How I created an Emergency kit

Planning for an emergency was not something that many New Zealanders would have thought to do.....in the past! We are a small country with a young and moving physical environment. A narrow land mass that gets battered in the South with storms straight off the Antarctic and pounded by Tropical Cyclones in the North. So as a result of Mother Natures impact and unpredictability most Kiwis would now have some form of "go to kit".  It was the recent series of Cyclones coming through the top of the North Island that prompted me to ensure that what we had as a family would be a sufficient emergency kit.

 

Research

So I knew that the "go to kit" we had was by no means an emergency kit. It just contained some candles, matches, torches, portable radio and batteries. So I set myself the mission of creating a proper emergency kit. To be honest I was not entirely sure where to start, so I got onto Mr Google and did some research. There are a number of good blogs on this subject, especially in the US. If you are wanting to get serious, check this blog, from A Bowl Full of Lemons, which has a whole series on building an emergency preparedness station. For something much more low key, smaller, simpler and cheaper check out Doitonadime.

I actually found that the New Zealand government website getthru really helpful. There is a lot of very helpful information and all things that you need to consider in planning and preparing for an emergency. There is a great printable PDF emergency checklist that I used to help create our kit as well as complete the planning. 

Gathering the items

So having decided on creating an emergency kit which needed to support us for 3 days, I realised that I would have to source most of the items. As you can imagine this was going to potentially be a bit of a cost. Although it was important to get most items I did want to be mindful of the cost. So this is where I took the idea from Doitonadime and sourced a lot of items from my local $2 store. Now it is important to know what is ok to purchase with value in mind and those items that need to be of robust quality. 

Before I rushed off to the shops I did "shop the house" to see if I could find any items that were surplus to requirements and put it into the kit.

Items purchased

Food - All non perishable (at least 1 year to expiry) - These were all purchased from the supermarket

food_emergency_kit.png

 

  • Tuna
  • Spaghetti
  • Rice pudding
  • Fruit salad
  • Protein bars
  • Weet-bix bars
  • Can opener
  • Plastic knives, forks and spoons

Health and Safety Items

 

  • Prescription medicine
  • Face masks *
  • Hand sanitiser*
  • Toilet paper*
  • Toothbrushes*
  • Tissues*
  • First aid kit*
  • Antiseptic spray and alcoholic wipes*
  • plastic gloves*
  • Wipes*

Other items

  • Torch and Batteries*
  • Scissors*
  • lighter*
  • Matches
  • Large plastic rubbish bags*
  • Tarpaulin*
  • Playing cards*
  • Notebook and pen*
  • Water bottles

 

Apart from the odd item that I had at home, I purchased all the food from the supermarket and all those with an asterisk, I got from the local $2 shop. So it did not cost a lot to put together.

An important part of the kit is to include any prescription medication.  Try and have enough to last a week. If your prescription expires then just simply keep a record of the expiry date and swap it out prior and use it. This means that by rotating it you are not wasting the medicine. 

Storage

The best and easiest way to store all the items is in a large plastic box. These are cheap and easy to purchase from any local hardware or homeware store. Just ensure that it seals well. I purchased this Sistema storage box from the Warehouse

A good piece of advice is to place the kit in an easily accessible place. It is likely that you will forget all about it if it is shoved to the to the back of a cupboard. An open shelf in the garage or laundry is ideal. If you are tight on room you could put it at the bottom of your pantry, or in a cabinet, but again it needs to be easily accessible.

I have placed our kit on the open shelves where the luggage and backpacks are. This actually also serves a purpose as we can just grab one of the backpacks to put the items from the kit into if we can`t take the kit with us in a car. 

Records and review

A number of items will have expiry dates so it is important to ensure that you review all the contents at least yearly to ensure that the are up to date.

Also put a copy of the list and all important documents and contact details into the kit. 

Lastly just task in your diary or calendar, manual or electronic, an annual date to review all contents as well as ensuring that all the documents and contacts list are still correct. The best idea is to task in your computer diary the dates the food items are going to expire so you can use and replace them.

That's it folks, it was not a big job and not a big cost. I have to say that my mind is at ease a bit now that I have finally got the Emergency Kit sorted. 

I would love to hear about your kits, what do you have in the kit, where do you store it?, have you ever used one?  

 

 

How I Updated our bedroom on a budget

After 20 plus years of essentially sharing our bedroom with our kids, I decided it was time to upgrade it. We are undertaking a major renovation project at the end of the year which will include our bedroom, however I could not wait until then, I wanted to make some changes now...perhaps a symptom of empty nest syndrome. Also with the onset of winter I wanted a nice cosy and slightly more stylish room. 

Master bedroom prior to update

Master bedroom prior to update

 

My husband couldn't see the point of doing anything to the room as we going to be renovating at the end of the year. So I knew that it wouldn't be fair to get him involved, so getting him to help was not going to be an option!.  Therefore I had to set myself some boundaries;

  • no painting
  • no new furniture
  • no new bedding

One big bonus was that I had already purchased a new upholstered headboard. A new headboard was always going to be included in the renovation later in the year, however one came up on special that I really wanted to so I got it. It was to be stored until later but well I just couldn`t wait. So at least I had one new piece of furniture to play with. 

The new headboard

The new headboard

 

The plan

Apart from the new headboard, I was a bit stumped with what I could do, that...well...would tart up our bedroom.  After a number of hours spent staring at the room I ventured upon a plan...so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasle!!! (it's a quote from Blackadder!)

In the end I came up with just four changes that I hoped would make the difference that I wanted;

  • Move the placement of the bed and the bedside cabinets
  • Upgrade the bedside lamps and lamp shades
  • Put up curtains
  • Change out the old headboard for the new one

The work

This first thing I did was to remove the old bedhead and set up the new one. As I had to move the bed around in the room it was not a big job.  I decided to place the old headboard into the spare guest room and am surprised by how good it looks. It was also an opportunity to give everything a good spring clean and freshen up the linen. 

The bedside cabinets are on the large side, which means that it is a tight fit to get the bed and both cabinets betweens the doors. It has been useful to experiment with this as I now know that when we complete the full renovations we will need to rethink the best options for the bedside furniture as there is really not a lot of space

Beside the bedhead, the curtains were the only other item that I actually purchased. To get the effect I was after I wanted simple sheer curtains. One large single curtain to go across the window and two at either end to give texture and depth. It was just a matter of rumbling through the special bins at the local Spotlight store to find what I was after.  I was lucky to pick up what I wanted for $70.

Once home I did iron out the curtains to smooth out all the fold marks......it's always a good hint to iron the curtains as it gets rid of all the lines and enables them to hang nicely.

Master bedroom new curtains

Master bedroom new curtains

Traditionally I do not decorate the house for seasons, which seems to be a thing! Really do not need more stuff and storage of it for 6 months of the year!. However I did go all out and put out the winter throw on the bed. This brings a nice cosy feel to the room. 

The last and biggest job was the upgrade of the lamps. Actually I think the lamps made the biggest difference to the room. Honestly I was sooo pleased with how they turned out. It was not a difficult job, just needed a bit of spray paint and new shades. If you are interested in how I did this, just check out my post here where I share all the details on redoing the lamps.

The look

Master bedroom with new headboard and lamps

Master bedroom with new headboard and lamps

I am so happy with how everything came together, it's just want I needed and provides a nice update to keep me going until the full renovation. Surprisingly it has been really helpful for me in planning and designing the renovations as there are some things that I will need to reconsider to make the space more functional.

So there you have it another simple and easy way to turn a bit of a frumpy space into a great place. 

I would love to hear from you on thoughts for the upcoming renovation. What would you do in this space? All ideas welcome.

 

A Mum says goodbye

8:55pm , 17th November 1996 I am holding her in my arms, just staring at her, she's mine, she's mine, she's mine. Am I really a Mum? Look at her she is soooo beautiful, her smell oh her smell, I can not get enough of her, wanting to never let her go. 

 

20 years later, I hold her hand and let her go. She is all grown up now and has left home. We raised our kids to leave us and they are.

He is my little boy, my youngest, my sweet wee man. He is 18 now and getting on a jet plane to join the Air Force, bye my son, bye my wee man, who I used to hold in my arms.

I am crying, sobbing I know they have to leave us and we want them to but they are my babies. They have to go, they want to go. I see them with excitement and adventures in their eyes, mine just fighting back the tears that I can't show. My heart hurts and sings at the same time. 

My emotions are all over the place, anticipation and excitement for them, and for us for our new adventures but it's a struggle to see the rooms empty out. 

Apparently this is called empty nest syndrome!  

I look at all the blogs, social media, magazine, TV shows, You tube channels focused on raising children. There is so much support and information out there now, it's great, especially for new Mums as it can be a lonely job. However there is not a lot when it comes to the other end of parenting, letting them go. Apparently the average age of children at home in New Zealand is 27!.  I could not believe that, a fully grown adult still living with parents at 27. 

So why at the age of 20 and 18 are our children leaving. It's simple really because they are adults and they need to be their own people have their own lives and most importantly take responsibility for it. When they were young we decided what sort of adults we wanted them to be and some of the characteristics they would need was independence and resilience. They had to learn skills to run their own lives, and it's sooo easy to run it for them and they will let you too. As a parent saying no and making tough decisions is very hard and often it is easier to fall back to doing it for them, or as Mr Dad would say, "you are enabling them"

Ms 20 left home to go flatting at the start of her second year at University, she was actually 19. We live in the same city so she could stay at home as most students do. However she needs her own space and place to spread her wings. She worked hard and saved all her money to have a cushion behind her to go flatting. She is a full time student as well as working to cover all her expenses, she is not financially dependant on us. 

Mr 18 is the same, having worked in school holidays since he was 15. He brought his first car and covered all running costs at the age of 17. The last 18 months have been dedicated to getting accepted into the Air Force, the goal which he achieved. He is also independent and not financially dependant on us and can't wait to get on that plane.

As parents this is the type of adult we wanted our children to be, we love to see them succeed on their own and not need us, no matter how painful that is because that is our job, to be parents. To show them they way to the door and watch them run out it into the sunshine!

 

 

 

 

 

How to Repaint and upgrade your old bedside lamps

It's probably been at least 10 to 15 years since we brought our bedside table lamps. Actually, with most things in our bedroom, while raising children, they have had a hard life. When they were little they never seemed to be out of our our bed or and just hanging out in our bedroom. Even now they sometimes kick us out of our bed when feeling sick...yes! and they are now 20 and 18. However all is changing with Ms 20 already flown the coop and Mr 18 due to leave home to join the Air Force at the end of this month. 

So it's now time to start to think about making our bedroom more our own and bringing a bit of sophistication to it!

I thought that it would be easy to start with those poor tired lamps. As we are planning a full ensuite and wardrobe renovation later in the year and redecoration of the room, I didn`t want to go too crazy now and certainly didn't want to spend too much....but I did want to make some changes now......helps, I think, with dealing with the empty nest emotions!!

So the lamps got a make over. A total new paint job and new shades. And if I don`t say so myself they look great. It was sooo easy and quick and here is how I did it.

 

Decide on the design/style

So as to not waste too much of your hard earned money, take the time to decide how you want the lamps to look, colour, texture, shape and style of lamp. Good old Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration if you are not sure.

Try and get a sense of the colour you want for the base and the lamps (shape and colour). This is really helpful when it comes to shopping.

For our lamps I wanted the lamp base colour to be silver and the lamp shade colour black and the shape had to be large round/rectangle style.

I was super pleased as I found the perfect lampshades at Bunnings, local hardware store, and they were down to $10 each. 

The paint colour was actually easy as I had already used it in a previous job and I loved it and the tone and texture was going to go so well with the linen and accessories already in the room.

Get the Equipment

The only equipment you need is for the painting.

  • Sandpaper - to rough up the surface of the lamps, this helps the paint to adhere better. I would suggest that medium grade would be best.
  • Paint - I used a spray paint. I have used spray paints for a number of home projects and I find that the Rust-Oleum is the best and I get really good even coverage.
  • Plastic bag and tape - you need to cover the light bulb area and the cord so they are not sprayed. I just cut off sections of plastic bag and tape them over the areas I need to cover up.
  • Old sheet or drop cloth - as you are using spray paint you need to cover the area as there is a bit of spray residue when using spray paint.
  • Outside - You should spray outside, when there is little wind....you are asking for trouble to do it inside

 

Get Painting 

First thing to do is to get yourself set up outside with the drop cloth and lamps.

Take the old shades off and remove the light bulbs. Then cover up the areas of the lamp with plastic and tape. Get the sandpaper and rough up all the surface area that you want to paint. I did not go crazy on the sanding, just a light once over was fine.

prepainted_bedside_lamps.png

 

Next step is the spraying of the lamps. Don't come in too close, you want to stand back, be a good arms length away as this ensures a consistent application. Make sure that you keep turning them to ensure that you get an even coverage on all sides.  I did three layers of spray paint, allowing a good 30-50 mins between each to allow the paint to dry.

 

FINISHING TOUCH

Now that you have finished the painting just have a good look over all the area to ensure that the paint has been applied evenly. You may need to touch up a bit if there are gaps.

Once you are happy with the paint work and it is nice and dry remove all the plastic covers.

Then lastly just put the new lamp shade onto the lamp.

 

That is it folks!, that's all it took to get a completely new look for the lamps. I am really pleased with them and I think they fit nicely with our current colours and decor.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has transformed their lamps, pics would be great, and any good tips and hints.

Stay tuned for my next post where I reveal more bedroom updates.

Before I sign off, just a reminder to follow me on social media, just click on the links below

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I get my towels and sheets white, fluffy and smelling divine!

Notice a theme this month........! Yeah it's all about cleaning. It's seems that whenever we are entering into a new season, be it spring or autumn, we do a bit of cleaning and sorting out, often involving bed linen and towels.  So as a follow on from my last post about my home made cleaners, I thought I would share some of my tips on how I get my towels and sheets, white, fluffy and smelling divine.

Laundry_whites.png

 

Keeping them White

One of the best things about going to a nice hotel is the gorgeous white towels and linen. Oh how we wish we could have these at home!!!  Actually you can and it's not that hard. 

"Change your towels and linen at least weekly and soak them"

We change our sheets once a week because as we always have a shower before bed, so the sheets remain fairly fresh over the week. If you don`t shower last thing at night and sweat a bit then I would suggest to change twice a week, well that's me anyway. If you are my son then you would probably change them once a year if you could get away with it!!!

Again with the towels it really depends on who is using them and how dirty they get. I use white face cloths to clean my face (after washing first) and also white towels. I only change these once a week, however twice a week is probably better. Towels do have a tendency to trap moisture and mold, so if you can keep them dry and fresh this helps to reduce that. Before I wash them, I soak them overnight in a bucket with  in EcoStore whitener. I do the same with the sheets if they are starting to look a bit yellow and tied.

To reduce the makeup stains on towels and face cloths, use face wipes or a good face wash first. Also consider having a separate dark coloured face cloth just for your makeup.  Also for tanning lotion residue you could have a specific dark coloured towel. 

Twice a week I change the kitchen towels and sponges and as with the other bathroom towels I soak them in the whitener. I also do this with my dirty towels from cleaning.

I find that by soaking them regularly this does really help to keep them nice and white. 
 

 

Getting them Fluffy

Just to clarify I am specifically talking about the towels!. I do not use fabric conditioner or any form of clothes softener as these tend to build up residue of grease and grim in the weave of the towels. 

The simplest and easiest way, which I am sure most people know about, is to either dry them in the clothes dryer or get them off the line when they are nearly dry and put them in the clothes dryer to get that last bit of drying. Your towels will always come out fluffy and warm...yummy.

Once a month I mix a bit of baking soda and vinegar together and just pop it in the wash with the towels. This does really help to get any build up of grease and grim off the towels. It makes them feel just like new again.

 

Making them smell divine

This trick has probably been around for years, however I have only started this a few years back , thanks to  At Home with Nikki  .  I discovered the use of essential oils in cleaning the house and helping it to smell nice.

I just put a few drops of Lavender oil on a clean, dry cloth and put it in the dryer with the towels and sheets. Hmmmm, they come out smelling so nice and warm ...heaven! I also make up a linen spray that I use to spray on the linen in my linen closet.

 

Tools of the Trade

In the laundry I have all my "ingredients" corralled and in jars on the bench. I put the baking soda, whitener and washing powder into their own jars. This way they are always on hand and I can see how much I have left (that's why putting them into jars is great). I also distill the vinegar into a glass bottle so it's easy to get and mix up with the baking soda. I do keep my essential oils away in the cupboards as they are best kept out of the light.

 

I plan to do a blog on how I use essential oils in the home and will provide more details and recipes then, so keep an eye on this coming up soon.

Well there you have it, three easy steps to follow. White towels and sheets look lovely in bathrooms and on the beds, so if you were afraid to own white towels and sheets don`t be, just enjoy them.

If you have any tips and tricks too, please share as I'd love the hear from you. 

How I created my awesome cleaning kit and homemade cleaners

I expect that it's no surprise to my readers, and anyone looking at my site, that I am a bit of a cleaning freak. This, I blame on my first part time job while at High school. It was for a couple who owned a motel, which had a lot of fishing boat workers stay, a port town you see. So you can imagine the state the rooms would get in. Mrs Owner was a very particular cleaner and taught me how to really clean....."it's all about the detail my dear".  However we always had an arsenal of high powered cleaning products so that's what I learnt to use. It was not really until about 12 months ago that I awoke to the toxic elements in my cleaners!!!. That had to change!

 

My Cleaners

General purpose cleaner, Jiff , window cleaner, toilet cleaner, and shower cleaner were the products that I used. Therefore I needed to look at replacing all of these, and I wanted to make them myself. After a bit of online research I had my cleaners all sorted.......actually it was really simple all I needed was two ingredients, Baking Soda and Vinegar. You can essentially clean everything with these two ingredients. My cleaning products are now:

  • General Cleaner - 1/3 Vinegar to 2/3 water
  • Scourer - Baking soda in a jar with drops of Lavender Essential Oil
  • Tap cleaner - Water with Tea tree Oil
  • Deodoriser Spray - Water with Lavender Oil
  • Toilet Cleaner - Eco Store product 
  • Polishing oil - CO Products 

I use the general cleaner for all surfaces including mirror and glass, also it's my floor cleaner. It is very effective, just spray it on the surface, but don`t over apply, wait for a few seconds (which apparently you should do with all cleaners) and just wipe off. I use a damp or dry cloth, just depends on the situation. As an example every night after tea I have a kitchen cleaning routine where I just use my general cleaner and a damp cloth to clean all the surfaces, sink, microwave, hob area, fridge and coffee machine. Then for glass and mirrors I use a dry cloth with the general cleaner.

The scourer I use for scrubbing the kitchen sink, showers and bathroom sinks once a week.  I sprinkle it over the area then spray the general cleaner on it a bit as the Vinegar in it helps "activate" it. Then just get a scrubbing brush and scrub away. It's not hard work with a brush and only takes a couple of minutes. The tap cleaner is used on....you guessed it the taps. I just spray on after cleaning the sinks and surfaces then use the toothbrush to get into joins etc on the taps. You see this is all about the details here folks!!! 

I also use the Deodoriser spray for scent and not as a cleaner. So I only use it after all the surfaces are cleaned. I tend to only use on desk and table tops as it leaves a lovely smell.

My two products that I buy are the toilet cleaner and Polishing Oil.  I use the polishing oil once a month on my wooden furniture as it provides moisture and seems to reduce the dust build up. It has linseed oil in it which is why it's so good. Also as a handy hint it is great on stainless steel. I have used it for years on all stainless surfaces in the kitchen, including the fridge, it's great and it's cheap and you can get it at any supermarket and online at CO Products.

Now I only essentially use two products made from two ingredients which I buy at the supermarket. OMG the savings. I can not believe how much you save. 

There some great natural cleaners that you can buy if you don`t want to make your own. I would look at Eco Store . They have great cleaning products that are made here in NZ and are certainly chemical free and have a lot less impact on the environment. They have a great Website and online shop.           

Also check out Figgy & Co fantastic products made by two talented women and made here in NZ too, they are a newer company so would appreciate the support and they are also online. Plus they have a free recipe booklet that you can get to make your own products...fab really.     

My tools

All good tradies have great tools. I am still perfecting mine, well mainly the scrubbing brush as I am still to find a good one and not a cheap plastic number!  The tools I find really helpful are toothbrushes, good scrubbing brush and window wiper. I came across this great idea of using toothbrushes from a Youtube channel, At Home with Nikki. These are great for cleaning in those hard to reach places. 

 

Facecloths are my cleaning rag of choice, these are easily reused over and over again. I just soak mine in Eco Store stain remover and hot water before throwing them in the wash. 

For my windows, inside and out, I simply use a bucket of warm water, a cloth (old cotton tea towel) and the window wiper. No streaks, just beautiful clear and clean windows. 

Another couple of helpful tools are Blind cleaner and Lint roller. These I do get from the $2 shops however they are reusable so not too wasteful. The Blind cleaner is essential if you have venetian blinds, just pop them in the wash afterwards and good to go again. The Lint roller is perfect for getting dust off surfaces like Lamp shades, duvets, decorative pillows, also really helpful when ironing (well that's if anyone Irons anymore?) It's certainly better than wrapping inside out cellotape around your fingers.

 

Lastly in my kit I have a couple of reusable microfiber cloths that attach to a duster and a floor cleaner. This is all I use to clean the floors and dust weekly, quick and easy.

My Caddy

A one stop shop was essential for my kit. I wanted a container that I was able to pick up and take around the house.  It actually took me a while to find one, I did not think it would be such a hard job. I eventually found one big enough to store what I needed and easy to take with me. This one at Bunnings is similar to what I have, again it's not expensive. 

 

As a final note I do try and make my cleaning kit "pretty", what I mean by that is to coordinate my colours in my products and tools. I know that sounds stupid but let's face it cleaning is a job we all avoid. So why not make it more enjoyable, by having a kit that is nice to look at, you never know, it might make you a bit more motivated.

I would love to hear what's in your kit, have you got any Grandma remedies that work wonders? 

Don't forget to follow me on social media, links below 

The 6 things I learnt as a beginner blogger

It all started with an epiphany, my business idea and name came to me in a flash.....hah that was the easy part! I posted my very first blog in June 2016 and naively expected the world to come to a stand still in awe!!!! Well that never happened, nor actually did much happen at all! Skip to present day, 10 months later, boy have I learnt a lot. If only I knew these things then, or at least  took the time to acknowledge that I needed to know these things. I still have a long journey to go. However I wanted to share my learnings so far, as you never know, it may help you on your journey.

 

Know your niche

Ok so every one talks about the important of knowing your niche. What that actually means is be very specific about what you want to offer, and the market that you want to be in, to attract followers and potential clients and customers. Well of course I knew my niche! "Organization" (Professional Organisation) and the market was people that need help with organizing their home and lives.........narrowed it down to busy women in a certain age group 25 -65. Sweet I thought that's my niche. It was not until I had a coaching session with a business coach, who basically laughed when I described it, I realised , with her help, that it was just way too general and I was trying to be everything to everyone and not actually narrowing down my content to a specific market. This has also meant that I have been engaging in too many communities online and not focusing on the community specific to my niche. 

With the help of my coach I was finally able to pinpoint my niche and I cannot begin to tell you what a clarifying moment that has been for me. I am so focused now, much clearer on where I can find my community and deliver to them great online content as well as services and products.

Develop Online skills or Pay for it

What was I thinking!! Building a website on my own. I knew I had to have a website...well I couldn't be a successful online entrepeneur without one.  Family members were not going to do this for me and I did not want to pay for someone to build me one. So I had to dive in and learn. Can I just say that it's so important to take the time to learn all about the technical side of website development and management. Learn code ...it's such a good skill to have if you are going to be doing all the website work.

You need to reach out to learning communities online for this and there are actually a lot and so much content for free. I purchased Building a Framework from Abby Lawson. If you are going to set up a blog this is an essential guidebook, such a fantastic and amazing value for money resource. However I still had to find tutorials on the details on how to create the actual website, if you have never done this before you need to learn the technical side. So I spent one whole weekend buried in website development. I didn't even know what a "plugin"was when I started. I did succeed and then realised that I quickly had to learn how to manage and run the website. My advice is to research what website is best for you. I am not talking about "template" I am talking about platform. I started off in Wordpress but I was spending so much time figuring out all the back end stuff and endless Plugins and upgrades.......constantly nervous that I was going to crash the site. So I eventually moved to Squarespace ...for me that was the best move for two reasons; Online support is fantastic and there is no back end management as such. It's like going from a PC to a Mac. Ok so it's not open source like Wordpress however if you are ok with that then it's perfect. I now comfortably make changes and improvements to my site and I have also learnt some code so I can personalise some elements.....yes I have come along way in my knowledge but had to work at it.

However if you don`t want to do any of that and have the resources go and get a VA (Virtual assistance) Google them if you want to learn more. Yes it's one of those jobs that didn't exist a few years ago.

Learn to schedule your time

I cannot believe the time I wasted doing things that did not add any value to what I wanted to achieve . Learn this one quickly, learn how to set goals and achieve them, yes there is a skill in this and if you are not good at it then get good at it. I use a planner and have set monthly, quarterly and 6 monthly goals and have developed project plans to achieve them. I tell you if you are time poor you absolutely have to do this. Again there are some excellent resources online to help you with this. I have found "You got this"  from Alexis at Strange & Charmed a very good tool, she also has amazing content for women developing their online business.

My rule of thumb I use (now) is....will this help me to achieve the goals I have? If not, then don`t do it.

 

Seek Feedback 

You cannot do this on your own!  I have always engaged in support communities online, there are a lot of great Facebook groups and other online groups where you can safely engage and learn from others. It is such rich information that you get from people that have been there before and know the pitfalls and can help you get through them. You have to be brave sometimes and ask questions, you will be amazed at the support you get back.

So go find your community and get engaged!

Recharge and look after yourself

You have to do this, without you there is no business, no blog, no content...so you have to keep yourself healthy and focused. Taking time out and stepping back and recharging is essential. You will eventually crash and burn if you don't and the only person that can help you here is yourself...so put your big girl pants on and take responsibility for yourself and take it seriously. I certainly have struggled with this, you can read all about my struggles and what I did about it in my post on the challenge to do nothing.

 

Never give up

There have been a number of times when I just wanted to give up, especially when trying to work out some technical issues and feeling soo dumb.....and seeing all these great bloggers and online entrepeneurs quoting all the thousands of followers and their success. I sit here at my desk thinking I'm never going to be as good as them, who wants to read my stuff...blah blah. 

But I have a dream and I will succeed and yes it's going to take a lot of graft and yes I'll make mistakes, however I know that I will get there. So "never give up" is my anthem that goes around in my head when things get hard.

By no means am I any type of expert on blogging and online business however I have certainly learnt a thing or two and continue to learn. I have a long way to go however I wanted to share the realities of  venturing into this world......my last word on this is that it is sooo much fun and rewarding and I absolutely love it and it's totally worth the effort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Meal Plan

If I hear that ......."what's for dinner Mum" one more time this week!!!

Surely there must be an easier way to do this. Actually there is and it's called Meal Planning. Meal Planning is really simple, easy, it saves heaps of time and your week feels a lot less crazy.And as a bonus it will actually save you money. Its a great way to manage the family food budget.

 

So how do you meal plan? 

It's simple, just plan in advance what meals you are going to cook each night over a week, fortnight or month.

The first step you want to do, is to work out how often you want to meal plan, I call this the planning cycle.

Planning Cycle

From my experience the best way to work this out is to line it up with your shopping routine. I plan our meals from Monday to Sunday and shop in the week. When we shopped fortnightly, I planned fortnightly.

Just a quick tip, I find weekly a lot easier, you normally know what you will be doing during that week and able to plan the meals around that. However another week out there are likely to be things that come up that you have not planned for. So you do need to have flexibility in planning the longer your cycle is.

Check Family/Personal planner

The first thing I do is to check the family calendar, checking for what's on that week, evening activities and so on. I note which nights I can cook and which nights I will be really busy. Therefore planning out the best options for dinner to fit around our activities.

Lets take this weeks meal planning. This week we have extra visitors at the end of the week and we also have dinner out to celebrate Pete's birthday. So for me this week, I know that for Friday night we will have more people to cook for and Saturday night we are out, so no dinner. Sunday will be late so we will have to do something quick and easy. Also on shopping night (Wednesday) we have "self service" . That's when we each make our own meal, having older kids makes that easy.

So this week I only need to plan for meals on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

Now that you have sorted what the week looks like and which nights you need to plan the meals for then, it's just a matter of choosing the meals.

Picking the meals to cook

For me the meals need to be  quick, easy, healthy and budget friendly. I also have to balance the different style of foods that the family like. Pete likes very tasty, spicy food, more spicy Asian style, where as my son loves pasta, mince and mashed potatoes, basically anything with lots of carbs to fill up a fast growing 17 year old. I am easy, I just eat pretty much what is in front of me.

I have a stock of regular favourites that I cook and also try and mix it up with new receipes from weekly publications. There are great online options  Countdown is a good example and there is a great app that you can use as well. There are also some good meal ideas in the weekly women magazines. Use your favourite cookbooks, just as an idea you could have a monthly cookbook theme.

My favourite cookbook for a long time was Jamie Olivers 15 min meals. I would go through his book every week and pick out yummy meals.

Meal Planning

It does make it easier and quicker if you have a good stock of receipts or meal ideas that you can refer to when planning them out. A good tip is to have a recipe folder.

See my post here on how I created a recipe folder.

Another tip, try and have meals that use seasonal ingredients as they are cheaper and fresher, like a cabbage and carrots in winter for slaw versus a lettuce variety salad. Also try to share  ingredients across meals - mince 1kg - split in half over two meals.  Veges, like spinach, half bag for one meal, half for another.

This really helps with food wastage and will be cheaper.

Prepare your shopping list

Now that you have decided what meals you are going to cook, all you need to do is work out which ingredients you will need to buy and put them in the shopping list. It's a lot easier to do this when you have the meals listed down one side of the page and the shopping list on the other side.

To make this easier for you I have a weekly meal planning printable for you to use, just see below to sign up to receive your free printable.

Display your Meal Menu

I like to write the weeks menu up and have it some where the whole family can see so they will always know what is for dinner. I just use chalkboard paper and chalk pen and put it on the fridge, family love it.

Here I just used chalkboard and chalk pen from Spotlight

 

Hints and Tips

Try and maintain a pantry with the staple items, so all you need to do is to buy  the meat and vegetables.

Collect recipes from magazines, cooking shows, subscribe to food blogs.

Use your family's favourites meals , these are which were on high rotate when the kids were  younger;

  • Shepherds Pie
  • Lasagne
  • Bolognase
  • Sausage Casserole
  •  Home made hamburgers

Meal planning is such a simple and easy thing to do and does make such a difference to your life.

I hope you got some good ideas and tips, so go to it!

Happy meal planning