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..
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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.

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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
Ingredients
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
Directions
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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

More than just oats in the pot.

I know rolled oats/oatmeal/porridge/whatever you want to call it is not everyone’s idea of a yummy breakfast but around here they are pretty much staple morning fare. I guess because I was not made to eat it as a child (my Mum hates it because she was) I don’t mind it and certainly with a bit of tweaking it can be really tasty. I never knew this before, my husband always made it, and well, it was porridge, boring oats cooked in water and needing a ton of brown sugar to make it palatable. When he wasn’t home we had cereal from a box because it was easier and frankly, nicer. Then I saw Alton Brown on his show Good Eats saying that if you weren’t eating oats every day you were probably dying. I think that is probably a bit melodramatic but who am I to argue, I am certainly no food scientist. Anyway now I make it almost daily and have been having fun seeing how far I can take it from your run-of-the-mill gruel to something I want to eat.

The current favourite with the kids is as follows:

To serve 2 (or 1 adult and 2 children)
1 cup rolled oats
small pinch of salt (trust me it makes a big difference)
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
about ¼ cup of sultanas or raisins
1¼ cups milk
1¼ cups cold water

combine all ingredients in a pot and simmer over a low to medium heat stirring often until thick and creamy, the slower you cook it the smoother and creamier it will be and the plumper and juicier the sultanas, approx 5 – 10 mins depending on how fine your oats are. If it has been cooked a bit long and has become too thick simply stir in a little more milk until you achieve the consistency you desire, or make a porridge float by allowing it to sit in your bowl for a minute before adding milk, the porridge will float like an island in the bowl (fun for older kids). Garnish with a sprinkle more cinnamon or if you are feeling extra decadent, a swirl of cream.
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This is still kinda boring to me though the addition of cinnamon and sultanas means I don’t need to add any sugar which is a bonus.

My current favourite however goes like this:

To serve 2 (or 1 adult and 2 children)
1 cup rolled oats
small pinch of salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup desiccated coconut
¼ cup of sultanas or raisins or any other dried fruit that you like (I prefer mango, strawberries and papaya but apricots, cranberries, apples, figs etc will work just as well).
1¾ cups cold water
1¼ cups milk
small handful of chopped nuts and seeds(I like brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts and sesame seeds roasted but use raw if you prefer and any mix you like, if using roasted, salted nuts omit the salt in the beginning).

This step is not necessary but makes for a delicious change and adds a bit more texture… combine the first 4 ingredients in a clean, dry pot and stir continuously over a medium heat until the oats and coconut are golden brown (about 2-3 mins – do NOT leave it as it can burn in seconds if you stop stirring) and the cinnamon is fragrant.
Carefully add the water first (this will boil and puff up the oats almost instantly) then add the milk and dried fruit. Cook as in previous recipe though it will take less time, about 5 mins. As before add extra milk if needed and garnish with the nuts and seeds. Yummy!

Oh and here is a tip to avoid the horrible task of scouring out the porridge pot… when the porridge is cooked, remove it from the heat and let it sit for 2 mins before serving. Dish it into your bowls and then rinse the pot immediately, no scrubbing needed, it will come clean easily.

Next time I make my toasted porridge I will post a pic but as we are all full of a head cold here today, grumpy children meant I didn’t have the extra time to toast the oats first – I had to keep them from beating up on each other instead.

Do you have any other flavour variation that is popular in your house? I would love to try them.

Toni’s “can’t get it wrong” White Cake

So as promised here is the recipe and photos for the birthday cake I made in celebration of Miss R turning 1 two weeks ago (tardy I know, sorry). I am also going to be lazy and not even write out the recipe here as, lucky for me some friends of mine, who have a fabulous blog that chronicles all of their crafty Pinterest endeavors, featured the cake I made for mine and my Mum’s birthday celebration as a guest post and I had included the recipe there. Since the basic recipe is the same you can check it out here… in fact this blog was one of the main inspirations behind me starting my blog and one of its authors, the wonderful Holly, was the first person I turned to for advice when setting up my own.

Here is the adult version:

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and the kiddie version.

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Stupidly I forgot to take photos as I was making it but the modifications I made to the recipe this time are as follows…

To ensure I had enough cake to work with I mixed 1½ the usual quantity, intending to bake one batch worth in a 23cm circular pan and a half batch in a standard loaf pan (to form the body of the butterfly). After mixing the basic cake batter I split it in half and tinted one half of it pink and added some raspberry essence. Then, using a spring-loaded ice-cream scoop, I put alternating coloured dollops of batter into the two pans. I used a fork handle to create a few swirls resulting in a basic marble pattern.

When baked and cooled (I left it over night) I cut the circle cake to look a bit like an inverted peace sign (pattern here) and did just a bit of extra shaping to create slightly curvier wings.

Then using this butter-cream recipe:
1 cup (225g) unsalted butter
3 – 4 cups icing sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbs vanilla essence
up to 4 Tbs milk or cream
beat together until light and fluffy

… I gave the whole thing a crumb coat and piped the different colours (tinted with food colouring) on.

I had intended to create a lovely smooth finish and embellish it with detail piping, candies and shiny cachous however it turns out that icing a cake with two very interested toddlers hanging off your arms is really hard! I opted for the much easier, and actually faster, piping bag option and I think it looked ok – not quite what I had in mind but it got eaten just the same!

Goals Update – Week 2 – Lesson: Learn to be your own Cheerleader

What is it about writing these updates that I dread so much? I have employed almost every procrastination ploy I know, short of actually doing any real work around the house, to avoid writing this – hence it being a day late. I probably should actually be working on the housework but then I guess I am using this as a procrastination tactic for that too.

I intend to make a few posts over the next couple of days, however it is this one that I am reluctant about. Maybe it is my need to succeed, not in general terms but is everything I do. If one aspect of my goal achievement is not up to scratch I have difficulty accepting my successes in other areas. I read a quote the other day that went like this… Sometimes people expose what is wrong with you because they can’t handle what is right about you… It was in a post on Facebook by a popular New Zealand personality and she was talking about not collecting the 1’s. That despite the fact that 299 love you it is the 1 that doesn’t that has the power to bring you down. Why is it that the love/admiration/respect of the 299 is not enough to stop the 1 from hurting? I think I need to add a new goal into my list:

15. Don’t collect the 1’s

I am my worst detractor too, I know it. I am not happy unless everything I do is exact. I also know that my reticence about this post stems from only one of my goals not going to plan. Somehow being slim or achieving a steady rate of weight loss has become the benchmark by which I measure all of my success. The crazy thing is I have only just completed week 2 of my set time frame and have already achieved more than in any other 2 week (or probably even 4 week) period of the past year.

After a week of birthday cake and being too busy to fit in much (read: any) exercise I am almost positive I have put on weight. Note here that I said “almost positive I have” not “have”. In an effort to not collect the 1’s I have resolutely avoided stepping on the scales. I don’t want to know what I weigh this week, I don’t want to let it bring me down, in fact I am not going to step on the scales again until the end of week 4! Instead I am going to focus on what I am doing well in other areas, work at fitting more physical activity into my day and consciously making healthy food choices.

Although I said I didn’t manage any exercise I did mow our lawns. I have never actually timed myself but I think it takes somewhere between 1.5 and 2 hours to do them. I split the job over 2 days and both times resulted in an elevated heart rate and a substantial glow (who am I kidding? I was sweating!) so I think that counts as a workout – I paid myself as though it was anyway. Current savings toward my new wardrobe – $11.00

I also listed a whole bunch of my stuff online but some of the auctions haven’t closed yet and the others haven’t had payment made so I can’t count them either. That means no change in my current debt status unfortunately. I will be listing more tonight though so hopefully the next 2 weeks (by the time payment is actually in my account) will show some significant improvement. It has been a very creative week though and along with the card I showed last week for my lovely Miss R I also made a similar card for my sister to go with her present (which I will make a post for this afternoon now that she has it) and made significant progress on my home management folders. They are at a stage now where I can show photos so I will post them as soon as I work out how to include a link to the sites I got my inspiration and printable inserts from – credit where credit is due I believe and as these were not my own creations I think that is only fair. I also have made a Mother’s Day card for my Mum but again I can’t show you this until she has it later this week.

There have also been a few new creations in the kitchen, some of them my own inventions too so I will post the recipes for those in the next couple of days. I will also include the recipe and photos for the birthday cake I made for Miss R’s first birthday celebration we held in the weekend. Most exciting though I have plans in the works to start a playgroup/music and movement group for my littlies and the other preschool kiddies in the Army housing area. Fingers crossed there are enough other Mums out there interested in joining as I really want this to work. My Mum started one for my sister when she was a baby and we were living in a small country town with nothing already set up. It was very cool and the kids loved it.

I think that is all to report this week in terms of goal progress. Reading back over what I have written above it doesn’t seem like much, but baby steps will get me there still and in my new determination to believe the 299 I am proud of what I have achieved!

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Goals Update – Week 1 – Lesson: Don’t get discouraged, small achievements still count.

To be honest I am not all that enthused about writing this update. I should be, I have started making progress on several of my goals but I guess the ones I wanted to see the most advancement on haven’t really met my expectations.

I only lost 200g this week. I must say here that I am not at all surprised and I have no excuses, I really didn’t try very hard and made no effort at all to make any changes to my diet. I am not really sure what I was expecting, that maybe having declared that I am going to lose weight my body would be oh so cooperative and secretly ditch the kilos by stashing them subtly behind a shrub or down the storm drain as I walk around the neighbourhood. It didn’t, as I know it can’t, yet I somehow still feel let down just a little. I did however get in three workouts over the week which is about a 300% improvement on the week before so it is not all doom and gloom, though I have yet to bust out my Pilates DVDs. Frankly I think I should just be grateful I didn’t put on weight, last I checked twice baked smashed potatoes and chocolate brownies are not diet food. I am paying myself $1 for every 15 mins of workout I manage to fit in. I need the incentive and I think a shopping spree for a new wardrobe will not only be most welcome at the end of the year but also, most likely, necessary, as I won’t have many clothes left that fit if I make my goal.

I have had more luck with my debt clearing efforts however and have sold quite a few items online. After auction success fees and keeping aside some to pay myself for workouts completed I have managed to pay $160 off my credit card. Not bad for week one I reckon! I intend to list at least as many , if not more, items this week. I would like to double that figure next week… wish me luck.

I have had to put aside my Home Management Folder project. I have searched a long time for exactly the right gift for my sister for her birthday and having had no luck at all I have started to make it myself. I would love to post a photo of it so far but as she reads my blog it might be a bit of a spoiler for her. Considering her birthday was back in March and it is now nearly May I think she deserves to see her gift in all its finished glory and not the deconstructed, half-finished thing it is now. I am seeing her this coming weekend so am attempting to fit what would normally be a months worth of crafting into a week, though with Hubby away for most of the week I have nights to fill. I am confident it will be done. I will share photos when it is firmly in my sister’s possession. I can however show you the card I made for my baby girl who turns one tomorrow!
Cupcake Card

I will post pics of her cake after I make it for the little family party we are having this weekend.

My new recipe for the week was kind of a backwards adventure this time in that, for the first time, I followed the recipe for the above mentioned brownies. I have made these several times but as I am what I call an “experimental baker” I have never (ever) followed the recipe as it is in the book! I have always changed ingredients, added extras and/or cooked it differently. It was nice, not nearly as exciting as my usual concoctions, but nice even so. After making my sweet girl’s cake this week I will however (sigh) be hanging up my bakers hat (metaphorically – I don’t actually own or wear one) in favour of lean cooking from now, for the foreseeable future at least. In the next couple of days I will create a recipes page on here if you are interested in trying any of my culinary adventures yourself.

Oh and “whats for dinner?” – no longer an issue! I made a 6 week (yes a whole 42 days worth with no two dinners the same) of meal plans. For the next 6 weeks I will try to follow the menu I have written and see if it makes a difference to my dinner time stress levels. Fingers crossed…

Decisions

Decisiveness is not one of my strong points. If you continue to follow my blog I am sure this will become quite obvious. Don’t get me wrong, I can make decisions, it is just not often that I am adamant about the decision I have made. Case in point – I toyed with the idea of a blog for over a year before I started this, once decided it took me three weeks to decide which blog site would host it, several hours to decide what it would look like and then another 3 days to decide what the first post would be about. Yes I do see the irony that I decided to make my first post about my struggle to make decisions.

I never used to be so flaky. Once upon a time, in a former life as a store manager, I was a champion decision maker. I had no trouble instructing my staff on the when, where, how and who’s that the store required to be successful, and it was. Now, when my decisions really matter (two little lives are governed by them), I can’t even decide what is for dinner!

So… I decided (I promise that is the last time I will use that word in this post) it was time to really think about what I want next in life now that the major (having my babies) has been achieved. Over the last   three years leaving my job, raising said babies, moving house and having my husband deployed 3 times has left my life feeling somewhat chaotic and out of control. It is time for action! I sat down (not very active I know) did some hard thinking and have set down some goals for me to work towards and hopefully achieve. Here they are in no particular order:

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.
  2. Lose 26kg – I have it there to lose and I can honestly say I won’t miss it!
  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.
  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.
  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.
  6. Try one new recipe every week – even if it is just a new version of an old favourite.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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 result 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.
  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 to achieve the following two goals I will need to make some money…
  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.
  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.
  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.

Phew, long post for my first one but now that I have put it all down in writing and made it visible to the world I feel accountable. I guess there is only one thing left to do… okay GO!