I've come to realise that adding value to my role in the home, means finding as many ways as I can of recreating what others find so enticing in The Outsourced World. The Outsourced World, means those things that we spend our hard earned money on, that given the time in our day, and a little practice, we could actually be generating for ourselves at a much reduced cost.
That can mean anything from finding ways to clean everything from the house and car, to the dog and the lounge suite more effectively and efficiently, to creating cafe style meals, gifts, celebration cakes, clothing, redecorating or even taking family portraits (how much do they cost to outsource after all!) and creating our own artworks to decorate our walls.
This morning I've cleaned our light beige microfibre lounge, with nothing more than a bucket of soapy water and a couple of old tea towels used along with some elbow grease. It took me about 45 minutes, and they look fantastic. The fellow who quoted me $650 to perform the same task, admitted that this was all he used, so I thought why not me, rather than him, and save that money!
Doggie got a bath too, saving $35.
Another way, as I've discovered, is to grow something. Anything. I grow a sweet little ivy, that grows from the smallest cutting into a lush and prolific vine to train over any shape. Nothing kills it, and I've gifted many ivy topiaries in the last decade. What a beautiful gift they make any time of year, but especially at Christmas. My one tiny ivy plant has yielded well over one hundred gifts in the last decade, with very little effort other than remembering to snip a cutting and stick it in some potting mix! Over the coming year, this little ivy will generate gifts to the value of at least $500.
In more recent times, my husband, darling that he is, has planted me a veritable orchard of fruit trees which will, in years to come, bless me with more produce than I can poke a proverbial stick at, as well as lavender and rosebushes. Most of these are only 4-6 months old, but as you see from my first photo, above, we are already harvesting, albeit, in very modest quantities.
Those four little cumquats you see above, were enough to make a breakfast marmalade for two, which we enjoyed enormously this morning. I can't wait to be able to make larger quantities of this, along with cumquat cordial, and liqueur, which I think is going to be mouthwateringly delicious.
The Kaffir Limes, the trees of which are really grown for their glossy fragrant leaves to use in Thai recipes, and which are not good eating really, were sliced, some sun dried, some microwave dried (an experiment to see which worked best...both methods were excellent), and will be used to make lavish potpourri, along with the lavender, rose petals and some added aromatics like cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans. The tree is compact, grows easily in most climates, and fruits and produces foliage at a most satisfying rate. They also make the most amazing natural citrus cleaner!
Similar marmalades sell for up to $20 for a small jar, so I'll call my experimental serving, a value of $5. I'll value the dried Kaffir lime slices at their value as potpourri, which I know is going to be well over $50 for a custom made fresh version.
I am so excited because I can see that the cumquats and Kaffir limes alone, are going to generate so many lovely things to use in my own home, as well as many to gift to others. And then we have figs, mulberries, lemons, mandarins, oranges, blueberries, olives and loquats all yet to grow and be harvested and used. My mind almost won't sleep with the possibilities!
And don't think just in terms of using the produce and fruits of your garden in the obvious ways. I take photos of my roses as they bloom, enhance them and pretty them up with Picasa, and print them out to use as postcards, gift tags, and to embellish my home made greeting cards. I made 15 greeting cards with this image over the weekend, embossing the edges in gold, and finishing them with lemon organza ribbon. Even at $2 for a cheap card, which is not nearly as lovely, I've generated $30 in value.
Seeing possibilities in an almost empty refrigerator, rather than eating out when things look boring in the pantry and fridge is another way we can all generate value in the home.
I have been challenging myself to just stretch the shopping day to two days later, to ensure I use every possible item before shopping. So instead of shopping last Friday (which was my birthday!), I'm shopping today.
Over the weekend, I still managed a lavish breakfast casserole...
...and gluten free Roast Lamb Pies...
This would have easily saved us $150 in eating out for those two meals, for the three of us.
That's a value generated in both real and potential savings of $1420 this week!
It's amazing what you can do, with very little other than imagination and effort, isn't it?
Have a good, hard think, and let me know what YOUR value in the home was last week. I'd love to hear what you've been up to.