Monthly Archives: February 2012

Break.

You know that feeling? The one where your body and mind scream at you to stop? The one where you get through the days, but drag yourself around, zombie-like? The one where you just need to take a break?

Well, I’m taking a break. A digital break.

I have plans and excitement and joy and things to share. But first, I need that break.

Add your email to the list {click the orange tab just underneath the site header} to be notified when I return. It won’t be months – more like a couple of weeks.

But my guess is it will feel like much, much more.

Until we see each other again, take care. xx

 

3 Quick Tips to Create a Great Dining Room

timber and white dining room

{via Apartment Therapy}

exposed brick wall, timber table and beautiful light dining room

{via Apartment Therapy}

This blog has evolved a lot. Initially it began just to talk about Slow Home principles, but has become so much more.

The idea of a Slow Home still really appeals though, and I think so many of us would benefit from adopting some of the ideas behind it.

Where better to start than the dining room? Eating is part of our every day, so why not make it an integral part of our Slow home?

Three quick ways to enhance this important, yet often overlooked part of the house:

1. Good Circulation

Try to have at least one metre of empty space on all sides of your dining table. This allows for plenty of room to circulate the table, even when the chairs are in use.

Feeling cramped means you’re far less likely to enjoy sitting at the dining table, and you’ll be far less likely to actually use it. (Hello, dinner on the lounge!)

2. Declutter

If you have to move mountains of papers, handbags and folded laundry before you even sit down for a meal, do you think you will actually use the dining table? (My number one decluttering tip can be found here.)

Keep decorations to a minimum and make them easy to shift at meal times.

A designated Entryway Landing Strip will help with the table clutter.

And a designated admin area will eliminate most of the paper clutter before it becomes an issue.

3. Great lighting

A light and airy dining room is perfect, but artificial light is just as important when it comes to eating and entertaining.

Downlights are a good option, as they give strong light – great for family dinner time. But to inject some personality and mood to the room, consider a large statement light over the table. Fabulous for entertaining and having a large feature light means you need less (or zero) table decorations – cutting down further on clutter.

(This is the project I’m currently working on. I can’t wait to finish it…some time in 2018.)

If you still find yourself not using the “formal” dining area so many homes have, consider changing the room completely. Maybe it would be a good office or toy room? Providing you have somewhere else to sit and dine, it may be an inexpensive way to gain an extra room in your house.

Do you find yourself dining on the lounge most nights? Or is dining at the table an important part of your day?

How to Run Your Household Budget: Part 2

{via @Snow0326 on Instagram}

**For this post I will imagine you are paid fortnightly. If you are paid weekly or monthly instead, then simply replace “fortnightly” with weekly or monthly.**

Part one saw us collate honest numbers of income vs expenses. Part two will split your expenses into two categories – your “online” expenses and “cash” withdrawals. (More on these below.)

Over the years I have had many late bill payments and too many late fees to mention. I shudder to think of how much I have paid in overdue fees. How shitty is that? Paying needlessly for being disorganised?

So last year, we opened a linked bank account named Bills. It is only accessible online (no EFTPOS or debit cards attached) and I would highly, highly, strongly, highly recommend you do the same. This is an important step in running your household budget (using these particular steps anyway.)

Before you begin, grab a piece of paper and write up two columns – one for “Online” expenses and the other for “cash” expenses.

Step 1: Note which of your expenses can be paid online.

That is, anything with direct deposit details or BPAY details listed on the invoice. It also includes any loans that are paid automatically, credit card payments, automatic donations etc. Include the item and the fortnightly amount for each expense in the “online” column.

For us that is:

  • mortgage
  • credit card repayment
  • phone/internet
  • mobile phones
  • pay tv
  • gas
  • water
  • electricity
  • charitable donations
  • car insurance
  • health insurance
  • home/contents insurance
  • life insurance
  • council rates
  • school fees
  • pet costs (vet appointments etc)
  • savings
  • emergency fund

Step 2: Work out any infrequent but significant expenses that require savings.

  • birthday presents
  • haircuts
  • facials/beauty treatments
  • dentist visits
  • car servicing
  • car registration
  • CTP green slip

Find the fortnightly amount by dividing the total due by the number of pay periods in that timeframe. (Example: $500 in school fees per term. A school term is 10 weeks or five fortnights, so divide $500 by 5. You need to put away $100 a fortnight.)

Add this information to the “online” column.

(With things like birthday presents, it really depends on your financial circumstances. The best idea is to put away a small amount each pay to cover any that sneak up on you.)

Step 3: Total your online expenses.

Tally up all the amounts in your “online” column. This is the fortnightly amount of your “online” expenses.

This total is the amount per fortnight that you need to put into your Bills account, to ensure you’re not caught short when the bills roll in.

 

Step 4: Total up each of your “cash” expenses.

(Note: In my system, I avoid paying for anything with EFTPOS. It makes it too difficult to track your spending. I withdraw an amount of cash for the fortnight on pay day.)

Everything that isn’t payable online becomes a cash expense. Add these items and fortnightly amounts to the “cash” column.

For us this includes:

  • groceries
  • petrol
  • transport costs (train tickets etc)
  • misc spending
  • eating out/beer/entertainment

Tally up this amount. This is the total of your “cash” expenses.

Step 5: Set up an automatic transfer for your total “online” expenses.

Set up the transfer for payday or the day after.

Transfer the total at the bottom of your “online” column from your transaction account (the one your pay goes into) to your Bills account. This is now the account that you pay your bills from. Use it only for paying bills and setting money aside for larger costs like school fees, car registration etc.

 

The third and final part of the How to Run Your Household Budget series will be posted on Thursday – so stay tuned!!

Part One of How to Run Your Household Budget can be found here.

 

Thrifty Meals: Tuna and Vegetable Pie

Last week I posted the recipe for Roast Tomato and Olive Pasta – which people seemed to really like. So I thought, while I’m rubbing the weekend out of my eyes and gearing up for another busy week, that I would re-post this recipe from my old blog.
Tonight’s dinner is actually a “kids” dinner, but Sparky and I dig it too, so it’s win-win!

You’ll need:

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
large tin tuna, flaked and drained
1+ cup of grated cheese
1 onion, finely diced 
1+ cups frozen veges (I use peas, carrots and corn)
OR tin corn kernels, drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
  1. Combine tuna, onion, veges and cheese in a bowl.
  2. Put one sheet of pastry in the bottom of a greased baking dish, and fill with the tuna mix.
  3. Season if you’d like, then place the second sheet of pastry over the top, pinching/tucking it into the side of the dish, to get a fairly good seal.
  4. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and put into a preheated oven (200C) for around 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and flaky and the filling is bubbling away.
We have ours with steamed veges, but it would be yummo with homemade chips, baked sweet potato or salad too.

Happy-Making: Something Beautiful and True.

{Neon Ink via Pinterest - click for more info}

Sometimes we simply need to appreciate beauty. There may be no logical reason for the beauty. No end to its means. No summation.

It just is.

And that is enough.

Sometimes we need reminding to look for it. Because we’re too caught up in the crappy week, the busy days, the exhausted nights. The day-to-day and the need-to-dos. The life stuff.

I tell you what else is part of the life stuff?

  • Bird song early in the morning
  • A spider’s web
  • A rainbow
  • Your kids’ laughter
  • Your loved one’s smile
  • The smell of rain on the earth
  • You, alone, running on the road
  • Play

This is a reminder I need to hear. Because lately, I’ve been ignoring the beauty. And it shows.

This weekend I’m going to rediscover it.

Have a wonderful weekend. xx

Have you found the beauty again? Or did you never lose it? (And how do you do that – I need to know!)

 

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