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Buy Nothing September

Since it’s 1st September, I should write a bit about my plan for September.

Inspired by Shipmates, I’m joining in Buy Nothing September. Doing it with others gives me a bit of support, a bit of accountability, and some good ideas as well.

I had a look at my bank balance this morning. Gasp! Things have been vile since DH died – huge drop in income, even allowing for his small pension. Time to pull my head out of the clouds about how I spend my cash each week.

I should add that I’m apparently pound-wise and penny-foolish. Obviously the latter translated into pound-foolish later on when I think about the money that I’ve wasted on cups of coffee or muffins or lunch or dinner or silly wee things at the supermarket.

I suspect part of the reason why my everyday account looks so beaten is because I tend to put any lump sums into my mortgage offset account to cut down on interest payments. That certainly is a good thing and as far as I can, I’ll try to continue that.

As part of my No Spend September, I have to budget for bills and ongoing payments. That means two fortnightly mortgage payments. There’s also the trash collection service bill to pay which is $125. Particularly high this month because I had two CRT monitors collected and the ACT charges like a wounded bull for recycling monitors and TVs. Part of me applauds the ‘green’ policy behind that. The penny-pinching part of me is having a bloody good whinge about having to pay to get rid of DH’s excess, old monitors as part of my ongoing decluttering project. Apparently there will be some free national e-waste scheme started sometime in 2011 (hey, that means 2012 in Australian terms) but I’m not willing to store more stuff in the shed for that long as a hiding place for spiders, cockroaches and wriggly things.

My tasks for today and tomorrow are to do a more accurate stocktake of the pantry and the refrigerator. I have chicken to make into a big dish of chicken risotto tonight (may have to extend the arborio rice with some long grain rice but that’s my fault for not doing a proper shelf check at home before going out to the supermarket).

The other thing that occurs to me is how much I do love my snacks. I really do. So at work I have some of those sachets for DIY cappuccinos, just add boiling water. Looking at the pantry properly has reminded me that I bought way too much self-raising flour in April. I have recipe books, I have baking trays and I have eggs from my friend’s hens. I can make biscuits. Maybe even raspberry jam biscuits.

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Posted by on September 1, 2010 in Budget, decluttering project

 

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Still not the perfect housewife

I’ve heard there is such a thing. 🙂 She is the one who has a sparkling kitchen, no grease spots on the splashbacks, no errant crumbs in the bottom of the oven, and she always remembers to wear an apron so that her clothes are similarly spotless.

She irons her husband’s shirts and he prefers the way she does it. She plans ahead and doesn’t run out of milk or bread or butter or the only type of cheese that works in a quiche recipe.

Even the plants in her garden obey her.

Sadly, that woman doesn’t seem to live around here.

Nevertheless, I’ve given it a red hot go, insofar as I can without driving myself nuts, polishing the cats, dusting my husband, and tidying my daughter into a corner. The washing up is waiting but the clean clothes have been put away. Even DH has been tidying his wardrobe.

Things have been difficult over the past 6 weeks. One of my dearest and loveliest relatives died only a week after a devastating diagnosis. Just when I thought my heart was slowly repairing, there was another unexpected death, and this time it was a lovely friend who was only one year older than me. One such death, I could deal with. Two seems more than my heart can bear at this point. Small surprise that tears have poured down my cheeks, my thoughts have spun round in circles of “what if” and “why” and “not fair”.

This evening, to soothe my hot, jangled nerves and calm my hands, I found myself calling on the rituals of women in my past. No strange teas or chants, but rather the thrifty habits that run deep in my family. Taking an old flannelette nightgown that had finally worn out at the elbows and shoulders, I methodically tore it down the side seams, unpicked the yoke, cut off the buttons for my button tin, and square by square, measuring by sight, I created a new year’s worth of soft cleaning cloths. Nothing grand here. Last year’s dusters were from an old calico sheet that I or my brothers had slept in as children, long since worn thin in the middle but too sturdy at the edges to let go into the bin.

As I tore and turned the soft fabric, my thoughts wandered. Back to my maternal grandmother who had taught this to my mother. My grandmother had grown up during the Depression and knew how to make things last, how to be thrifty and sensible, and how to have fun with a small amount of money. I smiled as I thought of how my acquaintances think that I am being “green” or “recycling” or “eco-friendly” with my funny old habits. No, dear friends, I am simultaneously saving money while connecting with my past, warming myself with memories and taking my place as another grown woman in a long line.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2009 in House, Life Matters, Motherhood, women

 

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Queen of Clean Looks at her List

For everyone’s delectation, here is my to-do list for the next couple of days. In deference to my asthma problems, nearly all of these can be achieved with soap, water, lemon juice and elbow grease. The mould will be zapped by DH, I hope.

1. Scrub out the microwave oven.
2. Pull out the griller tray and scrub the inside of the griller.
3. Sort out bookshelves and find any unwanted books to go to the Lifeline Book Fair.
4. Pull out the cupboard in the hall away from the wall and clean the floor and get rid of the rapidly-propagating dust bunnies.
5. Find out what has fallen behind the piano.
6. Remove the mould colonies from the ceiling fan in the bathroom.

This is in addition to attending a meeting tonight that will go for about 2 hours.

I bought a new knit top in what I thought was navy blue. In some light, it looks dark blue and under other lights it looks black. I wish I had some way of actually telling what colour a top is while I’m at a shop, looking at clothes under fluorescent light. It’s the same thing with determining the correct shade of foundation for makeup. Next thing you know, you’re wearing makeup that wouldn’t look out of place on Bozo the Clown.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2008 in decluttering project

 

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Reduce, re-use, recycle

I can’t be the only person who is thoroughly sick of being exhorted and entreated to reduce, re-use and recycle.  Most of the public relations bumf that comes from various govt agencies and non-profit organisations assumes that we are all starting from a position of being spendthrift wastrels who seek to fill in municipal and territory garbage sites with our rubbish.

All it does is make me want to buy items with five or more layers of packaging and then throw all the packaging into the non-recycling bin.

Fact is, I have been careful with rubbish and recycling for years.  Back when I started, it was called being mean. If you were being polite, it was called being thrifty.  Either way, I would imagine that my parents had been influenced by not having a lot when they were growing up, nor, for that matter, did my brothers and I. Our grandparents grew up during the Depression and developed careful ways of living and consuming that carried over the decades.

Granted, I am not as careful in saving things as Nanna was. I don’t keep every bit of good-quality butcher’s paper for using when sifting flour when I get around to baking. I don’t keep every bit of string, either: that’s DH’s job! (Seriously!)

At the same time, there is a fine line to tread between keeping useful things and living in a rapidly-growing pile of ‘stuff’. Part of my negotiation of that is what I term ‘careful consumer behaviour’. Come to think of it, there’s probably a similar term used in both ‘Green’ and Business textbooks.  Do I need to buy something in bulk, like 5kg of rice, instead of returning to the store several times and buying more, smaller packets that will each have wrapping? What about the 5 layers of plastic and cardboard that surrounded the moisturiser I bought from the pharmacy? How about the vegetables that rot in the bottom of the fridge, signifiers of a week of laziness and stress where good intentions went out the window?

It’s an ongoing thing. I have been making myself plan out menus for a week in advance. Mind you, these can be knocked for six with a two-year-old who proclaims loudly “No! No, Mummy! No want dis! Yucky!” Nothing like a toddler to bring you to earth with a resounding thud.

 
 

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