Monday, May 28, 2018

Frugal Fun No. 18 - Shopping the sales

Hey friends, I've been doing quite a bit of shopping over the past two weeks, trying to replace lost, broken or worn out items. I stretched my dollars by shopping the sales wherever I could.

First up, L lost her jandals, which was a tragedy because she loves having an easy pair of jandals to slide into whenever we're heading out for a quick trip. I tried finding her a replacement pair at The Warehouse, but seeing as it's nearly winter, didn't have any luck. I decided to make the drive out to DressSmart, since it sells out-of-season gear. Sure enough, we found the last two pairs of jandals selling for just $2 each at Cotton Kids. I bought both pairs, one for now and one for L to grow into. About two days after buying the jandals, L found her old ones at our neighbour's house. Typical.

With S playing netball this year, I wanted to get her decent sports shoes that will hopefully last more than one season. We found a fun pair of Asics at Dresssmart in all the colours she loves, marked down by 50%. Win! She's been bouncing around in them every since, and has even embellished them with smiley faces.  They're already super muddy after she ran her school cross country in them last week. I think they only looked brand new for about half a day.

While at DressSmart, we also visited Typo, where I bought three large scented candles in lidded jars. They were $5 each and I bought them specifically to use when we have power outagess. We've had a couple of outages lately thanks to big storms whizzing through and I found the candles in jars the most practical because they keep all the wax contained, so you can set them anywhere. These ones smell like vanilla, which is one of my favourite scents.

I also bought a three-pack of bags from Typo on a 50% sale. The outer zip bag I'm using to corral all the first aid gear and makeup I carry around in my handbag. I had previously been storing it in a plastic ziploc bag, but the bag kept on popping open and spilling bandaids throughout my handbag. The other two nylon drawstring bags that came in the three-pack are now being used as tog bags for the girls. Somehow L lost her tog bag recently. Gah.

The kids and I took pumpkin soup around to my dear friend, who'd had her wisdom teeth out and wasn't able to eat solid food. We ate the soup with her for lunch and then my friend sent us home with a bag of lemons from her tree and a toy for each of the kids. The lemons came in handy for me, as I've been dealing with a cold all week and been able to use them in hot lemon honey drinks.

I took L to Kathmandu to buy her a winter raincoat last week. All Kathmandu named gear was discounted by 30%, which saved us quite a bit. We managed to nab the last girls' raincoat for L, and I bought it a couple of sizes too big for her so she can wear it for years to come. Her old Kathmandu jacket (which was a hand-me-down from a cousin, but is still in excellent condition and really waterproof), has now been passed down to S, who didn't have a good waterproof jacket before. With the girls playing outdoor netball all winter, they needed good raincoats. I decided to invest in something of good quality that can be passed down from sibling to sibling.

You'll know from my recent post about homeschooling that our dining room was being taken over by homeschool books. It was stressing me out so I went looking for a piece of furniture to organise it all and found this beautiful wooden shelving unit from Bed Bath and Beyond marked down by 50%. It fits perfectly into the space between our dining table and kitchen, and I keep doing double takes whenever I see it, because it's so beautiful.

A few days ago S was adjusting the mirror in our bathroom, when it fell down and broke. I couldn't get used to not having a mirror in our bathroom, so this weekend I went mirror shopping. First I went to Bunnings to check out its bathroom mirror range, thinking I might get a mirrored cabinet, but I didn't see anything I fancied. Next I checked out The Warehouse and happened to hit it at the right time - all the mirrors were reduced to $49 or less. I picked out a beautiful circular mirror that was originally $139, so I saved $90 by getting it on sale. Noice.

J was having the same problem with his wardrobe doors as the girls had with theirs. Since his room is small, we'd put his chest of drawers in the wardrobe, but all the kids like to play Lego directly on the floor in J's room, which meant we had to keep moving it out of the way to get any of his clothes. I went for the easy solution and took his wardrobe doors off, just like I did in the girls room. It has opened his bedroom right up and made it feel so much bigger. Since we store a lot of J's toys in the bottom drawer of his chest of drawers, it also means he's able to play with them more easily now too.

I read several library books over the past fortnight and finished off Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, which has been sitting on our bookshelf for years, but which I'd never read. It was really good. It explained so much about Christianity that I hadn't considered before. Worth a read if you have questions.

The kids and I have been listening to Little Women in the car as we've driven around to various activities. I downloaded it for free from the library using the Overdrive app.
I took advantage of the free shipping offered by World Organics two weekends ago and ordered a new product, The Good Oil, which I've heard amazing things about. I also ordered the Everyday Evening Primrose Moisturizer, because my skin has started to get dry with the changing weather and I wanted something rich and nourishing to combat that. I made sure my order came to more than $99 so I would qualify for May's free gift of the Pomegranate and Shea Hand Cream, which will be a welcome relief on my dry hands. Note #1: I'm a sales consultant for World Organics, so if you order through my webstore:, I will earn a commission. Note #2: I'm only a sales consultant for World Organics because I love and use their products. I also respect the ethical and environmental approach of the company. I'd recommend World Organics even if I didn't earn anything by doing so.

A few months back, I did a big Trim Health Mama order and bought the Integral Collagen. I added a scoop of it to all my smoothies and noticed a massive improvement in my thumb joint, which had been getting stiff and giving me pain after multiple sports injuries over the years. It has been a few weeks since we ran out of the collagen, but it's pretty pricy so I waited to reorder until last weekend. This time I ordered through the Lenabosa Farm website, which ships directly from New Zealand. I also ordered one of the Trim Health Mama Hippy Stick deodorants, which works really well for me and has a lovely scent. Note #3: I don't earn a commission by recommending these THM products to you.

Our cat disappeared for more than 24 hours, in the middle of a huge storm last week. He has never disappeared before and I was so worried. I had pretty much given up hope of ever seeing him again, when he came wandering in. It was such a relief to have him back, but then I noticed one of his eyes wasn't closing properly. He was only using his inner lids, not his outer ones. Paul took him to the vet, who checked him over and said we didn't need to do anything for his eye. It should come right in time. Paul paid the consultancy fee and bought flea and worm tablets while he was there. Our cat has been getting lots of extra cuddles since he reappeared.

This weekend was dedicated to S's birthday. On Saturday, S invited a school friend over for a special birthday play date party. Paul face-painted the two girls before they sat down to a a yummy morning tea with L and J. I had baked a banana cake and decorated it with MnMs, mini Flakes and Freddos for an easy and fun look, since I'm no cake artist.

For her special birthday activity, I took S and her friend to Rainbow's End for the day. It had been stormy all week, so I was nervous about what the weather would be like, but we had a beautiful day and stayed right until closing time. I made use of our almost-expired Entertainment Guide to get one of the girls' tickets for free, saving us $49. In the photo above, you can just see S's feet disappearing up the Tower of Terror at Rainbow's End. She was the only one of us brave enough to go on it, and she absolutely loved it. No fear, that girl.

On Sunday afternoon, Paul took S out for her Daddy-Daughter Dressy Day, which is an annual tradition in our family where Paul takes the birthday girl dress shopping for her birthday. Sadly, S vomited on her way home from the expedition, having caught the vomiting bug her brother had the week before. She was up late into the night vomiting, and my wonderful husband took care of her so I could sleep, since I still haven't shaken the cold that's been plaguing me for a week.

For S's birthday presents, Paul and I have been slowly accumulating items we knew she wanted, as we've seen them go on sale. Paul bought S a Lego Elves set at a Toyworld sale and I managed to find the item she's been asking for for the past two Christmases and birthdays - a Hatchimal - on sale at Kmart for $60. I had been hesitant to get her one initially because it was so expensive and I thought it was just a popular craze item, but she's been dreaming of one for so long that I thought she must actually want to take care of one. I bought one for her and stashed it away in my wardrobe until this weekend. She was so delighted with it, and it really helped cheer her up in the midst of her vomiting bug.

Right now the sun is shining, so I've opened up most of the windows in the house to air it out while I can. It's been raining so much so lately that I haven't been able to do that, and it feels like all the sickness bugs are just circulating and recirculating through the house. I've been running the dehumidifier almost constantly to try and remove whatever moisture and germs I could that way. It helps to keep the house drier, which makes it easier to warm too, but nothing beats fresh air and sunshine.

And that's all my money-saving news for the past fortnight. Although, to be honest, it feels like all I've done for the past two weeks is spend money. Hopefully that's an end to all the spending for a while.  Nobody break or lose anything, please!

What have you done to save money lately?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Homeschool organisation and a decision

Hi friends!

I mentioned in my last post that we were seriously considering homeschooling S. (Previously, it had been a sort of vague notion that we might homeschool her one day, since we were already homeschooling L.)

Well, today I made the decision.

S had most of this week off school with a cold, so I used the time to test out homeschooling on her. It went much better than I'd expected, possibly because she was on her best behaviour in an attempt to convince me to let her homeschool. (She has been begging me to bring her home.)

Yesterday we had a lovely moment when all the kids were learning about physical and political maps in geography, and got the chance to create their own map for a country of their imagination. Normally it would have been L doing this task by herself, while S was at school and J played, but since S and L were both doing the activity, J joined in too. All three kids got so excited about their made-up countries, laughing and encouraging each other along.

It allowed me to see the advantage of teaching all three children together - how much more stimulating it has the potential to be for them.

I know it won't always be as easy or pleasant as it has been this week. S's personality has its challenges for sure, but I'm prepared to give it my best with her and have officially decided to homeschool her.

This afternoon I sent off an exemption form to the Ministry of Education for S, in order to get the bureaucratic cogs turning. My hope is that S will be formally exempt from school and able to start homeschooling by the beginning of next term.

Homeschooling one girl has been pretty straightforward and easy for me, but I realise I'll need to be far more organised once S starts homeschooling, if I'm to split my time well between both girls, and potentially J in the future too.

After just one week of having S at home, the corner of our dining room had become a crazy mess, piled up with homeschool curricula and stationary.

This afternoon I made it my mission to find a shelving unit that would fit this narrow corner and corral all our homeschooling gear for when we're working in the dining room, which is most of the time.

I had a pretty specific list of requirements for the unit. I wanted something made of real wood, preferably white as we have a lot of dark wooden furniture downstairs. I also didn't want it to be too invasive. It needed to allow us access to the dining room light switch and leave space for the curtains to be pulled back. I took measurements of where the light switch is, as well as how wide and deep the space for the unit was, so I would be sure to get something that fits.

The unit needed to have at least four shelves: one for stationary items, one for L's work, one for S's work and one for J's work in the future. I visited a few different shops and finally found the perfect piece of furniture at Bed Bath and Beyond.

This shelving unit was actually part of their bathroom range, but I think it will do nicely for our homeschool needs. It was the floor model, since they didn't have any more in stock, so I didn't even have to assemble it - just bring it home.

I cleared out the disaster zone that was and found a place for everything we're using this term on the new shelving unit.

Various stationary items are easy to access from the top of the unit, where I keep them organised in glass jars.

I'm ecstatic that the new homeschool shelving unit fits so perfectly into this little corner of our dining room. Living in a small home means every space needs to be custom fitted to get the most out of it.

The new unit is is low enough and narrow enough that we can still access our dining room light switch, read the calendar on the wall and pull back the curtains.

Its small size also means it isn't too intrusive into the dining room. We can easily walk around it to get to our seats at the table. It's actually about the same depth as the little piece of furniture that was here previously, just far more functional and pretty.

I really love those shuttered cupboards.

They tie in nicely with our white wooden Venetian blinds in the adjoining lounge.

You all know how much I love a bargain, so you'll be pleased to hear I nabbed this little beauty at a 50% off discount too.

I'm so happy with it. Now I just need to make sure it stays organised while I'm homeschooling not one, but two kids next term.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Why we've had to streamline homeschooling in term 2

Friends, I have to admit, I was completely burnt out by the time I got to the end of homeschooling L last term. As much as L and I loved everything we were doing, I just wasn't getting enough downtime throughout the week to decompress.

This term I made the decision to streamline wherever I could, so I could put some much-needed margin into my weeks.

Busyness as a way of life just doesn't work for me. I quickly burn out, and learnt a long time a go to give myself grace and space where I need to.

Now that we are more than two weeks into the new school term and have had a complete run through of all our activities, I can tell you that this term is going to be a lot easier for me to handle. Hooray!

No more gymnastics
S has given up her Saturday morning gymnastics class, so now Saturday is a free day for our family again. Sleep ins are back on the schedule!

This term S is doing club netball as her sport instead of gymnastics. I've managed to get her into the same team as L, so we only have to go to one set of practises and games each week instead of two. Win!

We've also given up the kids' Dean Greenwood swimming lessons in favour of homeschool swimming lessons for L and J.

The homeschool lessons are a lot more affordable than the Dean Greenwood ones were. They also run during the school day and give the kids more socialisation and swim time, since L and J get to play in the splash pools before and after their lessons.

It does mean that S isn't doing swimming lessons this term - because she's at school during the day, so we'll need to make an effort to take her swimming in the weekends to give her a chance to practise.

Last term I was driving J half an hour away for his swimming lesson each week. I then had to drive the girls to their swimming lesson after school, which crowded into dinner time. Since netball trainings and games are going to take up two evenings a week, I was glad to drop the after-school swimming this term. 

L is continuing with her after-school art class, and has the exact same group of girls in her class as last term.

From what L tells me, the girls are all becoming good friends and laugh a lot. L really looks forward to her lessons with them. She's also bringing home loads of beautiful creations, so the class is a wonderful artistic outlet for her. L is able to walk herself to and from her lessons with our neighbour, so it doesn't involve me driving her anywhere or waiting around while her lesson is on.

Another change that has streamlined my week is that, instead of doing three half-days at Kindy this term, J is now doing two full-days. The change has been really beneficial for both of us, as he is much more settled going for the full day, and it gives me a longer stretch between drop-off and pick-up to tackle housework, run errands and get bookwork done with L.

On one of the days J is at Kindy, I take L to her Suzuki violin lessons. They are by far the most expensive activity she's doing, but her teacher is so wonderful and understands that the lessons are about building resilience and stamina in the child, not just violin technicality. Since it was a meltdown with her old violin teacher that caused me to embark on homeschooling, I'm happy to see such positive engagement between L and her new violin teacher.

Homeschool group one
L has also joined a Christian homeschool group this term, which offers one sports class and one arts class a week. We weren't able to get into this term's sports class, as it got booked up too quickly by existing families, but we did get L into the arts class, which is sign language this term.

There are several lovely things about this group. One is that we can walk to it from our house, which gives us a bit of fresh air and exercise. The second is that I can sit in on the class with L and learn sign language too. The third is that both L and I are getting to make lovely Christian friends through the group. Several of the people in the group also go to homeschool swimming, so we get to see them twice a week.

This particular homeschool group also offers two excursions a term. This term L, J and I will be going to the Stardome Observatory and to Kelly Tarltons, which we're all looking forward to.

Homeschool group two
L's favourite day of the week remains the same as last term. It's the one when she gets to go to a homeschool group that runs multiple elective classes every hour. This term L has again signed up for Dancefit and Creative Journaling, but she's given up Science and KiwiSports in favour of Brainplay Computer Coding and Jewellery Making.

J also comes to this homeschool group and is again doing Gymnastics and KiwiSports. I love watching his classes, not only because it's exciting seeing to his skills progress, but also because I get to chat with the lovely Mum-friends I made last term.

This homeschool group ran a sports day in lieu of classes on the first week of term. It was a beautiful, sunny day out, and L got to play a game of netball and a game of softball with other homeschool children. We didn't get to stay for the final sports game of the day (football/soccer) as we had to leave to pick up S from school. That's one of the downsides of having one homeschooled kid and one still in school - rushing back for the school pick-up.

Downtime and bookwork
Our new, streamlined timetable gives L and I two full weekdays at home (or out, if we want to go out), as well as a completely unscheduled weekend (apart from church). All the activities L, J and S are doing now fall into three days, which feels like a lot less hustle and bustle for me and gives me the space I need to breathe.

We fit bookwork into our home days, as well as into the mornings and afternoons before and after L's scheduled activities. L's curriculum hasn't changed much from last term, so you can refer back to this post to see what she's learning. However, we have added the computer game, Prodigy Maths, into the mix. This was recommended to us by my friend, Angela, and all the kids love it. Like, seriously love it. It keeps them engaged in maths like nothing else I've seen.

Questions you've asked
Will we continue homeschooling L? Yes, for the foreseeable future. L loves it, and it gives me the time to work with her on her specific struggles. With the streamlining we've done this term, I feel much more able to continue homeschooling her for the long haul.

Will we pull S out of school to homeschool her? I'm in the process of seriously considering it. There's every chance I'll be filling out an exemption form and sending it off to the Ministry of Education to get her ready to homeschool in term three. Watch this space.

Will we homeschool J? I don't know. I've given myself till the end of this year to decide whether I'll enrol him in school next year or not. If, by then, I have decided to homeschool S and it's going well, that will likely swing things in favour of homeschooling J too. Technically we don't need to make an official decision till he's six, so we've still got a year and a half before we would need to send in our exemption form. But I think that if I was enrolling him in school, I'd want to do it at the start of the year so he could get settled in with his classmates.

Do I enjoy homeschooling? Yes! Far more than I ever thought I would. It's so fun and interesting. I get to learn right alongside L. It also gives me the chance to meet other like-minded Mums, which has been a real blessing to me. I'm a bit weird, a bit alternative, but in the homeschooling community, I fit right in.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Frugal Fun No. 17 - Joy in the simple things

Today is about celebrating our recent frugal successes, no matter how big or small...

Paul recently gave J a haircut, using the electric clippers I bought on a half-price sale a few months back.

We've been making good use of our Thermos Funtainers to pack frugal hot lunches for out and about. (I managed to get these Funtainers basically free earlier this year, using an Amazon voucher I had earned.) You can read more about how we're using them in this post.

I planted coriander seeds in my freshly topped-up garden, using seeds I had collected myself.

My cat got into a fight and was looking very poorly, so I pulled aside some meat from our dinners to feed him, and he perked right up. Much more affordable than a vet's bill!

I whizzed up the spent vegetable scraps and bones from last week's batch of chicken stock to feed to my garden as a zero-waste fertiliser. (I added lots of water to the mixture first, to make it more of a liquid fertiliser.)
I emptied one half of my rotating compost bin into my wheelbarrow. I fed some of the compost to my citrus trees, and used the rest to top up what had been a tomato garden. I had left the compost to rot down for a long time, and was amazed at how fresh and soil-like it smelled. I think it also helped that I had fed wood mulch into the compost bin every time I emptied our kitchen scraps into it, to keep a good balance of nitrogen and carbon in there, and prevent the compost turning anaerobic.

I picked up an outdoor table from a friend, who has offered it to me on a long-term loan. We managed to fit the table into the back of my car, with a bit of grunt-work. I paid my girls and their neighbour friend to scrub it clean with Sugar Soap, as it had been neglected for a couple of years and wasn't looking its best.

I will be picking up rounded ends for the table and several deck chairs from the same friend, once the weather decides to cooperate.

It was so nice eating our Mother's Day dinner on the table last night. I'm also looking forward to doing homeschool work out there when the weather clears up.

The girls and I got stuck into weeding the bricks around and under the trampoline last weekend. I'm too tall to go under the trampoline, so I paid the girls to do that part. It looks much nicer out there now. My girls even managed to rope their neighbour friend into helping them weed, so she earned a bit of pocket money for that too.

Lately I've been thinking about how nice it would be to have a dishwasher, mainly because dishes take up all the limited bench space we have in the kitchen. But then I decided, my kids can be my dishwasher. They need to learn how to do more chores around the house anyway. On a couple of nights last week, I washed the dishes, and S and L dried them and put them away. On another night, Paul washed the dishes and taught J how to dry them and put them away. I can't tell you how nice it was to wake up in the morning to a clean and clear kitchen bench.

I worked on a horticulture assignment every chance I got last week, and managed to finish it and post it off. Now I only have one more assignment to go and I will have completed my Certificate of Horticulture. I've learned so much from this course. It's been really interesting. The kids have learned a lot too, because I'm always spouting off facts about various plants as we walk around.

I gratefully accepted a bag of gold kiwifruit and feijoas from a friend. I also helped myself to several gold kiwifruit from J's Kindy, that were being given away. J and I walked home a different way from his Kindy one afternoon last week and discovered a row of feijoa trees on public property. J had a grand ol' time crawling under the bushes, hunting for feijoas. He and S ate most of them for afternoon tea, getting wonderfully sticky in the process.

I took J to the dental nurse for a free check up and managed to get L seen at the same time. Both kids got a fluoride coating applied between their back molars, and they have also been scheduled to go back in and have a special coating put on the chewing surfaces of their back molars. These measures should protect them from decay for a little while, and hopefully mean they won't have to get fillings at some point in the future. I'm not sure how I feel about fluoride. It's one of those toxic things that is also quite useful. I guess I prefer to have it applied topically than to ingest it in our drinking water, which we do anyway since our Brita doesn't filter it out.

We celebrated Mother's Day yesterday with a full-day extravaganza, and it was lovely. The kids brought me breakfast in bed, along with many cards and gifts they had made and Paul had bought. We then went to church, where my girls both read from Corinthians 13, along with several other gorgeous children. In the afternoon, we went to the Zoo, making use of our Friends of the Zoo passes, which expire soon. We then picked up Thai for dinner, which was so delicious, but not particularly frugal, and ate it out on our new-to-us deck table.

All in all, it was a week of simple joy.

Now it's your turn to share what you've been doing to save money lately. I'd love to be encouraged by your efforts, and I'm sure others would too.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Frugal lunchbox idea - hot soup

For the past two weeks, S has been taking a Thermos Funtainer full of hot, homemade soup to school for lunch. In week one, she took pumpkin soup, and in week two, she took chicken barley soup. 

I love that she was eating such a nutritious, vege-packed lunch every day, and that it also happened to be frugal.

Both the pumpkin soup and the chicken barley soup were leftovers from dinner, made with mostly homegrown or homemade ingredients. 

I made the pumpkin soup out of a homegrown pumpkin and homemade chicken stock, and froze the leftovers in a large glass pyrex container. Before the start of the school week, I simply pulled the soup back out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge in its pyrex container. Each morning I scooped a small portion of soup into a small saucepan and heated it back to boiling, before decanting it into S's Thermos.  

I made the chicken barley soup out of homemade chicken stock, barley, and chopped vegetables (carrots, celery and zucchini). For S's lunches, I heated the soup in the morning in a small saucepan, and also added shredded rotisserie chicken, which we'd bought for lunch after church on Sunday.  
It only took a few minutes to reheat the soup and pour it into S's Thermos Funtainer. 

While the soup was cooking, I toasted a couple of slices of bread, which I then buttered and sliced up into strips to make toasty soldiers that S could dip in her soup. 

S needed a lunch bag that could fit her Thermos and other lunch items, so I picked up this one from Kmart for $10. It was the last of its kind, or I would have got another one for L, as it was the perfect size and also came with several reusable containers and a drink bottle.

Not to mention, how cute does it look? That sparkly unicorn! That rainbow!

Here's the lunchbag, packed with a Thermos of hot soup, a sandwich container of toasty soldiers, a home-baked muffin and a Sassy Strawberry Suckies. (The Suckies was a rare treat. I usually buy 12-packs of smooth yoghurt for S to have as her "brain food" snack. The yoghurts work out to be much more affordable per serve than Suckies, but I haven't been able to get them through my online Countdown order. One more reason I won't be renewing my delivery code when it expires.)

S's overall mood seemed a lot better with her eating soup each day. I'm not surprised. The chicken stock I make is highly nutritious. When it's cool, it actually looks like jelly, because I add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the pot and cook it on a low heat all day. That process extracts the gelatine from the bones and makes for a much more nourishing stock than you could ever buy from the supermarket.

I love that nothing is wasted with homemade chicken stock. I make it out of food scraps and, when it has finished cooking, I whizz up the spent scraps in my Thermomix to make garden fertiliser. (Note: I now water the fertiliser down a lot before feeding it to the garden.)

Sadly, after two weeks of happily eating soup for lunch, S told me it was taking up too much of her lunch break and she wants me to pack something quicker to eat so she has more time to play.

I managed to buy her favourite pasta on special yesterday, and will cook up a small portion of that each morning next week to send to school in S's Thermos. The pasta will give S a break from soup for a week, but I plan to feed her soup the following week because I love how frugal and good-for-her it is. I'll probably just keep alternating soup with pasta week-by-week after that.

I also made use of one of our Thermos Funtainers for myself this week. We were heading out for the day and I didn't have time to make my usual salad for lunch, so I quickly reheated mince from the previous night's dinner and cooked up a couple of slices of Burgen bread.

I packed the toast in a Tupperware Sandwich Keeper and the mince in a Thermos Funtainer for a really quick, transportable lunch of mince on toast. (I also packed a plastic plate, a cloth napkin and a knife and fork so I could assemble the lunch when it was time to eat.) It worked a treat, and the mince was still hot when lunchtime arrived.

What are your best frugal lunch-on-the-go ideas?

(Note: I haven't been paid to talk about any of the products in this post; they are just products I happen to use and love.)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Frugal but dreamy Mother's Day gift ideas

The countdown is on till Mother's Day.

I don't know whether that's a big deal in your house or not. In ours, it's becoming more of a big deal each year, as the kids grow more aware of what Mother's Day is all about. I have to say, I'm pretty happy with that state of affairs. I love me a good day of pampering and relaxation.

On Friday I caught up with Diane from Radio Rhema to talk about frugal gift ideas. I shared with Di five gift ideas that, as a Mother, I would love to receive from my kids and husband - all which cost absolutely nothing. Most of these ideas will work for grandma too, especially if she lives near you.

You can listen to my chat with Diane here.

These are the five free and completely dreamy gift ideas I shared with Diane...

1. Tackle a job for Mum.
Give Mum a job request form to fill out, and then tackle her requested job quickly, cheerfully and diligently. I whipped up the following Mother's Day task request form, which you are welcome to copy or print.

2. Make a home video
Gather up all the snippets of videos from your various devices and edit them together into a special Mother's Day 2018 home video. Record a message from you and each of the kids, telling Mum all the things you love about her to introduce the video.

3. Give Mum a spa treatment at home
Get the kids involved with this one. I'm sure they'd love to set up a pamper session for Mum. Run her a bubble bath, or set up a foot spa for her and give her feet and hand massages. Get out the massage oils to give her a back rub. Heat up river stones in hot water and use them to give Mum a hot rock massage treatment. Finish everything up with painted nails and moisturiser. Simple, but such a treat for Mum.

4. Give Mum a day free from the mental load
"Don't worry, Mum. Dad and the kids have everything sorted today. We're going to take care of all the meals, all the chores, all the activities. You just come along for the ride and we'll keep everything running smoothly." How good would that sound?

5. Write Mum a letter
Get Dad and each of the kids to write Mum a letter, telling her all the things you love and appreciate about her. Mums can be their own worst critics sometimes, so it's really important to take opportunities like Mother's Day to remind her exactly how wonderful and vital she is.

So there you have it. My five ideas for a dream Mother's Day. Is there anything else you would add to the list?