Sunday 20 December 2020

2020 - An Emotional Year

It's time for me to go on a blogging break.  We have Christmas to look forward to with our family and 2 adorable grandbabies next week.  The presents have been purchased and wrapped.  They'll go under the tree Christmas Eve to keep them away from little fingers.  We have a holiday planned and Megan turns 21 next month.

Our year has been quite an emotional one even without Covid 19 turning the world upside down.  We lost a close family member back in February.  Her passing was quicker than expected and resulted in some family relationships becoming very strained ( to say the least ).

My Mum finished her final round of heavy chemo treatments in March just before Covid restrictions came into force.  Mum and Dad have been in their own version of lockdown all year with Mum mostly staying home for the last 2 years.  She's doing well now but still has her challenging days.

In March we had the birth of our second grandbaby.  Bryson is just a delight to be around and his constant smiles light up a room. Unfortunately the panic buying had just started a couple of days before Bryson's birth.  Darren and I raced from supermarket to supermarket to buy nappies and formula for both Luka and Bryson. 

We had family living with us from February until 2 days before stage 4 lockdown in August.   Our full house worked quite well most of the time and it was wonderful to be a part of Luka and Bryson's life every day.  Luka loved to sit on my knee to share my toast and jam every morning.

We helped move both Jessica and Megan a total of 4 times.   Three of the moves were emergency moves during various stages of lockdowns.  Hopefully things have settled down and both girls are happy where they are living.

Darren and I became empty nesters at the start of August.  The quietness of our home was a bit of a shock after having a full house.  Thankfully we enjoy each other's company and have spent many hours out on the deck drinking cups of tea and watching the clouds go by.

We celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary on 2nd September.  Although our Cook Islands holiday was postponed,  we did enjoy a candlelit dinner at home, just the 2 of us in stage 4 lockdown.

We've seen work come and go.  When things got tough,  I started sewing face masks to sell.  When that slowed down,  I made cards,  sewed hanging tea towels / hand towels,  made bath bombs, soaps,  book marks and jam.  With shops being closed,  there was a real demand for handmade goodies. My newly acquired craft room was buzzing and the sewing machine went into overdrive.  At one point I  ' employed ' Darren to take orders.

I enjoyed online card making days with my friends from The Cheapskates Club.  It was wonderful to catch up,  compare notes on how we were going and made a few cards along the way.  Luka enjoyed bringing me biscuits and saying hello to the ladies.

We spent as much time as possible out in the back yard gardening and tidying up.  We planted more veggies,  fed and pruned fruit trees,  helped Luka explore the great outdoors and had many meals and cuppas out on the deck.

We survived ( and at times thrived ) a 14 week lockdown - one of the longest in the world.  The hardest part was not being able to see Jessica and my parents.  Another challenge was keeping our younger family members calm and sane when all they wanted to do was live normally.  This really took an emotional toll on me.

I've spent the last few months building up my stockpile as supermarket shelves returned to normal ( sort of ). Our fruit trees will be supplying lots of fruit for eating,  freezing and jam making over the next couple of months.

Slowly we are getting our lives back to normal although I don't think we'll ever be the same.  On a positive note, our home is squeaky clean,  our backyard looks wonderful and we are more organised.

Thankyou to all of you who read my blog,  especially during my daily posts earlier this year.  We've all travelled this year together through the ups and down.  Thankyou to those who supported Darren and I through buying my handmade goodies.  You've helped and encouraged us more than you'll ever know.

If you are living where lockdowns,  restrictions and ( at times ) fear is a part of your every day life, I'd like to encourage you to get up each day with a sense of purpose of what goals you'd like to achieve.  This,  and God's protection kept me going during our darkest days this year.  Having a list in my head when I woke up really got me going.

 Have a blessed Christmas,  love and enjoy your family near and far.

I'll be back blogging again in late January,  early February.  If I get the chance,  I'll put up some holiday reading posts to keep you inspired and challenged.  

Jam for presents

The day Bryson as born

Luka playing in the laundry basket

Luka kissing Bryson

Our grandbabies

From the kitchen

Our guttering display

Plums growing

Princess sun baking

Luka and Darren picking cherries

Potatoes and tomatoes growing

My birthday flowers from Luka

Our anniversary lunch platter

Out on the deck

Soap making

Selling face masks

Handmade greeting cards

Shortbread biscuits.

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Free Christmas Decorations

A well decorated Christmas tree is certainly something to be admired.  There's just one problem.   It could cost a small fortune to get the ' glamorous ' look that we see in department store windows.

A budget friendly option is to buy your decorations at Boxing Day sales,  op shops and discount retail stores.

A SUPER budget friendly option that costs zero is to make your own.  Here are some ideas  that will get you started.  I personally have used some of these ideas when we were trying to fill our newly purchased ' big ' tree about 20 years ago.

*  Use craft ribbon or scraps of material to make bows.  Thread a loop of cotton or a paper clip to the back for ease of hanging on the tree.

*  Make a paper chain out of Christmas wrapping paper.

*  Leftover craft wool can be made into cute pom poms. Attach a ribbon bow and a hanging loop with a hot glue gun or craft glue.

*  Cupcake patty cases can be made into all sort of decorations.  Glue on a button in the centre to form a flower.

*  Scrap material can be cut into Christmas shapes.  Stitch together with large stitches and add a tiny bit of filling.  Sew on a ribbon loop and you have a cottage style decoration.  

*  Paint three icypole sticks and hot glue gun them into a triangle.   Attach a cardboard square to the bottom to make it look like a Christmas tree.  Decorate the sticks with glitter glue,  pom poms or any other craft item you have on hand.  Glue a star to the top and a loop for hanging.

*  Collect pine cones,  spray with a little white paint or paint with glitter glue.  Attach a loop for hanging.  If you like the rustic look,  keep it plain and just add the loop.

*  Fashion old broken Christmas tree branches or an old wreath into mini Christmas wreath decorations. Glue on a few buttons and a small bow.  Attach a loop.

*  Do you have craft beads or broken bead necklaces on hand?  Thread the beads onto craft string or fishing line to make icicles.

If  all else fails and you are not crafty at all,  thread popcorn onto string or fishing line to make your own garland.


How have you decorated your Christmas tree on a budget ?

Saturday 5 December 2020

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 5th December 2020

 Last weekend Darren and I made a great escape from Melbourne to visit beautiful Bendigo about 3 hours away.  It was wonderful to have a mini holiday after enduring such a difficult year.  The weather was warm,  the accommodation was great and we enjoyed time with family and friends.   

 We took supplies with us to make breakfast each morning even though breakfast could be ordered ( at a cost ) at our accommodation.  I like to take my homemade bread to make toast as well as my jam and other spreads.  The wholemeal bread with extra goodness is quite filling which keeps us going for a few hours.

Here's what else we got up to -

*  We packed salad rolls,  nut bars and bottles of water for our trip to Bendigo.  This saved us about $20.

*  Picked beans and strawberries from our garden.

*  Diluted the last of the kitchen detergent in a bottle.  When it comes time to refill our pump bottle,  it will be easier to get all of it out.  Of course I'll be turning the bottle up side down too.

*  Turned the shampoo bottle up side down to get every last drop out when I was refilling the next bottle.

*  Gratefully received bread bags from a cafe.  They have been recycled into bin liners for our bathroom bins.

*  I went op shopping with Megan and the grandbabies. I pick up a cotton doona cover for $3.20 ( including discount ) which will be used for making tea towels for presents.  I also picked up a pair of jeans and 3/4 pants.  Megan had her student card on her which gave us 20% off everything.

*  Darren used our Woolworths fuel discount which gave us petrol for $1.01 a litre.

*  Darren emptied a compost bin and used it in one of the veggie garden beds.

*  Darren and Luka picked all the cherries off our tree.  They were delicious but Luka thought it was fun to squish them.

*  Froze two serves of leftover shepherds pie.

*  Made a conscious effort to turn off or unplug all electronics not in use.   This is something I try to revisit every few months just to make sure we haven't overlooked something.

*  Resisted the urge to go out for morning tea after a cleaning job.  I really felt like a treat but realised I had better food on offer at home and saved us about $15.  We are really good savers so money not spent stays in the bank and is transferred away from our every day account at the end of the month.

*  The heater has been turned off for the last month and we've resisted the urge to turn it on when we get up to a cold morning.  Our evap cooling is only turned on when an electric fan isn't strong enough to cool the room we are in.  We try to be aware of when the curtains need to be opened or closed depending on the temperature of the day.  

*  Saved the shower water and washing machine rinse water.  Water bottles were emptied onto pot plants and the rest of the water went into the washing machine.   

*  Sold more hanging hand towels to a friend.  The rest have been listed on various Facebook pages.  If they don't sell I've made a head start for next Christmas. 

Our lunch for the road

Darren and Luka picking cherries

So much fun with cherries

Home grown

Princess trying to get my attention

Are you harvesting any fruit or veggies from your garden ?

What was on your frugal list this week ?