Tuesday, June 28, 2016

how I learnt to value my time

This past weekend I did my tax. I've never been this organised before but thanks to Daniel's encouragement I set aside a few hours to add up invoices and create a spreadsheet of my deductions (I usually just write the figures on a piece of paper but, well, spreadsheets are somewhat satisfying).

I had a rough idea of what I'd earned but when I added the figures I realised this financial year has been a big one for me. In fact, it's my most successful year to date, made even sweeter because I did it with three children in tow. As I was simultaneously patting myself on the back and dreading the imminent tax bill, I started thinking about what made this year different from those previous.

I had more work opportunities arise which I embraced, of course. But underlying ever single job I took on was one intention:

Value my time and reflect that value in my quotes.

Mid-last year I came to realise that if I didn't value my time, no one else would. It was a revelation because I admit, in the past I've been a bit of a push-over. Most of my business quotes and decisions have been dictated by fear and doubt. I have always questioned my ability to write the story and take the photo and I so desperately wanted to work that I often underquoted myself.

But this year was different. Perhaps its the self-belief that naturally comes in your thirties or the fact that with three children to care for my free time is minimal and therefore, incredibly precious. If I was going to spend time doing work, being away from my family or squeezing work time into a series of ungodly hours during the day and night, I needed to be paid accordingly.

But this isn't just about time and money. For me, it's about self-awareness, self-respect and self-care - recognising that I am valuable and that my work is valuable. It's a natural progression from knowing my limits; prioritising my wellbeing, respecting my skills and considering the whole picture before I say "yes!".

It's a relief to reach this stage as a working mother.

Feel free to share your thoughts, I'd love to know we're you're at.


4 COMMENTS


Sunday, June 26, 2016

26/52

"A portrait of my youngest children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Poet: We are most definitely in the 'dress-up' stage (outfit found at the op-shop, doctor's bag from Oliver's Twisty Tales)

Percy: so many leaps and bounds right now, despite a runny nose and chesty cough. This week I took the tray off his highchair so he sit against the table.


5 COMMENTS


Friday, June 24, 2016

it's all wintry here

Che and Poet have just come home from a mini-break with my parents. Once a year they visit a little seaside town a few hours north and stay in the very same holiday park I visited as a kid. It was quiet with them gone but my hands were still full with Percy who has been croupy and snotty. It's his first real cold and while he's still relatively happy he's either been in my arms or on my breast. Needless to say, productivity levels are low.

Working from home is always tricky when the kids are sick and I've found, in the past few months, that Percy's busyness has made writing almost impossible. But the local library has become my favourite place to work - away from the distractions of washing piles, dishes and home to-dos, I'm free to focus solely on story writing and photo editing for hours at a time. It's a refreshing change and it's one I've embraced on a twice-weekly basis.

Outside it's cold and blustery; true winter weather with stark white light and clear skies. One step out the door and you know that there's snow falling somewhere nearby. I'm sitting beside the heater, wrapped in my new wool throw (Poet's snuggled in it, above), while the kids push Percy around the house in a washing basket. The noise levels are headache-inducing but at least they're happy.

The weekend menu includes burgers and a beef stew, apple crumble and hot porridge, plenty of lemon water and tea. I'm finally reading this after hearing years of rave reviews and I'm thoroughly enjoying its quirks. My frequent visits to the library have inspired a return to novel reading which, I've promptly remembered, is a wonderful way to relax.

After writing this post and sharing on instagram, I realised that for many of us, simple living is tricky. Making big changes, especially for busy families, seems daunting. But what if you could adopt one new habit a month? Over the next week you could work on planning and building your pantry stockpile and then, come July, look out for my second post in the series. I do love how ideas sprout.

I must go, there is a huge pile of dirty washing awaiting my attention and if I want dinner on the table by 5, I need to get a start on it soon.

Have a great weekend!


1 COMMENTS


Thursday, June 23, 2016

simply practical : create a pantry stockpile

One of the things our new house has in abundance is storage - even in the kitchen. My pantry is a room unto itself with floor to ceiling shelves and a sliding door. It's a great place to hide if I'm eating chocolate and an even better place to store my kitchen stockpile.

Before we moved I made every effort to use up the last of everything in the freezer and the pantry. It meant there was less to move and ultimately gave me a fresh culinary start.

I've never been one to consciously stock-up on perishable food items. I've always felt that a good month's worth of food was enough and have shopped accordingly. But ever since I read Rhonda Hetzel's The Simple Home, I've been slowly building my pantry stockpile and noticing a shift in the way I shop and the way I cook - it's a really basic, easy step towards simplifying your kitchen and your cooking.

So how can a cupboard full of dry goods help you live more simply? Firstly, there’s contentment in knowing that even if something unexpected happens, you have your stockpile on standby. It’s basically an insurance policy for your kitchen – and insurance always settled the mind.

But ultimately, it means less trips to the shops which means more time doing what your heart desires. That once a week frantic shopping trip is in the past and so too is the twice-weekly top-up shops when you realise that you’re missing ingredients (and you inevitably come home with much more than you intended).

For the budget-conscious, it’s also a savvy way to save money. “If you look for specials, buy in bulk as much as you can, shop at the cheapest supermarket and plan your menus and your shopping list, it will save you money. You’re not at the mercy of price fluctuations due to shortages because your stockpile will generally hold a perfectly suitable alternative. If it doesn’t, stockpiling usually gives you the mindset to do without until the price returns to normal,” says Rhonda

Granted, created a three-month stockpile isn't going to happen in a week (for most of us, anyway). Instead, it's a matter of building it up over time, looking out for specials and buying in bulk where possible. If you're particularly budget-conscious and willing to go to a few different shops, trolley saver is a great app to download.

Personally, I under-estimated just how much the children's appetite increases over winter so I've been dipping into my stockpile a little too frequently. But come the new financial year when a tax return is hopefully on the horizon, stocking up on the basics is a priority. The peace of mind is priceless, as is knowing that those annoying top-up shops aren't necessary.

Fellow blogger Reannon Hope recently created a proper three-month stockpile and admits that it's a great way to shop for her single-income family. She suggests the following:

  • buy multiples when a product is significantly reduced and always add a few extra staples into your fortnightly shop (tinned tomatoes, pasta, lentils, flour).
  • write a master list for your pantry, fridge, freezer, laundry and bathroom and check each list before you shop so you don’t forget anything. The point of a stockpile if to save time and money and these lists help you do both.
  • hide stockpiled "goodies" in big containers so the older kids (or dads!) don't eat them.

And once you have created a stockpile take the time to look after it.

  • add new products to the back and take from the front
  • keep a written record of your freezer stockpile
  • put dry goods in the freezer for two days to kill and bugs and then store in the pantry
  • regularly check for pantry moths and treat quickly

Feel free to share your tips in the comments...I'd love to hear them!

This (modified) post first appeared on Mumtastic.


3 COMMENTS


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

blog refresh

As this blog celebrates its eighth birthday I've succumbed to the fact that I really need to make it a bit more practical. I've come this fair without concerning myself too much with the technical side of blogging because, let's face it, it hasn't been a priority. But that all changed a few months ago when I got a lovely email from a long-time reader. She wanted to find a post that I'd written a few years ago and thanks to her eloquent description I knew exactly which one she was referring to. Trouble was, even I couldn't find it. Cue search for a web designer and pooling the funds to make a redesign actually happen.

As I type, a shift over to wordpress and a redesign is underway. Subsequently, I'm flicking through over seven years of blog posts, reminiscing as I go. I'm reading over my early days of motherhood and recalling the challenges - the wondering, the not-knowing, the second guessing. Marvelling at much the children have grown and feeling like it's all gone by so fast. Grateful for the record - everyday stories that I'll hold close for many years to come.

Much like home, it feels like the blog is in need of a virtual spring clean. A good tidy-up and reorganise to refresh and renew, bringing older stories to the surface and finding inspiration in the archives. The new site will be much like the current with the added benefit of themed tabs - home, seasons, motherhood, yoga, pregnancy, lifestyle, photography - and a more spacious layout. 

If there are any particular posts that you would like to see more of, please let me know! I usually just write what's on my mind but I'm open to a bit of feedback every now and then. 

I wouldn't be able to do this if it weren't for you visiting, reading, commenting and sharing. So a heartfelt thank you, from me to you. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


13 COMMENTS


Sunday, June 19, 2016

simply practical : apple corer

When Che first started Montessori in 2010, we were introduced to the magic that is an apple corer. Who knew that a rather medieval looking kitchen appliance could spark such interest!

Years later we still use this contraption at least once a week. Much to the kids' delight it turns a whole apple into three different parts; the skin becomes spaghetti, the apple becomes a slinky and the core becomes a cylinder. The kids are usually happy to do the hard work of turning the corer and then eating the remains but last week I decided to turn the spirals into apple crumble. It took all of ten minutes and with a dollop of cream it was the very best of desserts.

What to do?

Excuse this rather unprofessional recipe but it goes a little something like this:

  • place apple slinky/slices into a saucepan with a little brown/raw sugar and water - simmer for a while
  • combine rolled oats (a little more than a cup), 50g flour, 50g butter and a tablespoon raw sugar in a bowl with your fingers (the butter will soften as you knead)
  • place apples in a pie/quiche dish and put oat mixture on top
  • cook till oats are golden brown

And where can you find an apple corer just like this one? Here (and it's on sale, too!).

More simply practical hints and tips, here


3 COMMENTS


Sunday, June 19, 2016

25/52

"A portrait of my youngest children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Poet: dressing up whenever she can (ISO400, f2.8, 1/400)

Percy: he has the saddest "sad" face (ISO200, f2.8, 1/1000)


3 COMMENTS

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