Monday, March 31, 2014

Damn You Murphy!

It's been a little quiet on the blog this month and is likely to be that way for a bit to come as well. You see this man Murphy has this law, you may have heard of it...basically it states "if it can go wrong it will."

I was on a roll. The husband and I had decided that we'd start living and stop waiting. We were decorating the house the way we wanted to, we were looking at taking small family days out and I had even started a new hobby with dreams of making it more.

Then Murphy called, long distance, in the shape of my sister in law in England. My beautiful and strong Mother in law who has been dealing with chemo since being diagnosed with Breast Cancer last October had been rushed to hospital.
There was really nothing to think about somehow we were going to get back to the UK. 48 hours later we had put in an application with the bank for a huge debt inducing personal loan and within the week we had booked tickets and accommodation for a 30 day trip to the UK.

So in a way we are still living and not waiting we've just changed the line up. Huge family holiday first, saving for a house when we return....long long after we return given the size of the loan and it's interest.

What I want to share with you all from my experience is a few things.

Firstly 'You cannot predict what will happen tomorrow'. I like to be organised, have a plan.  For most things in life I NEED to know that I'm somewhat in control, that I've done all I can to be prepared for what curve balls may come our way. I had started this. I did the finance course and educated myself on how to better handle our families income. I had set up a new account from which all our bills would be paid and the money was starting to build up in that. Our savings was starting to build up again too thanks to this new system. We had spending money, money that we could use for a day out or to treat ourselves with.

It doesn't matter how prepared you are life sometimes just does not play by your rules.

It's at those times you need to look for the positives before you drown in a sea of negativity. I'm usually great at helping friends see the positive points when they are going through a hard time, not so good at pointing them out to myself though. I eventually got there, after a really hard week of feeling like I was drowning I pulled on my life preserver and made a list.

*Our kids are going to get to see their paternal grandparents and make great memories for both the adults and children involved.
*They are going to experience a new culture, see the world and have their eyes opened to how big our world truly is. They will hopefully catch the travel bug that their dad and I have, the longing to see and experience all that our world has to offer and it will push them to be the best they can be so they have the opportunities to explore it later in their lives.
*My husband will get to see his mum again, possibly for the last time, and it will be done on their terms with happy smiling faces and big warm hugs.
*I get to see an old friend, someone very dear to me who I have not seen in far too long and squash them in the biggest bear hug ever...Gizmo you've been warned :)
*The husband and I will get our first vacation together, and with grand parents, aunts and uncles a plenty will possibly have so many date nights we'll be set for the next few years.

And last but most certainly not least we're going to Disneyland Paris!

I'm still stressed beyond belief, it's just how I am. A thousand small things add up to make one huge thing and I'm left tearing my hair out wondering why I haven't built that boat and sailed away to Jamaica yet.
Despite it all though I can see the positives, I'm excited for my kids and for my husband and I'm sure closer to D day I'll be excited for me too.

My lesson here though, one I'm sure we all know, is life is un predictable. Don't necessarily live each day as if it's your last unless you want to live the rest broke and possibly incarcerated but just stay aware that as much as you may plan, as organised as you think you may be none of us can see the future and none of us know what it will hold.

Which brings me to point two...Hindsight is Murphys ugly step sister.

The husband and I have a deep seeded hatred for hindsight. It seems we are forever doomed to be learning from our mistakes. 'If we had done this' or 'If we had gone that way' the most recent lesson I've learnt I'm sharing in case anyone is ever in a similar situation.

Bank loans. It was Friday afternoon when we learnt of my Mother in laws hospitalisation. The banks were closed and we were eager to get things underway so we applied to our bank via an online application. Once we had been approved and were sitting in our local branch with a very lovely banker we were informed that had we gone directly through the branch for this loan we could have saved thousands - THOUSANDS - on interest due to special deals they have to help form better relationships with loyal customers. I'm trying so hard to not think about this anymore, seriously THOUSANDS! Anyhow it's painful because we had mentioned that calling our branch to discuss the matter might be more beneficial....our impatience was our downfall.

So the lesson here....take as much time as your situation allows to think things through and always shop in store.

What it boils down to is this.. My Living while Renting journey is going to be longer than I had planned, also quite possibly a lot slower now too, but I'm in for the long haul, ready for the journey and I hope you all stick around till we reach our final destination whatever and when ever that may be.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Food Glorious Food...

Hi my name is Skye and I'm a comfort eater, I uh also eat when bored oh and if I'm watching TV I need something to snack on. Basically I love my food, not all food I'm quite - ok VERY - fussy, but I love to eat. What I do not like is the price of groceries. Even your pantry staples seem to be getting stupidly expensive these days.

We are a Home Brand no frills family and proud if it. Most of the time the taste is the same and often even better. There are a few things we will go name brand on but often it's baking goods like Cocoa - you should never skimp on chocolate - and maple syrup, if you're going to eat tree sap it's got to be the good stuff.

It's grocery day today and I as I was writing my list I thought of a few recipes I've come across that I want to share with you all.

They are recipes that allow for bulk batches. These are the best kind in my opinion. They save time in the kitchen - I don't mind cooking or baking but I loathe the clean up so recipes that allow for a big yield with only one mess to clean up are always going to win my vote - and they save money. Often it's hard to see the money you do save and often it's not all that much for example one recipe I'll be sharing is a biscuit recipe. These days you can buy a pack of home brand Arrowroot for around $1 so making your own may seem pointless however you can't buy a pack of family assorted for $1 but with one batch of biscuit dough you can create as many different tastes as you like.

Another positive point for home made is you can choose what goes in to what you and your family eat. Trying to cut down on sugar? Replace the cup of sugar with honey or apple sauce.

First up today I give you an easy as pie Pizza dough. I spent a lot of time just before Christmas looking for a great pizza dough and to be honest they all basically have the same stuff in them so I picked this one from because they said it can be freezed, Yay! One mess to clean up, three meals prepared.

The recipe reads as though it only makes two pizza bases but from reading the comments I've learned that the author made thick crust pizza. We are a thin crust family so I got three bases from this recipe.

It was a really tasty pizza base, nothing fancy just good yummy pizza.

Next up is something a little different. Chicken Enchilada Pasta from This was delicious and surprisingly not all that hot/spicy as the ingredients would lead you to believe. However I did leave out a few things and had to make a change here or there due to us Aussies not having such a large selection of Mexican sauces at our disposal. I still followed the basic recipe and what I made had everyone going back for seconds.

Here are my changes:

*I used garlic powder instead of crushed garlic cloves.

*The red pepper was left out for two reasons: 1. The husband and I couldn't figure out if it was a bell pepper/capsicum or red chilli that we were meant to use and 2. I don't do HOT food so in the hope of keeping this meal edible by me it was emitted.

*The can of diced green chillies was left out as our grocery store didn't have any.

*The two cans of green chilli enchilada sauce and 2/3 cup of red enchilada sauce was replaced by two cans of red Enchilada sauce as once again it was all that was available.

The rest of the recipe was followed and it made a ton like the original author says. There was enough for very large portions for dinner for three adults plus seconds for two and then enough for lunch for two days so it could do lunches for a week, or be a quick meal to re heat and eat on nights when you don't have much time. It seriously is worth the effort, I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty this meal was.

The first of my biscuit recipes is for Maple cookies from A Spoonful of Sugar. This is when the name brand maple syrup comes in handy.

These are sweet but not sickly. Perfect for when you want something sweet but different. I managed four batches so they are right in saying it serves 48. If you do 12 cookies a batch. If you're like me and like big cookies then you may get less per batch.

My second biscuit recipe is your basic sugar cookie recipe. What I love about sugar cookies is that you can add anything you like to put your own twist on it. Feel like choc chip cookies, add chocolate Chips. Want something a little more healthy swap the choc chips for sultanas or even cherries. Add some orange essence and cocoa for Jaffa flavoured cookies. Honestly the options are as endless as your baking imagination.

The linked recipe from Experience Sardinia is made even more brilliant because it can be frozen. I've read a lot of sugar cookie recipes and they usually say it can be kept refrigerated for three to four days. Which is great if you'll need more than one batch of cookies a week. I prefer to have the dough ready when I feel like cookies so being able to freeze a few batches ready to be pulled at a moments notice is great.

What's your favourite big batch recipe? Share it in the comments I'd love to add more to my recipe book.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Kitchen Chemistry

Hands up who is ready to learn something new about me??

I am what some would call a Geek! Though from a Geeks point of view it's us who are normal and everyone else is just waiting for their imaginations to kick into over drive.

Come over to the Geek side, we have Cookies. We also have these amazing spice racks...

I stumbled across these on Pinterest - nothing new there - but immediately began researching how to make my own.

It seems pretty straight forward. Buy test tubes, make a stand (or buy one) transfer existing spices in to tubes, label tubes and Vaders your father. One Test Tube Spice Rack ready to geek out your kitchen.

If you would like a step by step guide Dream Book Design have a tutorial here.

I did a little research. You can purchase a ready made test tube spice rack from a company I won't name for $96. However seeing as the whole point of my blog is to help you decorate while saving money I will tell you that you can buy 20 test tubes with cork stoppers from 'In The Clear' on for $10.93. These tubes will fit about 1/2 an ounce - or 15 grams - of spice.

Or I found these slightly bigger test tubes on eBay, they are $27 for 25 test tubes and they hold just under 50mls. To give you an idea of spice amounts. An average master foods spice jar is 30grams and the jar is slightly smaller than my 50ml essential oil bottles. So I'm guessing they would hold around three quarters of a master foods spice jar or about 20grams of spice.

Now for the stand. A simple square or rectangle box would do the trick. You could put one together pretty easily with a few pieces of wood, a hammer and some nails or check out your local op shop as they are bound to have something that will do the job.
Another option is to transform an existing spice rack you may already have. This is the option I'll be using.
We have a traditional looking spice rack that looks a little like this one just a bit more square and a not so nice brown colour.

As I mentioned in Lime Surprise last week I was just going to paint it. Now though I'm going to get the Husband to drill some holes or add a support bar before I do.

I'll order the test tubes some time this week so stay tuned for a spice rack update.


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