Monday, 27 July 2015

The Life Of A Adult University Student

If you asked me to describe how I have felt since starting university at the start of this month I would use words like overwhelmed, nervous, stressed, time poor and brain strain.  However I would also use word like engaged, determined, excited, enthusiastic and challenged.  There are both positives and negatives to working 30 hours a week, studying 30 hours a week as well as trying to keep momentum behind our plans to move to NZ next year.

All in all I am really loving studying and it feels so good to be really stretching my brain and learning new information and skills.  I am so glad that I decided to start working towards a new career even though I am in my late 30's and have not studied for over 15 years.

I have set myself up on the dinning table  and Jessie is my little study buddy and loves to lie on the floor beside me when I study. 

I have found that getting to sleep at night is more difficult than it should be and when I close my eyes I have a thousand things running through my head and it is difficult to put them aside.  I think I am going to have to put into practice some new sleep strategies.

I am making full use of our 10 seater dinning table
I am so glad I have a good stockpile of meals in the freezer because not having to cook every day of the week is a real blessing.  I have also been making meals that we are happy to eat for a few days in a row.  This week it was chicken pie using left over roast chicken peas and corn and it was so tasty.

Apologies for the lack of post lately but I am just trying to get my time management skills more finely tuned to create more free time for all the "Fun Stuff".

Do you have any good tips for getting to sleep with a busy brain?

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

We Are Selling - We Hope

This week we signed a contact to sell our house. Woo Hoo!!

We have been offered a price we are happy with and have a settlement date in early October.

It is conditional to the usual building and pest inspection and buyers having an unconditional contact on their house but that is often how things go.  
The buyers have just signed a contract for the sale of their house but it too is subject to the sale of another property.  So it is one big game of dominos.

We are crossing our fingers that there are no issues or hold ups but at this stage are trying not to get too excited.

Monday, 20 July 2015

The Chickens Are Back In Action

The egg production slowed right down as the daylight hours decreased and naturally so as the chickens need to moult and focus on growing new feathers in Autumn not lay eggs. But this has meant there has been no pasta in the house and hubby loves pasta.  
I do not buy pasta as a rule and generally only eat home made pasta so the lack of eggs meant they got used in other things.
But like a switch was flicked as the daylight hours have started to increase so have the eggs.  
That means it is pasta time again and over the weekend I made a batch of fettuccine,  I store it in the freezer in portions and the recipe makes 6 portions.  Next weekend I will make another batch and this time I will make some lasagna sheets, then we will be set for a while.

Now I just have to make use of a whole lot of egg whites
Any ideas?

Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Garden Whip Around

Even though we are selling up and moving on there are still jobs that need doing.

Last weekend I tackled our arrowroot hedge.  It stretches across the back boundary of our house yard (which includes the orchard and chicken pens) and creates a bit of a windbreak for our chickens.  It has been looking really ratty and so it needed to be pruned back to the ground.  I started off doing the small section (about 4 metres) but by the end of it my hand was pretty sore from wielding the secateurs.

My efforts

Hubby came to the rescue then and did the big section (about 15 metres) with a chainsaw which took him less time to do than my small section by hand.

Hubby making it look easy

All Done (sorry chickens it will be a bit breezy for a while)

All the arrowroot prunings will make great compost when it rots down.

The new owners are going to get a great crop of dragon fruit next year as our plant has put on so many new shoots and every year our crop gets better and better.

This empty garden bed is ready to plant my potatoes into.  We might not be here to eat them but I have to take the risk.  I will probably plant some in pots to take with us just in case.

This bed has an old zuchini some kale, parsley, fennel, dill, spring onions and nasturtiums.  Nothing too exciting but enough to keep the two of us in veg and herbs when combined with the rest of the garden.

These garden beds are a bit of a disgrace but among the weeds there are self seeded lettuce, silverbeet, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and herbs.

We have lots of lemons, the flood of tahitian limes is nearly over with lots stored in the fridge, and the blood oranges are loving the cold weather (this is what develops the red colour). 

Our crazy mulberry thinks it is time to fruit... I think it is a bit cold yet but maybe nature knows best.

This is my asparagus bed just waiting for a new layer of compost and mulch.  Hopefully we will get a good crop before we move.

So what going on in your garden?

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

How Are You Keeping Warm?

All across Australia we are experiencing a cold snap with a blast of cold Antartic air pushing up from the south.

We have the fire going and even Jessie thinks in front of it is the best place to be.  

It is really windy too and in our old house the wind is finding ways inside making it's presence felt. Our property in New Zealand is in an exposed situation and this weather reminds me how important it will be for us to have lots of wind breaks.  We have planted out about 400 trees already but I expect that number to increase to about 4000 over then next 10 years.

How are you keeping warm at the moment?

Monday, 13 July 2015

Changing The Way I Shop - Update

At the end of May I posted here about how I was going to change the way I shopped in order to reduce our spending due to me cutting back on my work hours so I could go back to uni.

Some things have worked well, some areas have been adjusted and there has been the odd overspend but all in all I am so far happy with how things are progressing and will continue to refine the process.

Things that are working well:

  • Checking what is in the garden on a daily basis to see what can be added to a planned meal, can have a future meal built around it or can replace a planned meal so that it does not got to waste.
  • Using any gifted or traded food in the same ways mentioned above.
  • The new separation of "This Week" and "Future" on the white board has meant I know what needs replacing at all times but can make a judgement on the urgency of that replacement.
Things that have been adjusted:
  • The budget has been increased to $70 per week.  This is now made up of my $50 a week plus and additional $20 a week for hubby to spend buying what he likes to take for lunch each day and to top up his milk supply during the week.  Most weeks this consists of 1 kg carrots, 2 kg bananas, 2 kg apples, 6 litres of milk (additional to the 5 litres I buy each week as he drinks over  litre a day) and a bag of some type of nuts.
  • Making one of the planned meals each week a meal from the freezer.  This allows me to have at least one night off cooking a week, means nothing needs to be purchased to create the meal which means if we have more left overs than expected that we could create an additional meal from or there is a change of events for the week, we automatically have a meal we can drop from the menu plan with no waste created or budget overspend.
  • I have discovered that tracking when I shop is also important as it means I do not end up with any 5 day weeks and know when I can spend a little more if it has actually been 2 weeks since I shopped.
Things that have not worked so well:
  • For the first month I did not track when I shopped which meant that there was actually 5 shops in just over 4 weeks, this has now been addressed.
  • I over-spent on the budget picking up vegetable specials one week.  Although they were good value that "special" impacted on the budget, meant vegetables in the garden did not get used and other items that were already planned to be used were purchased as well meaning they were not as fresh when they finally got used a could really have been put off until the next week.
  • Just having a shopping list and not having a over view of the meal plan for the week with me when doing the shopping meant that I was not able to adjust my meal plan to take advantage of specials as I mentioned above.
Home made Salmon Flan using lots of eggs, silverbeet, spring onions and dill from the garden.

I am generally happy with the new system and these few refinements are making it easier each week that passes but I will continue to look out for other refinements that need to be made.

Have you changed how you shop?
What strategies do you use to stick to a meal plan or budget?

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Using Up Left Over Roast

With our freezers full of beef we have quite a few different types of roasts including topside, rolled brisket, blade and rump.  Regardless of what type of roast you cook you are often left with a few bits and pieces that are not really a tasty appealing looking meal in themselves, a bit of over cooked meat, some gravy and a few odd veggies.   So what do you do with these roast odds and ends?

I think the best ways to use up these odds and ends is to make a pie filling.  To do this  I dice and remaining meat and veggies and set aside then I take the left over gravy and re-heat it in a saucepan. If there is not a lot of gravy I add some beef stock to the pot and then more cornflour to thicken it, Finally I add in all of the chopped up meat and veggies often some frozen peas and herbs like parsley and thyme.  I stir it all together and either use it straight away or freeze for later use.
You then have the option of making a pie at the drop of a hat topped with pastry, mashed potato/sweet potato/pumpkin, a crumble topping (try this one it is really tasty) or even dumplings.

This can be applied to any type of roast and is a really frugal meal option.

How do you use up left over bits from a roast?

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Monthly 9 - June

Well here we are again and we are looking back and focusing on the 9 areas of simple living that Christine started back in 2012.  Linda our wonderful host has been really busy so pop over and check out what she has been up to and join in and share what has been going on in your world over the past month.

Here is what we have been up to over the month of May.

Nourish -Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.
June was a busy month and I made a big pot of vegie soup flavoured with a ham hock.  I have packed it into portions and frozen some so we have easy meals on hand.
I made a couple of date loaves for sweet treats and I made hubby a chocolate self-saucing pudding last week as it is his favourite.

In May I made my first batch of Camembert Cheese and we ate it during June. It was very ripe and the center ran out when cut.  It quite tasty but it needed more salt.  I am looking forward to having another go as it was no more difficult than any of the other cheeses I have made.

Prepare - Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season.
As mentioned I made a big batch of soup and I have also been cooking in bulk a couple of times a week so that we have ready meals like chilli beef and beans and dahl set aside in the freezer.

Reduce - Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing.
Not much happening on this front this month.

Green Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.
Not much to report in this area although I have been reading a great book on making your own herbal remedies.

Grow plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden?

Just like last month there are spring onions, mini capsicum, as well as lettuce and silverbeet too. There are a couple of eggplants on the bush that is now more than 2 years old and a few coming on on the other plant. The egg production has picked up a little which is great as we love eggs.
We have heaps of herbs going and I have both thyme and sage going well and ready to use as a cold remedy should one hit. 

Create - To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others.
I have been working on a crochet blanket and it is coming along nicely.  It is currently the size of a small lap blanket and I am aiming for a double bed blanket.  It has become a bit wavy around the edges and I have tried blocking and stretching the middle a bit already and ironing with steam  Now I am trying to tighten it up by doing 3 x 3 trebles per stitch followed by 1 x 2 trebles so that the edge is tighter.  I have no idea if it will work but only time will tell or perhaps a blogger out there who is a crochet master.

Discover Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.
I have been reading lots over the past month both fiction and non fiction and a few of the books have been really great so will be getting a post of their own.

Enhance Community
Not much to report here

Enjoy - Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment.
One of our camping trips allowed us to catch up with friends who have not seen since new year so it was great to catch up.  We have also had some friends who used to live nearby come back for a visit and we have made the most of their company.

What have you been up to?

Thursday, 2 July 2015

I Can Peel My Own Bananas

Some things in life just make you smile.  I should have filmed this but had already started taking photos by the time I thought of it.