Monday, March 23, 2015

Baby News

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:7

As Pom Pom commented on my last post querying pregnancy, we are expecting another baby at the beginning of June.  A wonderful blessing as we had almost reconciled ourselves to having only two children as it has been a long wait between pregnancies.

This is my most unusual pregnancy so far.  I was two months pregnant before I got a positive test - that was despite five home pregnancy tests in the first month and the GP doing a blood test.  Seriously odd.  Apparently the blood tests are 99 percent accurate so I don't know what was going on as I was well past the stage I should have got a positive result - the GP was very surprised when I came back a month later and said I had had a positive pregnancy test that morning.  Ha ha. What makes it odder is that I had all the pregnancy symptoms in that first month - I was so sick with morning sickness that I thought there must something really wrong with me!  

Anyway, all is well with baby girl.  We will now have a real birthday season in our house.  Ginger will be 5 at the start of April, Tom Kitten 3 at the start of May and new baby due at the start of June.  I better start budgeting now for future years:)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Homegrown Frugalities Week Beginning 15 March 2015

After preschool snacks - fruit skewers.

Tom Kitten helped me make the skewers - he was very proud to tell his sister that!

On Sunday afternoon the children and Mr Provincial made scones.

A small haul from the op-shop all destined for various Christmas stockings - My First Paddington was 50c, Hot Wheels car 20c, Candles 20c (turning 5 and 3 in the next month so the perfect number of candles in the packet), Flower Hook 50c,  finger puppets 50c the pair and Pirate Hoodie Towel was $3.
Harvested potatoes and tomatoes from the garden.  Had 3 meals which used these potatoes and chopped and froze the tomatoes for cooking soup when I next make chicken stock.

Mended Tom Kitten's toy rabbit which had stuffing leaking out of it.  My husband repaired three of the children's wooden toys.

We washed and clipped Monty our dog.

Mended 2 pairs of Mr Provincial's work pants.

Watched a season of Downton Abbey borrowed from the library, as well as reading an Inspector Montalbano mystery borrowed there.  

Made chocolate chip muffins to use up some bananas which were past their prime.

Saved stamps off a letter that came unfranked.

Removed stain off one of my handful of maternity tops - I always seem to cop stains on my extended stomach during pregnancy!  I couldn't soak the top this time because it was elasticated fabric so I used my Mum's suggestion of applying stain removing powder directly onto the wet fabric.

Picked up various supermarket specials - Cadbury choc chips at Coles (per Wendy's suggestion), Mayver's peanut butter at Woolworths (only contains peanuts, no added oils) and honey which was half off on the clearance trolley at Woolworths.

Dried all washing on the line.

Attended the annual warehouse sale at St Vinnie's in Canberra.  I was able to purchase a handful of presents for the kids, nieces and nephews for 50c to $1 each.  The presents for our kids will be used for their upcoming birthdays or put away for the christmas stockings.  Also found two single bed girl doona (quilt) covers.  One matched a pillowcase I had already thrifted for Ginger years ago (with fairies on it) so will give her the matching quilt cover for her birthday, the other will be put away for the new baby when she is old enough.  In addition I picked up a 3m panel of green corduroy ($4) and 2m panel of blue corduroy ($3) - both of which I intend to put straight to use for children's winter/birthday outfits.

Had success at our local op-shop with the above haul of children's gifts.

Listed 6 items on Gumtree.

Baked bread.

Made some hair ribbons for Ginger's birthday.

Purchased two crates I had a raincheck for at Woolworths.

Made bread and butter pudding to use up some stale bread rolls and squishy peaches.

Have started putting butter in the butter dish in the pantry again now the weather is cooler - much cheaper than buying buttersoft!

Monday, July 21, 2014

We're going on a snow hunt....

Over the weekend we set off to find some snow for the children to play in.  While we do occasionally get snow in our town, it is not an annual event.  After being pestered endlessly by Ginger for weeks, we found a back route through to Corin State Forest and took the kids there.  There were way too many people on the main play slope (which you pay to go on), so we ended up taking the kids off into pockets of snow on the forest's edge.  The virgin snow there was great for building mini-snowmen and throwing snowballs.

We stopped for a picnic at one of the State Parks on the way there.

Because, you know, once you are told you are going just take off all your woolies in the snow!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Joining Brandy in recording my frugal accomplishments.

Since I have been adding to my written list of frugal accomplishments for a couple of weeks now but failed to transpose it to the blog, this list really represents about 3 weeks of frugal accomplishments.  Just saying!

Ripped an old bottom sheet into rags.  Made the equally threadbare top sheet into a protective cover for the cot mattress which is currently being stored under our bed as Tom Kitten has moved into a big bed.

Tom Kitten moved into a big bed.  I got the bed base from the charity shop for $20, the underlays were purchased when I had discount vouchers at Spotlight over recent months, the flannelette sheets were my Grandmother's, as was the red blanket and the doona covers (he now has three) were all purchased from charity shops.  These are the kind of savings that make me happy:)

We have been using up all the tiny bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel Mr Provincial has collected over the last 10 months of travel for his new job.  We officially ran out of our large bottles of shampoo and conditioner four weeks, and still have a number of small bottles to get through.

Decided to implement a Waldorf-style Winter circle time.  I ended up using only resources I could find on the internet and supplementing with songs from nursery music books I already had.

Went to the farmer's market in Canberra and bought enough apples, oranges and pears to last us the month.  The oranges were $1 a kilo (because it is winter here) and the apples and pears were the 'juicing fruit', read slightly marked, at $1.50 a kilo.

I made curtain tie-backs for the loungeroom curtains and the curtains in our bedroom.  I used four fabric placemats I bought at the charity shop ($2) to make the loungeroom ones, and a scarf ($1) which I think might be a Liberty (or faux-Liberty!) print for the bedroom ones. 

We have been trying to weather seal the house a little better as it sort of represents a cold air sieve at the moment.  I have been insulating our curtains, which has involved lining backing fabric with polar fleece and sewing it to the curtains.  I noticed a lot of the National Trust houses in England had this on their windows - though they had a proper insulating layer, not polar fleece.  But the latter is light, affordable and accessible so that is what I went with.  Mr Provincial put weather stripping on the bottom of the front door and a kind of insulating foam stripping round the other 3 sides.  Of course, until he gets round to doing something about the gaping holes between floorboards and walls these are all of limited efficacy:) 

I made a draught stopper snake for the front door out of some fabric I had on hand and the rice from the children's old rice box toy.  Since I still had rice left over in the rice box I then made some heat packs using the remains of the fabric.  The children each take two to bed at night.  As a bonus I could then reuse the tub to store Tom Kitten's 'to grow into' thrifted clothes which had been driving me nuts in the main part of his wardrobe.

I did several runs to pick up the free mushroom compost our local mushroom farm leaves outside for you to collect.  We have used some in planting our fruit trees, and the remainder will go in a garden bed I want to build up.  I will collect more in coming weeks as I can only fit two bags in our car at a time.

I shopped just the loss leaders at Woolworths.  These are the specials that are more than 50 per cent off.  The best buy was some nappies for Tom Kitten.  We only use disposables at night so these should last until the end of the year.

I borrowed Backyard Self-Sufficiency by Jackie French from the library.  After reading about how full-sized fruit trees should be positioned along fence lines, with their branches intermingling to reduce the amount of fruit the birds get; my very obliging husband relocated all our existing (small) fruit trees to that position.  Well, actually he still has the Plumcot to do but by that stage he had been outside in the cold and rain for many hours so we decided that transplant could wait until this weekend.  He also planted a stepover apple, dwarf mariposa plum, dwarf apricot and kiwi fruit plants (male and female) I had ordered.

We cancelled our existing mobile contracts and went on to an Aldi pre-paid plan.  This should save us a lot of money.  We were actually only on contract a couple of months since upgrading to a smart phone. However we realised we were barely using any credit so there was no benefit to doing that over a pre-paid plan.  Smart Phone = our worst investment ever!

We ate all our meals at home.  We are trying to use up some store cupboard staples at the moment to make way for food we use on a more regular basis.

I made bread every two days rather than buying it.

I pulled Ginger out of her ballet class.  She has not been enjoying it this year and has made a fuss every Saturday morning before going, so we asked her straight out if she wished to continue.  She said no.

I mended a coat and scarf.

I went to a garage sale at a local church.  In addition to purchasing some novels for 50c each I was also able to find some useful books in their 'free' box, and I was given some drawing stencils for the kids.

I went to the Lifeline book sale a few weeks ago and picked up some new books - a cookbook and history book which we will use for presents for my in-laws for Christmas.  And, I got a couple of cookbooks that we have had our eyes on for a few years (one of which is for Mr Provincial's birthday).

I made a discovery regards kitten food.  After purchasing the very expensive individual packet kitten food because I thought it was the only one available (though at least I bought up when it was discounted by $3 a box; but still cost over $6 a box) I discovered Woolworths does a canned own-brand kitten food...on the very bottom shelf!  These are $1.25 a can.  A much better price given the volume Tinkerbell goes through in a week.  A growing kitten is a significant understatement!

We changed our home insurance arrangements to pay our premium monthly, rather than annually.  There was no discount for an upfront payment so this makes more sense.

I borrowed DVDs from the library.  We particularly enjoyed Hyde Park on Hudson.

I cut Mr Provincial's hair.

We took delivery of a load of wood we won in a raffle being run in support of one of the children's activities (there is no weekly cost to attending). There was about a tonne of wood.  Saving about $200!

I went to a closing down sale for the discount shop in town.  There was hardly anything left by the time I got there, but I got a couple of heavily discounted tubes of hair-gel for my husband, some dryer balls which are meant to speed up the drying process and some Christmas Cards which were marked down to 9c a packet.

I picked up some school uniforms for Ginger at the charity shop....and, um, yes she has 18 months before she starts school.  Our school has no secondhand uniform shop and most pieces of the uniforms retail for over $70.  I got a size 6 winter dress for ($8 - they put higher prices on the uniforms than any other clothing in the shop!.....reading the market there!) and a wool jumper (sweater) for $4 as it had the half-price coloured tag.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Another Lifeline Book Fair

Taking it as given that because I enjoy reading other people's blog posts about books they have procured they might be similarly interested in mine.  I could, of course, be completely misquided in that belief. In which case you may wish to turn your attention elsewhere already:)

Anyway, a few weeks ago Mr Provincial very kindly took a day off work to look after the children while I trotted along to a Lifeline bookfair.  To mis-quote Dorcas from Lark Rise to Candleford, children's books are my one true weakness!  Mr Provincial had put me on a very strict budget this time owing to certain blow-outs on previous occasions.  I was pretty happy with my haul.  Even if it took me 3 hours to cull to my budget constraint.....

Edward Ardizzone is one of my favourite authors and illustrators.  I discovered one of his Tim books in the library in Darwin and have been on the hunt for copies ever since.  It turns out he was quite a prolific illustrator.  This time I found:

Tim's Last Voyage by Edward Ardizzone
Lucy Brown and Mr Grimes (the child in this looks so much like Ginger) by Edward Ardizzone
Rhyming Will by James Reeves
Sarah and Simon and No Red Paint
Titus in Trouble by James Reeves
The Little Fire Engine by Graham Greene

Greyfriars Bobby by Ruth Brown.  We love Ruth Brown around here!
Lucy and Tom's 1,2,3 and ABC by Shirley Hughes.  We enjoy all of Shirley Hughes books, but the Lucy and Tom series are Ginger's favourites; I think because Lucy reminds her of herself, and Tom of Tom Kitten.
The Old Woman who lived in a Vinegar Bottle by Rumer Godden.  Again guided in this choice by author preference.
Caterpillar Butterfly by Vivian French (love the illustrator Charlotte Voake).  Looks like good junior science book.
The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett.  I only discovered Jan Brett recently, I am now on the hunt for more of her books. 
The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola; again a recent discovery for me - but I love the faith aspect of his writing.
A couple of our pirate favourites Pugwash Aloft and Pugwash and the Ghost Ship by John Ryan.
Stormy Weather by Amanda Harvey...a great find for the current cold season!

Animals of Australia in Colour by Lyla Stevens.  This is on Jeanne's AO3 Australian Curriculum.
Our Father by Joan Gale Thomas.  My Aunt recently gave me her childhood copy of If I Were Born in Bethlehem so I knew this would be worth picking up when I saw it at the Recycling Shop (aka Dump) on my way home!
Leading Little Ones to God by Marian M Schoolland.  I am looking forward to working through this with Ginger.
The Christmas Story by Gennady Spirin.  The KJV of the Christmas story, exquisitely illustrated.
The Magic City by E Nesbit.  Anything by E Nesbit has my vote!
Once on a Time by AA Milne.  This is the second copy of this I have thrifted; the first one was missing the all important third page (LOL!)
Tell Me a Story by Eileen Colwell. We have another collection of Eileen Colwell's stories.  Great for read-alouds for preschool age.
Thursday Rides Again by Michael Bond.  Michael Bond of Paddington fame.
The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley.  Beautiful illustrations by Maud Lucy Atwell.

The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown.  I have seen this on a number of blogs.
Wake Up Mr B! by Penny Dale.  I enjoy Penny Dale's gentle plots and illustrations.
Angelina's Ballet Class by Katharine Holabird.  Ginger is in a Angelina phase at the moment.  Have to say I don't think this is one of the strongest Angelina stories.
Anatole by Eve Titus.
Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully.  Seeing this was a Caldecott Medal winner was enough for me.
Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose by Dr Seuss.  Always lots of Dr Seuss at the bookfairs but this was a particularly nice copy so it made the cut.
Paddington's London Treasury by Michael Bond.  Our Paddington Picture Book is held together with tape it has been so loved, so good to add to our collection of illustrated Paddingtons' for little people.
Benny's Visit by Linda M Jennings. After a recent visit to England (more on that soon) the kids are very into canal boats at the moment.
Wee Gillis by Munro Leaf.  I read about this in Inside Picture Books so picked it up as soon as I saw it.

I also picked up a handful of board books to add to Tom Kitten's collection; but by the time I came to take pictures they were already in circulation!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

I find Brandy's Frugal Accomplishments posts so inspiring. I decided to keep track of some of the things we do to save money too in the hope it will encourage me to do more.

Cut Ginger and my fringe myself.  It has to be admitted that hers looks a little better than mine:)

Waxed my eyebrows using a kit I bought about 18 months ago.

My husband fixed a dripping tap in our shower which was causing us to lose about 20 litres of water a day (we were capturing it in buckets for watering).  He got advice on how to do it from our neighbour and also got the handful of parts he needed - our neighbour's son used to be a plumber!

Went to our local agricultural show (fair) on a Sunday rather than a Saturday because entry was $5 cheaper per adult - our kids were free.  We took snacks with us for the kids, and only allowed them one ride each (we actually thought only Ginger would be old enough to go on a ride - but they both enjoyed the Carousel).

We have continued to eat just the fruit -plums, peaches and nectarines - we got at the orchard three weeks ago for $1.50 per kilo; rather than diversifying  our fruit selection from the supermarket.

Harvested zucchini and cucumber from our garden.  We are all tired of zucchini so I need to be creative in how I use it - maybe chocolate zucchini bread.  The cucumbers are a great bonus, because they are the only raw vegetable my kids consistently eat.

Picked up a worm farm and door mat from the Aldi clearance section.  Both were products I had identified in the weekly catalogue as being useful to us, but had never got round to picking up.  The worm farm was $10 off, and the door mat half price.

Purchased the German made 1 litre of white gloss paint, on special at Aldi this week, which we needed to finish some internal doors and windows.  We have been working away at the painting that needs to be done after the renovations we did last year.  We have the external painting work finished now.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Home Makeover: Master Bedroom {P,H,F,R}

Well, I have indicated in my last few posts we have been slowly working on doing up our house.  There is still a way to go but I thought it was time to share some of our progress.

Auntie Leila always says to start with the Master I am for my {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}!


Here is the room as it currently looks.

I am pretty sure that our painter got his colours mixed up and the blue grey that was supposed to be in the Master Bedroom ended up in Tom Kitten's room and the baby blue for his room, in ours.  But, with all the furniture in it is not as obvious as it was in the beginning. 

Our bed is the one we purchased in Melbourne from Wilkins and Kent.  It was when we were pre-children and our disposable income was rather higher and our thriftiness rather less.  These days it just wouldn't happen!

The chest of drawers next to the bed and the blanket box under the window were both bought secondhand from Village Antiques in Bungendore.  The chest of drawers was a deeply discounted bargain - although the middle drawer does smell rather strongly of cigarette smoke!  It holds Mr Provincial's clothes providing valuable storage.  The blanket box has the winter doonas and spare pillows for guests in it.

Don't you love the pink and yellow stained glass in the window.  It is so cheerful.

We had the carpet taken out and the floorboards polished.  The wood is Cedar.

The lights above our bed came from Bunnings and used to sit on the bookcases in our house in Darwin where we had a lack of light problem in the living area and this was the only temporary solution we could come up with.  Now given the lack of space in the room we can't get in bedsides and therefore bedside lamps.  These lamps are ideal.

The painting which I love so much used to hang in my Grandparents house.  It is called Generations.

The curtains and bedclothes are from Country Curtains.  I got the inspiration and link for the curtains from Posie Gets Cozy.  I picked up the light bedspread and pillowcases from the clearance section of Country Curtains.  We really needed something lighter than our summer doona as our bedroom is un-airconditioned and we are making do with the ceiling fans we had installed.

On Mr Provincial's dresser sits "The Cat Who Walks by Himself" which I bought at the British Library; I haven't got round to persuading Mr Provincial to hang it yet.  My Mother-in-Law sent Mr Provincial the Dancing Lion from Singapore.  The cross-stitch was a gift from my Godmother for my 21st birthday.

Oh, don't you love double-hung windows.  They may be draughty in winter but they are so cosy cottage looking.

The bookcase we had in our study in our old house.  Now we live in a tiny three bedroom house we don't have a study so it is in the bedroom!

I love the umbrella and finally having it on display.  Mr Provincial bought that for me when we were just 18 and he was living in Taiwan for a year.  I wonder if our parents knew those schoolyard sweethearts would end up married with children!

The Ballet painting is by my Grandmother.  The Renoir print is from the Musee D'Orsay.  I always regretted not getting the sister print from the Met when I visited.  There is a lovespoon below it that my mother-in-law bought me back from the UK for my birthday last year.

The chair was my Great-Aunts.  I had it re-covered when we were first married.

This dresser was the first 'antique' I bought when I was 15.  It is looking a bit worse for wear after all its travels round the country, but I still love it.

I always have a stack of books by my bed; I seem unable to just read one.  Are you a focussed reader or a toe-dipper like me?  I seem to dabble then reach a point where I am gripped and throw myself in whole-heartedly.

My Mum drew the Degas inspired chalk drawing above the dresser.  She is such a talented artist.  She finally has time for such things now she is retired.


Excuse my daughter throwing the tantrum on the bed.  When you lived with young children you sometimes face these staging issues!

We had the same amount of built-in-storage put in each bedroom.  It does mean that my husband and I have a little less space than we could use, but will allow our children to share their rooms if, God willing, there are more children in the future.

We paid extra to have the storage go to the ceiling in each room.  We are so glad we did as we can fit in crates of out-of-season clothes, or in the kids rooms out-grown clothes.

The floor rug my husband got when he went treking in Nepal. It was made by Tibetan refugees.


Would you like to see the befores?

At the point where Mr Provincial returned from the South and presented these pictures to me in Darwin I started to get a little worried as to what we had actually undertaken.  Actually, in the scheme of the house's entirety the bedroom was one of the better in appearances:)