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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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.

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.

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.

Katie’s Gift

Finally I can show you the gift I made for my sister Katie! She has just started a university course in costuming (check out her new blog here) and I figured she could use some small storage drawers to keep all the little bits and pieces you collect when sewing and crafting.

As I mentioned before I searched a long time to find a set that I thought was the right size, right style etc but couldn’t find anything that really suited what I had in mind, so I bought a kit-set at Spotlight and set about decorating it myself. Now if someone was giving this gift to me (anyone? No? Ok.) I would prefer it in its kit-set form so I could have the fun of putting it together and decorating it to my taste but as she was in the middle of moving house and had already started the course I figured it would be better for her if she could use it straight away (also as I couldn’t justify getting one for me too – expensive much?!? – I could still have the fun of building and decorating I would have otherwise been denied).

Here are the before and after:

002 DSC01737

Katie is really (REALLY) into steam-punk and I wanted to embellish my little project accordingly but do you think I could find any really cool bits to go on it? No and short of smashing one of my own watches (not going to happen) I had to setting for keeping it simple. I did however do a pretty good job, I think, of painting it to look like it is made of aged, dirty copper. Despite a lack of little bits to decorate it with I am pretty pleased with the overall look of the finished piece and I think she was too.

April crafting project = Complete!

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!

cheer_ese

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…

Sock, Sock, wherefore art thou missing Sock?

I went sock-less today. Search as I might I simply couldn’t find a matching pair. They go into the washing machine in pairs, I hang them on the line in pairs, yet there is never a pair in the drawer. This is not a new phenomena but a regular occurrence in our house, well for me anyway. My husband always has his socks in pairs, lots of pairs, but it is not hard to make pairs when every sock you own is army issue green. I would be willing to put money on him having a sneaky stray single sock hiding in the back of his drawer, it can’t be just me, surely?

My home most definitely reflects my state of mind. When I am feeling low or having trouble concentrating my house is a mirror of the inner chaos. I can’t find anything, it seems everything we own is dirty, used, empty, in the washing machine or in a pile on the couch/chair/bed/floor. Then there are those very (very) rare times when I am focused, organised and feeling good and the house shows that too. The laundry is clean, dry, folded and put away, the dishes washed, dinner cooking and plenty of teaspoons in the drawer (we make a lot of tea in this house). My husband would probably try to tell you that this never happens but I maintain that it does (if infrequently) and I am sticking to that (actually clinging desperately, in the hope that I am not a lost cause).

I mentioned in my first post here that I wanted to find a system that works for me so I have done some (a lot of) research. I have found a whole bunch of websites dedicated to helping S.H.E.’s (sidetracked home executives) like me by helping them out of their C.H.A.O.S. (can’t have anyone over syndrome) and teaching them to F.L.Y. (finally love yourself) – see I am even learning a whole new language with this, it must be good! A while back I found FLYLady and thought she was good but didn’t really do anything about it. I have decided that her system is the one I will attempt to follow as she makes sense to me and doesn’t assume that my house is in any way close to where I want it. She assures me I am not behind, I don’t need to catch up and recommends just starting where I am – Hooray! So many of these dedicated sites give great long to do lists that would be impossible for anyone but a childless stay-at-home spinster who is perfectly organised and does nothing but clean, but I can’t reach that window to clean it, there is a pile of laundry in the way!

FLYLady recommends creating a Control Journal for your home, as do most of the similar sites and I have decided (there is that word again!) to do this, to create a home management folder to help me keep on top of the cleaning chores, household expenditure, bills, birthdays, shopping lists, contact lists, appointments, knowing exactly what that is in the back of the freezer etc that keep overwhelming me. This will be my craft project for the month of April as well. Multitasking, I am so clever! I will post pics when it is done.

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!