Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Working hard to be thrifty

We are saving up for a home with more land and fewer neighbours. Some days this seems really far away and at times almost impossible. Such is life with unexpected bills and the rising cost of living. Most of the time I enjoy being able to stretch our budget but some days I want to go out and shop frivolously.

Saving is something that in this modern world is a difficult task. We are constantly bombarded with what new things we "need" it clothes, kitchen gadgets, homewares, fitness gear. My way of dealing with this is avoidance. As much as I can I try to avoid advertising; we don't have a T.V. and have an 'ad-blocker' in place on our web browser. This means that when we watch a movie or show the advertisement is blocked. There is a 'no circulars' sign on our letterbox.

 Recently I trawled through my email, pinterest, blog and instagram accounts, deleting/unsubscribing from companies/individuals that were filling my inbox and feeds with stuff to buy. The ones who seemed to relish in the new. The posts that showed only the best and most fancy clothes and homewares. The accounts that gave me a case of the serious "wantsies".

The accounts that really didn't reflect the way I want to live, and didn't help me make my way towards our saving goals. In their place I have an instagram feed that is comprised of people who lead a simple but rich life. Who live off the land, who seem humble and content. It is a joy to scroll through the little squares of flora and fauna, of people making things with their hands and finding beauty in the everyday.

My email notifications ping much less often, gone are the emails that shout out the next sale of something I never knew I wanted until I opened it. That action alone has had a big impact. What the eyes don't see, the heart doesn't want...or something like that. I have consequently spent less time window-shopping both in the virtual world and the real.

The pins on my pinterest page have changed to reflect our need to really knuckle down and put money in the bank. The pins are more ideas to create or grow rather than emulate the latest fashion. More ideas on making food stretch further and upcycling rather than purchasing where possible. Inspiring creativity instead of 'Affluenza'.

Winter vegetable harvested this weekend

There has been other benefits of focusing on decreasing our spending. Meals out, coffee dates and take-aways have become a real treat again. We have takeaways about once or twice a month now instead of weekly. Brunch at a cafe is really only when we meet up with friends had become habit to go out every weekend. We have an approximate spending amount for fun, this is modest and at first felt very restrictive but we have adjusted over the last few months. Returning to buying preloved items where we can. Resisting the urge to get a second car. All these things are reducing our outgoings.

Clothes, especially vintage clothes were a big spending area for me. When we lived in Dunedin this was easy and affordable thanks to the amazing second-hand shops. Here in Auckland vintage clothes are much pricier. Realistically I live in jeans and t-shirts anyway. My wardrobe has shrunk significantly as I have culled out so much stuff. When I was pregnant with cublet we needed to clear space for her nursery. It got the ball rolling for me and letting go of possessions is much easier now. Opening my wardrobe with clothes, bags, scarves etc spilling out doesn't happen anymore. I have kept the clothes I really love and donated the rest.

Being home has meant I have been able to reduce the amount of stuff we have throughout the house. It has been quite a change of heart for me, I come from a family of people who respect belongings and are creative enough to imagine all sorts of purposes for those things. Being able to find things quickly and closing drawers easily however brings me more joy than having so much stuff. That said I have a lot of things stored at my parents'  house that I need to sort through and bring north. And I do so love my collections of treasures both vintage and modern. Our home will never achieve a look of minimalism, it's just not for me.

Adding vintage glass buttons onto a tiny crochet cardigan from Mum's collection

Keeping only my favourite clothes means they have increased wear and tear. Mending and patching items of clothing is a frequent chore. I like clothes with patches. My favourite jeans are about five years old and I have patched the knees with bright fabrics from past crafting projects. They are soft and comfortable and I'm hoping with mending they will last another few years. My merino tops get almost daily wear in the winter..,they too have patches on the arms.

Mending Mae's little clothes has been fun. Clothes from my childhood had been carefully saved by my Mum and Nana. Despite being cared for, thirty years of storage meant some had moth holes or rust stains. Thankfully I know how to embroider and have mended them by adding bullion knot roses or bees.

A beautiful merino cot blanket of 100% NZ wool that had been snagged on the knitting machine had been given to Mum to repair but she hadn't been able to repair it before she passed away. I have spent a lovely few evenings sewing on a binding, repairing the large run and now embroidering on some hollyhocks to hide the repair work and bumblebees to hide oil stains. It will now be a warm addition to Mae's cot this winter.

I would like to get back to making our own bread and laundry liquid again. I'm sure this will happen as Mae gets older. Hopefully with her joining in on the fun process. It feels good to be making my own spray 'n' wipe, especially when I wipe down cublet's highchair or toys. No unnecessary bleaches or toxins and it smells so good.

This post has turned out rather long and is most probably a bore to read but I blog for myself. Sometimes writing down my intentions and feelings helps me reaffirm my intentions and ambitions. Today it has reminded me that it is hard to resist the impulse to buy new things.

It has reminded me that although we don't get to travel to new and faraway places that we are getting closer to our dream. It reminded me that I am more than new shoes, dresses, jewellery etc. It reminded me that I have been brought up to be resourceful and imaginative, to be true to myself and not feel the need to have my self worth in possessions. It reminded me of the sacrifices and hard work my parents made to save for their own patch of paradise. Hopefully it will remind me in years to come that chasing dreams is more rewarding than chasing those elusive Joneses.

Mending in the winter sun

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Winter colds

My fingers are stiff and clumsy on this crisp morning. The heater is humming as it warms the lounge ready for when cublet awakens. She is sleeping late, her small body fighting a winter cold. We are all tired from four days of fevers, blocked noses and coughing. Mr Fox and Mae both sick. Over the worst but still tired.

The jug has been busy boiling water for many hot drinks, the washing machine is taking a well deserved rest after too many loads of washing. Sun is streaming through the kitchen window; oh so very welcome today and yesterday after a grey, wet week. I am grateful to have a quiet moment to reflect. Reflect on getting through the longest night since cublet was born on Sunday night.

On feeling helpless as cublet fought sleep and wrestled with pain in her ear, gums and throat. How quickly their little bodies can go from healthy to feverish restlessness. All through that endless night we soothed and hushed. Holding her close and wishing away her pain. It's true what people say about your heart being outside of you, in each of your children.

Rain clouds rolling in over the weekend

A trip to the medical centre early the next morning brought reassurance and prescriptions to help relieve her discomfort. She slept snuggled on our laps throughout the day. She was so quiet and still. So unlike our firecracker. Our poor wee babe. Mr. Fox sniffled his way through the day, happy to cuddle his darling as he worked from home.

The old trick of a steamy bathroom helped very much late at night and in the wee hours of the morning. All three of us hanging out inhaling that healing steam; the smell of eucalyptus and camphor oil releasing with the heat. Vicks was lovingly rubbed on chests, backs and little feet. Hot water bottles filled, emptied and refilled. All those sweet expressions of love, curative actions that knit together to bring us back to wellness.

Funny how a virus can stop your routine within hours and force you to slow right down. This is not the first time cublet has been unwell and of course there will be many more sleepless nights. These are perhaps the moments that bind a family unit together a little more tightly, reminding each other how deeply we care for one another.

Some of my strongest childhood memories are snippets of my parents tending to us; holding my sister in the humid bathroom as she wheezed with croup, the feel of towels on my pillow when down with a tummy bug, sipping hot lemonade, worried brows and warm, gentle shines through in times of sickness.

Here's hoping today's sunshine will restore wellness to our home. The windows are open, letting in a fresh winters breeze. I will tidy away the extra blankets, collect and clean the mugs. Bed linen will be hung out to dry in the sun after a wash with cleansing tea tree and lemon oils. A nourishing red lentil dahl is on the menu for this evening meal. A simple but wonderful day for me and my little one.

Happy mess

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Lately I have been feeling fulfilled and what a wonderful state of being that is. Life is simple days at home interspersed with meeting friends and exploring local places as a family. These are the days that I dreamed of as a wee girl reading the stories of Enid Blyton and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Snuggled under the covers imagining having my own home and filling it with children.

Our house is no romantic seaside cottage or log cabin on a vast prairie but it is our happy nest. One day with hard work it will be more attractive; warmer, drier and the gardens more established. In the meantime I will continue to be grateful that we worked so hard to afford the deposit. We can see that our first place is not our dream home...not even close! Yet it is making our dreams come true and with frugality and patience we inch our way towards that acre or two where we will grow our family.

It can be repetitive being a stay at home Mum but I like that. I enjoy the gentle rythm of seasons and daily routines. I don't feel 'stuck' at home or lonely. My favourite moments are often in the weekend when the three of us are out walking on a beach or enjoying family time at home. It's not for everyone for sure but for us it works. 

It is an opportunity for Mae to have a solid grounding for life and for us to have a productive garden and minimal household costs. Of course there are moments when I miss my job as a nurse helping people toward recovery. The teamwork, challenges and all the vitality that the health realm brings. However I am right where I want to be at this point in time. Home with my girl. I am her sun and she my moon. 

Little Cublet's teeth made a brief appearance (the bottom two) and then disappeared! She has begun drooling a lot again today so I am hoping they will pop through to stay in the coming days/weeks. Watching her change and grow brings me such pleasure.  She sits and plays happily for longer periods and is enjoying some new-to-her toys I purchased second hand. She loves anything with wheels she can spin and push back and forth. Jumping in her Jolly Jumper is done with much enthusiasm and her joy is infectious. Her little voice is strong and clear and laughter bubbles over with ease. Little chuckles turn into belly giggles. Oh little ones are such a delight. 

Winter hit this week with force; driving rain, cool temperatures and spectacular thunderstorms. It has meant that we have spent most of our time indoors but the weather forecast seems to be looking good for the weekend. The lawn is a sodden mess turning to muddy slush as soon as you place a foot on it. Gumboots are a necessity. Washing is cluttering the spare room as it slowly dries. 

We are saving for a heat pump to warm and hopefully dry out the house this winter. Every morning I wipe down the windows as they are fogged with condensation. There is mould creeping across our bedroom ceiling again making me very grateful that Mae's room is warm and insulated. The heat pump installation and finishing up renovating the toilet and hallway are planned for sometime soon. Slowly but surely the house is starting to reflect our taste. 

May had so many incredible sunrise and sunsets. Autumn light has such beauty. The wonderful ability to turn everyday objects into beautiful vignettes. Making the most of the Autumn we ventured to Newmarket on the train for a wonderful afternoon with a gentle soul and treasured cousin, explored Bethalls Beach for the first time, dined Italian style on the waterfront with dear friends and more. June is looking to be busy with friends and family coming to stay. 

The dark and cold of winter has made it hard to love for me but as the years pass I have come to be fond of the cosiness that such weather brings. Time to craft and snuggle...and in our family a chance to snack on popcorn, hot drinks steaming on the coffee table while we enjoy a T.V series. Oh winter perhaps you aren't so bad after all.

Snug as a bug