Friday, 27 July 2012

Things I Know (with thanks to kebeni)

Things I know this week include:
  • I know some incredible, marvellous people who are positive, creative and supportive. I even work with some of them.
  • I really like kids. Its their parents that never cease to piss me off.
  • My son is awesome. Even when he's a pain in the arse.
  • I can learn alot from the journeys of others.
  • My husband has patience.
  • My cat has a mental deficiency. But he's still great.
  • All things take time. And that's OK.
  • No matter how many management courses you do, qualifications you have, or integrity you summon, there will always be people who try to shaft you. And not in a good way.
Things I think I know include:
  • As I have not had a migraine for two weeks, and also not had a drink for two weeks, there may be some connection. I'm hoping not. And actually considering having a drink (and risking the migraine) just to prove myself wrong.
Things I don't know (and probably never will) include:
  • How some people can operate from such a dishonest, cunning and selfish place, to the point where they clearly don't care about the impact on others.
  • How some people can tell lies in the same way most of us use the truth.
  • How some people will involve anyone in their manipulation in order to make a point.
  • How some people don't believe that others are capable of this; even when they are in the middle of that behaviour and situation.
All in all, an informative week.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful Part 1

Its been a pretty miserable week in this house. S&H became unwell last Friday night, and after a weekend of vomit, high temperatures and lots of tears (mostly his), LSH and I developed symptoms on Sunday night. By Monday morning, both adults in the house were experiencing full on flu symptoms, with a child only just coming out of the worst.
I hate being sick. REALLY hate it. And I feel incredibly sorry for myself also.

I've been dwelling in a mire of body aches, head aches, temperature and nausea induced self pity for four days now. It reached a peak when I had to drag myself out of bed this afternoon to collect S&H from school. Poor poor me. Watch me suffer, world.

So, I decided to stop thinking about my own terrible misfortunes (yah, seriously) and instead think about all the stuff I should be really greatful for. Like, next week this flu will have gone, right?

Lovely daffodils in the garden, reminding us that winter is only a state of mind...

Grumpy cat, who despite his "Dont give a Feck" exterior, has not left me alone for the last four days (he hates it when any of us is sick or upset)...

Lovely boy and wonderful places; lots to see and do and experience, things to come....

Batman, aka LSH, who even thought he felt as shite as me the last few days, got up to look after S&H so I could stay in bed. Bless.

Henry Rollins. Just because.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

No more for me, thanks....

Having read some stuff lately written by parents of large families, I decided to write about the joys and tribulations of having just the one. I am an only child, as is LSH. And guess what? S&H is one too. Strange? Maybe. But no stranger in my mind than those people who feel compelled to have large families. So here we go...

Things that a parent of an only child knows:

Your child knows how to share.

Your child does not have to be "spoilt". Just because there's one, the answer doesn't always have to be YES.

Your child gets lonely sometimes. We all do.

There is always be time for talking. Lots of time.

You take a lot of photos.

Your child probably eats most things, because he has always had to.

You only ever have to buy one Nintendo, or Wii, or Xbox. Or, you might never buy one.

You will never be accused of providing hand me down clothes. Even when you do get them from friends and second hand shops (Unseen = Unknown).

You only have to pay one lot of school fees, scout dues, guitar lesson fees, swimming fees or judo lesson accounts. Or, none at all.

A child is completely capable of entertaining themself. Being bored is being boring.

You are able to travel as a family further, sooner.

You can keep the sportscar you bought before you got married. In three years, you can take your child for a drive (and he will love it!)

Other families assume (wrongly) that your child is lonely and invite him around to play, lots. 

Sleepovers with other kids are awesome.

Family ticket prices are a con.

You stress more about the little things because you want to get it absolutely right.

You hear yourself being repeated at least once a week from the time he can talk. And you laugh and are mortified all at the same time.

You wonder constantly how your child compares to others, from teething to reading to career path.

You over analyze, stress, get anxious and obsessive about things other parents take in their stride. But you're ok with that.

You wonder how it's possible to love another human being quite this much.

You are constantly asked, are you planning for another? And be given a range of looks from puzzled to pity when you say, no more for me, thanks.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty

I’m not a monarchist.  I didn’t watch the celebrations this week to mark the jubilee.  I managed to avoid the wedding last year (although my love of kitsch compelled me to purchase a souvenir mug from eBay) and I’m not even sure how old Elizabeth 2 is turning this year.  But I do love the Queen’s Birthday weekend.

In previous years, long before LSH and S&H, it was probably the biggest social weekend of the year.  The happy day would be celebrated the Sunday night prior, along with a couple hundred gay men in tight shorts/leather pants/sleeveless T shirts, dancing to a creative mix of techno, disco and maybe some Petula Clarke.  Bring out the bubble machine and pass the amyl.  Woot woot!

As I write this, all that is a distant memory.  The sun is streaming through the back of the house, warming the kitchen and giving the five loads of washing on the line a last chance for the day.  The house is warm and bright; it’s been a wonderful winter’s day.
After three days away from home, it has been great to have this day to do all the things that need to be done.  Bags unpacked, washing done, grocery shopping undertaken, clothes for work tomorrow sorted.  LSH and S&H are making bolognaise sauce for later in the week and the smell of frying garlic and onions is mesmerising. We are calm, all the jobs have been done and we are thankful for this time together.
But I'm not sure we would be this organised if we lived in a Republic.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Pantry Reconfiguration Part 4

Week 3 - The Epic Finalisation
OK, so Week 3 of the Pantry experiment has been and gone.  A week ago, in fact.

The week itself started out like the previous two, with some menu planning based primarily on what I could rustle up out of the Pantry (and maybe the freezer) as the basis for meals. Things were looking pretty good for the week. I even got back on the tuna pony (insert mildly disturbing visual image here…)
Week 3 Menu

Scrambled eggs on toast
Home made veggie soup
Veggie from market
Tinned tomatoes, chicken stock from Pantry
Brunch: French toast
Brussel sprouts and bacon
Sprouts from the market
Bacon from supermarket
Brunch from Pantry/fridge
Tuna and Salad (me)
Left over soup, fruit and cake (S&H)

Left over veggie soup and toast
Toast and cheese from Pantry and fridge
Cheese and salad (me)
Packed lunch (S&H)

Fried Rice
Veggies from market
Eggs, soy, rice from the Pantry
Cheese and Salad (me)
Packed lunch (S&H)

Home made baked beans and poached eggs on toast
Eggs, beans and bread from Pantry
Bacon and tinned tomatoes from supermarket
Tuna and salad (me)
Left over baked beans, fruit and cake (S&H)
Pea and Ham soup (courtesy LSH)
Split green peas, onion, garlic, stock from Pantry
Bacon from supermarket
Cheese and salad (me)
Packed lunch (S&H)
Char grilled octopus with balsamic dressing and salad
Octo from the market
Veggies from supermarket
All good.  Imagine then, my surprise and (predicated) embarrassment when I realised that the grocery bill for this week was higher than the previous two.  We had spent almost half again of the amount spent in Week 1 and Week 2. WTF?!

A couple of things became immediately apparent on reflection (and by “reflection” I mean shouting at LSH and accusing him of taking food out of the Pantry behind my back). First, the Pantry is actually running low and there were a number of things, like tinned tomatoes, golden syrup, porridge oats etc that had to be purchased.  This week was in fact the “tipping point” where I had to buy more than I had in stock to put together a meal.  Second, we also “lashed out” and bought ingredients for meals we felt like, rather than just meals we were able to make – a prime example was the octopus (did you spot it on the menu above?!) that we bought on a whim at the market – it’s from Stanley and was prepared by the Cable Station restaurant. Absolutely delicious. But, not on the budget planners shopping list.  Also, this was the first week in three that we did not purchase any meals out, or take advantage of the generosity of others.
All three factors seem to explain why we had the increase in expenditure.  So I’m not the perfect domestic goddess on a budget.  Sue me.  I’m HUMAN.  And I have two XY chromosomal units who like to eat, a lot and often.  J
This is where the formal experiment ends.  I made the observation that we could probably live off the Pantry contents for three weeks, and we gave it a good shot.  At the end of it all, here is what I have learned:
  • The shelves of the Pantry actually have pretty patterned lino covering them.  I know this because I can actually SEE the shelves now.
  • No one, NO ONE needs eight tins of tuna at one time (or indeed, at all).
  • S&H likes jelly.  A LOT.
  • Menu planning is my friend.  Sure, it’s another step down the slippery slope to the routine and certainty of old age, but it actually helps save money.  And saved money means I get those Country Road boots sooner J.
  • We can actually eat well, and quite healthily, on a budget.  This is a bit of a revelation to me and I am already planning the veggie garden supreme for spring to make this reality even cheaper, and more delicious.  Maybe I’ll blog about it. J

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Pantry Reconfiguration Part 3 – The Pasta Excitation

Week 2 of the dietary challenge done and dusted.  I found it much easier this week, and I think it’s primarily because of the meal planning.  Meal Planning – it’s like alcohol free days for me – you know you SHOULD do it, but really, in the back of your head, you know it’s not cool and hip and it’s far groovier to fly by the seat of your pants.  Yeah, I’m a rebel on a road to nowhere, hate in my eyes, don’t ask for me tomorrow,’cos I’ll be gone on a one way ticket to oblivion…

But I digress.  I have been described as possessing a (somewhat misguided) sense of confidence, and that was certainly boosted this week through menu planning and getting a bit more hard core about what really needed to be bought.  In summary, we spent about $10.00 more this week on groceries, but we did splash out a bit over the weekend (see below) and I didn’t blow almost a week’s worth of budget getting pissed with the girls.  Turns out, it IS cheaper to get untidy at home…J
I bought my lunch twice this week, once through sheer laziness (Thursday) and as I was meeting a friend (Friday).  After a couple of jelly free days, Son&Heir is back into the artificial colours and flavours with a vengeance.  As foreseen, no tuna was consumed this week.  I am going to try and face the remaining tins next week….sigh….

Week 2 Menu

Left over veggie curry
Vietnamese glazed salmon and wilted bok choy
Salmon from supermarket
Bok Choy from market
Glaze ingredients from Pantry
Sprats on toast (turns out we have a lot of them too!)
Stuffed Capsicums (with Mexican rice)
Capsicums from supermarket
All other ingredients from pantry
Cheese and Salad (me)
Left over rice& fetta, fruit and cake (S&H)

Cannelloni with spinach, ricotta and walnuts
Cannelloni, walnuts, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste from Pantry
Spinach from market
Ricotta from supermarket
Left over cannelloni (me)
Packed lunch (S&H)

Thai Green Veggie curry and rice
Green curry sauce, rice and coconut milk powder from Pantry
Veggies from market
Cheese and Salad (me)
Packed lunch (S&H)

Sandwich (me – meeting)
Take away noodles (boys)
I had a late meeting where sandwiches were provided.  LSH and S&H decided to go noodles.
Take out sushi (me)
Baked Beans, fruit and cake (S&H)
Take out Chinese (LSH)
Chicken wings and salad
Chicken wings from freezer, marinade ingredients from the Pantry
Salad veggies from the market/garden
Butter chicken curry (me)
Packed lunch (S&H)
Left over curry (LSH)
Thai rice noodle soup with prawns
Rice noodles, stock from the Pantry
Prawns from freezer
Veggies from supermarket

Total grocery expenditure for the week was about $116.00, which would have been less if I had not bought the salmon.  In fact, if I had not bought the salmon, we would have come in less than Week 1’s expenditure, with fewer meals out.  Brilliant.  Or maybe just lucky?
Week 3 is already shaping up to be a tough one.  I have started menu planning and there are already a couple of challenges apparent.  One, the Pantry is actually looking leaner and my choices are more limited.  And two, I don’t want to fall into the comfort zone of having the same meals week in, week out.  So, can I rustle up a diverse menu using a more limited range of Pantry options?  Or will I just give in and nip down to Flip Burgers when it all gets too hard?
Let’s find out shall we….?
PS  Thanks to everyone who has read the blog so far and been kind enough to say nice things to me (some to my face!).  As always, your thoughts and suggestions are most welcome. J

Friday, 11 May 2012

The Pantry Reconfiguration Part 2 (aka The Tuna Degustation)

Week One of the culinary frugality experiment is complete. And I have to say, it was not as difficult as I imagined it would be, although there were some challenges.

We did have some help this week, in that it was a more social week for the family than usual.  We were invited to lunch with some old family friends on Sunday, so a massive roast meal and dessert came at no cost (well perhaps to the waist line, but more of that later).  Friday night I went out for dinner with the Chardy Girls so didn’t have to plan that meal, although obviously the cost of the night negated grocery savings during the week.  The boys decided to get take out noodles in my absence, so another additional cost there.  But as I said, this really was an unusual week in that we don’t tend to eat out and takeaways are quite limited.

On the plus side, S&H has rediscovered jelly as a favourite dessert, which is just as well as the audit last week turned up six packets of assorted flavours!  He is currently working his way through packet #3 (4 serves per pack), so we have at least another week ahead of instant after school snack and/or dessert, assuming he doesn’t tire of bright artificial colours and flavours.
Sadly, my cunning plan to rid the house of the tuna glut (EIGHT assorted tins located, various added flavours) did not last the week.  I managed to have tuna and salad at work for lunch for four days, but by Friday I was well over it (as were my colleagues, who although they didn’t say anything, started avoiding my office between 12.30 and 2.00pm). So on Friday I caved and bought myself a lentil curry from Ali’s (the best curry in town and only $5.50 for lunch, what a bargain). Granted, my colleagues now had a whole new reason to avoid my office, but at least it wasn’t my breath they had to worry about J.

But back to the pluses. We ate well (I think) and grocery costs were down, as were trips to the supermarket. I always find those “drop ins” to the store, especially on the way home after school or work, lend themselves to aimless wandering of the aisles and end in a basket full of stuff that just doesn’t get used, or is unnecessary, or both.  I did miss corn chips with my pre dinner Chardy, but I got over it.
So, to the meal planning.  Breakfast for all is stock standard toast, yogurt, or cereal.  Packed lunch for S&H comprises a sandwich (usually with meat and cheese), fruit and homemade cake.  You may recall I bought a stack of fruit and vegetables at the market on Saturday morning, then a few extras at the supermarket. During the week there were two additional supermarket trips, each time with a list that was adhered to (well, except for the Aero bar but I’m only human!)
This is how we ate last week:

Scrambled Egg with bacon on toast
Cauliflower and Rigatoni with Blue Cheese Sauce
Large Rigatoni from Pantry
Purchased Cauliflower
All other ingredients from fridge
With Friends
Baked Vegetables and Fetta
Purchased veggies, except onions and garlic from Pantry
Fetta from fridge
Tuna and Salad (me)
Left over veggies& fetta, fruit and cake (S&H)
Leftover Cauli & Rigatoni (LSH)
Seafood risotto
Arborio rice from Pantry
Purchased 300g marinara mix
Prawns from freezer
Tuna and Salad (me)
Packed lunch (S&H)
Leftover risotto(LSH)
Caesar Salad
Croutons from Pantry
Everything else from the fridge
Tuna and Salad (me)
Packed lunch (S&H)
Whatever he could find in the house (LSH)
Veggie curry and rice
Curry sauce and basmati rice from Pantry
Most of the veggies were from the market purchase on Saturday, but I did buy a capsicum sweet potato and some mushrooms at the supermarket
Tuna and Salad (me)
Leftover curry, fruit and cake (S&H)
Leftover curry (LSH)
Home made pizza with veggies and fetta
Pizza dough from Pantry ingredients
Veggies and fetta from the fridge
Lentil curry (me)
Packed lunch (S&H)
Fed at work (LSH)
Dinner with friends (me) Takeaway noodles (boys)
Grocery expenditure for the week was just under $110.00 and this included non-consumables like toothpaste and asprin.  This is not because I am a skilful shopper.  It’s because we had, and continue to have, a large range of staples, condiments, additionals etc. in both the Pantry and the Fridge. Don’t even get me started on the freezer; I’m going to look in there later today.
I had a couple of concerns going into this.  The first related to monotony of menu, which I think I managed to avoid (tuna being the obvious exception, but I just put that down to personal weakness on my part J). The second was about the nature and amount of carbohydrates that we would be consuming, and I think that concern was realised this week.  I have eaten more rice, pasta and dough in one week than I would normally and I need to be smarter next week if I don’t want to blow out like the Hindenburg.
So the challenge for this week will be to do it all again, but with less carbs if possible. I think I’ll take a leaf from my friend Kelli’s book and buy some more cheese.
If you have any comments about last week’s menu, or suggestions for this week, I’d love to see them.  And stay tuned!