Sunday, July 31, 2011

Oh Woe ~ No Get Up and Go...

A new day in Queensland dawns bright and warm... 
Too many 5am starts has made Mands a very tired chickie...

Actually, I am a little bit stressed. And I've got a cold. Moving across the continent (well up the continent) was always going to be an exercise and play havoc on my back, but we took it slow, stopped often and tacked a few extra days to keep the actual travelling hours around 4-5hrs each day with two full rest days en-route.

The issue is more the lack of continuity of medical care and therapy referrals. I honestly thought with xrays, doctors' reports and an ongoing 'Care Plan' it would be easy to get things going for some therapy - osteo and pain management at least. But no. The doctor here keeps asking me to find out from Medicare what service codes I've already used and I am getting confused as he says the numbers Medicare provides me with can't be right and check again. Might have to put my foot down, possibly get his nose out of joint and tell him he can do it much more effectively than I.

Teddy has settled in rather well 
And the chiropractor I saw to at least attempt a little relief first told me he could not touch me without current xrays. I thought 'Good, you should be wanting to see where things are at' but then he justified the request by saying it was so he could not be sued if he did something wrong. $90 ~ and being told it was not possible I had both a fusion and a laminectomy.  The second appointment was spent watching a training video on chiropractics and explaining my xrays to me (yes, I do have both a fusion and a laminectomy) but he's never seen a back and neck so bad he feels he can't give me relief or help without putting himself in standing to be sued if he stimulates an injury. Another $75 and no relief.  Is Australia really that far down the 'I am going to sue' trail?

So that was $165 we could not afford to spend with no pain relief or actual work done. I really didn't need a lesson in chiropractics - especially one that didn't result in a certificate or something. No ~ a tax invoice doesn't cut it... *sighs*

New Beginnings In Our New Backyard

While we house-sit here in sunny Queensland, we are able to set up a vegetable garden to help us keep costs down and allow the owners to return to their own veggie patch. Taking up a long term house sit does not suit many people because they want to travel and stay in a region for a short term while holidaying on the cheap.

For us it means our mortgage can be paid with extra payments being made daily, I won't cry through another Ballarat winter as the bones and fusion continue to knit, we can finally achieve our dream wish of living in Queensland (albeit 4yrs after the planned move) and actually save a little money while experiencing a better quality of life. For the home owners it has meant they have reliable people looking after their home, ensuring the insurance requirements are fulfilled and their pets and plants don't die.  For our tenants it means they get a bargain price rental on a half acre block with chickens and an established veggie area to boot. Win-Win-Win

One thing I must learn is the ins and outs of tropical plants. There are so many here I have little experience with and, aside from worrying about over/under watering, I don't really know if there are any particular habits I need to get into to ensure they all stay healthy and flourishing. So far I've met a few giant critters in the garden ~ honestly, the cockroaches don't worry me at all and they are not inside so no drama. The giant grass-hopper took me by surprise but I got some great pictures of it . . . before the bloody cat decided it would make a tasty, crunchy afternoon snack. I have been advised the cane beetles will be a sight to see in the summer.

Not seen a single cane toad, spider or snake as yet ~ so long as the spiders remain in hiding I can cope with the others. Must admit I am not missing the huntsmans or other black crunchies invading the Ballarat bush ~ but I do miss those dear friends left behind in the snow and cold. I try hard not to mention I am sunburnt...

The Week Ahead

I've got the menu planned, plus three mystery shops for the week ~ two involve food and one involves wine which will be a terrible strain! *not*  All things going well, my doctors' and surgeon's reports will come through and I can get some work done on my neck and back. Headaches will kick in very soon - I already feel the niggle. Knowing that could happen, I've done this week's menu and put it on the fridge so Husband can step in at any time without needing to think or get extra ingredients. Oh I am so efficient at the moment. May it last.


Sunday ~ Roast Lamb & Veg ($2 per head)
Monday ~ Roast Lamb & Veg pie ($2 per head)
Tuesday ~ Spaghetti bolognese & salad ($2 per head)
Wednesday ~ Fritatta ($1 per head)
Thursday ~ Camp Oven Chicken ($1.50 per head)
Friday ~ Tuna Mornay ($1 per head)
Saturday ~ Home made Pizza ($2 per head)
Sunday ~ Roast Chicken ($1.50 per head)

Today Husband & the SmallBoy have been running around, shooting nerf guns, giggling and squealing like two little girls ~ then I hear my husband laugh, deep & full, and remember this is what genuine times we have had enjoying simple things. Love it.

And with that memory I shall hit the doona and go to sleep. Fingers crossed I'll sleep until about 7am because, like I said at the start, these 5am starts are doing my head in!

As always ~ any contributions or offerings to Mands On A Mission are received with many thanks and put toward our debt and nothing else. If you've got something you think could help us achieve our goal please - check out the Spare Change Jar, the Treasure Chest or drop us a message via the blog. All those 10c found at the side of the road and spun our way help in more ways than you can possibly imagine.

Hubby aims - and shoots ~ we are loving the evenings

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gifts to Give when the Purse is Empty

There are some who say "All you need is love..."

But try giving the gift of love to a four year old on her birthday and ~ trust me ~ it will generally end in tears. *cringe*  I do think children do have too much ~ too many things to play with, too much time involving screens, too great an expectation of 'I need' when its really 'I want', too much on offer and too much to compete with on a peer scale ~ mostly thanks to advertising, product placement and keeping up with the Jones' kids.

I know, I know ~ that's a very generalised statement which will cause some to rant "I don't do that", or "If I want to spend my money on my kids then I can", or "Blah, blah, Justifications, Who do you think you are making such judgments?" I'd like to say I don't yield to the pressures of modern life where 'every 10 year old' has either an mobile phone or ipod or laptop or TV in their room ~ or all four and more as the case may be.  Alas, with a Husband who loves 'toys', SmallBoy and MudGuts definitely benefited from Santa Claus*  over-ruling this poor mummy with 'family presents' of gaming consoles or other such electronic entertainment devices. 
(* also known as the Christmas Savings Account)

Still, sometimes there is diddly-squat in the purse to provide nieces and nephews or school mates birthday presents. And I really hate this current 'norm' of a card with $10 or $20 in it as a gift. Unless you are sending something by post, what is the 'joy' in getting $10 in a card? I see a 'couldn't be bothered choosing something for you, go get it yourself' attitude developing. Are we really all just so busy and harried we can't stop to get a gift for a child? There have been many times I cannot afford the frivolity of putting $5 into a card, let alone $10 or $20! So what do you do??

For the littlies, pop down to an OpShop (or look through your own bookcase) for an alphabet type book ~ you know ~ A is for Apple, B is for Ball...  Carefully take all the pages out, trim up the sides nice and neat and using a hole punch, make a hole in the top left and right corners. If you have ribbon or a long strip of material to thread through, great. Twine will do just as well. For under $2, or nothing but a little time if you have everything available, one home-made personalised Alphabet/Reading Frieze.

This one was made by the super creative Naomi D
Other firm favourites for gifts for the under 5s are homemade playdough or slime. $2-type-shops often have the fat pavement chalk which is great for using inside on a blackboard or outside on the driveway/concreted area in the yard. Colourful, messy and washed away with water!  

If you've never made Playdough before, I've put an easy Play-Dough recipe up on FaceBook. Dividing this into four portions, you can make four different colours to go into separate little containers (250ml or larger), add a few cookie cutters or a little rolling pin and you've got a fantastic gift. These last for ages in the fridge, can be used several times and (if you add the recipe to the package) the containers can be refilled as needed.

Older kids tend to have a plethora of cars, dolls, toys, cards, pencils and other nick-knacks its hard to be original. But a medium size pot, filled with a bag of potting mix and a packet of lettuce or flower seeds is a great gift - encouraging care and responsibility while ensuring a bit of outdoor time while putting their gift together and watering it. If you're a creative type - grab and old pair of pantihose and make a grass hair man kit for a child to make.  Using these instructions ~ Grass Hair Man ~ some grass seed, a pot, some potting mix, buttons for eyes and a red marker for the mouth is more economical (and more fun) than some of the $20 kits available in stores. Most of the items can be found around the house or on Freecycle. Make it a project kit with instructions and the gift will last longer.
Hey Dude ~ A green gift
There are lots of lot cost / no cost gifts to be made and most kids love mucking about with this type of present ~ especially if it is not homework or an assignment set from school. 

Of course you can always enter competitions and hope to win a prize to pass on as a present. So don't forget we are giving one reader the change to win a plush Koala and a tube of EukyBearub. You could gift them as a pack for someone you love coupling both the cute and cuddle with the useful and thoughtful bonus for when cold and flu strikes.  
More details are available here

Well, I'm going to pack up the bat and ball and head off to bed. It's been a long day and the housework did not get finished. Still, Husband has started the frame of our new veggie bed and I am on the hunt for about 200 newspapers to put at the bottom. Fingers crossed we can source these in the next few days. Been saying a little ditty to get me off to sleep at night, thought I'd share it with you :

Angels, Fairies, Spirit Guides, Gods
Please take me off to the Dreamlands of Nod
Help me to sleep peacefully all through the night
To wake up refreshed in the new dawning light

Night all :D

Looking for the Good Stuff

I love a good 'find'...

And I'd love to say I had a day with no spending but with the chiropractic session (or should that have been waste of an hour being spoken to like I have no idea how the spine works and the issues I am facing) at a cost of $90 ~ sadly not. What a waste of time and money - not even a little bit of relief provided yet is cost a bomb. If someone would like to reimburse me for that, we'll gratefully accept any contributions.

Especially as I have now the need to return to my doctor and get another referral for further 'work'. I might just get the x-rays for reference to show another therapist what is the current status of my back and work with issues and tensions as I know them to be. OK ~ maybe he is being over-efficient, over-cautious - but to charge a non-refundable on information being provided just seems a little rich for me...

So it is off to the 'Purple Door' to see an Osteopath about a Care Plan and a Reiki practitioner about some acupuncture. It's never easy to find the right person who 'fits' with your body, mind and soul quickly ~ but we will get there *smiles*

It's been another beautiful day ~ we 'Mexicans' (as we Victorians from 'south of the other border) get called are being very careful in the sun, making sure SmallBoy has sunscreen on each morning and a roll-on bottle which he as proved he is using because I've had to fill it up already. *cheers* Both Husband and I also put on our sunscreen ~ although I do try to get 10-15mins in the morning sun before covering up to keep up the Vitamin D and ensure my skin is not too fragile when the sun gets hotter over the spring/summer months.

SmallBoy loves pie ~ we love this one used the leftovers

Must scoot ~ writing tonight and I've got the mojo for poetry again.  Keep safe, eat well and enter our UukyBearub competition soon. Details are available on the previous posts. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Money Saving Markets...

All it takes is sticking to the list ~ and adhering gaffer tape or some other sealant across the mouths of 11yo boys who want this, need that and plead for those as well... *sighs*

SmallBoy was reasonably good to be honest ~ but there were so many objects of desire he will be saving lots of pocket money to obtain some extravagant items . . . or blowing it every week at the Markets. As for the produce available ~ this little chickie babe was in fresh, organic food heaven! For the princely sum of $31.20, we purchased broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin, sweet potato, parsnip, zucchini, radish, tomatoes, snow peas, beans, bok choy, coz & mixed lettuce, cucumber, pink lady apples, pineapple, grapefruit, strawberries and, the diamond of them all, bananas! 
This is only half of the booty from Shalom Markets
Bananas have not been on the shopping list for months due to the ridiculous charge of $15+ per kilo. Blow me over if we didn't find them for $6 per kilo. Our new neighbour Bob said not to buy anything until we'd done a lap of the market and, knock me over one more time, we found three stalls selling them for $5 per kilo. It was like winning the lottery only so much sweeter!

Can you see the strawberries in the photo? We bought two packs of those for $7 and let me tell you we have never eaten such big, juicy, sweet-smelling berries ever! Using a little over half the pack for dessert tonight (dusted with caster sugar and decorated with a big dollop of cream) and felt like we were on millionaire's row! How the little things can mean so much ~ especially when you've not had them for so long. Yes, it was a splurge - $1.50 each on dessert when our dinners work out to cost roughly the same!

This Week's Menu 

It's back to being a lot more accountable with our budget. Because we plan to purchase a few (dozen) acres of land in the next three-four years, the savings need to start as soon as possible. As food is a major part of our expenses, we have allowed a weekly budget of $100. Spending $30 at the market on fruit and veg means we will have about $70 for "everything else" ~ meat, cleaning items, cat needs and personal hygiene products. We don't have a well stocked pantry or freezer at this stage and will be buying as much marked down, close to use-by foods as possible. 

Tonight's meal of BBQ pork loin in plum and ginger marinade was a $19 piece marked down to $12. Not only did it provide a delicious dinner (with all the fresh veggies from the Market), about a third was saved to become a pie for tomorrow night's meal. Cooking up extra vegetables tonight means all the filling is pre-prepared and only the pastry needs to be made. Even the water used for steaming the veggies was kept as this is more flavoursome than water for the pie filling's roux. For under $21 ($12 pork, $6 veg, $2 pastry), we will have two main meals for three hearty eaters ~ at $3.50 per head it is a little more than the budgeted $2-$3 per head I aim for, but by week's end it should average out.

So this week's menu is set as follows:

Sunday: BBQ Pork and Roast Veg  ~ $3.50pp
Monday: Pork and Veg pie ~ $3.50pp
Tuesday: Sausages and salad ~ $2.00pp
Wednesday: Beef Stir Fry ~ $2.00pp
Thursday: Sticky Chicken Drumsticks and rice ~ $1.50pp
Friday: Nachos ~ $1.00pp
Saturday: Fish Patties and salad ~ $1.50pp
Sunday: Roast Lamb and veg ~ $2.50pp

Tomorrow I am off to my first chiropractic session in sunny Queensland. This first appointment is a little pricey ~ but the x-rays are bulk billed and I am keen to see how the ol' back is looking. I am confident my surgeon's forecast will be spot-on. He is, after all, the one medically trained and surgically experienced to provide such input and judgement - and I feel I might even be a little ahead of the schedule. The pain meds have been re-reduced now the trauma of the travel is easing and a little click'n'pop to compliment the acupuncture should iron out some of those remaining niggles.

Not 'perfect' yet ~ but I feel I am ahead of his five-year estimate on recovery. To quote Craig Ferguson from the Late Late Show: ~ "In Your Face!" *laughs* ~ I think I got a little touch of the sun today ~ hot, flushed and a little sandy. Now who would have dreamed I get to say that in winter!?!

Competition Reminder 

Don't forget to post the following statement (exactly) either in the blog comments below, on the facebook page or via get your chance to win this gorgeous plush Koala and a tube of EukyBearub courtesy of my friends at EukyBear and Bosistos! 

I'm going to snuggle up with #EukyBearub when I have a cold ~ Thanks @MandsMission

Each mention gets you an entry and, if you get a friend to follow the blog or facebook (I'd like to include Twitter but it confuses me still and would hate to miss someone by accident) - get your friend to include "my friend (your name) suggested I follow" and you can have an extra entry.

PLUS: I have a special referral prize to be given to a current follower who has at least one friend join the Mands On A Mission facebook page. To be in the running to receive a gorgeous Angel pin, make sure your friend includes your name in the comment along with the all important EukyBearub entry statement.

Entries close Sunday 31 July 2011 at 5pm with the winner announced the following week. Every entrant will be listed below so please let me know if you've not seen your name appear within 24hrs of your entry. 

Let me know if you'd like any information, recipes or details on how we are reducing our debt you think might help you save a little more or rid a debt burden. We might not have the answers for everyone, but we can always suggest what we would do if it was us in the same position.

Until tomorrow...

Life really is a beach ~ especially where we live now

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday ~ sadness, strangers and savings

Today, many members of the website Simple Savings gave support to a member who lost her little girl by releasing pink balloons, lighting pink candles or finding pink flowers ~ Amelia Grace was born sleeping this week and the flow of love on the website for heaven's newest angel, her mummy and family has been unbelievable, sincere and so heartfelt. 

Yes, there is extreme sadness for so many at this time but to see an entire forum be redesigned for a few days as a tribute, to have 'strangers' sharing the sorrow they feel for a member most know only as 'Mrs Wez', supporting each other and expressing such kindness and love ~ it is wonderful to realise there is still some true beauty in people in this scary, crazy world.

The Simple Savings forum ~ changed to pink while we mourn

I am proud to have association with Simple Savings ~ its not always about the money (lack or better management of) ~ but it is always about the people who participate, contribute and support each other in many of life's struggles, trials and adventures. 

If you do want to become a member of Simple Savings, click the banner link below or HERE and remember to mention Mands sent you. It's worth it - for so many reasons...

Competition Reminder:  If you have a look at yesterday's post for details, you can win yourself a lovely plush koala and EukyBearub (valued at $40) ~ let your friends know, have them follow the blog or FaceBook to be eligible for a small "Thank You" draw. More details tomorrow.

Friday, July 22, 2011

You still get colds in Queensland

The flora of  Eucalyptus ~ stunning and natural  
Achoo ~ 'scuse me ~ gotta a lurgy...

Because I have been on such a run of medication, the last thing I really wanted was another tablet or some syrup which is going to dry out my nose but keep me awake all night. And I am not a fan of the chest rubs which contain petroleum and other nasties. But I do have alternatives, one which I have used since MudGuts was a baby. Because he cant use any additives or chemicals, finding a chest rub free of additives was quite a task 20years ago but there was one and I've stuck with it since I stumbled upon it.

Having touted the Bostitos Eucalyptus Oils for cleaning, freshening and disinfecting, I was asked if I'd like to try another great product. Blow me down (with a good snot into my hanky) if it wasn't our favourite chest rub. Affectionately known as the BearRub, EukyBearub is an Australian owned and made chest rub using the natural properties of eucalyptus, menthol and rosemary to help sooth the aches of a cold or flu and ease the blocked noses of little ones, helping them rest, sleep and get well faster. And I don't think you'd find that statement on the press release or packaging.

I truly find EukyBear to a much better option to put on your little ones chest or back. Even babies can tolerate EukyBear ~ just put a little on their singlet or jumpsuit and you'll notice it is not as over powering or tear-inducing as some others. Plus it doesn't have that burning feeling on the skin some chest rubs have, perfect for the big babies often known as husbands...
Not that I need any incentive to use EukyBearub - now in a non-breakable easy to squeeze tube - the makers have kindly offered a tube of EukyBearub and a cute cuddly Koala which I will be giving away as a prize to a reader and follower of Mands on a Mission. 

Because I have a head cold and am in no condition to think of anything tricky or clever, simply post the following statement (exactly) either in the blog comments below, on the facebook page or via twitter.

I'm going to snuggle up with #EukyBearub when I have a cold ~ Thanks @MandsMission

Each mention gets you an entry and, if you get a friend to follow the blog or facebook (I'd like to include Twitter but it confuses me still and would hate to miss someone by accident) - get your friend to include "my friend (your name) suggested I follow" and you can have an extra entry.

Entries close Sunday 31 July 2011 at 5pm with the winner announced the following week. Every entrant will be listed below so please let me know if you've not seen your name appear within 24hrs of your entry. 

These people are in the running to win a cuddly koala and tube of EukyBearub (total value $40)
1. Kimmie
2. Hells Bells :D
3. IMG (Helen)
4. Jan
5. Sharynne
6. Leimay
7. Leila Matthews

Don't be a goose ~ get your entry in now :D 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Finally ~ Reconnecting with 'The World'

We had rainbows to guide the way... 
We've travelled up the coast and we are finally here...

Mands on a Mission is back online ~ with a temperament and attitude as warm and sunny as the climate we now reside! Oh Queensland ~ you are divine *grins*

Honestly, I never thought I'd get back on-line to natter ~ Hellstra gave a little grief in setting up our phone line. Which leads me to ask why, when every other amenity we transferred from the house owners' names into our own could do it as we talked and confirmed details, when changing the name on the phone account and leaving all other information the same does Hellstra need to disconnect, reconnect and allow a 48hr no connectivity window?

But all seems to be up and running, lets send out the vibes for it to remain so...
Day 1 ~ Brunswick to Beechworth ~ to Stevie B's

The Month Just Gone

Was a rather expensive one for us but ~ having bought a campervan, repaired a car, secured tenants for our home, registered a car (twice), finalised accounts, paid for the results of storm damaged property AND moved across the country for under $10,000 ~ we incurred little extra debt and that we borrowed from Husband's mother was budgeted to come from our tax return. This has just been finalised and repaid in full.

In many ways, we are starting from scratch with debts now at $38,290.07 (excluding the mortgage). While it seems to be going up, the amount of bills and accounts attributing to the debt has reduced. Our next 'victim' on the debt trail is the credit card. With beaches for our playground and sunshine instead of snow, we should have lots of free adventures that will ensure low electricity bills and reduce other expenses we would have in a usual winter. Sitting on a beach is free, exploring along an esplanade is free, discovering the joys of Sunday markets and new places is free - all possible as its not bitterly icy cold!

There is definitely a satisfaction which occurs when each bill is removed from the equation of your own debt. Having no outstanding electricity, gas, telephone or internet - no arrears in the mortgage, minimum payments on the current remaining debt - its a much easier position to be placed.

Compared to last September, there are now only three remaining debts. The Line of Credit is currently being covered by the rent being received on our place in Ballarat. MrCentrelink advises this is still our primary residence and will be for the next two years so long as we do not purchase property or land elsewhere. On $602 per week, this is highly unlikely to occur. *chuckles* 

VISA: $6,982.55
Personal Loan: $9,414.00
Line of Credit: $21,839.52

The short term focus is re-establishing our budget. Using my "Bill's Budget" sheets, this will be set for the end of the month and run through August and September. Already we have menu planned for the next ten days and shopped under budget. Considering the cupboards were bare ~ this is truly satisfying and a mighty feat! We even got ice-cream for desserts this week! Baked some buns, made pizza and will be enjoying a roast on Sunday! Gee it feels great to say that!!

Tonight's dinner - Char-sui beef stir fry - under $2.50ea
So a big fat pooh-pooh to those who said we shouldn't risk moving, those who said we might be running into trouble with our accommodation plans and those who questioned the choice of Bundaberg. The Karma-Fairies have given us a wonderful gift and blessed us with the opportunity to help others while giving us the chance to get back on track with our plans and dreams. Knowing Husband, SmallBoy and I agreed together to make the move, to embrace the chance and enjoy the change makes the whole journey so much easier and the adventure more enjoyable. 

Here's to fulfilling your dreams ~ stay with us on the Mission to being debt free, budget savvy and if you feel the need to help along, the Spare Change Jar at the top of the blog is a great place to gift those 5c and 10c coins you find in the gutter ~ it all adds up for us. 

Don't forget to share ~ if you've got unwanted 'stuff', look up your nearest Freecycle group because someone else might need what you are ready to throw out! We've already sourced a plethora of plants, heaps of herbs, bagged a bookcase and given toys, clothes and utensils since arriving in Bundaberg using Freecycle. Its even on FaceBook - like all the good stuff (such as Mands On A Mission) *grins*

Chat tomorrow friends and followers ~ I've another giveaway to share this weekend, a perfect winter winner! So enjoy your Friday :D