52 Weeks to Simplify your Life – Week 1

I came across this challenge via another Aussie blog, A Juggling Mum, and am inspired to start the challenge myself.


The first week’s challenge is to make a list of things that went right in 2011, so here goes –

* Naomi had such a wonderful journey through a year of Kindergarten.  We were so worried that it would be a big challenge for her, but she took to learning like a duck to water.

* Despite several months of worry, Brad’s company did keep him in full-time work for the whole year.

* We successfully made a move to a city 2000 kms away from where we were, and enjoy living here.

* My business, Fabric Fusion, was ticking along quite well, and has now re-opened in Brisbane, in a bigger, better (albeit more expensive!), retail space.

* One of my sisters took amazing courage into her hands and ended an ongoing 20-year relationship that had been so abusive and bad for her and the children.  While this has caused such pain and difficulty for her, we are so grateful to see her starting to come out of herself and find the real woman she is.

I am sure that I will think of many more things, and hopefully return to edit this list and make it longer, in the next few days, as I focus on things to be grateful for, from 2011.

I am linking this up to Home Life Simplified.

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Menu Plan Monday – Week 2, 2012

Menu planning time again!  I am feeling just slightly more in control, with a plan for each dinner.  Even if we switch around or change plans, at least there is always a back-up.  And I felt the savings doing the grocery shopping this week, already!  So here goes another week…

Monday –  Cauliflower & bacon soup with garlic bread (see recipe below)

Tuesday – BBQ chicken hot pot (we didn’t do this last week)

Wednesday – Sausage tomato casserole

Thursday – Honey soy chicken wings with fried rice

Friday – Dinner out for Miss Turning 5’s birthday!

Saturday – Thai red curry chicken and noodles

Sunday – Beef & vegetable casserole (again, we didn’t do this last week)

The soup is honestly the best meal I have in my repertoire – it uses pretty much any vegetables you have in the bottom of the fridge, the kids love it, it is quick and easy for a weeknight dinner, and even makes minimal dirty dishes!

Cauliflower & Bacon soup (the best way I know to hide extra veg in kids dinner!)

Ingredients –

* At least half a head of cauliflower – up to a full head, for more people

* 3 – 4 middle rashers of bacon

* 3 – 4 cups chicken stock (I make mine from stock cubes)

* Pretty much any other mild vegetables you have – cabbage, zucchini, onion, potatoes etc

* A clove of garlic, or a teaspoon of crushed garlic, or a good shake of garlic powder.

Method –

In a large saucepan, brown the chopped bacon and onion (if you are using it).  Add the roughly chopped other vegetables and the garlic.  Add the chicken stock and if needed, enough hot water to just cover all the vegetables.  Simmer gently on the stove-top until the vegetables are all nice and soft.  When vegetables are soft, spoon the whole lot into a blender and blitz it for long enough to make a lovely smooth creamy soup.

Serve with garlic bread, or spring rolls, or pretty much anything else you like!

I am linking this post up to Laura at Organizing Junkie  🙂


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A proud mamma….

for the last 2 evenings, our Miss Naomi, almost 5, has happily offered, and in fact insisted on helping with the dish-washing and kitchen / dining tidy after dinner.  She pulls over a step to stand on, thoroughly enjoys washing dishes while I dry, and then takes the dishcloth and wipes the benches and table.

Her shining eyes and happy smile are a joy to me.  The chance to spend some ‘girl time’ together is priceless – and the opportunity to enjoy washing and drying dishes is fantastic.  For however long it lasts, I thank you, Lord, for a beautiful little girl who is all too quickly becoming a young lady – she starts school in a week!!

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Day to day….

How are things going with you?

We have been sooo hot here in Brisbane the last couple of days!  Quiet in the fabric shop, I think because it’s too hot to be bothered leaving your house, but busy online, so that’s good.

The menu plan has been switched around a bit because it was too hot tonight for beef casserole, so it became beef tacos with salad and sour cream instead.  Much more refreshing, and cooler for me to cook.

My knitting is slowly coming along – one row (or stitch!) at a time.  Mum and family have gone home to Cairns, so I don’t have anyone in the house to fix my dropped stitches and other random mistakes!

Naomi can’t wait to be starting Prep in a couple of weeks, she is so ready, and sooo cranky at having to be at the shop with me and her cheeky little brother every day.  Ryan starts daycare again on Thursday, and he is looking forward to that as much as we are!

So nothing thrilling here, but how is your week going?

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Menu Plan Monday: Week 1, 2012

Ohh boy, it’s been a while.  Both since I blogged, and since I menu-planned.  As we are again feeling particularly frugal around here, I have decided to get back into menu planning, as I know the many benefits, particularly now that I am working full-time.  So here goes!

Monday – Honey soy pork stirfry with noodles

Tuesday – Beef and veg casserole

Wednesday – Roast Chicken, gravy and vegetables

Thursday – Spaghetti Bolognaise

Friday – Pumpkin soup with bread rolls

Saturday – Left overs

Sunday – BBQ chicken hot pot

OK, so wish me luck with remembering to defrost the meat each morning!  More experienced menu planning over at OrgJunkie.

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feeling frugal…

I have Scottish roots – my grandfather was born in Glasgow.  His father worked in the Govan shipyards.  The family came to Australia and my grandfather worked in the steel factories of Newcastle, during WWII.  My darling father passed on these Scottish roots to all of us, and I proudly cite that for my tendency to bunker down and get frugal, when the going gets tough.

So when Brad was told in May that his work on this project will finish at the end of August, and that his company don’t have another project for him to transfer to, I started getting twitchy…

After months of looking for jobs, and several interviews for positions in other States, suffice to say we are still looking.  It’s that kind of time – Brad is an engineer, and the construction industry is just now really starting to feel the effect of the GFC.  The Government stimulus buildings are just about done, the floods and Cyclones mean that major projects are being put on hold, while minor works are all carried out.  The Lord is certainly using this time to teach me patience, strength and trust in his infinite wisdom.  I find comfort in the knowledge that He plans only to prosper our family, not to cause harm.

However, in the meantime, my frugal Scottish roots are coming out in some interesting ways.

* I have stopped turning lights on in the house during the day.  We are living in a house with poor orientation for light, and not a lot of windows in the living area, so I used to have the lounge room lights on most of the day.  Now I am learning to enjoy what I call “mood lighting”… (ie. gloom).

* I have hauled out all the little plastic tubs for packing kids’ lunches in, and not using zip-lock bags at all anymore.

* This winter (we are in Australia, remember!) we went through all the hand-me down boxes of clothes and managed to mostly clothe the kids with warm things from their older cousins.

* I am making a point of eating left-overs for my lunches, as we were terrible at putting things in the fridge, and then just chucking them out when they resembled science experiments….

I must remain confident and trusting in the Lord to help us find a position for Brad.  But in the meantime, these other little things are helping me to “keep calm and carry on”.

What do you do that might be considered quirky, but is really just good honest frugal-ness??  Oh, and in the meantime, please also pray for Connie and her family who are going through a lay-off, and facing many of the same emotions as we are.

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On your mark….

Get set….


Who won, Mum???

Erm, I don’t know – I was busy watering the pansies!  Must have been a tie…..


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