Thursday, June 8, 2017 value in the home....modern day family life...

Insourcing is my way of putting a dollar value on what I do around the home. It's easy to forget that we Homemakers contribute enormously to the family budget, the difference being that much of what we do is kind of invisible! Oh the irony!
Long gone are the days when an aproned Mum met you at the door after you'd walked home from school. In your school bag would be a plastic lunchbox that had held a peanut butter sandwich, an apple, a slice of homemade cake, and a flask of tap water, now empty of it's contents. You'd play in the back yard for a while, then do your homework. You'd be expected to help set the table for dinner, and possibly dry the dishes after Mum washed them up in a sink full of frothy water, but the rest of the evening was your own.
These days Mum is still at work when you get home, you probably had Sushi from the canteen for lunch, along with a bottle of water that you had to pay $2 for, a piece of pre-packaged cake that set you back another $2, and added to the Sushi and whatever else you had for morning tea and lunch, likely set your parents back around $20. If you're lucky, Mum finishes work at school pickup time, and collects you to take you to sport or other extra-curricular activities. Otherwise, you catch a bus or a train to get to those things, but you DO have extra-curricular activities. Which cost maybe $500-$1000 a term at least.
When you all get home, exhausted from work, school and play, often it's takeaway for dinner, or at least something pre-packaged, pre-marinated and sliced, or ready made. There's another $20-$30 minimum.
You get up the next day, and repeat.
It's a new kind of tired, isn't it?
I know. I've done it. I've done it both ways. Neither is necessarily better than the other. But for sure the modern day version is more exhausting, more expensive, and fraught with greater expectations.
Here's what I do now.
I DIY as much as possible. Not just crafty things, although I do love that. I DIY pre-prepped meals, lunches, dog washing, home renovations, mending, sewing, upgrading, repairs. Whatever needs doing, our first question is always whether we can do it ourselves, and how much money can be saved by doing so. This is both a lifestyle choice and a money saving strategy, and if you've followed my Insourcing posts for any length of time, you'll know that we've saved literally tens of thousands of dollars by doing so. So much, that I do not need to have a job outside of the home. My job is INSIDE the home, generating the equivalent of a full time income, with the savings I am able to make by being here instead.
Here is just a small sample of my Insourcing for this week.
I made a large batch of Crepe batter. A Crepe is a paper thin pancake, which you can eat as a sweet or as a meal, depending upon what you serve with it. We had these as breakfast on four consecutive mornings and for dessert two nights. All from one batch of batter. The great thing about Crepe batter too, is that the quality of the crepes improves the longer the batter stands. So by Day 4, they were sublime. There are a couple of tricks to making perfect crepes.
1. Make the batter ahead of time. It needs to stand for at least an hour in the fridge, and overnight or longer is better.
2. You need a smallish non stick pan. Don't even try to make crepes in anything else.
3. You need a stainless steel egg slice with which to flip them. Trying to flip a crepe with a thicker non stick spatula, is a fools game. Sometimes you need to very carefully lift the edge of the crepe with finger and thumb to get the egg slice under it too. Just take your time, practice and you'll be on your way to perfect lacy crepes in no time at all.
4. Keep the pan on really hot for the first couple, then reduce the heat to medium hot for the rest.
5. Keep the crepes small, and don't use too much batter. I pour mine straight from the large jug in which I mix the batter, and I usually pour no more than a couple of tablespoons full of batter into the pan, then swirl it quickly to take up about 3/4 of the base of the pan, continuing to swirl so that some batter coats the frilly edges as it cooks. This makes them easier to flip.
6. Don't even try to flip them until they're are basically dried out on the top. Then you're really only flipping them to brown, not to cook.
My batter is just for each cup of flour (I use gluten free flour and it's fine), add one egg, a tablespoon of melted butter, and enough milk to make the batter about the consistency of pouring cream. Not thickened cream, pouring cream. Stand for at least an hour, and off you go.
Here's some that I made for breakfast on Sunday. These are topped with frozen mixed berries (thawed for 20 seconds in the microwave), home made lemon curd from home grown lemons, home made Greek yoghurt which I make in batches to last several days to a week, pistachio nuts and home made Cinnamon Sugar.
Here is the recipe for the home made Greek yoghurt.
Here is my recipe for Passionfruit Curd. Substitute the juice and zest of three lemons, for the passionfruit pulp. Or make the Passionfruit version. You won't regret it!
To make Cinnamon Sugar, simply stir two heaped teaspoons of Cinnamon through a cup of Caster Sugar. Decant into a jar. This makes a fabulous gift, along with the recipe and ingredients for the Crepes, and is also delish simply sprinkled on buttered toast. Yum!

 We made so many crepes from the one double batch of Crepe batter, that I lost count. If you wanted to impress a large group of family and friends for little money, crepes are the way to go. You make dozens out of a batch that costs about 50c, and with a few jams or spreads to serve them with, you're a legend!

In terms of Insourcing, that one batch of Crepe batter saved us two outings for Café breakfasts, three of us, at $30 each, so that's six times $30...$180. It fed my teenaged daughter and her friends for lunch on Saturday saving at least another $30 on fast food, and we saved another $10 maybe, on purchased desserts. So that's a massive saving of $220, just by whipping up a double batch of home made Crepe batter. really is that simple!
It was our 19th Wedding Anniversary this week, and in preference to a big spendup going somewhere where we'd be cold and uncomfortable (it's Winter here), we decided to stay home in front of the fire, and feast upon fresh crab and salad. A tray of shelled Sand Crab from our local seafood outlet, was $22, and coupled with lush freshly baked gluten free bread and some salad leaves, was the equal of a restaurant meal costing at least five times that much. I'm calling that a saving of at least $100.

I love doing my own floral arrangements too, both in vases and in florist foam.
Here are a couple I've done for friends recently...

Each of these would retail for $135. I made two for myself out of the fabulous flowers that Husband bought me. He spent $80 (gawd love him), and I generated two spectacular arrangements worth $270. That's a saving for him (lol) of $190!
Of course, the kitchen renovation is under way following my big win, so everything has been pulled out of the kitchen and we're cleaning, prepping and painting till we are blue in the face.
Now I'm a fastidious person, but I think the last time I cleaned inside these pot cupboards was about ten years ago. EEeeee-yew!

 Top pics are when the cupboards are emptied but not cleaned. Bottom pics are cleaned but not yet painted. The painting is being done today. Husband has repainted all of the kitchen cupboard doors in a flat white, and even the drawer inserts are being made over.
Thankyou to KMart for the bamboo cutlery drawer insert at right. $19. Nice.
Saving on a professional kitchen makeover....oh, I don't know. Maybe $8,000? Our only investment being paint and frippery like the $19 drawer insert. Maybe $200? Maximum?
Saving $7,800. Not to mention the $6,000 win on the kitchen appliances which is a genuine saving too. And really, I only got good enough at coming up with new recipes and photographing them, because I was at home and I had the time. So I can thank being a Homemaker for that win too.
That's a whopping $13,800 value generated just on the kitchen renovation. Can you see how this works for you?
So I can categorically call the value of my Insourcing this week, a grand total of $14,310!
Granted, this was an out of the ordinary week. I couldn't possibly accrue that under normal circumstances. But even if my only savings had been the $220 on the café breakfasts (which we have had, and which many of our friends enjoy almost daily), that would have been an eye opener!
This brings my total Insourcing savings for this year so far, to $33,600 just on the most normal of things like pre-preparing meals, washing the dog and the car myself, sewing costumes for my own child and for the school, baking and decorating celebration cakes, making gifts, altering clothing, and all of those things that if you know me, are just part of who I am.
For me to earn that, after tax, I'd have to be in a pretty high powered job, working long hours, and probably having to outsource everything I love to do.
No thanks.
What about you? What have you insourced this week?


  1. I love it Mimi. Added bonuses are your daughter eats healthier food and so do all of you then most group B people I would say and you also are home, you KNOW her friends, you are there when she comes home from school and endless other priceless things, too many to mention.
    Seeing your empty cupboards I know whats ahead of me... I have to basically empty the kitchen, living room and dining room for new flooring since "the flood". Im daunted. I think I will look t it as a massive spring clean and organising session. Might as well make the most of it! xxx

    1. Dear Annabel, yes you're right. Healthy food, healthy lifestyle, and hopefully, healthy friends if you know what I mean. Sadly one of my daughters oldest friends, has fallen into the Party Girl trap, AND she is only in Grade 11. She goes to a swanky private school too, so who knows what her parents make of it all? The kitchen cupboards...well...ugh. Mostly okay but water and metal make for all kinds of rust marks and whatnot, all easily cleaned with Miracle Cleaner! The top cupboards were fine, if dusted with a little flour and a strand or two of dry I've bought all new clear, rectangular canisters, $8 for a set of 3, and about 15 sets...from KMart too, and they will make better use of my kitchen space than the retro ones I've been so attached to. I think I'll be able to fit 3-4 times as much stuff AND have room for my 'shop' all in the top kitchen cupboards. Who could have imagined, that for an investment of $120 worth of kitchen storage, I'd create that much extra storage! It's a lesson for sure, in making the most of the space you have. I adored my retro canisters, but being round, and in sets of diminishing sizes, the storage options were limited, for sure. I've done chalkboard labels for everything but I am now on Etsy, looking at Arwen Moore water slide decals, to pretty them up a bit. Can't help! Good luck on the flood cleanup. You might end up with similar revelations! Love, Mimi xxx

  2. I loved this post. Our family growing up had a tradition of having crepes from breakfast on Christmas morning with assorted fruit fillings, fresh whipped cream and powdered sugar. One Christmas, after I was married and my brother Fritz was in the Navy, he came up for a visit and insisted we make crepes in the crepe pan he brought me. He and I had so much fun working in the kitchen together making the crepes and fillings. Such wonderful memories! I also enjoyed the savory crepes with the chicken and mushroom fillings for dinner. This week I have been busy making loaves of homemade bread, harvesting and freezing rhubarb from the garden and even stewing up some for a nice chilled afternoon treat. Laundry has been washed and hung out on the line to dry, some clothing was mended and while shopping for replacement veggie plants for my garden (the slugs and ants destroyed my squash, some of my cucumbers and some of my beans) since it is too late to restart some of them from seed, I made sure to check the pots and see if I could find the ones that had multiple plants in each pot, thus giving me more bang for my buck.

    1. Debbie, what a lovely memory, and I'm thrilled to have resurrected it for you. We too, had crepes often as there were seven children plus friends, and Mum could feed ALL of us for very little. I can almost smell your home baked bread and stewed rhubarb from here. I'd eat rhubarb just to admire the! I'm sorry the bugs got to your veg. Drat and Blast. Still, it sounds like you're feeling the abundance anyway. That alone is something to be proud of. Have a lovely week

  3. I love your insourcing post Mimi - this week I had a couple of changes in medication one, of which has proved a problem for my body.

    Instead of having takeaway (fish and chips) we have eaten from the freezer. Well my husband more than I have because I have had problems eating.

    I have no idea just how much we saved by me being home with the children, the times we had a house full of children/teens cannot be counted on my two hands. They were all fed with home made goodies. We had some teens who apparently wouldn't eat at home but that was never a problem at our house. With 2 sick children my going to work was out of the question so I had to find a 'wage' another way.

    I set myself a winter challenge, to find and test some new recipes to go on the menu. So far I have one that is a keeper, the recipes I was going to test this week will have to wait until next week. The recipes all have items we have on hand in them - perhaps 1 special item needs to be purchased but that is all. I am all about basics.

    Now I have added passion fruit butter to my shopping list - we have a supermarket that also has well priced fruit and vegetable specials and they have passion fruit on special this week. I ma trying to work out where I can get a vine started and not have the fruit hanging the other side of the fence in the neighbour's yard.

    Being there when the children are growing up has so many benefits - not just to your children either.

    Time to close up here, it is getting colder.


    1. Lynette, I think we are so alike in our thinking on this topic! I feel for you with your health challenges. This does make it more difficult. Something I am coming to understand, is that variety is not necessarily the 'spice of life'. If you can find a handful of recipes that you like, that your system can manage, then it's far more sensible to stick with those. You will love the passionfruit butter (so long as the seeds don't bother you). It's such a lush thing from free produce. I love what you say about us being there for our kids, being a benefit to others as well as your own children. I think you've hit the nail on the head there. Love, Mimi xxx

  4. Hi Mimi, we had three couples over for lunch today. We've all known each other over twenty years. There was talk of meeting at the RSL for a meal. We asked them all to come here. Bluey made a big pot of pumpkin soup from a gifted pumpkin, A lasagne, salad from the garden, and a pot of marinated chicken. I made a ham and cheese pull apart, apple slice and choc caramel slice. If we went to the club we would not have come home with any change out of $80. There was no way that the ingredients came anywhere near this cost. Our guests all had a good time, with lots of laughter and talk happening around the table. Home made and home grown are just part of our lifestyle.

    1. Jane, yes! Exactly! I love this. Good food, good company, good conversation, and very little money spent. When did seeing friends have to mean a big spend up? We need to resurrect the dinner party, without feeling like it has to be Masterchef standard...grrr....don't get me started lol! Love this. Mimi xxx

  5. Hi Mimi, I have never commented before but love your threads. I was never more pleased to see anyone win anything as I was for you to win the oven etc for your kitchen. If anyone deserves a great kitchen, it is you. I have followed you for years on another site and here and I am thrilled for you. How wonderful to have your kitchen made new for so little. Well done, and very well deserved. Anne

    1. Dear Anne, how lovely to hear from you. And thankyou. I imagine you are one of my friends who voted for me, so double and triple thankyou. I so appreciated every single vote. In the end, the win all seemed a bit too easy, and I was afraid it was a hoax, but the prizes are on the way, so all good! Thankyou too, for your other comment. Sending love, Mimi xxx

  6. Love this post! Can't wait to see your finished kitchen. I know you must be super excited! Have a wonderful day!

    1. Hello Lynn. Yes I am VERY excited! A lot of hard work in getting things ready, but it will be SO worth it in the end. Thankyou! Mimi xxx

  7. I can't wait to see you "new" kitchen!
    Thank you for the idea on the crepes I usually only eat them at a restaurant but will be making my own from now on.

    Have a great day!

    1. Thankyou Laurie! Yes the crepes are super duper easy, and once you perfect them, you'll instantly have a guest worthy meal or dessert and your fingertips. Have a lovely weekend. Mimi xxx

  8. I loved your post. I think it's hard to see just how much having a job costs as a 2nd income. This was very true for me while I was working. I kept thinking that I wished I could quit as I hated my job, life was crazy, & I spent all my time in the blasted car! And we didn't even have children so I can't IMAGINE the extra stress that must pile on. Now that I've been home for several years, I know! I know because I can now look forward and see what I would need to do, buy, & spend to go to work. The first loss is time and that's a big one that affects every little aspect of our lives. I'd spend far more on clothes. Far, far more as I remember! Gas for the car....I now fill up about once every 6-8 wks. as opposed to once a week. Plus the car alone! After I quit my job, we lived with one car for 10 Los Angeles. I had the time to walk places. Exercise and saving about $200 per month min. on insurance and gas....that's not even counting if you have a car payment! I could honestly go on and on, but I'm pretty sure I'd be preaching to the choir. I have a friend that is desperately unhappy in her job and life and I simply cannot convince her of how much her job costs. It's not a highly skilled professional position. Having been in her position, I know the fear of giving up that *needed* income. But the quality of life without it is soooo much better.
    I love my job as a Home Coordinator. :)

    1. Dear Debby, you make some excellent points. I think it's so sad that we've all been led to believe that a dual income family is the only way. I think too, that many young people (and older ones!), simply lack the skills to make staying home worthwhile. For some people, cooking from scratch, growing herbs, fruit trees and/or vegetables is all too much hard work, they don't like to clean, and they don't know how to sew, embroider, make gifts or generally find their creative mojo. It IS a learning process, and you need to get your 'qualifications', much like any other job. Treat it like a Real Job, and it will have it's rewards, I think that is the secret. Your story about gas for the car, is something I've said for years. That alone would be an enormous saving for most peoples budgets. But like anything, if you're not ready, you won't see it. Congrats to you on getting your wings as Home Co-ordinator ;0) Love, Mimi xxx

  9. Thank you for showing us your dirty cupboards Mimi lol! It is so nice to read a blog that feels real. I really appreciate your honesty, like when you said in your last post that you are now in a part of life where you don't have to watch your money quite as closely any more. We are still very much in that stage, and will be for some time, but I still find your posts so useful and inspiring. And they remind me of why we are better to continue this way rather than racking up debt trying to pretend we have more money than we do.

    I'm going to try the gluten free crepes today, I had never thought of using crepes in lasagne as you showed the other day.

    You very accurately described my children's lunchboxes, they always contain a sandwich, carrot sticks, a piece of fruit, some crackers or popcorn, and some home baking. And the other day my seven year old came home and said that his friends told him he's needs better food in his lunch! I asked what kind of food, and he said they thought he needed a yoghurt and a packet of chips or Paw Patrol biscuits. So I used the packets of biscuits as an example, and together we worked out how many packets we would need to out one packet in everyone's lunchbox for a week. Thirteen packets, for two kids at school and one at kindy three days a week. But then I added in that we would need to buy an equivalent for my coeliac son, and we worked out it would cost between $15 and $20 a week, which will increase when my four year old starts school and my daughter starts kindy. Then we talked about how much it costs to bake biscuits or muffins etc, and he understood why I won't buy them. I did say that if he wanted to buy them with the money he earns from moving firewood then he could, but he wasn't keen.

    I try to not to bog my children down in money-talk too much, but I'm finding as they get older that there is more pressure to have the latest thing, or do every activity available etc, so I think it's important they have some understanding of the reality that money needs to be managed.

    Anyway, that's enough of that rant lol. I'm so thrilled for you with the new kitchen starting to shape. Congratulations on the win, I feel like you a very worthy recipient!

    Have a lovely weekend
    Jen in NZ

    1. Dear Jen...I'm glad you enjoyed viewing my dirty cupboards...ROFL!! I'm also thrilled to hear that despite being at a different stage of life, my posts help you see that there is an end to Struggle Street, and with thought and mindful living, a comfortable life can be yours. Once you get the hang of them, you'll find the crepes really useful. When you look at the recipe for crepes and the recipe for home made pasta, there really isn't that much difference except for the cooking method, and that's how I came to be using the crepes as lasagne sheets! Just don't sweeten the batter with sugar, obviously! That's an interesting lesson for your son. And you should never miss a teaching opportunity like that when it arises. Kids and lunchboxes sheesh...what a minefield! I found that when my daughter and sons were younger, that wrapping the home baked goodies in tissue paper and putting stickers on it, made them a bit more 'cool'. Also a groovy lunch box helps. Things like bento style lunchboxes with the treats displayed prettily, can make a difference. I always said to my kids too, that when two people meet, one will always influence the others thinking. You can be the Influenced, or the Influencer...which would you rather. Even young children understand this if couched in the right framework. It's a valuable lesson. Good on you for taking the time to have these conversations with your kids! And thankyou...I am thrilled beyond belief with the kitchen appliance win, and immensely grateful to my online friends who helped me win it. Love Mimi xxx

  10. Many days I've thought about how much my "work" was worth, in monetary terms, to my family. You said many things that ring so true:) Congrats on the kitchen and thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm! xo Kathleen|Our Hopeful Home


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx