Friday, 28 March 2014

Homemade cleaning product recipes!

Home made cleaning products are easy to make, cheaper than bought ones and work just as well! I have been making my own for quite a long time and have had no problems with them at all. I reuse the commercial bottles and when they finally give up on me, I raid my (unenlightened) friends who still buy cleaners, for their old spray bottles! So my labels aren't always what they say they are - although I try to put the same type of thing into the bottle with the right label, just in case some else in my house takes upon themselves to clean....

Here's what I do...


 
My basic homemade cleaners are (L-R)
 
Watered down bleach, glass cleaner, spray and wipe and air freshener.
 
 
 
 
 
Glass Cleaner is made up from a mixture of half water and half white vinegar. Then add two small drops of detergent and one of blue food colouring! If you add too much colouring, it can stain your benches so go easy on it!  Spray it into a white sink and if you can see a lot of colour, Id water it down a bit more. Its the splashes that you don't see at the time that will stain. Go easy on the detergent, it will smear if you have too much. I use a microfiber cloth which will often clean all my glass without any cleaner - just water!
 
 
 
Spray and wipe type cleaner: 1/2 a spray bottle of water, 4-5 tablespoons of detergent, fill to the top with white vinegar and then add a splash of tea tree oil for disinfectant (and scent!).
The tea tree oil will "cloud" the mixture. If you don't like that look or don't need the extra power of the tea tree, leave it out.

 
Air freshener- Fill spray bottle with water, add about 10 drops of your favourite essential oil and one or two drops of detergent to keep the oil dispersed.
 

 
 
 
Bathroom Soap in one of those foaming dispensers - I do a 60 water and 40 normal dishwashing detergent mix and then add a drop of colour to complete the expectation! You could add essential oils as well, but I don't bother. Detergent is cheaper than "dispenser soap" and I suspect, the same stuff with colour and fragrance added! At any rate - it cleans hands well enough and no body has complained about it yet!


 
Shampoo and conditioner - Yes, you can make them at home!
I used to dissolve 3-4 tablespoons of bi-carb into an old sauce bottle full of water and use that to squirt on my head under the shower, massage and rinse off. Now don't get me wrong, its worked a treat for a long time. But, I ran out of bi-carb one day and decided to use my home made laundry powder as a replacement for the bi-carb and it works even better! - more ingredients (and a small amount of lather) so if you are a purist stick to the bi-carb mix. The laundry powder is made up of a bag/box of bi-carb, a bag of washing soda and a bar or two of grated sunlight soap!
 
As the shampoo will be alkaline (which is why it gets the dirt out - better explanation at the bottom of this post) so the conditioner is just a 60/40 mix of water to white vinegar in another squirty bottle - this time courtesy of the local PCYC. The acid in the vinegar neutralises the residual alkaline shampoo and, once rinsed out, leaves your hair soft and shiny. I use plastic bottles in the shower so you don't end up with a shower full of glass if you manage to drop it...
 
 
Citrus vinegar - Good for heavy cleaning jobs. Simply pop any citrus peel into a jar, add vinegar and leave in the sun for a few weeks. Remove the citrus peel and use with a cloth.  Have a look at this post for more detail (the slow cooker is not part of the citrus vinegar recipe - I was cooking at the time of the photo shoot!)
 
 
Sticky stuff remover- Eucalyptus oil! just rub some onto the sticky thing and wipe!
 
 
I live in the sub-tropics and mould in the shower is a real problem. I have tried bi-carb and vinegar but I find the mould grows back the next day. At least with a 50/50 mix of bleach and water, some time to soak and a bit of a scrub - its a week between cleans, which suits my cleaning desires a lot better!
 
I do have some gumption in the cupboard that hardly gets used and other than the ingredients I've listed above, there are no more commercial cleaners left in our house. Our place is clean in a liveable sense rather than clean in that you might decide to do a spot of surgery on the dining table since its that clean type clean! I have friends who are not happy unless their house is sterile, but I think that can lead to lots of health issues and takes way too much time and mental energy for me!! 
 
Have a try of one of these next time you run out of a cleaning product - pop it in the same bottle and see who notices...
 
Please share any of your home made cleaner recipes in the comment section!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for not buying chemicals you don't need
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for spending next to nothing on keeping your house clean
Time cost: About 3 minutes to make up or top up all 4 bottles - the same ingredients in different proportions!
Skill level: Easy as!
Fun-ness: Great fun to whip up a batch of cleaners from stuff you have in your cupboard already!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Bunya Nuts: collection and preparation!

I had been sitting on the computer looking at 'pick your own' fruit farms and trying to find ones close enough to us to make it worth going and getting them for home jamming, bottling or preserving when I came across a page on a website that had lots of interesting info about Bunya Nuts. Apparently February/March is Bunya nut season here in Brissy and the site had a bunch of locations where people had seen trees and you might be able to get a few from. I gave the list to the husband who travels around a lot for work but, despite my constant reminding,  he didn't find any actual cones... Obviously we aren't the only ones who had looked at that site!

However, a random visit to a friend in the Gold Coast Hinterland bought us in contact with some on the side of the road!! I was for the first time in my life not only in the presence of a Bunya nut but also in possession of three whole cones!

Here's what I did...

 
First - park your car well away from the trees. Bunya nuts can weigh in excess of 5kg each and will make a nasy dent in your car and an even nastier one in your head if they land on it. Bunya nuts have killed people, so don't linger under the trees. Collect your bounty - either whole or in pieces and take away from the tree to admire!!
 
They are VERY heavy and VERY prickly. If you are on the look out for them, I would recommend that you have gloves (thick ones) and/or a towel to pick them up with.
 

 
One bunya cone had smashed on the ground and started to fall apart, so once I got it home, I started with that one to get the nuts out. I haven't tried to get the nuts out of a Bunya that hasn't split by itself. I waited for the other two to crack and before harvesting the nuts from them.  The two on the left are still closed. The one on the right has split open. See the loose segments - its easy to see when you have one sitting in front of you.
 
 
Bunya Nuts are like giant pine nuts. And yes, I believe pine nuts come from a kind of pine cone! Read on to hear about my bunya pesto experience...
 
 
From the split one, it was easy enough to take each segment out (do it in order, its so much easier) off the core by simply pulling it off. Watch out for the spikes!
 
 
Then I used my hands to split or peel the thin end to reveal the kernel inside. Then I simply plucked the kernel/nut out and put in it in a pile. The segment (minus the nut) went into the garden as general mulch. It turns out the chooks don't like scratching around them...
 
 
Sometimes there was no nut inside the segment. The one on the left is either immature or not going to do anything more. These ones I heaved into the garden as mulch as well. If I'm wrong - I'm going to have a stand of Bunya trees there in, oh, let's say, 100 years! 
 

 
Out of the first cone, I got about 120 nuts and a big pile of mulch!

 
The cores and segments just got chucked in the garden as mulch/critter hideouts/sunshade.

 

 
The smallest cone weighed 4.7kg and yielded about 120 nuts. The two bigger ones maxed out my kitchen scales - Our guess was that they may have weighed up to a kilo more... And we got about the same amount of nuts out of them.


 
This photo gives you an indication of scale - they are roughly the size of a human head!
 
 
I left the two whole nuts outside at the bottom of the stairs to see if they would "ripen up" by themselves (and because I now had 120 nuts to figure out how to eat and didn't need to add to the collection straight away)
 
 
After a week, they started to spilt... 
 
 
 
And then finally fell apart a few days later all on their own, at which point I decided they were ready to be harvested with the minimum of fuss! 
 

 
See how tightly the segment are on the left? And then when they split, you can see the lighter brighter green on the inside.
 
 
I read about boiling and roasting Bunya nuts and we decided to roast ours along with the Pizza on Sunday night in the BBQ. I popped them on an oven tray and after the Pizza's were all done we popped the trays in the oven, turned off the gas and left them there for the night to bake away on the hot bricks. See this post for more detail on how we set up the BBQ for Pizza's.

 
The nuts are incredibly hard to get at! I cant say I ever imagined I would have gardening secateurs at the dinner table! We have decided that a specialised macadamia nut cracker is the way to go with these nuts as I am sporting a very nasty cut on my finger after trying to use a large heavy kitchen knife to get into one. The skins are tough and slippery! Smashing them with a hammer and then picking out the kernels is a safer way to do it than using a knife.
 
 
And the verdict on taste....?
They are not the tastiest thing I have ever eaten...
 
We have been eating them in the afternoon like nuts, bashing them open whilst sitting on the edge of the pergola with a cuppa or a wine and chatting. I actually cut myself when I was attempting to make bunya nut pesto in the kitchen as they are fun, very different, but not so compelling to eat plain.
 
I have discovered that once they are shelled, they grow mould quite quickly. We went to the trouble to bash open about 30 of them and I popped them in a jar on a shelf. They grew mould in about 2 days. The next batch sat in a bowl on the bench (thinking it was the moisture trapped in the jar as there is no air circulation in the jar) but they also started to grow mould. Hence the pesto idea.
 
I am currently in possession of a few hundred Bunya nuts (and a very sore finger) and on the look out for Bunya nut recipes for processing or storage ideas. All of mine are currently sitting in the shells on the table in the backyard waiting for the 5.30pm bunya nut bash (with a glass of wine) until I figure out another way to preserve them. (Could I preserve them in alcohol maybe?)
 
If you are keen to learn more about Bunya Nuts - have a look at some of these links!
* Update 27/03/14
After reading Linda's comment (below) and having a look at her bunya nut post, I tried boiling the bunya nuts and have to agree that they are nicer boiled! I took her advice and dipped them into a oily dip (in this case a home made egg based mayonnaise) and they were really quite good. Filling as well! Thanks Linda!


Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for foraging for food!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for not paying for food that can retail at almost $1 a nut!!!
Time cost: 50 years to grow the tree,10 seconds to pck the cone/s up off the ground and hide it in the boot of the car just in case you shouldn't be picking them up, about 10 minutes to remove the nuts from the cone, 1/2 and hour to roast them all and up to three days to figure out how to get them out of the shell safely!
Skill level: A 'give it a go' attitude!
Fun-ness: Great fun to find and eat something that I've only ever read or heard about!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Cooking Pizza's in the home BBQ

We live in the sub tropic and spend a lot of time outside in the evenings. We have been playing with cooking pizza's in our BBQ over the last few years and have got quite good at it. At the beginning of the year when I was sorting out menu planning I decided that we were good enough at it now to do it once a week. So Sunday evening has become our Pizza in the BBQ night. Its great fun and a wonderful way to wind down and catch up with everyone.

Here's how we do it...


 

 
To cook Pizza on a BBQ you need one with a hood. You can see in the picture what ours is like. If you cook a pizza straight on the BBQ plate (even in a pizza tray) It simply burns the bottom of the pizza, so step one is to raise the pizza cooking area up. We are currently using a commercial pizza stone ($10 - $15) set up on bricks but four washed food cans works just as well. We use bricks (red ones are normal house bricks and the other purpose made fire bricks - but we haven't found any difference to making pizzas with either) as the cans sometimes fell over and when you have a 300 degree oven thing happening and need to stand up a can with a pizza in one hand and the BBQ cover in the other, things get quite heated!

 
As you can see, one of our stones is new. If you are going to cook two pizzas at a time (highly recommended) then on most BBQ's there is a grill and a hot plate. When you use the hot plate side, the heat from the gas burners is diffused by the steel plate and comes up relatively evenly. The grill side however, heats the stone unevenly, and as its expands, it cracks. Two bricks gives you a gap in the middle and very uneven temperatures. It took three broken stones for us to work this out. 
 
                          
 
We tried this arrangement as well, but found it took too long to heat up to cooking temperature. The bricks are pretty thick and it takes a lot of gas before they have absorbed enough heat to be able to cook the pizza well. Two bricks on the hot plate side has worked well for a long time and three on the Grill side seems to be enough to even out the temperature and cook the pizza well. If there is too much over hang, the stone will crack.
 
                           
 
When we have our Pizza stones and bricks organised, we spinkle the stones liberally with flour to ensure our pizza's will slide on and off easily. Then we turn the gas on to high and light the BBQ. The lid goes down and we wait till it gets to 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Homemade whole meal pizza dough busy rising on the bench out side.
 
While the BBQ is doing its thing we start making pizza's! Some times I make bread dough for large thick pizza's. Sometimes I make pizza dough for medium thick pizza's and sometimes I use burrito wraps for thin pizza's - depends on what mood you are in!

Beetroot, zucchini and squash, roasted and ready to go with chorizo and cheese!
 
Topping are as varied as you are in the mood for and as what is in season (or in the fridge). I have been preparing topping in bulk and making the same pizza for the whole night (with variations as we get to the end of the ingredients!) Toppings have been roast veges and chorizo, ham and pineapple, pumpkin and roast chicken, and mustard, beef and fetta.
 
Burrito base with beef, mustard, fetta and the few asparagus I got out of the garden
 
I start with a layer of tomato (paste, sauce or chutney) then a light layer of cheese (ordinary cheddar) then I put on the toppings, another light layer of cheese (mozzarella if we have it is tasty and fun!) and any herbs and seasonings. We are fairly light on the toppings compared to the monster versions that you get in a commercial pizza chain pizza. The thicker the base the more topping I put on though.

Roast vege with choizo and cheese on a bread dough base
 
Using a pizza paddle with a long handle and a tea towel on the hand (and on the arm sometimes- the handle gets very hot), we put the pizza into the BBQ and wait, maybe 10 minutes... Check it and if it looks ready, it probably is! Then we take it out with the paddle and place on the board for cutting and get the next one in asap!
 
We have found that after five or six pizza's its getting very hot in the BBQ and the pizza's sometimes burn on the bottom before the top is cooked. That's when we turn the gas down as there is plenty of heat in the stones to do the trick. If you "check" on the pizza too often you let all the heat out of the hood and the top can't cook as quickly as the bottom. The last pizza is often able to be cooked without the gas on at all.
 
We are making about ten small pizza's for the five of us over an hour or so. Its fun, relaxing and with the addition of a salad or two, a bottle of wine and even the neighbour, its a very, very pleasant way to spend an evening. 

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 if you are using home made/home gown ingredients. 5/5 for eating pizza and not supporting fast food corporations!
Frugal-ness: Depends on what you put on as toppings... Prawn and lobster is delicious but not very frugal! But overall, its got to be cheaper than buying commercial ones!
Time cost: An evening!
Skill level: If you can make pizza in your oven, you can make these! Just experimentation and a relaxed attitude to carbon in your pizza!
Fun-ness: Its one of the most anticipated meals of the week!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Making weeks worth of lunches in 20 minutes!

I have a few part time jobs - all of which I enjoy - but one that doesn't allow me to get out to buy my lunch. In the mornings, I can get too busy watering gardens, hanging out washing and having a cup of tea with the chickens to get organised enough to get my lunch made. That was leading to buying food on the way home from work when I was starving and my blood sugar levels were waaaaaay too low and my sensible decision making ability was long gone. I was spending a small fortune on junk food and it wasn't doing me or my wallet any good.

When I decided to do a "No spend on anything but essentials" month (have a look here at the Cheapskates website for more detail) I knew I was going to have get my lunches sorted for once and for all.

Here's what I did...


 

 
I got out all the containers needed for the main part of my four lunches.
These are washed takeaway containers and the little pots come from the ginger at the sushi places! The blue and yellow ones came in a pack of six from Woollies for a few dollars.
 
I was going to buy a cute bento box with all these little compartments to fill but when I looked in the cupboard, I realised I had four free "de-constructed" Bento boxes already! (and it was a no spend month after all!)

 
I make up four salads with their own little salad dressings with whatever is in the fridge that week...
The advantage of using containers and not a bento box is that I can make up four salads on the same day instead of one salad everyday. 
 
 
The dressing can be stored in the corner of the container. If they spill in transit, its not a big deal. I find that if I dress the salads just before I eat them, its much nicer. They go all soggy if I do it when I make them, and on Fridays, that salad is not worth eating...

 
While I'm making the salads up, I pop a batch or two of "chuck anything in" muffins in the oven as well.
Five of these go into a container in the freezer marked "Husband" for his lunches, four into containers for mine and the rest in the cookie jars to be devoured on sight by the young-lings! I freeze the muffins in old ice cream containers once they have cooled and have had no problems with freezer burn or them sticking together.
 
When I bake, I do cakes in a square tin and then I can cut them to fit in these wee blue boxes and pop them in the freezer in an ice cream container as well. I don't usually ice the ones I freeze.


 
I open a big can of Tuna Chunks in Brine, give the brine to the cat (or a pot plant), mash the tuna up with some homemade mayo (and anything else that appeals at the time) and then decant it into the four small containers. Use the flavours that those small tins of tuna come in for inspiration (Tomato and onion, smoked, red curry, mustard seed, etc - they are all good and able to be made at home) Tip for Tuna lovers: This is MUCH cheaper than buying those small cans and you also get a lot more tuna for your dollar! There is no reason why you couldn't do this with salmon, sardines or indeed cooked chicken...

 
The salads are a great way to use up left over bits of roast veges from the night before and you can mix things up a bit with different dressings, nuts, veges and even dried fruit each week if you like.
 
To the basic salad and tuna for lunch, I add a frozen muffin, a piece of fruit, a container of nuts, another of olives and cheese and my new metal water bottle and I'm ready for the day.
 
I can also choose some yoghurt, left overs from the night before, a frozen sandwich (see below) the odd bit of cake, fetta and sundried tomatoes, any antipasto that gets left over, dried fruit, hunks of frozen Christmas ham, cut up fruit salad, etc etc. When I making the salads, I usually put out all the containers I need for the week and fill them up with whatever is in the cupboards and fridge and then store them back in the cupboard or fridge but labelled - Don't Eat!. When I heading out the door, I grab a salad, a tuna, a box of something from the fridge, one from the cupboard, one from the freezer and pile them into my lunchbox with my water bottle.
 
I found a small soft esky bag to put it all in and find that it stays cold enough for lunch and the nuts and fruit make a good afternoon tea - especially on those long, hot days that you think will never end.
 
Because the salads are made fresh and sealed in an airtight container, I am finding that Fridays salad is still pretty fresh. If I buy the lettuce at the farmers markets on Sunday, wash it and pop it in the fridge straight away, I'm finding that when I make up the lunches on a Monday, Fridays salads are fine to eat - not perfect, but in no way inedible. It really comes down to an air tight container and whatelse you put on them. Over-ripe tomatoes do get a bit soggy in a salad by the end of the week though. Carrots need to be peeled or they go brown, as does avocado - although popping a bit of lemon juice on them before they go into the salad can help. 

 
 
For the husbands lunches, I do a loaf of bread into sandwiches with fillings that freeze well (vegemite, peanut butter, jam, cheese and chutney, honey, cold meats, tuna) and pop them back in the bread bag and freeze them whole. I make the whole loaf up at once and make them with random fillings so each day is different for him.
 
When he makes up his lunch, he gets a random frozen sandwich or two, a muffin (sweet and/or savoury), a piece of frozen cake or slice out of the freezer, a piece of fruit or two out of the bowl and a bottle of frozen iced coffee that I decant into smaller bottles and freeze so that the younger members of the household don't find it and drink it all on a Monday leaving nothing for the rest of the week. His is a very carb rich lunch but he has a very fast metabolism and gets the low sugar shakes if he doesn't eat every few hours. (He doesn't need the caffeine - he just likes it and this is a cheap way to drink it!) He does have fruit with his breakfast and plenty of meat and veges for dinner. Although his lunches are carb rich, his diet isn't over the week.
 
He has been known to raid my stash of bits and bobs when he is bored with his lunches on occasion!
 
We are saving a small fortune and a lot of time and anguish (especially anguish) in the mornings. I can see this as a permanent way to how we deal with our lunches, not just for my month of no spend, but for the rest of the year as it is working so well. I have "lunches" on my list of Monday jobs, along with watering the pot plants, cleaning the bathroom, washing sheets and vacuuming the rugs!
 
In winter when salads aren't so attractive, I will have to come up with some new ideas for the main part of my lunch - maybe a homemade vege soup...

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for recycling and not supporting large corporations!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for not spending money on food when there is plenty in the house.
Time cost: 20 minutes for the basics. Maybe forty five minutes if I'm doing a double batch of muffins or a cake as well.
Skill level: Planning and organisation!
Fun-ness: Great fun knowing you can spend an extra few minutes reading, having a cuppa with the chickens or chatting to the neighbour in the mornings and still save money and eat well!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 Link Up - February 2014!

I have been following Christine at Slow Living Essentials for a couple of years now! In 2012 she started a monthly round up to record on our blog, how we have "slowed down" under nine categories - I have been doing this since she started it at the beginning and really get a lot out of it. 

Here is what I have been up to this month!

Click on the link to go to the link up and visit other linked up blogs!


Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 link up - Grab my button!

NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.  
 
 
Bread rolls cooked in the BBQ along with the pizza's - super yummy!

We always cook from scratch and are now enjoying Eat, Bake Grow, a fortnightly farmers market that opened up a 10 minute WALK from our house!!! This month's real food has also included making birthday cakes from scratch along with some home made biscuits for a birthday present!   
 
PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve. 
 
After reading about "dashboard drying" at Little Eco Footprints, and having no idea what that was, I looked it up on the internet and discovered that I have quite an expensive solar dryer sitting in my driveway!!!! So I put it to good use this morning... and its rained ever since, but boy, does my car smell good!
 
 
See it was a glorious sunny day when I started!
 
 
The weather forecast was for a 60% chance of 2-3mm of rain. I started this after we got 7mm of rain and the sun came out - but its rained off an on all day, so I will have to go to work tomorrow with all my tomatoes, apples and passionfruit, park in the sun and hope it doesn't rain all day again!!!
 
REDUCECut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. 
 
 
I could never find the garlic in the bottom of the "in the dark" storage box, until I used a cut down 3 litre milk bottle to keep it in one place! (Its simple things that make all the difference when you are cooking dinner!)
 
GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade products. 
 

 
I made another batch of household cleaning chemicals this morning! Other than the watered down bleach ( I can grow awesome crops of mould in the shower even if I cant grow zucchini in the garden) the rest are different proportions of vinegar, detergent and water with the spray and wipe having a dollop of tea tree oil as well! The small purple bottle is the air freshener made from vanilla essential oil, water and a single drop of detergent to emulsify the oil and water. 

GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month?
 
I didn't grow these but I certainly harvested them! While we were driving home after visiting friends I spotted what looked suspiciously like a Bunya Nut sitting on the grass at the side of the road. We pulled over and had a closer look and it was!!! I found three of them and even though I think there was more, the Husband isn't as enthusiastic about foraging as I am and put the brakes on my collection spree. (Darn it all...)

 
My haul was two whole and one shattered bunya nut. The smallest one weighed 4.7kg - the others maxed out my scales. Gotta borrow some human ones off the neighbours to weigh the other ones!
 
 
We pulled the shattered one to pieces to the amazement and delight of our international students who had never seen such a thing in their life before! We got just over a hundred nuts out of that bunya cone and roasted a tray full in the BBQ along with the pizza's last night. The Bunya Nut feasting has begun!
 

CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. 
 
 
Really enjoyed making a card for an awesome friend and a handful of heart shaped cookies to go with it. That's not breaking the "no present" rule, is it?

 
DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.

 
Can't believe that I have never heard of Michael Mobbs before!!! He has a unit in Sydney that he has disconnected entirely from the city's infrastructure (water, power, sewerage) and then built a sustainable suburb around himself - with the help of the locals! Inspiring stuff! 
 
ENHANCE: Community: The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.
 

One of our international students competed in a local Tri-Athlon. We had never seen one and decided to go and watch him compete. It was great fun (to watch) and even though we may never attend another one, I spent the day talking to people coming into work about it. Many of them were in the area for the event - there were 1700 competitors and with their entourage - and it was great to be able to compare notes or simply have a clue what they were talking about. It was a real community event and I'm glad I was a (very) small part of it. Oh - Nathan got second in his category! He was very, very pleased!

 
ENJOYLife! Embrace moments with family and friends!
 
My very first attempt at a sponge cake!!! I made it for my Mother in Law with a recipe given to me by my mother - I thought that was kinda cool! 
 
 
Birthday night dining in the great outdoors.
Good food, a bottle of wine or two and a reason to gather - a perfect way to spend a Monday night!
 
IMPROVEChange or create a habit, work on an aspect of mind, body or soul that needs a wee tweak.

 This one is my addition to the 9. I have been setting myself wee challenges that improve my life over the month. I have gone carless one day a week, stopped buying anything but petrol from a petrol station, been a guest at Christmas, and tried to exercise more.
 
For February I had challenged myself to pay off my credit card before the end of the month... I thought it would be touch and go but I did a Cheapskates no spend month and not only paid off my credit card in just over a fortnight but managed to put another $600 into savings by the end of the month... Talk about an eye opener. I really have to much closer look at what I am spending my money on...
 
For March I want to get my breakfast under control. I'm not good at eating breakfast. A typical morning involves a couple of cups of tea and I think I'm good to go... until I get to work and then I'm so hungry that I'll eat anything. Its a classic bad eating habit and I need to break it...
 
I find these bitsy blog challenges to be really motivating. Because I know I have to report back here, I tend to stay honest and it stays in my consciousness - or is it because I write it down... Either way its a good way to make some changes for me!

As always I enjoy popping over to see what other slow livers are up to. Sometimes I can't get past the security things (You know, put in the letters or numbers thingos)  but even if you cant see my comment, know I have been and enjoyed!

Thanks for the opportunity to share again Christine!!! Have a great month everyone! - Kxx xx
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