Adding value to me. (updated!)

Sponsored by Nuffnang

Last week we looked at ways to tighten the belt with the household budget. In this, the second in my series of posts talking about the idea of ‘value’, we shall be looking at ways to add value for you. They don’t necessarily cost money (in fact, most of them don’t cost anything – as is my constant quest), they don’t even have to take that much time, but they are 10 ways to add value to your life. To add value to who you are and how you feel. Read on!

My psychiatrist once told me that being a parent and a partner involves a hell of a lot of sacrifice and a mountain of compromise and you can only sustain that reality for so long. He reassured me that if I was to be sane, if my mood was to stabilise in a reliable way and if I was to be happy I had to build things into my life that were solely for me. Things that made making those sacrifices and compromises acceptable.

How many times do you say, ‘I don’t have time’?

How often do you mutter, ‘There’s just not enough hours in the day’?

How normal is it for you to think that there is nothing in your life that is just for you?

You know where these thoughts lead don’t you. They are at the top of the slippery slope to the realm of ‘I’m not worth it’, ‘no one cares’, ‘I don’t matter’. And well, some of us know that once you’re sliding down that hill, clawing your way back to the top is beyond arduous. And ugly.

For years – from when I was a tween actually – I have sort comfort in food. Baking and cooking for others made me happy. But it was a double-edged sword in that while it made me happy it also made me fat which made me bulimic and on it went.

It has only been this year, THIS YEAR, in fact, in the last three months that I’ve accepted I have to find something else as well as baking to be my time out, my thing. And it had to be something that didn’t cost anything. Or very little. So monthly massages, or pedicures or manicures or facials or subscriptions or so on were  simply not an option.

So here are some tips you can try to add value to your day. To make you feel better, to make you feel special, to revive your soul.

1. Get up off the lounge. Turn the TV off. Put the laptop down. Back away from the computer. Now go outside. No seriously. Go outside. What do you see? Is the sky blue? Is the sun shining? How large is the moon? Are there stars in the sky? What’s happening in your garden or on your street? TAKE IT IN.  It can take all of two minutes. Of course, it’s better if you can take 10 but I guarantee you it does wonders.

2. Are you doing any exercise? If you are, snaps to you. If you’re not, like I wasn’t up until 4 weeks ago then you must. Listen, it doesn’t need to be gut-wrenching, sweat-inducing heart-stopping madness (although this is what I’m doing at the moment to lose weight) it just needs to get you moving. And get this. It’s half an hour. 30 measly minutes. So see Point 1 up there, put on some sneakers and just go.

I was the queen of ‘I don’t have time’ but you know what, put those kids in a stroller or hell, get the bigger ones walking/riding/scootering with you. You will be amazed at how ‘just getting out of the house’ makes you feel better.

Once you start it will only take a couple of weeks before your body will start telling you that you need to go.

Remember this, it only takes four weeks to form a habit. Four teensy tiny weeks. Get to it.

3. Make something. Making things gives you a sense of satisfaction and achievement that I am yet to find matched by anything else. Oh LOOK, you don’t need to be artistic or crafty, it can be as simple as buying some card, a stamp and making your own cards to give to people for birthdays or Christmas (mind you, I haven’t done Christmas cards – made or bought – in years. Not since that year I did about 40 of them then never got to post them until February the following year.)

And by ‘make something’ it can cover anything – get in the kitchen, try a new recipe for dinner or something yummy for afternoon tea. Something that busts you out of your rut that is ‘pizzas for dinner on Mondays’.

4. Pick up the phone and call a friend. This year I made a concerted effort to stay in touch more effectively with friends not just via Facebook or Twitter. Actual conversations! I know! It has been delightful.

5.  Get together. Meet up with friends. Not with kids on tow. Either go out to dinner or a movie or for a walk together. The most effective stress-release for women with children? GETTING TOGETHER WITH OTHER WOMEN IN SIMILAR SITUATION.

6. SCHEDULE. Now look, I know. We all want spontaneity and excitement but if you have two working adults with any number of children (or even without children I might add) you  Write in when you’re going to go for that walk/run/swim. Make a date with your friend not just a ‘we must get together’, write down what day you’re going to call that person and so on and so forth. Then treat those as you would a doctor’s appointment or meeting – you wouldn’t just no-show to those, so don’t no-show to these. Hell, we even schedule in ‘special times’.

7. Go to bed. Are you reading blogs at midnight? Tweeting at 11pm? GO TO BED. The best quality deep sleep comes before midnight. You need good quality sleep for mood regulation. Enough said.

So there you go – they all seem so obvious don’t they. So innocuous. But if you do them it makes such a difference.

I’d love to know what do you do in your day for you – what is the one (or more!) activity you do that tells you ‘I matter’?

This post was sponsored by KIA. To celebrate the great value of KIA’s new car – the Cerato Hatch, a website has been launched so you and your family can get some great value offers and deals. Check out my favourite deal for this week:  Purchase the Patiomaster HD 4 burner BBQ for only $499 and receive a BONUS 3 piece outdoor setting valued at $149!

Tightening the belt

Sponsored by Nuffnang

Most of you know that this year has been all about tightening the household budgetary belt and you know, we’ve actually done incredibly well. I mean, we haven’t saved anything but we have not spent beyond our means for a whole 11 months. Pretty amazing huh.

So I thought it would be the perfect place to start in my series looking at the concept of ‘value’. Most of these are completely obvious and there are probably loads more ways we could be saving money so please, share your tips via comments too OK?

allconsuming’s Top 10 ways to tighten the family budget

  1. Set a weekly menu plan and shop specifically to that list. Oh, and back away from the brand names.
  2. Buy a decent brand of coffee and/or tea and cease and desist buying one every time you leave the house.
  3. Have people over for morning or afternoon tea rather than meeting at the coffee shop. Making a slice or cake or batch of biscuits is far more economical than the $$ you will dole out at a cafe.
  4. Stop buying magazines. Depending on your want (fashion, food, gossip, lifestyle/home) there are plenty of blogs and/or online options
  5. Review all your plans – phone plans, pay-tv plans, insurance plans, utilities – take the time to investigate better options. You don’t need to do them all at once, just tackle one at a time. We took a long hard look at our pay-tv subscription, questioned what we would miss versus how much it cost us and well, we ditched the whole thing. The only thing we miss: Grand Designs, AFL, SpongeBob. Hardly life-altering or unbearable.
  6. This one has been tough but absolutely necessary: no more take-aways. I mean, take-away for seven people, five of those essentially eating adult portions is incredibly expensive. Instead we try to really create variety with weekly dinners at home. I must say, I really yearn for one night a week where I say, ‘let’s order take-away’.
  7. Review extra-curricular activities – can it be done better, how much is too much. Now this is a bit laden as it cuts right to the core of giving your kids a range of experiences and activities. We had to reach the decision that each child got 1-2 activities they could do, ideally a sport and an arts orientated one. Oscar’s taken care of mostly through free activities due to his special needs, Felix has done drama and football. Jasper has just picked up dance and Grover is none the wiser at this stage but I think the two little fellas will do gymnastics next year.  I ditched the swimming lessons for the little boys which some would say was foolish. But really, having done swimming lessons with three of the boys surely I had taken on enough to be able to teach them water safety when we’re in the pool at my in-laws or over at the ocean pool or in the surf the several times a week we are there during summer? Instead I’m investigating a week-long intensive option over the school holidays as Jasper is now in need of some stroke lessons. That and the swimming club offers free lessons (gold coin donation) at the ocean pool every weekend during summer. Tick.
  8. It’s not where you shop but how you wear it. No really. It is.
  9. Plan plan plan. Life throws enough curve balls so let’s try and limit their impact. I have a list of bigger ticket items that are going to need replacing at some stage in the near future. Then I keep track of prices of that item and how often there are sales on. I’ve also signed up at two online sales websites: brandsExclusive and buyinvite and if something comes up there which is on my list it may get ticked off (if the price is right as it were).
  10. Homemade is not a dirty word. Now look, I know many of you are not crafty and do not cook/bake, but I do (definitely more of the latter than the former) and so this is a case of playing to my strengths. If you know me then you just have to accept that a birthday gift or a thank you present or a contribution to a hamper or some such is going to be made by me. Yes, I will try and make it look nice but it will always taste good and was made with love. I reckon that’s far nicer than another bloody teatowel/vase/dust-collector.

This post was sponsored by KIA. To celebrate the great value of KIA’s new car – the Cerato Hatch, a website has been launched so you and your family can get some great value offers and deals. Check out my favourite deal for this week: Purchase the Mountain Buggy Swift from Baby and receive a FREE Storm and Sunshade valued at $79.90 at

Five things…

things I like:
Finding cheap-arse fabrics I like at Spotlight AND buying dress patterns for the first time ever
Jamie Oliver’s tour of the USA TV series
This goats cheese chevre I found at Harris Farm
Starting a new quilt
fresh salads with fetta and nuts

not so much:
my world being completely dictacted by the agendas and needs of others
listening to completely ridiculous sibling squabbles
money or lack thereof

things I saw yesterday:
too many rather large hunstman spiders for my liking thank you very much
the inside of our most stupidly designed compost bin – it was as gross as you are imagining
a shitload of soil being moved by Chef and myself (half a tonne I do believe)
Grover asleep on the lounge
Jasper asleep on the lounge

things that are wearing out quickly:
hot weather – and it’s not even officially summer yet (thank GOODNESS I don’t live in Melbourne or Adelaide which have been enduring heatwaves for the last fortnight or Narromine where it’s already been in the 40s)
Grover being toilet trained to wee and poo on the back verandah rather than in the toilet
my patience with too many things
my not drinking alcohol self-instigated rule, what can I say, so much easier to follow in winter
my willingness to clean

things to be happy about:
cheap fabric from Spotlight
Felix naming his quilt Gizmo
the weird gastro virus that has been affecting all of us to varying degrees for the last two months seems to have finally passed
in S.I.X. sleeps I will be meeting some of my online friends for the first time AND attending my first ever CRAFT CAMP
that craft camp will be the first time I have been away on my own ever since having children, and given my current cranky state of mind it could not have come at a better time.

25 things Round 2

In keeping with my ability to be both a glass is half full AND a glass is half empty kinda gal depending on just how mental my brain is being, here are 25 things that either make my neck itch or shit me to tears:

  1. drivers who slow to an almost complete stop when turning a corner or pulling into a turning lane
  2. men and 20-something-year-old girls (normally wearing white plastic accessories and some cotton knit clothing from Supre) who do not stand for pregnant women or the elderly on public transport
  3. that men think it is perfectly acceptable that they need to be asked before they will do any form of domestic chore
  4. Big Brother
  5. humidity
  6. crowds
  7. that the dogs persistently drop big steaming turds right where I stand to hang out the washing
  8. dogs
  9. no oil dressings with dried herbs somehow miraculously suspended in them
  10. Chicken Tonight
  11. That saturated fat isn’t good for you
  12. drivers that sit 5-10kms below the speed limit – as if it’s a goal not a limit
  13. alfalfa
  14. That’s So Raven, The Suite Life and any other program that is this generations’ very poor version of Family Ties, Diff’rent Strokes or even Full House
  15. my shocking recollection of the apostrophe rule when it comes to scenarios like the one in No.14
  16. poorly made sourdough
  17. people in positions of power or leadership who do not deserve – or have the skills – to be in a position of power or leadership
  18. people who behave as if they are helpless or a victim when reality indicates they are neither
  19. religious zealotry
  20. the flawed intelligence of Australian tv programmers who seem to think we need House and Californication live streamed from the US but not America’s Next Top Model or Hells Kitchen
  21. overcooked vegetables of any kind
  22. people making presumptions on the behalf of others
  23. those drivers (normally male, 40-something, in the Commodore company car) who refuse to merge in an orderly and good-spirited one-car-from-this-lane-one-car-from-that-lane manner
  24. failed recipes
  25. people who think it is OK to say, ‘I don’t mean to be rude but…’ and go on to be awe-inspiringly inappropriate/insulting/malicious/stupid.

and to add a few to my list from yesterday:
26. brunch
27. men opening doors for me
28. proper custard speckled with vanilla bean
29. family traditions – like making the christmas pudding and everyone having a turn stirring in a threepence or sixpence… or when my mum and nan used to spend the whole day bottling peaches, nectarines and apricots we’d bought at the fruit stall on Mt Ousley on our way to Nan’s house in Wollongong. The day would be blazingly hot, the kitchen even moreso but there was a harmony, an industriousness to it all that was infinitely comforting to a child.
30. great music
31. happy songs
32. baking sweet treats
33. the promise of a new day
34. writing lists
35. fine quality paper
36. stationery and office supplies. The amount of time I could spend in Officeworks is just plain wrong.
37. magazines – National Geographic, Frankie, Vanity Fair and virtually any food magazine (except those hideous constructs with covers emblazoned with the promise of ‘quick and easy dinner solutions’)