Showing posts from July, 2014

Sustainable Living group takes on Household Budgeting

The Sustainable living group is off to a good start with the number attending meetings increasing.  This month we had a lively discussion about household budgeting which is so much bigger than just crunching numbers.
People have different goals in budgeting.  Some do it to save money and to stretch their dollars further.  Others are discovering new, better, more economical ways to live.

It takes discipline to set goals and stick to the plan to meet those goals.  And getting the whole family on board with a new system can be one of the biggest challenges of all.

Some folks have a vision of a budget, but nothing on paper.  Some have no plan, but are in a reactionary mode to the bills as they come in.  And still others are keeping track right down to the penny.

Is there a right way and wrong way to budget?  Is one way better than another?  What is a budget?  And why don't they teach us about this in school?

There is definitely a right way for you and your family to budget.  And it …

My Kate Middleton Clutch/Purse

Ever notice the clutch purses that the Duchess is typically carrying on her outings??

They're always small, strapless, and hand held.

I figure she's carrying her cell phone and a photo id. Because that's what every millennial woman (and mom away from her child) needs.

Well, being a woman of the 21st century woman, and mom, I decided I, too, need a Kate Middleton bag for my days out attending to my royal and social duties.

A bit bigger than Kate's, but I love it.  And, it matches my red hat and my red shoes.
Of course, mine also came from the thrift store because there was no way I'd pay full retail price for a limited use item, no matter how much I love it.

Do you have a Kate Middleton purse??  I think everyone should have one for those times you go out and don't want to be mom or royalty.  You just want to be....  you.


Thrift store sheets....

....  to make a tablecloth and an apron.

I've had it in my mind for a while to make a housekeeping apron for myself and more recently I decided I wanted a tablecloth for our dining table.  These are wants, not needs, so not a high priority, but just something I browse for when I'm at the thrift store.

A couple days ago, it happened.  Looking through the buy/sell/swap page, there was a listing for 2 king size flat sheets and a super single fitted sheet for $7.  Two solids and a geometric print.  That'll do!  Sold!!

This afternoon, with a movie playing to keep me company, I've been cutting and hemming the red geometric print to be a table cloth.  We have a round dining table, but I've decided to cut it square for more versatility.  And I'll shop for some clear vinyl to put over it so it doesn't have to go into the washer after each and every meal. (You know how it is eating with a little one at the table.  :) )

I'm quite please with how it's turned ou…

Yarn sizes, weights, content; and a blanket

I knew it! When I started crocheting here in Australia, I used the size yarn which is most common, 8 ply, but I knew deep down that it wasn't I was used to. It was smaller. But even though I searched and searched I couldn't find a conversion chart to verify my belief.

And then, I got off the internet, browsed the crochet books at the library, and voile! There it is. 8 ply is the equivalent to DK/Light-worsted in US, and I had mostly used Worsted weight, the equivalent of 10-ply here in Aus.

I've set a goal of completing at least one crochet project each month thinking that would be no problem.  Well, this blanket that I've started just isn't going to get done in time.  The yarn is an 8-ply and I'm working it with only a size F hook.  It's 260 stitches across.  (Who thought this was a good idea??!!)

So to meet my goal, I'm going to sneak in a small fingerless glove project for my daughter and keep the blanket going into next month.

I'd love to hear fr…

Hot Chocolate, Scones, Macaroni & Cheese - Cooking from scratch

Yesterday was a day for cooking!!

For afternoon tea and playgroup, we're having the best scones that money can't buy! And an amazing thick hot chocolate.

For supper, a simple, real macaroni and cheese.

For the scones, I opened up my handy-dandy Better Homes and Gardens cookbook to page 84 to find THIS recipe for Biscuits Supreme:

2 cups all-purpose flour (250 grams)
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening (115 grams)  I use butter.
2/3 cup milk (160 ml)

Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt.  Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Make a well in the center, add milk all at once.  Stir just until dough clings together.  Knead gently on a lightly floured surface for 10 to 12 strokes.  Roll or pat to 1/2 inch (1cm) thickness.  Cut with a 2-1/2 inch (6cm) biscuit cutter, dipping cutter in flour between cuts.  Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake in a 450F (235C) oven for 10 to…

Weekly Budget Update

Tomorrow morning, if all goes to plan (DD has been home with croup this week.), will be time for me to do the weekly update on the budget.  Yes, I said it, the B word...  budget.

Some people thing budgeting is a bad thing.  "It limits my spending."  "I won't be controlled by a budget."  "Nobody is going to tell me how to spend my money."

Well, I guess you're right.  No one is going to tell you how to spend your money. Only you can do that.  A budget is a plan for how you're going to spend your money so when it comes time to make a purchase, the money is there.  Without a plan, money just disappears -- $5 for a coffee, $2 for a newspaper, $10 for a lunch. And by the end of the week, where did it all go?

In our family, I do the book work, but K and I made the plan together.  It's not up to me to tell him how much pocket money he gets.  We decided that together, when we decided how much to allocate in each of our categories.  But he's out at…

A Day of This and That

As the founder of the discussion group Sustainable Living here in Dalby, I had my first interview with the local online newspaper, Dalby Champions.  And it went well, I think.  Being my first interview, I am a bit nervous about seeing my ideas interpreted and written by someone else, out there for people to read.  And I've been thinking since then about what Sustainable Living is and what it means to me.

It's the small choices made on a daily basis.  When I first started looking for a better life, a happier life, a life less cluttered, and more meaningful; I found books to read (Simple Living, Radical Homemakers), blogs to read (Non-Consumer Advocate, Down to Earth),  and other people's routines to use (Flylady).

I was so inspired that I had found my people!  And I was going to do it all!  I was doing the daily cleaning routines, washing my hair with baking soda followed by a white vinegar rinse, de-cluttering my house, baking bread from scratch, buying everything we need…

Budgeting, Meal Planning, Stockpiling, and Morning Routines

We did it!!  That's me and DD, we set the Budget, Planned the Meals (or borrowed somebody else's meal plan), got our Morning Routines done and made the big shopping trip to Aldi.  Now our stockpiles are set for a month.  whew!

If I truly had a full stockpile system in place, it would be for the better part of a year, not just a month.  But this is a starting place.  And it's done!    We have bought all the necessary ingredients for 25 dinners and it came to just under $180 Aus.  This is the meal plan shared here  ( ).  I bought nearly everything on the list, and made up for the few I didn't get by picking up a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread just because K loves it and a few other items.

Overall, I am very pleased and surprised that food prices here in Aus are that close to what they are in the US.  In my own mind, I had figured we were paying double.

In our budget, we set aside $100/wk for food.  This is specifi…

A Plan for Today... or Tomorrow

I finished the book I was reading at 11:40 last night, which sadly is WAY past my usual bedtime of 9pm.  So needless to say, this morning did not start off in a stellar way.

But I'm up and going, chickens are fed, and laundry is started.  It will take a minute to wash up the breakfast dishes, and then on with the day.

I had thought I would drive to the Big City (Toowoomba) today, but I think my time is best spent at home.  Somehow I've gotten behind on laundry and you know how that goes.. it won't get done if I'm not home.

But I am excited about this upcoming trip to Toowoomba for a couple reasons -- 1)  since the Big Move from the US to Aus, I've only driven into the city by myself..  um, 1 other time.  I mean I drive around Dalby all the time so it's not that I can't drive.  But usually when we go to Toowoomba or on down to the coast, K is driving and I get to play tourist (gawk out the window and take pictures).

 And 2)  I came across a meal plan for a…

How Routines Make my Days Better

A part ofSustainable Living that doesn't get much attention is Routines.  For some of us, it's because they're so routine that we don't give them any thought (Yea!)  But for me, it's something that I didn't learn at my mother's knee, and so it's been a challenge.

When I first had children and moved from my days being dictated by my work schedule to staying home, I struggled with my home time -- how to fill it, and at the same time, how to get everything done that needed to be done.  And then one day I stumbled across Flylady ( and the world of routines opened up to me.

I learned about Morning Routines and Bedtime Routines.  I learned about Cleaning Routines and Meal Planning Routines.  And honestly, I cried.  Because up until that time, I thought I was the only one struggling.  And then I dove in to learn my routines.  It was hard learning these new habits, I mean I wasn't totally unhappy with wearing my pjs until 10am!  But I persev…