaching venture on returning to a more earthy, wholesome life.

The thing is ~ I am not really sure who I am any more. Or what exactly I want to be ~ knowing I can be anything... Humour me. 

I've been a journalist while at school and an industry trade editor shortly after leaving high school. I've been a business owner with an annual turnover of almost $1million (but little profit!), I've been an employee with passion and dedication, an employee with ambition and drive, a loving mother dealing with child with extreme behavioural disorders, food intolerances, a friend empowering, supporting and helping others. 

So I am not my pain or my disability ~ well, not much - its all the head space now. I don't know what or who I want or need to be. I know I need to be a mother, a wife, a homemaker, alive ~ but it is so tiring, so unorganised. I am a little impatient - knowing some things could be aided with extra income to get assistance in on housework, garden work ~ these activities take considerable time and effort (and procrastination) when I'm doing it.

Husband is a great man, a supportive man, a wonderful husband, lover, friend and father - but he is not an organised man. He does not manage time well. He is a procrastinator, avoider, picks the fun over the necessary. While a great trait - the balance is too heavy on the fun stuff that can occupy his time and focus. He'll say '5 mins' and then be gobsmacked when its 45mins later and I've done/been/whatever (cracked it) and often disbelieving of the time passing. There is no such thing as 'in 10 mins' because that's an hour. We never leave on time for anything.

I feel like I am walking on a wire keeping me together, moving forward or at least not falling behind or stagnating. I set three main goals to achieve each day - one household, one de-cluttering and one which provides joy - usually the garden. But I am not getting these done well. The mess is a big issue - its everywhere and even taking little steps do not seem to be working. I want to throw everything, and I mean everything, out. But financially this is foolish - eBay has been so good for sales, when I get to it - I hope to enlist SmallBoy's help in the uploading of pictures. 

Its a vicious circular cycle which I can't break as I don't hold all the power - and its not just about being in control, or having the control. I am happy to be the captain, but the crew need to use a little initiative.  Sure, hubby knows he has to step up, find his priorities, work out his goals - its got little to do with the love, more to do with the processes. All the love in heaven is not going to get the lawn mowed, the windows washed or the roof fixed - those I cant do, cant afford to outsource. *sighs* Its never ending...

To ensure some positive actual changes are implemented, if only by me for me, I am setting Daily Intentions ~ but only one at a time. I set the first one and tweeted it earlier. As each one is achieved, successful or not, I shall set my next intention - be it a goal, an activity, a commitment to an undertaking. You get the idea. 

My Daily Intention:  
Tomorrow I will rise at 8am. I will tweet I am up and eating breakfast by 830am. Please support me as I implement change into my life

So - time for bed. I am off to make rosemary sprigs (for ANZAC Day parade participants and attendees), planning to get into town by 930 and help out for a few hours. Husband is taking SmallBoy to school for a few hours to catch up with friends before the school holidays start. It's going to be about 4-5 weeks before he next goes to school, if he does not have surgery - otherwise it might be longer. 

As always I waffle - time to go to bed (after I set a load of washing off for the night - hot water is cheaper at night *tip*).  Speaking of washing - don't forget to submit your hint to have the chance to win one of three Bosisto's Eucalyptus Packs ~ details are here -->  <Click here to go to the Giveaway post

OK ~ going now...

and I bitch about Husband's procrastinating habits and poor time management... *grins*

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Last week he fell...







Wordless Wednesday herehere and here.