30 November 2016

Growing and using ginger

Ginger is one of those plants that fits easily into the kitchen for cooking or making drinks. Many of us use ginger in our cooking or to make ginger beer and ginger syrup, which are both healthy drinks for for summer or winter.  In summer drink we drink our ginger drinks with ice, in winter I add one or two tablespoons to black tea to add warmth and spice.

Above: the first batch of ginger syrup yielded 2 litres. Below: the second batch gave me an extra 1.2 litres.

Ginger syrup is the easiest drink to make and it's a great addition to your drinks menu over the Christmas holidays. Simply grate or finely chop a large piece of ginger root, you'll need at least a cup full of ginger. Don't get too precious with the amounts - it doesn't have to be exact.

To 2 litres of water add two cups of sugar and bring to the boil. When the sugar has dissolved, add the ginger and simmer the mix for an hour.  Turn off the heat, put the lid on the saucepan, and leave it sitting on the stove overnight to develop flavour.

The next day, pour the mix through a fine strainer to remove the ginger pulp and store the liquid in a sealed, sterilised bottle. Use this mix as you would use any cordial - a small amount mixed with cold tap water or mineral water. Generally this is about one part syrup to four parts water but the amount you use will depend on your own taste. Experiment until you find the right balance. It can be stored in the cupboard or fridge.

Don't throw out the ginger pulp, you'll get a second batch from it.  Collect the used ginger, add it back to the saucepan and use half the amount of water and sugar you used for the first batch. The process is the same - bring to the boil, simmer for an hour, turn the heat off and leave the mix on the stove overnight. Bottle the following day.

And because we are the people we are, let's try to grow our own ginger.

Ginger is one of those plants that can be grown in almost all climates and although it's easy to grow, it  grows slowly. It will take almost a year to grow a crop. The most difficult part of growing ginger is finding the right spot for it to grow. Some of you will have to grow it in a pot but if you're in a tropical or sub-tropical area, it can be grown in the ground as long as it's protected from wind and it gets afternoon shade. You must plant the ginger in spring.

Find some fresh, plump ginger at the shop, if there are buds already forming, that's a bonus.  If the piece of ginger is a large one, you can break off segments as long as they contain at least one bud and have 4 or 5 cm of rhizome under the bud.  Soak the ginger overnight in a bowl of water.

Warm climate
If you're planting in the ground, prepare the soil by adding compost and digging it in. Plant each piece of ginger about 5 cm deep with the shoots facing upwards and water in.  Make sure the area you pick is protected from winds, has good drainage and gets afternoon shade.

If you're not in a warm climate or if you want to plant in a pot
To plant in a large pot, fill the pot with good quality potting mix and plant the ginger 5cm deep with the shoots facing up. Water it in. If you're in a hot climate, the pot will need afternoon shade, in a cold climate it might need to be placed close to a wall for extra warmth but it certainly needs to be out of the wind. When it gets cold, take the pot inside to a warm sunny spot.

Don't let the plant dry out but don't over water either - the ginger will rot if it sits in water for too long.  After a couple of weeks, when shoots start growing, apply seaweed concentrate made up according to the instructions, or a weak liquid fertiliser. Comfrey tea is ideal. Continue to fertilise with a weak mix every two weeks until the green shoots start to die back in autumn/winter. When the shoots are brown and shrivelled, it's time to harvest your ginger.

Good luck, ginger lovers. 🌿 

28 November 2016

They come down, they get put up again

We've got a thing about fences and I bet if you're trying to work your land in specific ways, you'll have a thing for fences too. When we arrived here 19 years ago, the only fences on our land were the two separating us from our side neighbours. There was no front fence and the back boundary was marked by an ever-flowing creek.

In the photo above, the fence with the green and blue gate is the one I'm writing about today. Below is a selection of older photos and one new one to show you the configuration of fences here.

When we moved here we brought Murphy, our Airedale Terrier, with us, so one of our early priorities was to fence the entire yard so Murphy didn't wander off. Then we added a chicken coop with another fence. When the chickens were free ranging, we wanted to stop Murphy harassing them so another fence was built which divided the back yard. On one side there was Hanno's big shed, one tank, several fruit trees and the chickens, on the other, smaller side, the vegetable garden, a small run for Murphy, garden shed and garage. We had to then further divide the small side to keep the dogs from the vegetable garden. That fence - a picket fence, stayed through Murphy's life and served the purpose again when Rosie and Alice lived with us. When they died and we decided we'd have no more dogs, the fence came down and the backyard started opening up again.

Above, where you see the orange tree, is the fence that protects the vegetable garden from the chickens. Below is the fence directly opposite that - it protects the fruit trees from the chickens. The second fence is now gone.

Looking out from the fruit tree area towards the house.  This is one of the fences we've removed.
And the view from the other side of the yard.
The photo above was taken yesterday with Hanno erecting another fence to keep Gracie from the vegetable garden.

And this photo, taken a few years ago from the other side of that fence, is looking towards the house.

A new wire fence went up yesterday. You might imagine that Gracie would run though the gardens and maybe dig every so often. Well, she doesn't do that. No, our puppy picks vegetables, and then she pulls out the vine or bush they have been growing on. It's very frustrating to see perfectly good vegetables shrivelled up on the lawn and the dead plant beside it. We knew we had to put up a another fence but we'd used the original pickets for something else, so Hanno decided on a puppy wire fence with star pegs. We also needed another gate but a quick look on Gumtree helped us with that for just $15.

Above and below is Hanno building the extension to the chicken coop fence a few years ago.

Gracie will still be allowed into the garden, but only when someone is with her. Believe me, she needs supervising. If ever there was a puppy who will get up to mischief, it's her. And even though her naughtiness is annoying at times, it's also kind of endearing and reassuring that puppies never change.  Let's just hope the fences stay like this for a while.


25 November 2016

Weekend reading

I've had a miserable week with allergies causing my asthma and eczema to flare up. I'm looking forward to the end of the week and the beginning of a new one with no wheezing or scratching. Things seem to be improving slowly each day so I'm hoping for a return to normal soon. It's been a bad year for hay fever, asthma and eczema, which is probably due to the weather. I fear we're on a collision course with the weather and too many people don't believe the science of climate change or don't think they have to change their ways to help remedy it.

Thanks for your visits this week and for the beautiful comments you leave scattered here. ♥︎  

Homemade ricotta recipe and three things to cook with it
How to make a succulent wreath
Wartime Farm - you tube, parts 1 - 8
A homemakers attempt at the Ivy Lee Method of organisation. I like this!
Free range egg and chicken guide
Tiny treasures basket and tray pattern - free pattern
Growing ginger in the backyard
Mom's apple pie - you tube
Upland blog
Amish recipes
I've shared my tomato relish recipe in the past, check out Pauline's blog with her Spicy tomato relish recipe.  There are some good recipes there.


24 November 2016

What I'm grateful for

Soon our American friends will be waking to one of their major holidays - Thanksgiving. I want to wish you all a happy day and hope your get-togethers are full of love and make fine memories for you.

I'm not about to jump on the Thanksgiving bandwagon because I'm an Australian, but I do want to use this place marker of a day to recognise that I have a good life and I'm grateful for all I have.  First and foremost, every time and always, I'm grateful for my family, especially Hanno, my sons and DILs: Shane and Sarndra, Kerry and Sunny and Jens and Cathy. I'm grateful to have lived to see my grandchildren - Jamie, Alex and Eve. And of course, you all know I have a special place in my heart for my sister Tricia and her family. Every single one of those people has enriched my life and made me happy in more ways than I can count.  Thank you.

I have a fairly small group of close friends - people I've known for many years and a few I've met in the last ten years. They've all made a beautiful and significant difference and I can't imagine life without them.

And then there's this blog. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think the people I connected with online would become real and important to me. When I started my blog I guess I thought it would be a mostly one-sided affair but as you all flowed in, bringing with you your own blogs, emails and comments, I did connect with many of you, relationships built, and I found myself thinking of so many of you as I made the bed or mopped a floor. Now we have this magnificent network of women and men who know about each others families and care what happens to them.  It's a strange new world we live in, friends. A world where we don't have to see, touch, smell and feel other people for them to make their way into our consciousness and sometimes our hearts.

So I'll just take a little bit of the Thanksgiving day to acknowledge and honour the gratitude I feel constantly, and to thank you all - near and far, for being part of my life.

21 November 2016

Do you know what to plant?

We've reached the point in our gardening year when we've stopped planting. We still have a fair bit of gardening to do but there will be no new plants added. Our leafy greens finished early because of the large numbers of insects this year. We don't fight them with insecticides, we just stop growing what they eat. The tomatoes and cucumbers are in and mulched, now I have to keep the water up to the citrus and berries so that in a year of less rain than normal here, we'll still have a good supply of fruit in the coming autumn and winter. Thank heavens for tank water.

We're always working for now but planning for what will come later in the garden. It makes things easier when we know what's ahead and are prepared for it. And that applies to our general lives too. We're always planning ahead, always wanting to arrive at a new stage of life with at lease some of the preparation and thinking done so it's not a struggle or a burden.

 Always lurking - the black shadow, ready to bite any toe at any time.
 And here she is playing with Jamie.

Always add flowers to your garden because they'll attract beneficial insects. Purple, blue and yellow flowers seem to be the most attractive to insects where I live but all flowers will lure bees, wasps and hoverflies in.  Above is The Fairy rose and below is a blue sage that grows two metres high. It requires hardly any watering and is a great plant for dry gardens.

I often get emails asking about this and that relating to gardening but one of the most often asked questions is: What should I grow?  I can never answer that question because my climate might be totally the opposite of yours, our tastes might differ and I have time whereas, you might not have.  When planning your garden, grow what you eat.  Make a list of every vegetable you eat.  Research what season each plant grows in and what conditions they need, discard those you can't grow, then divide your list into seasons - that is your planting list.  If you've got too many on the list, work out which vegetables are the best picked and eaten straight away. For example, both corn and peas should be eaten within a few hours of harvesting if you want to experience the best of them. After harvesting, corn and peas start converting their natural sugars into starch and that affects the taste and texture. So if you love corn and peas, plant them. You could also select the most expensive vegetables to buy at the market and grow those because they'll be cheaper and better grown at home, or if you're a new gardener, choose the easiest to grow - lettuce, Asian greens, carrots, radishes.

The first of the tomatoes (above) and capsicums (below).

And don't forget herbs. I routinely use parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme and mint in my cooking. All of them are easy to grow here and one plant will last at least a season, often two seasons, so it saves me money to grow herbs. I also grow Welsh onions which are perennial green onions. I use them in the same way I use chives or spring/green onions. If I were to buy all those herbs every week, it would cost me at least ten dollars just for herbs. Planting half a dozen herb seedlings in Spring, or keeping perennial or biennial herbs going through the year, is wise economy.

The berries are growing well this year. Here is the second flush of blueberries (above) and the Young berry is starting to climb the trellis (below).  A farmer in Maleny gave my the Young berry. It's native to northern America and is very similar to a raspberry.

Don't forget fruit trees, passionfruit vines, and berries. These are longer term plants and will cost more than a seedling but they'll produce fruit over a number of years. I think of fruit as an investment. As long as they're fed and watered, they look after themselves. They'll need mulching if you're in a hot area, and pruning occasionally, but they're easy care plants once they're in the ground and growing.

In The Simple Home I wrote about container gardens. They're great if you're renting or don't have much land or time. You'll still get a crop and although it will probably be smaller than an in-the-ground garden harvest, the work load is smaller too.

There is no doubt that you'll reduce your grocery bill and improve your health by growing organic food at home. Some gardeners are held back by doubting their own abilities and some don't know where and how to start.  But there is help. There is a large group of gardeners at the forum who will help you with any question you may have. So if you're tempted and have been putting it off until now, start planning what you'll grow. It's a great skill to have and there are many of us older gardeners who will help you get started and then ease you through the first few seasons. 🍄

Two guides I've written
How to start a vegetable garden - part 1
How to start a vegetable garden - part 2


18 November 2016

Weekend reading

Lasagne, one of our home cooked meals during the week.

It's been a funny week. I felt busy but when I look around, not much has been done. Still, there's no rush, any work that needs doing will still be here tomorrow. I'll have to get a wriggle on though if I want to sew Christmas gifts.  I hope you're well organised for the holidays ahead, if not, you can start with me next week.  😀

Beginner's guide to chicken coops
The 1910 Bottling Company
What happened to the walled garden way of producing food, using only renewable energy?
3 Non-Toxic Tips for Ridding Your Home of Roaches
What's a 'chuggypig'​?​


16 November 2016

The luxurious freedom of choice

I'm sure many of you feel this too, the luxurious freedom you have when you can do whatever you want to do, everyday. It's difficult to explain what a life of that feels like.  But I probably don't have to explain it to you, those who experience it, know, those who want it can probably imagine something close to it.

Outside our closed gate the world is spinning faster and many things no longer make sense to me. Its been so long since I took any notice of advertising or brands that now I no longer recognise what is popular. I don't mind that, in fact it's been good for me, but it does mean I move further away from, and possibly lose touch with, what most people strive for.

Photo courtesy of nannachel.

This happened yesterday.  Outside with Gracie, let the chickens out and noticed a live cane toad in one of their water buckets. Toad wrangling is Hanno's job so I just walked away. 😇 It was cooler than it had been for a week so I stayed in the garden and tied up the tomatoes that were starting to bend in the wind. Then I cut off all the lower tomato leaves that were touching the ground, pruned the roses, watered the vegetables and fruit before it warmed up too much and then noticed that we only have two cucumber vines left! All the others seem to have been removed by Gracie. She doesn't dig them up, she pulls them out by the leaves. Whenever she sees me handling any of the plants, usually the next day, it is missing. We'll have to work on that. 😬

Inside for breakfast, messages to friends, phone call to my sister and friend in Townsville and another cup of tea. I clean both bathrooms, check the kitchen, make the bed and check the blog, forum and emails. When I do all I have to do, I walked away and started cutting out the little dress I'm making out of my old blouse. I'll be making some little nighties soon too - some very plain pink lawn nighties for the hot nights here. They're for my grand daughter and I should have them finished this week.

Waiting in the wings are the ingredients for my Christmas cake, which I will make this week. Hanno asked when I planned on making it. I think he wants to feast on the cake well before Christmas. I need to make soap and laundry liquid fairly soon, Christmas gifts have to be created and sewn and I make time for reading most days.  My current book is Gay Bilson's Plenty. I found an old copy on ebay and bought it a couple of months ago. I'm taking my time with it and enjoying it very much - it's thought-provoking, intelligent and the ideal book to relax with on the verandah.

We have our main meal at lunchtime and after lunch, I usually have a nap in the lounge room. It feels so indulgent to slip into sleep when I know the busy world is spinning and most people are out working. But I've done all that. I worked out there for many years, paid taxes, helped out in the various communities I've lived in, done a lot of volunteering, raised a family and been the person I was raised to be. Now it's my turn to choose what I do, to sleep when I feel like it, to spoil a little black dog and to enjoy every day that dawns for me.

This is not the way I thought my days would play out. A long time ago I thought I'd work a lot longer and then travel, but my life changed in many profound ways and I'm much happier for it. And now it all sounds ordinary and simple because it is - these small daily tasks help me create the life I want to live. The freedom to choose is there every day and the good thing is that most days turn into peaceful, calm days full of homemaking, gardening, family, sewing, mending, reading and playing with a little black Scottie dog called Gracie who likes to bite toes.


11 November 2016

Weekend reading

We had afternoon tea in the garden with friends this week. It was nothing fancy but it was enjoyable and memorable. It doesn't take much to make a memorable afternoon. It's usually just the opportunity, some effort and a place to sit and talk with lovely people - it's a magical combination.

Thanks for being here this week. I'll see you again soon. ♥︎

Revisiting Winnie-the-Pooh
A meat-free Turin? Is Italy’s first 'vegetarian city' a recipe for disaster?
55 sewing crafts to make and sell
Lego cord holders - every cord is awesome
Maria Pellicci, the Meatball Queen of Bethnal Green
Food Lovers Guide to the Planet - Bread:  you tube
California mother faces jail time for selling homemade food on Facebook
I'm going to do this to a few pillowcases over summer - RoseHip
11 delicious things you can make with a can of chickpeas

10 November 2016

Living in the outernet with occasional visits beyond

Let's just make this clear at the beginning. I LOVE the internet. In my opinion, the internet is the single most important innovation to have happened in my lifetime. It has helped people and communities unite; it abolished many invisible doors that kept ordinary people away from power; it's enabled many to publish books and their own thoughts for the world to see; it's brought experts in various fields into remote areas to give advice and ideas directly to the people who need their help; it gives us more information at a finger stroke than was ever available in the libraries of my youth; it helps develop friendships and sometimes love; it enables all of us to roam the virtual world so that we can look at towns and cities we will never visit and the top of mountains we will never climb; we can watch bears catching fish, live, in a remote wild river; we can visit each others homes and watch families grow and we celebrate births and marriages and mourn the death of friends we've never met. We can also shop on the internet, pay bills, get an education at home and work hundreds of kilometres away from our place of employment. 

The internet is a great teacher and we use it to learn how to sew, knit, create a garden, make jam, baskets, soap and hundreds of other things by googling our interest and choosing from a wide selection of offerings. Without the internet you wouldn't know I exist and I would never have known how many people all over the world share my values, work ethic and beliefs. It's not all light and hope though. The internet has brought us a lot of ugliness, cruelty and despair too. But that's another story for another time. To put it in a nutshell, the internet opens up opportunities, both good and bad, that can change lives.

But it has to be balanced by spending time in the outernet. Problems are created when balance isn't there every single day because of the temptation to spend hours online.

When I closed my business and started working at home I didn't have enough hours in the day to do everything I wanted to do. My main aim was to produce a lot of what I used to buy, to make my home a place I felt comfortable in, to change my home so it facilitated the work I wanted to do and to be creative enough to satisfy the part of me that needs intellectual stimulation. So I planned creative work into my ordinary days and started to build a life that was slow, simple, plain and satisfying.

The creation of that new life gave me more chances to use my computer but apart from the forum and my blog, I consciously restricted my hours on the internet.  I didn't want to experience life through a screen because real life gave me so many opportunities to see, feel, know, touch, smell and experience.  And that has changed me in profound ways. I'm a different person now and I think that has come about because I actively lived life and not just watched it.

How do you deal with the internet? Do you restrict yourself or are you living life online?


7 November 2016

Pink onions and green dresses

I've loved pink onions, on and off, for a long time but I seem to be making them more now. I thought I'd write about them today because they're a good festive food and you may be able to plan them into your menus somehow over the holidays. Besides, they're about the easiest thing you're likely to make. You'll need white onions and the juice from your homemade pickled beetroot.  I've never made them with commercial beetroot juice but I think it would work as well.

The perfect partner for a salmon fillet and potato salad.

Start off with good, fresh, white onions. Fresh onions are those that are coming into Australian markets now. They have no sign of that horrible bitter green sprout in the centre and if you gently squeeze them, they're not rock hard. They give a little and feel slightly juicy. Slice the onions up - the amount depends on how many onion lovers you're serving - separate the rings and drop them into a bowl of your beetroot pickling juice.  Make sure they're all covered in juice and stir every 30 minutes or so. Leave them for at least an hour and serve.  They emerge from the blood red liquid lightly pickled and looking delightfully pink. I love heaping them on top of potato salad but they'll also serve you well added to a green salad, cucumber salad, on tacos or wraps, on sandwiches or chopped up to add to egg salad or mashed potatoes. They're quite versatile and delicious.

I've been quietly working on my chores, sewing and knitting and I'm starting to think about the holidays ahead. My Christmas fruit went into a brandy soak over the weekend but I'll be making the cake later than usual so I'm not worried about developing flavour. I've used mixed dried fruit - currants, raisins, sultanas, peel and cherries, along with an extra cup of dried cranberries and some dates. They'll soak for a couple of weeks and then I'll bake up my usual Christmas cake recipe. In the next week I'll work out my Christmas menu and start to slowly prep for our lunch with the family.

Someone loves having her tummy rubbed. 
The energy level here has spiked since we started sharing our home with our very endearing little Scottie dog, Gracie. She's eating well, learning how to defend the backyard from birds (including our chooks), running through the spray while I water the vegetables, sleeping all through the night and charming everyone who meets her. But she's no saint, let me tell you. She's a real rascal and she's running off with shoes, pulling at my skirt, chewing on my best bamboo circular needles (now in the bin) and hijacking every ball of wool she finds. She's also opening us up to the joys of having a dog again. It's all good fun but I can't wait for the day when she knows what sit and stay really mean.

I have to rearrange my work room because all my baskets of wool are up off the floor now. A certain black Scottie keeps running off with any ball of wool she finds. 

I'm in the process of repurposing an old linen blouse of mine into a dress for my almost two year old grand daughter. I've printed out a pattern from Pinterest, made some modifications and will cut it out this week.  There is some pink lawn fabric here too and when the dress is made I'll make up a couple of summer nighties for her too. I love reusing something old to give it a second life. I wish I could say I was always that way inclined but I'm here now and that's the main thing.

Although I'm happy living life behind a closed gate these days, today I'll throw open the gates for a couple of special visitors.  Two moderators on the forum, nannachel and damac, are in town and will be coming over for afternoon tea today. I've met both of them before so it will be good to catch up with old friends, share ideas and talk about life.  There is never enough of that, even for an old hermit who lives behind a closed gate.

4 November 2016

Weekend reading

It's been a busy week here so now I'm looking forward to the weekend and a slower pace of life.  Next week should be filled with sewing and knitting and I'm really looking forward to that.  

Thanks for your visits this week and for the comments you leave. They always inspire me to keep writing.  I hope you have a lovely weekend. I'll see you again next week.   🐾

= = = ♥︎ = = =

There's a big difference between those who realise they're winging it, and those who don't
10 Cooking Tricks That Changed Everything for Us
Long lens: a century of American life – in pictures
Lemon and almond ricotta biscuits


3 November 2016

Amazing Grace

Gracie had her first grooming session on Tuesday. The groomer said she is too young to be properly stripped but she had a fair amount of hair removed and she seems to be happier now that her thick coat has gone.

She has weed seeds all over her here. They're sticky and hard to pick off. She's now got the beginnings of the authentic Scottish Terrier look with the eyebrows standing up, a beard, smooth back and a long skirt. She looks so pretty!

The next time she is groomed, when she's a few months older, she'll be stripped and shaped into the familiar Scottie squareness. By then her ears will be standing up too. They still flop down now but I think that has a bit to do with the amount of hair on her ears. We'll be in Brisbane today so she'll have to be on her best behaviour. She'll have a couple of runs in a park and I'll pack her lunch of chicken and a container of water so I'm sure she'll enjoy her outing.


1 November 2016

Reducing the cost of living with a new baby

I was contacted by "Jenna" last week asking for help with a major life change. Jenna is a nurse, five months pregnant with her first child, who is in the process of simplifying.  She wants to take maternity leave and reduce her family's cost of living by 30 - 40 percent.  I'd like to help her if I can. Just as a side issue, when I was on my last book tour, this topic came up more than any other.  Some of the people I met wanted to tell me about their mostly successful changes to single income simple living, and others were about to do it and wanted reassurance.  I was very happy to give it because I think this way of living is a bold liberation from a life of continuing consumption.

This is part of what Jenna wrote:

"My husband and I are focused on debt reduction, we are very conscious about our purchases and I have swapped to home made cleaning products. In the last week there has been some significant political change with regards to maternity leave, which if passed will affect me. As I am the main income earner for our family I need to balance the (income) needs of our family, with the personal desire to stay at home for the first nine-months of my babes' life. The only solution is to be very brave and look to reduce our cost of living by about 30-40% and more if possible.

This means that I am jumping from a few small steps (good household budget, extra mortgage repayments) to adopting more of the amazing things that you have recommended over the years (for example - better management of food, reduce wastage, stockpiling). And the truth is that I am really scared. I am scared to go from dual income no kids, to maternity leave where a proportion of income that was previously available is no longer available. (Please don't mistake my tone - I have always been exceptionally grateful to live in a era where maternity leave is paid, available, and generous to Nurses - I never took for granted the opportunities, and I understood that the Government wished to change things - but this has happened rather suddenly, and I was unprepared).

The reason that I wanted to write to you is because I don't think making this change would have been at all possible before I read your blog, I don't have anyone in my life who has committed to this way of life. My friends and family live purposefully and with much joy - but they are not in the same place or situation and don't quite understand. I also wanted to thank you for making me feel (even though I am truly scared) that change is possible."

And yes change is possible, for all of us, so let's get to it. Jenna, I won't comment on debt reduction, mortgage payments or budgeting because it sounds like you've got all that under control. You will need an emergency fund and that is something you should start straight away. I'll just say this, and I'm sure you already know it, keeping your money on track, staying within your budget and paying down debt is vitally important. So is working well with your partner. You both need to work towards common goals but acknowledge that you might do the same job in different ways. As long as things get done well and on time, that should not be a problem. Respect your differences as much as you celebrate what brings you together.

Please note: clicking on the linked words will take you to another post in this blog on the subject.

There are a number of smaller measures you can look into that will help you keep to your budget and that's what we'll focus on here. I don't know what expenses you have but I presume you use electricity, maybe gas, you have at least one phone, the internet, you have insurance of some kind. What ever it is, go over all your accounts and see if you really need what you're paying for. If you have more than one phone, you may be able to get rid of one. There was a time not too long ago when most families had only one phone and that was a land line. Unless you have a medical condition, people don't need to be able to reach you 24/7 on the phone. If you can retire a phone while you're working in your home, that will be just one small saving you can make

ALL savings are worth your time and effort. They might be small savings but they add up to create large savings over time. And that's how you should look at it. Don't think that not buying a bottle of water today will save you $3. Instead, think about not buying water for a year, which would save you over $300 a year if you bought two bottles of water a week.  All of us think that $3 isn't much, but you should look at the cost of the continuing behaviour instead of the cost of the individual product. Remember, ALL savings help you live the life you want for yourself and your growing family.

Cook from scratch, make as much as you can for yourself and recycle. Be an active shopper, find your best supermarket but buy as much as possible from farmers markets, local butchers and green grocers. Menu planning, either the popular way many people do it, or your own version of it, will help you avoid wasting food as well as save money on groceries. There are many threads on the forum that will help you plan your menus. Stockpiling is another way of saving money and making sure you have food in the house during times of financial hardship or community disaster. Like menu planning, there are different ways of stockpiling, but you build it up slowly as you see specials and sales. If you don't have a large freezer, it may be a very worthwhile investment especially when stockpiling meat specials, leftovers and cook-ahead meals when you return to work.

Always check your fridge and vegetable bins before you shop. Store your food properly when you return. If you waste any of this food it's the same as throwing the money it cost to buy it, out the window. Run your home like a small business - you want to get value for money for everything you buy and you don't want to waste anything you've already bought. That not only includes groceries and food, it also includes water, electricity, phone and internet usage.

Organise yourself with routines before the baby arrives. If you've got the washing done and a decent stash of meals in the freezer, it will make you feel more relaxed and you'll enjoy your baby and this new stage of your life much more. If you can't manage to organise yourself every day, that's okay too. You and your family will survive even if housework is left undone.

When you leave paid work it will be your job to save money and organise your home to be the safe and comfortable haven you'll need it to be. Use the time you have now to start on that process. Start living on one income now so you can ease into it and work out how to make the most of what you've got and get the best value for money. I'm sure you'll have family and friends offer you furniture and clothes. Take everything you're offered. There is a strong tradition of older mothers passing on baby paraphernalia that is no longer needed. Take advantage of that and don't buy anything new for the baby until you know you need it.  Most new mums are offered a lot of pre-loved clothes and nappies. If you're asked what the baby needs, ask for cloth nappies. They'll save a fortune and you won't be contributing to the mountain of nappies already in land fill.

Rediscover your library. If it's been a while, you'll find a nice variety of media available like books, DVDs, comics, magazines, talking books, the internet, games and music CDs. This will provide you with some cheap entertainment. You'll be kept busy with your baby in the first year but keep up your contact with family and friends.  Instead of going out, invite them over for a meal or coffee. You'll probably find that other parents prefer this kind of outing rather than going to a pub, concert or party.

No matter what you do, retain your own identity because it's easy to become lost in motherhood. If you raise your child with a strong sense of who you are while being tender, gentle and loving, you'll make a fine role model. This is going to be a big change but it's entirely possible if you're strong enough to walk your own path and be who you want to be.

You'll have to be self-reliant, go against what your friends and family are doing, be self assured, take risks, learn a lot, develop your skills, change in more ways than you expect to, build your confidence and self respect and in the end, you'll find yourself living the life you want to live. Not everything will go according to plan but I'm sure that won't put you off. Learn from the lows as much as you learn from the highs and keep your growing family close. Good luck with your changes, Jenna, and be kind to yourself.

I'm sure other readers will offer their take on this too.  There is a thread on the forum for this topic now, please click here to go there.
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