Goals Update – Week 11 – Lesson: Even a small success is a great motivator.

It has been a month since my last post. No excuses, I just didn’t feel like writing so I didn’t. Not writing however is not the same as not doing and there has certainly been plenty of that going on so I figured it was about time to give my long over-due Goals Update post (so much for at least once a week huh!).

Wow it has been so long I am actually having to refer back to my original post just to help me remember what they all are…
so I am just going to re-list them and include an update (in brackets) after each one:

I give myself one year to…

1. Post a new message on this blog at least once a week – more if I can find the time and have something worthwhile to post. (Pfft so much for this one, though I will try again starting… now)

2. Lose 26kg – I have it there to lose and I can honestly say I won’t miss it! (I have lost 6.4kg! I finally got a new set of scales – fancy ones even – and will be able to keep track much easier now. It is amazing how buoying it is to see positive results. I am more motivated now that I have had some success than I was in the beginning)

3. Improve my fitness – I am nowhere near ready for a zombie apocalypse and I have two babies to look after, I will need stamina. (Ok so I haven’t been working out anywhere near as much as I had intended but I am still doing way more than before (read – before nothing, now something) and that has to count for something)

4. Make it through an entire Pilates workout on the advanced level – I have never made it past the intermediate level and having not done it for so long I am back to beginner, I am sure touching my own toes should not be such a struggle. (Yeah about that… I haven’t actually dug my dvds out of storage yet… but I have been stretching so my flexibility is slowly improving. I still intend to achieve this goal so I guess I had better get on to it)

5. Kick my sugar habit – seriously I rely far too heavily on sugar to get me through the day! I am not going to give it up totally but I would like to get rid of the refined sugar at least. (I never thought I would ever manage to drink my coffee or tea without sugar but there you go, now I prefer it that way. It has also been over a month since my last glass of juice or soda – actually that is not completely true about the soda. I had a glass of diet Pepsi but didn’t enjoy it so I didn’t finish it, so to me that doesn’t count, it doesn’t does it? I have had a couple of cocoas in the evening but it is only once or twice a week, compared to the once or twice a day it was before I am pretty proud of this!)

6. Try one new recipe every week – even if it is just a new version of an old favourite. (This I have been doing, though I am totally crap at taking photos of them. I forget every time! Do you even want to know what I am making if I can’t show you a picture? Seriously, do you? Let me know if you do as I will happily post the recipes. I have made everything from yeast-less pizza dough to tortillas from scratch, sticky lemon chicken, brownies, empanadas, souvlaki and the list goes on...)

7. Complete a craft project every month – I really wanted to make this one a week but realistically most days I am lucky if I can fit 10 mins into the routine. (So this one is a little harder to report on. I have, in true ME form, started many new projects and, as yet, finished none – other than the ones I have already posted about. There are two reasons for this, firstly, I keep finding I don’t have everything I need to complete something and as I don’t want to spend much on any one project I have been putting them on hold until I can find what I need either free or super cheap. This has meant a few things are on a temporary pause. Secondly I am happiest when starting something new so rather than wait til I have everything I need I usually opt to go ahead and start. I am currently working on:
* my lanterns,
* finishing my home management folder,
* putting together a favourite recipes folder,
* a wall mounted herb garden for my kitchen,
* propagating seeds for my summer garden
* a papier-mâché rocket name-plate for Danger’s bedroom door
* a papier-mâché rocket for Danger to play with so he will stop hassling me to play with the name-plate
so just a few things on the go. Actually I don’t think the home management folder will ever be truly ‘complete’ as I think I will still be finding things to put in it years from now but that is ok, the perfectionist in me is not quite ready to share it yet. The Papier-mâché project is utilising things I have around the house, it is just taking quite a long time for it to dry between layers in this cold weather. I will hopefully have that done very soon as Danger is super excited by it and I would like him to have it before he loses interest. I have also found all of the missing pieces to finish my lanterns now hidden among the blankets in a little person’s bed and have done a few so here is a sneak preview before the actual post that I will hopefully be able to show next week..

8. Find and join (or start) a play group for my children – this I will make time for! There are a lot of children in the army housing but the only family my kids played with moved away so it is time to find new playmates. (I have collected a bunch of CDs of kid’s sing-a-long music I just need to convert them now so I can play them through my iPod and speakers, and get started collecting musical instruments for them to play with. I haven’t taken it any further than this as A-man and I are discussing our options re: moving house, and may end up moving just a bit further away from camp than I will want to travel. I will still likely start one if there are no adequate ones close to where we move but I just don’t know what is going to happen yet)

9. Find a housework system that works for me and stick to it – I am much better at housekeeping since moving to a bigger house but I still have a long way to go to keep the house “company ready” all of the time. (Hmm, where do I start? Well it goes like this… approximately 1 hour before Action Man gets home from work I rush around like a demon-possessed maniac who’s super critical OCD mother-in-law is coming to visit and do all of my housework chores for the day. When hubby walks in the house is clean, calm and dinner is on the way. Eat dinner, get the kids off to bed, collapse on the couch and finally go to bed in my lovely looking house. Following day, rise with the children and proceed to watch in dismay as both they, and A-man when he is home, go about systematically undoing all of yesterday’s efforts, returning it to it’s pre-frenzy chaotic state. Repeat daily) (For the record my Mother-in-law was neither super critical or a neat freak, nor did she suffer from OCD, in fact she would likely have been far more critical if my house, and children for that matter, were always clean and tidy. Unfortunately she passed before Danger or Sunshine were even a twinkle in her beloved son’s eye but she absolutely adored Alpha-D and would spend her whole week planning what crafty endeavors they could get up to in their weekly sleepovers)

10. Graduate – this needs some explaining. I completed a Bachelor of Business degree in Marketing and a Diploma in Advertising many years ago. Somehow I managed to do my entire final semester without my student loan paying for the papers I was sitting and as a consequence I was not allowed to graduate until I had paid for it (and fair enough too). It took me a year to pay it off (no longer being eligible to put it on my loan as I wasn’t a student anymore) and by the time I had done it I forgot all about applying to actually graduate. Now many years later (and not even sure if I can anymore) I thought it would be quite nice to see the certificates on my office wall. (I have done nothing about this, nothing at all)

11. Sell all my excess stuff – I have so much stuff cluttering my life and house it is time to get rid of it. I will donate some but in order to achieve the following two goals I will need to make some money… (Close to nothing on this one too and this is something I need to fix, again starting…now)

12. Clear my credit card – my balance is not high (under a thousand isn’t too bad is it?) but with no income of my own it is a bit of a challenge to get rid of it. I want to do this without eating into our family savings or impacting on our budget at all. All of the items purchased on it were for the family (mostly nappies and baby gear) but I still want to do this myself. (Yep, nothing, still at $206)

13. Save for a holiday – destination to be determined by how much I manage to sell/save over and above clearing the credit card, luckily I have LOTS to sell. I have had only one overseas holiday as an adult and that was only three days and far too busy to be relaxing. It is time for a tropical island get-away I think, well in a year anyway. (just $796 to go before I can start saving for this, gulp)

14. Find a free online or correspondence course to do – I don’t want to work in advertising or marketing when my children go to school so I want to earn some new qualifications even if they are just certificates. At the moment I am thinking event management but who knows… I may find something else that inspires me more. (Do I even need to mention the nothing here? Did you really expect this would be under way? No, me either)

15. Don’t collect the ones. (Actually I am feeling pretty good right now!)

Although not strictly related to the goals above I have started a new, larger scaled project. I guess it is more of a new goal to add to the list so I guess I will state it that way…

16. Become fearlessly frugal.

Ok so this is not my term, I totally stole it, or rather I am borrowing it on a semi-permanent basis. How it works is this: I challenge myself (and my family by default) to reduce spending across all aspects of household expenditure. From groceries to utilities, entertainment and all other variable costs incurred in the course of living, I intend to maintain (at the very least and improve where I can) our lifestyle while spending less. The Spending Less – Living More idea is not new of course, just new to me. I will be starting with a grocery budget overhaul and moving on from there and will document my successes, failures and insights under a new category named, of course, Fearlessly Frugal. I welcome any and all input into this area and encourage anyone reading to comment with their tips and tricks, I will happily share them.

Embarrassment came a-knocking

I know my posts have been a bit philosophical of late but here is one that may get you laughing (at my expense again of course)…

So, you may recall I mentioned a missing courier in my last post? Danger is going through a stage of being frightened of the bath so, not being able to find any in stores, I ordered him a set of bath crayons online. He has such a penchant for drawing on the walls I thought this might appeal to his inner vandal. Well they were finally delivered today. I say “finally” though in reality I only ordered them on the weekend so they actually got here pretty quickly, only I had promised Danger he didn’t have to have another bath until his new bath toy arrived and he is a bit whiffy, so I was looking forward to their arrival with great anticipation.

The knock on the door, heralding the end of his stinky-bum-itus and pong-atosis (Danger is a fan of Doc McStuffins), came at lunch time so, kids securely fastened into high chairs, I went to collect our goodies. I signed on the small touch-screen he held out to me and taking possession of the parcel I smiled and, not thinking at all about the fact that this man had no idea of what was in the parcel he just delivered, I told the courier “Bath time is going to be fun tonight!”.

Eying the small brown paper package in my hand he gave me what could only be described as a knowing look and then he (shudder) winked at me.

Realising immediately that he assumed I was holding some kind of waterproof adult toy I blushed scarlet, stuttered out what started as a sorry and ended as a thanks but came out sounding like “stanks” and slammed the door in his face. Shaking with humiliation I walked back to my children, catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror over our mantle as I passed.

What a sight!

Not only was I crimson but half of my fringe was standing straight up (a-la-there’s something about Mary) with what could only be tomato sauce, there was spinach in my teeth and, looking liking nothing so much a huge, just squeezed, pus filled pimple, I had a dollop of hummus on my cheek.

Can I crawl under a rock and hide now? Please?

But still, bath time should be fun tonight!

In 4 Days.

Four days ago I made an important decision. I decided to put my children first. Yes, yes I know as parents most of us would jump up and down and exclaim in horror that of course we do, if anyone were to dare claim that we didn’t. But do we? Really? I mean in every moment of every day consciously and deliberately put our children above anything else. Above watching TV, above folding laundry, washing dishes, checking emails or Facebook or any of the other thousands of little things that make up a day. How many times a day are we guilty of saying “wait” or “in a minute”, “not now” or “can you please get off me I am trying to…”
I know I am guilty of all the above and so many more and I want to stop.

I am not sure there is any single thing that started this change for me but I can point to a few specific occurrences that have contributed.

I was beginning to feel guilty. I was feeling overwhelmed and tired and wanting nothing more than just 30 minutes of time out from my squabbling, attention seeking, in-your-face children and I hated myself for it. My children are not naughty, or even overly loud but they are insistent and I just wanted out, even if only for a few minutes at a time. After sneaking out the back door for what seemed the millionth time that day I stood at the washing line, taking as long as I possibly could to hang the meager load and I wondered what it would be like to have children who didn’t insist on bouncing all over me every time I am in the same room as them. To have children that went to bed at a reasonable hour and woke happy in the morning and didn’t feel the need to start fighting the minute they saw each other. I felt that even though I seemed to be doing ok (my children are smart, polite and reach all the standard milestones months earlier than the average) I must, in fact, be doing something wrong.

Then I started noticing so many updates on Facebook, blog posts and pinterest pins on happiness and how to find it. They all said the same thing. Be thankful for what you have and live in the present. Be thankful, be present. Over and over, be thankful, be present.

Finally I read a collection of heart-wrenchingly beautiful letters written by a grieving couple to their child who died in the womb. It got me thinking, as I gazed at my own children through the haze of my own tears, how very lucky I am.
You see I never thought I would have children, was always led, by doctors, to believe that I couldn’t. Amazed barely covers how my husband and I felt when we found out I was pregnant with Danger. Actually we had an argument that morning and had gone our separate ways to work not speaking to each other. At work I felt, well, odd, and realising I had felt odd for a couple of weeks I took a pregnancy test in the public toilets in the mall. I thought nothing of it as I discretely hid the test in my pocket to read when I got back to my store, after all I couldn’t be pregnant could I? I was merely positively eliminating a possible cause for my feeling different. I honestly thought I was imagining things when the test revealed a little pink cross confirming what I had, til then, believed impossible. At once numb and exhilarated I called Action Man and, ignoring the terse “what?” that he answered with, I told him our good news. I could hear his smile before he even uttered a word. Immediately the argument of that morning was forgotten, he was shouting his joy for all of his unit mates to hear and they, in response, were cheering their congratulations. And my whole world shifted focus.

Suddenly I was terrified! What if I did something wrong? What if some careless or ignorant move on my part caused something to happen to this tiny, impossible, desperately wanted, miracle little argument ender? My baby, possibly my one chance at a complete family. Thankfully I found a fabulous midwife as the last months of my pregnancy were anything but smooth. The delivery, worse, much much worse, though that deserves a post all of its own.
By the time I got to hold my little man for the first time though nothing that had come before it mattered at all. My happiness was complete.

Then when Danger was 9 months old, and growing into such a funny and handsome little character, I fell pregnant again. Sunshine’s birth was the polar opposite of my previous experience. Returning to the same midwife, I had an ally and an advocate who fought hard to make sure that the same mistakes were not made this time around. Sunshine arrived on a calm and relaxed, sunny Tuesday morning. Her ready smile, cheeky blue eyes and flame red hair have brought light and love into our lives ever since. I am lucky, so very lucky.

So as I blinked at my children through those tears of grief for these parents I have never met, for their child they will always love but never again hold, that I thought how unfair it was of me to give my precious babies anything less than my everything when these unknown people would give anything to be able to do the same.
Please don’t misunderstand me here, I don’t mean that I intend to give up all other pursuits in my life and spend all my time just playing with my children (though that would be nice). I am also not suggesting that I will give them everything they want, I want to raise happy children not demanding, entitled little monsters. I am also not saying that I will sacrifice my personal needs in favour of the demands of my children, sometimes the only way to put them first is to take the time to recharge your own batteries.
How can I explain this? It occurred to me that so much of my time was spent physically in the same room as my children while my mind was elsewhere. What’s for dinner tonight, where did I put that box of batteries, will the courier finally deliver that thing I ordered today? My hands were busy, sorting, folding, typing, and because my children were playing around my feet, and I was on hand to separate them when they started fighting, I was deluding myself into thinking I was ‘parenting’ them. It finally occurred to me that all of this bouncing on me, wailing at each other, late bed times and destructive behaviour was nothing more than a plea for my attention. Well Duh! Only every parenting book ever written could have told me that but some things you need to learn on your own.

So I made my decision. I am lucky enough that we can afford for me to stay home and raise our children and that is exactly what I will do. I will still be wondering what is for dinner and where those batteries are, I will still sort and fold and type but as I am doing it I will be present for my children. I will acknowledge them every time they try to get my attention and I will stop what I am doing (even if only briefly) to see what it is they want to tell me. I will not step over or dodge my little girl as she ambles toward me but pause for a cuddle or a tickle. Now when my little boy calls for my attention with his usual “Mummy, Mummy” I smile and say “yes Darling?” and really listen to what he has to say and when my little girl waddles up to me I stop and let her hug my legs while I stroke her hair and rub her back.

In 4 days I have made 2 tiny changes in the way I interact with my charges.
In 4 days my children have stopped fighting with each other.
In 4 days I have seen more smiles, heard more giggles than I can recall in the last 4 weeks.
In 4 days my son has told me some wonderfully creative stories.
In 4 days my daughter has shown me she loves to dance.
In 4 days bed times have gotten earlier, sleeps deeper and mornings calmer.
In 4 days my house has become a little messier, my children a lot happier.
In 4 days I have become a better mother.

Reality Check

I lay on the bed this afternoon, the winter sun streaming in, warm and comforting. I stretched then mirrored the small ash coloured cat curled up beside me and reveled in the contentment flooding through me. My babies were joyfully playing next to me, waving through the window at children on their way home from school and giggling when they got a response, their happy bouncing causing the golden red glow of sunlight through my closed lids to flicker periodically to blue-black. I pondered and marveled on how beautiful this life is that I am living…

Then, as only a small pointy elbow to the gut, driven by the force of a full body slam can do, I came crashing back to Earth. Better go get the dinner on I guess.

Goals Update – Week 6 – Lesson: Running from Zombies really does give you a little more motivation!

I am a day late in posting this weeks update. I didn’t think it was fair to write it yesterday when I was having such a blah day, you know the kind, where the motivation to wash the dishes is at absolute zero and the zombies on your running app were just not chasing you frequently enough to make you feel that you got a decent workout, you know what I mean? No? Maybe that one is just me.
It’s the day where you finally had to admit defeat over the lawns and call the local lawnmower man to do it for you and you woke up that morning and realised that, even though you had a lovely evening having dinner with your husband’s ex and their wonderful teenage daughter and the ex’s bubbly second daughter, that it was your wedding anniversary and that even though you have been together for 14 years and married for 4 you cannot recall a single time when you actually celebrated that fact together as husband and wife. It is supposed to be your husband and not his ex that you have dinner with on your anniversary surely? Or maybe that is just me too?

It has actually been a bit of a blah week all round, nothing going quite how I wanted it to and I don’t feel I have achieved anything really. It was the kind of week that had me second guessing myself and wondering if I shouldn’t just pack it all in and give up on the whole goal setting thing altogether.

Maybe my blah feeling stemmed from the fact that I have spent a lot of time crying this week. Not in sorrow mind you but in empathy. You see I was recently nominated by one of my readers for a versatile blogger’s award and part of the rules of the nomination are to thank the person who nominated you, which I have done but thank you again Elizabeth, and to pass it along to 15 other bloggers who have touched your life in some way. Well at the time of nomination I was only following half a dozen or so other blogs and so I figured I had better get reading if I was going to find 15 others to nominate. Wow. It is amazing how these small snapshots, these tiny windows into other people’s lives can have such an effect on you. I have read stories of beauty, redemption and discovery and so many of them have made me cry that I was beginning to wonder if I was becoming nothing more than a big blubbering sook! Pah, wondering nothing, I have always been a sook – I can (and have) cried over TV ads.

Anyway I didn’t want any negative feeling seeping into my post so I delayed.

Luckily today I am feeling a lot better which is surprising actually as I had a rather severe case of Pinsomnia last night. Here I was at 10pm, all the chores done, congratulating myself that I would be in bed by 10.30 tonight after a quick check of my emails… before I knew it the clock was reading 12.30am and I was in the midst of a pinning frenzy fantasising about all the fabulous places I want to travel to someday. Pinterest you will be the ruin of me I think.

So onto the achievements (or lack thereof) for the week. It hasn’t been a total write off, I just had more in mind is all.

I still have no idea if I have lost any weight. I now know what is wrong with my scales but am no closer to being able to fix them. I am officially admitting defeat in this area as well and will buy a new set. In the mean time I plan to take my measurements so I can see if I am getting any smaller as opposed to just weighing less. Of course I won’t know if I am until I measure again in a month but it is a start. I will not be sharing those measurements though, sorry if you were curious.
To my shame I have fallen off the 30 day challenge wagon. I don’t even have a good excuse, I got to day 17 and just stopped. I vow that today I will pick up where I left off. I have however been enjoying using the elliptical trainer and ‘running’ from zombies with the new Zombies, Run! app I downloaded onto A-Man’s phone. Hope he doesn’t mind, who knows he may even use it himself, he is a bit (lot) of a zombie fan too.
I have joined an online community called SparkPeople. It is a free program that allows you to count your daily calories, track your exercise and get tips and recipes from the site administrators and other community members. I have even followed along with one of their yoga videos which was interesting. I was a little more flexible than I thought but a lot less than I should be. I know a lot of people are steadfastly against counting calories but I have found success on Weight Watchers in the past and find that kind of system a lot more effective for me than anything else I have tried. I considered joining again but object to having to pay the $35 odd that WW charge for their online program and I sure as heck am not dragging my children to meetings for $15 or $20 a week! So far the 4 days I have completed on SparkPeople has been great and the exercise log means I can more accurately keep track of how much to pay myself.

I really thought I would have all my lanterns done by now but I think some sticky 2½ year old fingers got hold of some of my supplies and I am missing some components necessary for completion. If he remembers what he did with them he is not letting on. If I don’t find what I need in the next few days I may have to make a strip to the store though I really don’t want to.

I have not paid any more off my credit card either as I never did list any more items to sell online. I really will make more of an effort in this area, especially now the travel bug is hitting hard (thanks to my aforementioned bout of pinsomnia) and I need to get saving rather than paying off.

As I promised to myself I have been trying plenty of new recipes lately though I am remarkably crap at remembering to photograph my creations. Although I try my meals never seem to look quite as beautiful as the ones in the book or magazine I copied from, so I don’t feel honest using their photo to show you, even if the recipe is the same (which it usually isn’t quite, I just can’t help myself but change it just a little).The one time I did remember (and even took photos of all of the steps) I forgot the dish in the oven so my final photo looks terrible and the food is about 6 shades darker than I intended. It is close to, but not quite, burnt beyond redemption so although it looked disgusting it actually tasted ok and the kids were happy to eat it too. I am still of two minds as to whether to share it though. I also had great intentions of trying some raw energy bars this week. It seems you can’t log onto facebook, pinterest or any food blog lately without it featuring some clean, raw or Paleo (or better yet – clean, raw AND Paleo) recipe. It seems to me that about 90% of them involve dates, almonds and coconut oil, maybe with one or two extra ingredients thrown in but the basics are always the same, and the other 10% require a juicer. Now I have all of those things but I don’t believe we are designed to live on dates, almonds, coconut oil and juice. I am not opposed to including them in my diet though so I got myself set up to make some of these miracle treats. Just before I started loading ingredients into the food processor though there was a wail from the bedroom announcing that Sunny was awake and kitchen playtime for mummy was over. On the way down the hall to collect her I shoved an almond inside a date and ate it. You know what? It was good, and that is good enough for me, I found a new snack and saved myself some extra dishwashing. Win!

Something that I am proud of this week is how I have thrown myself into the FlyLady system of home management. I am still not so hot on following all of the routines I have been trying to put in place for myself though when my dinner guests arrived on Tuesday I was not scurrying around the house frantically shoving clothes under beds and wiping bathroom sinks as I usually would be at the prospect of visitors. The house was already quite respectable and that felt good. I am still not caught up on all of the laundry folding that needs doing but I am getting there.

On that note I am off to fold another basket in front of the heater. The sun is shining but it is still rather chilly and my toes are cold.

Goals Update – Week 5 – Lesson: Happiness is a clothesline full of clean linen.

I don’t mean that literally. Although there is a certain pleasure in the acknowledgment of a job done , another tick on the ‘to do’ list, it is more what the line of washing represents. That despite the thunder storms and hail of the days previous or the need to sit huddled together in our fluffy socks and dressing gowns, sipping our morning cocoa or coffee while we wait for the heater to take the chill of the air, mother nature is giving us a break. The apple tree may be bare and the lawns over-long from neglect borne of wild weather but today the sun is shining, the cats are lounging and I am getting stuff done. That makes me happy.

I have thrown myself headlong into the housework this week, not exactly following the FlyLady principles but using them as a guide. I have done a lot more than she recommends but the satisfaction I have got from the extra tasks completed is my justification. I was about to write that I have nearly re-claimed my office due my my marathon folding effort last night until I turned around to find that my oh-so-helpful children have very kindly redistributed half of my folded laundry to the floor. Well I guess that serves me right for not putting it away this morning.

I have also been working hard at my 30 day challenge although I admit I only made it through half of my workout yesterday. To make up for it I am going to add some cardio today on the elliptical trainer. A couple of weeks ago I tried to download the “Zombies, Run!” app for my phone but although I have a smartphone it is apparently not compatible with my model. Today I think I will upload it to A-Man’s phone and use it on his. What better way to get zombie apocalypse ready than by getting fit while inuring myself to the sound of pursuit? Exercise savings to date $33 though I am not sure I am keeping account of my time very well. I think I will start an exercise log today to help me keep track. I am quite interested to see if I am doing more or less than I think. I have also discovered the step counter on my phone so I will start using that too. I once heard that you shouldn’t go to bed until you had done 10,000 steps for the day, I wonder what I do?

I haven’t paid off any more of my credit card as I forgot to list any new items for auction so I am still at $206. I have a whole bunch photographed and ready to go though so I will make a focussed effort to list 25 tonight.

I am getting used to the taste of Agave nectar and I do recognise that it is starting to taste sweeter to me. This is a good thing. My sugar dependency seems to be lifting. I still add sugar to my coffee in the morning – or rather Agave to my coffee but am not adding it to anything else and my desire for lollies and biscuits is lessening too. I am now happy with a slice of apple 90% of the time if a sugar craving hits and I have so far resisted pinching any of my children’s snack bags of cookies. Last night for desert I had the frozen banana ‘ice-cream’ that is so raved about online and although I did not think it tasted like ice-cream, I did enjoy it.

I think that is all for now, happy days people xx.

Pinteresting Misadventures

I have mentioned here before that I was inspired to start this blog after admiring the blog of a friend – Twinterest, the pinteresting adventures of two twins and a little lady. I loved the fact that these two motivated young women set themselves a goal and then went about sharing their adventure with the world in an entertaining and informative format. I am always suitably impressed with their clever creations and yummy looking baked treats. ‘How nice’ I think every time I see their beautiful mantle piece with their hand crafted seasonal decorations of paper leaves and gold painted spotty pumpkins in autumn, or Christmas trees made of old books and lovely felt tree ornaments or mobiles made from discarded jewelery or baby clothes from re-purposed t-shirts. What beautiful, stimulating and artistic lives these ladies are creating for themselves and their loved ones, like I said, it is inspiring.

I do not begrudge either of them their crafting prowess but being Kiwi girls by origin I am sure they can appreciate my envy that they are able to indulge in the traditional crafts the seasons bring without their efforts looking just slightly ludicrous. Having Halloween in spring makes pumpkin carving an expensive affair and christmas in summer makes holly wreaths and snow painted windows a bit ridiculous and chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Not unless you feel like sweating buckets or potentially burning down your neighbourhood in drought season. Sure we have Christmas traditions here too like Pohutakawa, Pavlova, bar-b-ques, lawn cricket and camping, and I guess I could carve pumpkins in our autumn but I can just see how the discussion with my husband would go…

Him: “what are you doing?”
Me: “carving pumpkins”
Him: “why?”
Me: “to celebrate”
Him: “celebrate what?”
Me: “Um, Autumn?”
Him: “???”
Me: “I just wanted to ok?”
Him: “but you hate pumpkin”
Me: “leave me alone”

It’s not worth it. Sometimes I just think it would be nice to share in the traditions of the majority of the rest of the world at the same time as they are doing it. It’s not that we can’t, it just seems the timing is wrong.

Anyway when I started this blog I stated my intention to attempt to complete a craft project every month and so far, for the whole month and a bit that I have been doing this, I have managed it, even finishing more than one project. You have seen my present for my sister in Katie’s Gift and my card and cake for my Sunshine’s 1st birthday too. I must say I am a bit of a dab hand when it comes to gluing a few pieces of paper together! Here is the Mother’s Day card I made for my mum earlier this month:

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as you can see I am not to shabby with a pen in my hand either, as not having the right shade of red paper for the chicken’s comb and beak, or brown for her eggs, I drew what I needed instead. I gave her 3 Pullets (baby chickens) for Mother’s Day if you were wondering about the odd choice of card.

Not all of my attempts however have been so successful. I had intended to hide these not-so-hot creations of mine but goaded on by a fun site by the name of Pinstrosity (if you haven’t yet you should check it out, it is good for a commiserative giggle when your own projects don’t go so well) I decided to share my own Pinteresting Misadventures and show that not all is hunky dory in my little corner of creation…

For Mother’s Day this year (I will post later on the fiasco that was my day) I was given a fun little gadget that I have been coveting for quite a while. I don’t know if you have ever used a cookie press but to me they seemed like a great little invention for creating uniformly gorgeous bite sized bikkies. Perfect when you have two small people wanting your attention, there is no time for rolling dough and using cookie cutters. Well so I thought anyway! Here is a bit of a photo journal of my attempt at pressing cookies.

First – my inspiration, direct from Pinterest and the recipe from the indomitable Martha Stewart’s own website

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Martha Stewart Living, December/January 1999
Yield Makes 2 dozen to 3 dozen cookies
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
3 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Colored sanding sugar
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, flour, salt, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
2. Fill a cookie press with the dough, and turn out cookies 1 to 2 inches apart onto an unbuttered baking sheet. Sprinkle cookies with colored sanding sugars.
3. Bake until the cookies are lightly browned, 7 to 10 minutes. To ensure even baking, rotate sheet halfway through the baking process. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool.

Ok so here I am set up to be getting on with business


I would like to be able to say here that I followed the recipe to the letter but as I am incapable of leaving well-enough alone, true to form, I fiddled with the recipe just a bit. I swapped a tablespoon of the flour for a tablespoon of ground ginger, that shouldn’t make any difference should it? Well the mix didn’t look too promising


but I persevered, and after a bit of kneading the mix came together. I loaded some into the press and despite the fact that the end came off a few times and the press bit me I attempted to lay out the first batch.

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hmm. Now I may be a traditionalist here and I know it was only a small cut but I don’t think bleeding should be a requirement of successful baking. It is already a long standing joke in our household that if I burn myself the dinner will taste good. I am not keen to add bleeding to the list of my regular cooking mishaps. Anyway wonky as they were I went ahead and baked them anyway.


Ok so they were pretty much as expected and as varied coming out of the oven as they had been going in. I made a reasonably educated guess that the mix was too dry/thick for the press and this was what caused the end to keep popping off. I added some milk to the remaining mix and with a few trials I managed to create these (considerably more impressive) before and afters

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So this project wasn’t a complete disaster but it sure took some work to get it right. What was supposed to be a quick 20 minute baking session turned into 2 hours of frustration. At least they were yummy, so delicious in fact that despite putting a full cookie tin in the cupboard that night I woke to find only 6 left. Action Man got hungry in the night and just couldn’t help helping himself it seems. Oh well.

Want more? Well this is my activities of last night…

Inspired by the so-far successful albeit slow work I have been doing on my lanterns I decided to see what I could do with the jars I have left over. I am working on a matching set of 12 but have ordered 24 candles so I figured I would make another set of 12 in a different style. A bit of research on Pinterest yielded these gems

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so following the instructions on this lovely blog, Small Life, Slow Life I set about colouring some of my left over jars. Now I only did a few to start as I only have the satin finish Mod Podge and the instructions called for the gloss finish so I wasn’t sure it would work. This time I did follow the instructions as written as this is a totally new craft for me and I was opening my precious jar of Mod Podge for the first time and boy that stuff is expensive here! Here are my first and second batches. The second was done with a heap more food colouring as I wasn’t completely happy with the first lot. I wanted them quite bright and although they were pretty the pale colours weren’t quite what I was after. They look quite nice at first glance though don’t they?

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Keep in mind though this is a misadventures post and have a closer look…

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not quite so pretty close up. Even worse though was my brainwave that maybe I could re-coat one of the pale ones to get a deeper colour. Ha ha, yeah, apparently not.

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I imagine this result might look similar to the aftermath of a smurf spending the night partying on creme-de-menth.

Here is the clean up job too


of course none of this shows you the spectacular shade of blue I managed to stain two of my fingers nor the enormous dollop of green goop I slopped down my front as I was doing it. I do intend to use the jars anyway, the supplies I used for them are just too darn valuable to throw them away (it took me almost a year to collect those 24 jars) and I am hoping that once they are fully decorated their flaws won’t be so noticeable – or at least will make them delightfully individual, just like their creator, he he.

What is that smell? Oh that – that is the smell of CLEAN!

Well it certainly amazed me but as I said the other day in my week 3 and 4 update “it is time to get my clean on” and that is exactly what I did today! Ok so I only did one room but boy is it DONE! Short of shampooing the carpet (which I intend to do next week) I don’t think there is much else I can clean in our lounge. All of the furniture was moved and vacuumed under and the skirting boards wiped , the book cases were de-cluttered and polished, the light shades are shiny white and I cleaned the photos framed on the walls as well as the ones on the mantle piece. The windows have been cleaned so that, even though you can’t see them very well behind our ugly lace curtains, I know they are sparkling and the mirror over the fire-place has also been polished (except the love note Action Man wrote on it before he left). We even had a massive broken toy purge! There were plenty of complaints but I just told myself firmly to be quiet and get on with it.

Now this is not really in keeping with the teachings of FlyLady but I figure if the motivation is there I should make the most of it and I must say I am pleased with the results. This is a novelty as I am usually disappointed with the amount that I manage to get through. My children, who, from now on, will be referred to as Sunshine (or Sunny) and Danger, are very distracting and quite capable of making mess as fast as I can remove it. Today however while not exactly helpful they were not really a hindrance either.

My lanterns are not forgotten (maybe I will have a bit of a play tonight with some colour mixing) but I actually had so much fun today that I think tomorrow… the kitchen.
Look out plastics cupboard, I am coming for you!

There may be something stranger, but I’m not sure what it could be.

I am suffering from what my husband calls ‘paralysis by analysis’. It used to be his catch phrase when he was in property development and he was proud that he did not suffer from it. As he put it, he was able to make decisions without getting too bogged down with analysing all the myriads of information at his disposal, or as I see it, he is inclined to do things first and think about them later.

I am not like this… at all. Maybe he is right, maybe I do over think things. I am certainly feeling that way tonight and it irks me that it is over something so trivial. I have been saving jars and planning tea light lanterns for a very long time now, so long in fact that summer came and went without me getting them done (one of the rare downsides to making most of your food from scratch – no jars to re-use). Well we have now done enough visiting of family and friends (about the only times I can justify buying prepackaged baby food) that I have enough little jars to be getting my lanterns made. I have the lace I intend to use to decorate them, I have the paints I intend to use to colour the lace, I have the twine I will use to hang the finished pieces from our apple trees, yet I can’t seem to figure out which lace to use on which jars and exactly what shades I should make them. It is irksome, I am, well, irked!

The remarkable thing about all of this really is not my inability to decide how the finished product will look, my inefficacy in the decision-making area is already well established, rather that I am using housework as my form of procrastination. I have managed to convince myself that I absolutely can not start any painting or gluing or stringing until the house is tidy. Please do not be confused into thinking that this means there is any real housework being done here, there isn’t. Heaven forbid that any procrastination tactics of mine should actually result in something productive or useful but the thought is there. See, this is a new thing, maybe all this research (yes I am still calling it that) that I have done is starting to change the way I think… maybe tomorrow I will be inspired to actually clean something,,, maybe… well you never know, stranger things have happened!

Goals Update – Weeks 3 and 4 – Lesson: Sweetness is a matter of opinion

For the first time since starting these weekly updates I am not hesitant to write one. Maybe it is because I ran out of time to do last weeks one and so have had a fortnight off, so to speak, or the fact that although I was supposed to weigh myself this week I can’t, my scales are broken. Well not broken so much as they are showing an error message that I can’t get rid of and don’t know how to fix. Admittedly I could probably find instructions on how to correct it if I looked online but, well, I haven’t, so there you go, I have no idea if I have lost any weight but I don’t really care right now.

I have however been working hard on my 30 day challenge and I figure that has to being doing something good. I can feel a difference in the conditioning of my muscles, in that my recovery time is already getting shorter (I can walk the next day now where I could barely stand the day after I started) and I am doing each group of exercises in one go now, not having to split them up like I did at first. My neighbour who I haven’t seen in a few weeks also commented that I looked like I had lost weight and that my face looked thinner so I am going to take that as a win! Ok so she didn’t have much to go on as I was dressed in my baggiest pyjamas at the time but I think the face comment is still valid… I’m sticking with that.

After a comment on one of my posts I have purchased some Agave nectar to use as a sugar substitute. It is lower G.I. apparently and can help prevent blood sugar spikes. I am very keen to give this a go as I still struggle with the whole giving up sugar thing but am tired of the sugar rush/sugar hangover cycle I am in. I am trying and I am consuming less, but it is hard – way WAY harder than I found giving up smoking all those years ago. By comparison giving up cigarettes was a piece of cake and the rewards of improved health and more money in my pocket, sweet. There’s my problem right there, sugar is easy and rewarding and I even use it to describe how I feel about totally unrelated things. It is so hard to change that mindset of sugar being yummy and good to sugar being unnecessary and toxic in the quantities I sometimes eat. Baby steps.

I think I have done about as much “research” that I can on housekeeping systems, I doubt there is anyone alive who knows the content of FlyLady‘s website better than me right now, probably not even Marla (the actual FlyLady) herself as she is not the only one who writes for the site. Trouble is reading about cleaning my house doesn’t actually clean my house (darn it). I have almost finished compiling my home management binder and have filled it with free printables from this fabulous site run by Ginny at Organizing Homelife. I have most of them filled out with the relevant information for our family too so there really are no more excuses for doing no more than the bare minimum to keep the house livable. I had a great conversation a while back with a friend (the other significant participant in the wedding from a few weeks back) and he made the comment that making ‘to do’ lists to help fight procrastination is in itself a form of procrastination. This is absolutely true and I am absolutely guilty. I have now made all my ‘to do’ lists, however, so I no longer have the delaying tactic of sitting down to write the day’s plan, it is done. Hubby – who will be, from now on, referred to as Action Man or A-man for short – is heading off for a month long deployment this week so I won’t even have him as a distraction for a while. He is very distracting. It seems it is time to get my clean on.

Of course having a clean and tidy house will allow me to spend more time doing some crafty creative things and as I have so many projects that I am ready to start and a fair few that need finishing too the incentive is well and truly there. I have been asked by a friend to give her some feedback on the work she is doing towards her masters too so I am really looking forward to using my brain for something other than figuring out where that smell is coming from or how many carrots I will need for the weeks meals. I am also looking forward to reclaiming the office for it’s intended purpose instead of the laundry/wardrobe extension it has become.

I have managed to pay off a further $46 of my credit card debt! Yay! Total paid $206. It would have been more but I needed supplies for my latest project and I also paid myself for the workouts I have done recently – Total saved $28.

I have now found out who I need to speak to about getting a notice put in our Partner’s Post (the newsletter we are supposed to get from the army once a month that actually comes about once every 3 months and usually informs of supposed upcoming social events that have actually been and gone) so I can see if there are any other local mothers interested in joining a music and movement playgroup for their preschoolers. I have also done a lot of research on this and have a ton of ideas for the kids if there is enough interest.

I will leave you with some observations I have made recently, most of them are common sense and I already knew all of them yet have been inclined to ignore them. Maybe if I admit to some of these I will get them done/stop doing them:
1. if I write something down, especially here where anyone can see it, I am more likely to do it,
2. having a workout buddy really helps, even if they are in another country, you still feel less alone,
3. having a workout buddy in the same room is even better and makes you work harder,
4. almond butter is a great healthy snack when spread on apples, not when spread on chocolate,
5. it doesn’t matter that I choose to have my fish with spinach if I eat the left over chips from my son’s plate, the calories do not magically fall out in transit from his plate to my mouth,
6. the person who wrote the label for the agave nectar I bought has a really vivid imagination – 25% sweeter than sugar? Not in my cup of coffee it ain’t!

That is all for now but with A-man away soon I will have a catch up session and add the recipes for the new things I have tried over the last couple of weeks and add the photos of my binder and Mum’s mother’s day card.