Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Insourcing....home cooking is like printing money...

Fruit and cheese platter at a restaurant $16.00
At Home $2.00

House baked English muffin with Banana, Cinnamon Sugar and Fresh Local Figs at a restaurant $22
At Home $1.70

Waffles with Nutella and Fresh Berries at a restaurant $18
At home $1.00

Two Free Range Poached Eggs Benedict with Farmhouse smoked premium Leg Ham, house baked English muffins, freshly churned butter and Chefs own Hollandaise Sauce at a restaurant $26
At Home $3

Fresh Local Organically grown Figs from an organic supermarket $5 each
At Home $0

House baked Turkish style bread topped with locally grown avocado, sun ripened tomato, and local cheese from a restaurant $19
At Home $2.00

Mediterranean Bake with 7 vegetable rainbow, Farmhouse pork and cider sausages, and quality olive oil drizzle, served with gluten free oversized croutons $38 each at a restaurant
$1.78 each At Home.

Golden roasted Garlic Butter Organic Chicken with Lemon stuffing and gluten free pistachio crumble on the side, served with roasted carrots and baby potatoes at a restaurant $38 per serve.
At Home $3 per serve

House crafted Turkey and 3 vegetable meatloaf, served with fresh Californian Walnuts $16 at a restaurant
At Home $1.60

Local mushrooms sautéed in brown butter and served on house made sourdough with a Lemon Tarragon sauce at a restaurant $21
At Home $0.85c

36 Giant Beef, Basil and Parmesan meatballs, take home fresh made by the Chef $3 each from a restaurant or deli
At home $0.16c each

Locally sourced organic Coconut Yoghurt drizzled with real Canadian Maple Syrup and topped with fresh local blueberries and hand shelled pistachio nuts $15 at a restaurant
At Home $1.35

Ploughmans Platter of Gluten free toast, Local farmhouse premium leg ham, dual colour cherry tomatoes from the Kitchen Garden, French Triple Cream Brie at a restaurant $32
At Home $2.30

Antipasto platter of spiced American cheese, local Sugar Plums and grapes, Californian Walnuts and rice crackers $18 at a restaurant
$1.10 At Home

House crafted giant meatballs with Chefs special glaze, oven roasted cherry tomatoes from the Kitchen Garden, Frenched local green beans and sesame steamed rice $26 at a restaurant
$1.70 At Home.
Nuff said.
Cook your own, serve it with love, keep your money where it should be, paying off your mortgage, for your childrens education, your emergency fund, or for a special holiday.
Stop giving it away to others.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A New You....Diamonds and Pearls...

This isn't the first time I've posted about my love affair with pearls.
You can see my posts on pearls here, here and here.
I love how a pair of pearl earrings, either studs or delicate drops like my favourites, above, elevate whatever I'm wearing to 'classy'.
I've often read and heard, that the only earrings one really needs, is a pair of pearl studs, and some diamonds. Nice, if you can get 'em. If not, there's always the faux kind!
I recently stumbled across an old style bible I'd had for years and years.
In it was a shot of this lovely lady in denim and coral, with signet ring, statement watch and minimal makeup...
...this one of a peaches and cream kind of blonde woman, with bright smile, leopard chiffon scarf, and buttery shirt...

...this gorgeous shot of a redhead wearing the perfect colour, and makeup for her pretty features...

...a very elegant silver haired lady, immaculately groomed and made up...

...this olive skinned beauty, wearing monochromatic tones and a lipstick that I'd kill to know the name of...

...and finally this lady, who I think would look at home in any corporate environment, even now.

What's the one thing that dates these photographs, seating them firmly in the 1980s/1990s?
It's the BIG earrings, the STATEMENT earrings, the BOLD earrings, the OVERSIZED earrings. In case I haven't made the point clearly enough, in every single instance, it's the EARRINGS that date their look.
Sure if you look more closely there's a bit too much earthy blusher happening, and they're all rocking the overgroomed hairstyle of that era, but honestly, I can forgive that.
But those earrings. Gosh. Did we all really wear them? Do you still wear them? Is it time for a new pair of earrings in your wardrobe of accessories?
I think these photos are a perfect argument, for one pair of pearl studs, and a nice pair of diamond ones.
When I think what I've spent on earrings in my lifetime...yes of the oversized bold type, the chandelier type, the gypsy hoop type, the clip-ons, the strands, the chains...it goes on and on....I could have had the best pearls and diamonds on the planet. And more than one pair if I really wanted.
Do it. Treat yourself to a pair of good pearl earrings. Layby them if you have to. Buy vintage or estate if you can...they have more lustre through being worn. And if you really cannot spare the cash, splurge $10 on a pair of decent faux ones. They're everywhere.
Wear them constantly, and enjoy the way they make you feel.
And start saving for the diamond ones.
You deserve it ;-)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A New You...Make an effort...please...

(Source unknown: I think perhaps Advanced Style)
I am sometimes mortified by what I see in my own neighbourhood. And I'm not talking about Sin City shenanigans. Nor am I referring to this lovely lady above, who is the grand old age of 100, and still makes an effort.
I'm just talking about personal presentation.
I've heard all kinds of reasons for why someone shouldn't walk out the door looking their best. Motherly Advice style lecture coming, so if you're not in the mood, click away now.
Here are some of them:
I'm too tired to bother - being tired is no excuse. I've raised four kids. One of my sons has a severe physical disability and requires 24 hour intensive support. I'm often tired, and I still look in the mirror before I leave home and adjust my appearance so that I look like I care. If your fatigue is related to depression or other health issues, you might find that taking more care with your appearance may assist in alleviating some of your symptoms. People relate to you differently when you dress well, too. Making an effort with your personal presentation might boost your mood in all kinds of ways.
I'm too busy with the kids - Believe it or not, even children like it when their Mum looks nice. Strange but true. If your kids are early risers like mine were, lay out your clothes the night before, find a no fuss hairstyle or up-do, and if you don't have time to shower or the kidlets won't give you the luxury of privacy, cultivate the lost art of 'a wash'. My parents and grandparents were raised in an era when baths and showers were not a daily occurrence. Instead, they made do with a bowl or basin of warm water, a washcloth, soap and talcum powder. Most often it was Sunlight soap, and either Johnsons Baby Powder or Cussons Imperial Leather. Mum and Nanna would add a splash of 4711 Cologne, or Avon 'Roses, Roses' scent. Grandpa was in favour of Old Spice. Those scents figure largely in my childhood memories and I cannot to this day, smell 4711, Old Spice, Imperial Leather, Johnsons talcum powders or a Rose perfume, without it conjuring vivid pictures of my Mum and Grandparents . Let these delicate scents be memories for your children too. Not only that, you'll look and feel fresher, and more equipped to start the day.
I don't have anything nice to wear anyway (often followed by 'all my money goes on the kids') - I meet so many Mums whose childrens closets are bulging with clothes and whose bedrooms are cluttered with toys that they barely look at. Meanwhile Mum is schlepping around in beaten up track pants, sneakers and a t-shirt with a Death Metal slogan. Stop. Just stop. Think about the example you are setting for your children. You can be a good parent, without completely losing touch with who you were pre-Motherhood. Sacrifices are part of parenthood. Martyrdom shouldn't be.
Nobody is looking at me - I am. If I am, perhaps others are too. What you really mean is 'I don't want anyone to look at me'. Why? Is it because you've lost the plot, figuratively speaking, and your self esteem is shot? Well, the first step in correcting that, is to start making more of an effort. It's a which came first, the chicken or the egg, argument really, isn't it?
I'm too fat - I'm fat too. I have friends who are fatter than they'd like to be. I make an effort. They do too. I've found the best strategy is to work out your body shape and proportions, and start finding things that suit you. It might mean thrifting, lay-bying (layaway), saving up, or sewing and altering. But it can be done, and it can be done inexpensively. I've completely revamped my wardrobe in the last three months and I've spent under $250. Some was thrifted, some purchased inexpensively in chain stores, some altered from what I already had. You can do it too.
I'm too skinny - Believe it or not, that was my complaint 40 years ago. I was soooooo thin, my arms and legs were like sticks. Oh to have that shape now...lol! But I was so self conscious, and couldn't wear the plunging necklines and halter necks I loved because I had no cleavage and arms like pins. I should have just tastefully flaunted what I had. Look at Kate Moss! You too, can use the Body Shape and Proportions links in this post here, and find what suits YOU.
I'm too old - the lady in these photos is 100. You still wanna float that one??
Nothing looks good on me anyway - Use these calculators to learn more about your body shape and proportions. Find out here, whether your skin tones are Warm or Cool. Research on Pinterest and Polyvore. We can ALL look good. It's a learning curve. I'm still learning! Give yourself permission to invest time, effort, energy and a little money in self. It's the best gift you can give your loved ones, I promise.
My husband likes me like this - Really? Are you sure? I've heard this a dozen times or more. Sure he says that. My husband has said it too. But in the last little while, since I've started this New You journey, his compliments, usually reserved for when we're dressed for an event, have been coming thick and fast on a daily basis. Maybe it's positive reinforcement. Maybe, just maybe, he loves you no matter what, but he'd love you to value yourself too.
I can't afford nice clothes - Can you afford other things in life? Could you minimise your spending in those areas to carve out a small clothing budget? Could you cut back on a few other things that you consider luxuries? Daily latte's, chocolate bars, that bottle of wine once a week, cigarettes, manicures. They're all lovely, but ultimately not the best way to 'invest in self'. I've spent as little as $15 at my local upmarket thrift store, and walked away with an entire new outfit. $15 at a decent thrift store, also buys a quality leather bag, two pairs of trendy looking sunglasses, some costume jewellery like strands of faux pearls and stud earrings, a skirt or pair of jeans and a shirt. That's three Latte's, a single bottle of wine, a packet of ciggies, and half a manicure. Sorry. Try harder.
This is comfier - I know. I like comfy too. But I have lots of 'comfy' clothes that I'd still be proud to answer the door to the Queen in. Comfy doesn't have to mean frumpy, ugly, ill fitting, dirty (unforgiveable), smelly, baggy, or stained. Yet sometimes 'comfy' seems to mean all of those things. Listen when I say...it's not good for you. It just isn't.
I'm just at home all day - Riiiiight. Annnnd? So every time you walk past a mirror, you avoid it? Or do you just avoid mirrors altogether now? Look nice for YOU. Please.
My friends/husband/family would think I was getting too big for my boots - They'll get used to it. That is all.
It's too hot - Tough one. I live in a climate where it's around 25-38C for nine months of the year. I feel your pain. You just have to get clever with what you buy. It doesn't have to be about badly fitting denim shorts and stretch camisoles. I have many lovely dresses, pants and shirts in cotton, cotton voile, jersey knit, linen blends and rayons, that are cool and comfortable to wear, and don't leave me looking like I'm on my way to a fishing trip.
It's too cold - Yes. The temptation to stay in ones pyjamas can be overwhelming and when the closest thing to that is a tracksuit, then it's easy to see the allure. Unfortunately, Track Suits are alluring for no-one but the wearer. Choose well fitting jeans in a dark colour, silk or merino thermal underwear if you live somewhere really cold, warm socks and boots. You'll look better, feel better, and you'll still be warm.
Who cares? - I do. Those who love you do. You should too.
I have little kids and I'd just get dirty - This is why Mum and Nanna had aprons. Aprons can be found in many forms and they don't have to be floral and frilly unless you like them that way. Aprons withstand all kinds of abuse, and you can whip them on and off at a moments notice. They're relatively inexpensive, and you can make them yourself very easily.

Look at these ladies. These look like most of the ladies I see in my neighbourhood. And I live in what is considered a 'nice' neighbourhood. They look neat, clean and tidy, I'll give them that much. But there's not a lot of EFFORT going on. Sorry.
Below is a second group of suburban ladies. Nobody is looking ridiculously overdressed. They've just made more of an EFFORT.
I do see ladies like this in my neighbourhood too. More of that I say.

So you need to start somewhere. If you don't know where to start, you could do worse than dark jeans and a white shirt. Remember that apron too!

Having a bad hair day? Cultivate a way with headbands, a messy bun, or a turban, beret, stylish beanie or other headwear, like this lady. I've seen a couple of very mature ladies in my local shopping centre who favour the turban. It covers all ills from bad hair, accident with hair dye, and can't-be-bothered days.

Remember, this lady below, is 100 years old. I've included several photographs of her.
If she can look like she's made an effort, so can the rest of us.

Please. Do it for yourself.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A New You....Beautiful hands....

My husband once told me that he fell in love with me because of my beautiful hands. I responded that I hoped that the rest of me measured up too...lol!
These are not my hands here above, however they are very like mine, some thirty years ago.
These pictures below are all of my hands. They're not perfect any more, but I'm still proud of them.
Alas the march of time impacts on our hands as much as anywhere else, and perhaps more so. In and out of water, gardening, cleaning, crafting, sewing, wiping tears from little faces, patting beloved pets and soothing worried brows. Is there anything our hands cannot do? It seems silly sometimes to even worry about how they actually LOOK.
Strangely though, we see our own hands constantly, and I know from emails I received from some of you, after I asked you to write down something you loved about yourself, that sometimes hands are the part of our physique that we either lavish with attention or neglect, depending upon our point of view. I'm of the opinion that beautiful hands are as important as a pleasing face, and the thing is, that beautiful hands are within everyones reach. And unlike our faces, WE view them constantly. So for our self esteem, it just makes sense to make a fuss of our hands.

Moisturising hand cream can very quickly turn neglected hands into something more lovely. I have tubes or tubs of hand cream everywhere. From kitchen, to bathroom, to TV room, to bedside table and car console. I lavish my hands with moisturiser several times a day. This means that despite the rigours of child rearing, house cleaning and crafting and sewing and gardening, I remain blessed with hands that my husband still thinks are beautiful.
I don't favour long nails these days, preferring to keep them short and neat. But I do not miss an opportunity to embellish my nails nonetheless.
My daughter-in-law introduced me to Jamberry nail wraps some time ago. I love these because they do not chip, they are inexpensive compared to a salon manicure (about $11 for a mani AND a pedi that lasts up to three weeks), they are easy to apply, and withstand all kinds of abuse from stitching to gardening and washing. They take no longer to apply than nail polish, but without the necessity to wait for them to dry. Bliss! They come in plain colours, French manicures, and pretty designs like these below, so there is something for everyone. Yes I am a convert :)

I do not worry so much about my hands look aged. I know that many women do, but I figure that my hands have served me well in my lifetime, and don't mind so much that they look gracefully aged at my stage of life. I do however like the skin to look smooth and unblemished, so I love a cream here called John Plunketts Sunspot Cream, to help fade the little spots and blemishes common with exposure to the sun here in Australia.
It works brilliantly on sunspots on the face, arms and anywhere else as well. At around $20, it's a great buy and lasts for absolutely ages.
And for a final word on a really easy peasy 1 minute manicure effect, you can't go past an olive oil and salt scrub. Mix a little olive oil and salt (and essential oil for scent if you like...lemon is lovely), to a paste. Massage this well into your hands over the bathroom sink. Rub into your nails, concentrating on softening your cuticles and pushing them back gently. Smooth into the back of your hands, using the scrub to exfoliate the skin. Rinse with warm water, ensuring no salt remains trapped under the nail, and pat dry. You'll look like you've been to a Beauty Salon!
What's your favourite way to lavish your hands with love?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A New You...Look for the right style, not the 'right label'....

Chic little non-label dress. Wear anywhere for under $50.
Classy little peeptoe slingback with modest heel. Wear anywhere for years and years for around $150.
Fabulous hat by local milliner Flora Fascinata...nice with above dress and shoes for Raceday or a wedding...email Flora at her Contact Page here. Or buy a plain black hat and gussy it up yourself. I know Flora. She would approve.

Or for a more subtle effect, there's this metallic cutie if small and neat is more your style. Although I'd probably then go with the plain black version of the above dress, available for the same price.

Now. Here is a designer dress by a very famous, much loved and adored house. Honestly. Even the model looks unhappy wearing it, so what hope is there for we mere mortals?

Same designer. Ummmm.....Tea Cosy anyone?

And for the last word in 'I can only wear them once' shoes...yes, same designer.
So to my way of thinking, you could go out and spend about $5000 and look like a dogs breakfast but be able to say you're wearing....well...a famous designer.
Or you could go out and spend $250-
$300 absolute maximum, and look uber classy and chic.

Nuff said..

Friday, February 10, 2017

Homespun Things...Crystal topped jars....

These pretty crystal topped jars, are so lovely, that you'll find them addictive. I have them everywhere in my home, and no matter what's in them, it's more of a joy to use, when the jar is so gorgeous.
Collect your jars, clean them and remove the labels. I just soak them in hot soapy water, peel the labels off, and remove the sticky label residue with Nail Polish Remover. Then I wash them again.
Use a Phillips head screwdriver and a hammer, to punch a hole dead centre of each jar lid, then paint them with a couple of coats of your favourite colour. Mine is Dulux Pearl.

Allow the paint to dry, then screw the knobs in from underneath the jar lid, with the screw provided. It will be a little long, so you can cut it to fit if you have an electric saw (be careful!) or just leave them long. It means the knobs sit loose, but it doesn't affect the way they look. The knob just moves when you use them.
Fill your jars with nuts, seeds, dried fruit, snacks, cotton balls and buds....whatever.
A gorgeous presentation for home made confectionery too!


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Insourcing...My value in the home...and holidays...

 I had a really good Insourcing week this last week. Insourcing is my name for putting a value on what I do in the home. It's a valuable way for me to ensure that my contribution at home, is appreciated by the family too, as I share my dollar value with them regularly...hehehe!
We'd recovered from our trip away, and whilst the lures of South East Asia were enticing, it's always grand to be home. This is one of the life luxuries that insourcing assists us with financially. We save many thousands of dollars over the course of the year, by eating in, mending and repairing in preference to replacing, making do, and generally going against the grain of what the world around us does, day in day out. Travel is one of our great rewards, and when we travel, we go in style, friends. No inside cabin on level 7 for us. It's a State Room on the top level, thanks. Sigh....lovely....

Once the suitcases were unpacked and the souvenirs distributed, and a brief respite was had from racing here and there, my thoughts naturally returned to the routine of work, school and nurturing hearth and home. Memories of Mothers carrying toddlers on Vespas...

...Lady Buddha...

 ...and night lit Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), reminiscent of Paris...

...fade, as the normality of Aussie life reasserts itself.
It's an odd thing being on a cruise ship, without any capacity to cook for yourself. Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful to have your every whim catered for day and night, and we loved it! But being the homebody I am, I craved being able to fix my own cup of tea, just the way I like it, and eating something simple. Of course baking is a way of life for me too, so my fingers were itching to get back into it as soon as my own kitchen welcomed me!
This last Sunday was the first time I've shopped, prepped and baked in my usual fashion for nearly six weeks though. We were away for nearly four, and then we were caught up in the flurry of activity surrounding the return to school here in Australia. This is my daughters final year, so there were some heavy nostalgic sighs too, acknowledging that as she is my youngest, this was going to be the very last 'first day back at school' ever, for our family.
Gluten free buns were baked and these have done us as breakfast topped with ham, eggs and Hollandaise sauce as seen a bit further down this post, and as afternoon tea topped with Nutella and fresh strawberries for the woman-child. Gluten free buns or rolls work out at around $2 each, and I baked 14 from one batch of batter, so I'll call that a value of $28 on that batch of baking.
The breakfast pictured below, would have set us back $16 each in a café, so my value for the three of us, was $48...you see already, how this really mounts up and saves us so much money!
A belated Christmas gift awaited us upon our return home, and this cute little stack of side printed notepads, tied with a sweet pen attached, and embellished with grosgrain ribbon and a glittered snowflake ornament, sent my imagination into overdrive for Christmas gifts this year...yes, I start now!

Part of the secret to feeding your family well on a budget, week in, week out, is to make sure you plan for treats. Patting yourself on the back for a grocery shop under $100, then stopping in at a favourite fast food haunt for burgers and shakes every day after school at $3-$6 a pop, is not smart budgeting, nor is it clever eating. You'll have your own favourites of course, but for us, it's a yummy dip like this Cottage Cheese for Cottage Cheese Haters, which is a recipe circa 1982 from my Mums handwritten cookbook, and which I'm happy to eat sans crackers! Here's that recipe in four sentences...
Curried Cottage Cheese for Cottage Cheese Haters
To a 500gm tub of creamed cottage cheese, add 2 heaped teaspoons of yellow curry powder, the juice of half a lemon, a tomato finely diced, a single green shallot, sliced finely (or a pinch of dried onion flakes), Salt and Pepper, and a sprinkle of Cayenne Pepper. Mix well and refrigerate. Serve alone and eat with a spoon, inside lettuce leaves, or on crackers.
Saving on supermarket dips and cheeses...around $20.
I made café style breakfasts, including Eggs Benedict, served on the aforementioned home baked gluten free rolls. I made a Cheats Hollandaise in under a minute, and presto...we had our favourite café brekky for just $1.20 each, instead of $16 a head. That's a saving of at least $45 as I mentioned above. Here's that recipe in four sentences...
Cheats Hollandaise Sauce
2-3 serves
Melt 2 teaspoons of butter in a small jug or cup. Add 1 teaspoon mayonnaise, a squeeze of lemon juice, 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard and a tiny pinch of salt and pepper. Microwave till warm, and whisk till smooth. Serve over Poached eggs resting on a bed of ham or smoked salmon atop buns or English style muffins.

And I can't finish the week without mentioning the produce we harvested from our 1 year old fruit trees. This week that was four figs, a bowl of mulberries (the last of them I think), 2 lemons, 3 stems of Kaffir lime leaves (to dry and use in Thai dishes), and a Tahitian lime. Now that doesn't sound like much. But I priced those things at the supermarket, and here is their retail value...
Figs $2.50 each = $10 Value
Mulberries $9 punnet = $9 Value
Lemons $2 each = $4 Value
Kaffir lime leaves $6 punnet of about 10 = $120 (!!!) Value
Limes $3 each = $3
Total value of home harvest = $146!
So even the humblest of gardens can reward you well!
Additionally, as I unpacked the groceries on Sunday, I prepped the meals for the week. I diced Gravy beef for a Japanese curry, marinating in tenderising spices, saving $10 on a prepacked meal to go from the supermarket, and saving $50 on a takeaway. I made a turkey meatloaf, saving $7 on a bought prepped one. I popped a whole chicken into a Middle Eastern style marinade and stuffed it with gluten free stuffing and chopped preserved lemon, saving $15 on one already done. I baked saving at least $60 on bought treats. And I chopped and diced my veges for the week, saving at least another $15 on buying them already done. This took about 90 minutes, and means I'm ready for the week ahead, no matter what happens. It's lovely to come home, and know whats for dinner and know that it's practically done and ready to go bar heating, pan frying or baking. I cannot begin to tell you how much this saves on takeaways too!
We'll call that $157 saved on doing all that myself, as opposed to buying those things already done. So that's not to be sneered at. And once you adopt this habit (discipline, remember!), you won't think twice about it.
All up, I estimate my value in the home last week at around $396. Now that's a pretty conservative week for me. But to earn that value after tax, I would have had to have a part time job, been away from home for at least 2-3 days, and then we'd be throwing money away on all kinds of things. Transport to and from school for my daughter, a dog walker, a dog hydrobath, a gardener, a cleaner, ready prepared food or takeaway and so on. So if you factor all of that lot in, the savings are looking far more significant! Then we're talking around $896! Being at home, and making sure that the time I spend there is productive, really does make a difference.
Multiply those figures by the 52 weeks in a year, and we're talking big bucks. Certainly enough for a state room on a cruise ship once a year!
You can do it too.
How was your week?