1 October 2014

2014 Books - September

Queen of Swords - Sara Donati

Penultimate book in the Into the Wilderness series. I've loved the whole series and would highly recommend it.

Third Grave Dead Ahead - Darynda Jones

Third book in the Charley Davidson series. I'm enjoying the series, which is getting even better as it goes, and would recommend it.

Are You Tired and Wired?: Your Proven 30-Day Program for Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue and Feeling Fantastic - Marcelle Pick

Having done quite a bit of research on adrenal fatigue (which I have) this book didn't really provide a lot of new information to me, but I really enjoyed the tone. As far as a 30-day recovery, well, don't count on that. I realised as I read that I am doing pretty much all she recommends and I've been in recovery for over a year and a half now. Anyway, I would highly recommend this book.

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty - Joshilyn Jackson

I loved this book and would highly recommend it.

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Connie's Secret - Anne Lovell

It was okay. I would recommend if you like that kind of book (true crime).

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet - Darynda Jones

Fourth book in the Charley Davidson series. I'm enjoying the series, which is getting even better as it goes, and would recommend it.

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

I couldn't remember if I'd read this or not (if I had it was as a teenager) so I listened to it as an audiobook. I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

The Endless Forest - Sara Donati

Sadly, the last book of the Into the Wilderness series. I think I enjoyed this one the most. I would highly recommend the whole series.

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29 September 2014


These photos of Rosie and Daisy playing make me smile - especially the first one!

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27 September 2014

Menu planning

I have been known to exasperatedly exclaim, "What, you people want feeding again? I just cooked for you yesterday!" But yes, whether you enjoy it or not, you do need to get dinner cooked and onto the table every day. (Unless you have a partner / spouse / someone else who does the cooking, in which case this post is not for you.)

I find it so much less stressful if I actually have a plan and know that I have the ingredients in the house. It takes a little time and effort but I'd much rather spend the time and energy on doing the planning than stress every evening when I have to conjure up a meal.

I thought I'd share my meal planning process.

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I start thinking of my meal plan a few days before I go grocery shopping. I usually shop on every second Wednesday (which is payday) so I start planning the meals on Sunday or Monday. I plan about ten meals, which should cover two weeks - the four extra nights will be covered by leftovers or impromptu meal ideas, for example if there is leftover pork from a roast dinner then the next night I might make pork fried rice with it.

When deciding what to make, I ask the boys for input (I don't ask Grant as he generally enjoys anything I cook, and doesn't usually have a preference) and then I turn to the following for ideas:
• a list of ideas that I have made in a Word document
• past meal plans (I photograph them once I've written them)
• my small recipe file that contains often-used recipes (click here for more info)
• binder full of to-be-tried recipes (click here for more info)
• internet recipes that I have bookmarked
• recipes that I have photographed out of library books or magazines, that I have on my computer
• cookbooks

I generally try at least one new recipe a week, and if we all enjoy it then I type it out and put it into my small recipe file.

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 I write the meal ideas on the frame on my fridge (click here for more info).

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As I plan the meals I write a shopping list in my notepad.

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We also have a running list on the fridge, on which we jot items as we run out.

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Once I've made the shopping list for my meal plan I'll transfer over the items on the fridge list.

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I also check the larder, fridge, freezer and pantry and see what staples we're running low on that I need to replenish, for example how many loaves of bread or bottles of milk I need to buy for the two weeks (I buy once and freeze them rather than having to keep buying through the fortnight).

I will also copy and paste any online recipes that I want to cook into an email and email it to myself. That way I don't have to print them or run back and forth from the kitchen to my computer; I can just work off the email in my phone.

Then comes the horrid part: doing the grocery shopping. In the UK I loved shopping online and getting our groceries delivered, but over here there is only one supermarket that does it and it's too expensive for us, so off I go to Pak-n-Save. I use a highlighter to mark off the items as I add them to my trolley, so I can see at a glance if I've missed anything.

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I might change my meal plans if an ingredient I need is particularly expensive at that time, or if something else is on special offer.

I usually do a separate shop at Bin Inn for bulk dried goods. I keep a separate list for items from Bin Inn on my phone.

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As I go through the two weeks I'll decide each day what I want to cook that night. Then I'll put a red dot next to that meal with a dry-erase marker, so the rest of my family know what we are having for dinner that evening. Once I've cooked it I erase it from the list. I start with meals that use ingredients that won't last long in the fridge. Food that requires ingredients that are pantry staples (like tuna or pasta) can be cooked towards the end of the two weeks.

I'll also take into account things like particularly busy days that will leave me exhausted by dinner time (I choose a crockpot recipe or particularly easy meal for that night); whether or not Grant is home or on a late shift; whether or not we'll be having a big lunch; how much is in the fridge in the way of leftovers; etc.

I stick loosely to the meal plan. Sometimes I switch things up using the main ingredient; for example recently I had sausages and mash on the list but ended up making sausages with microwaved potatoes and cheese and baked beans, as that was easy and quick and what the kids preferred (Grant was at work).

As far as fresh ingredients like ham, fruit and veg goes, if there is money left in the budget I will pick up fresh replacements before the next big shopping trip. If there is no money left in the budget then we'll just do without (e.g. ham) or rely on tinned, dried or frozen (e.g. fruit and veg) until payday.

As usual with these kinds of posts it sounds more complicated than it actually is. It really doesn't take that long to make a meal plan. When I really can't be bothered I just copy a previous meal plan, which takes all of the guesswork out of it.

Overall I am much happier when I have a plan! Let me know if you'd like me to share my meal plans with you every fortnight; I'd be happy to do that.

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26 September 2014

Fashion Friday and latest Blurb offers

This is what I wore to run errands.

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Top: thrifted (SaveMart)
Jeans: Matalan
Shoes: eBay (new)
Necklace: eBay

Latest Blurb offers (affiliate links):
Offer: New customers only. Save 20% off photobooks
Valid: through 30 September
Promo Code: SEPT20%

Offer: Save 15% off photobooks at Blurb with code SEPT15%
Valid: through 30 September
Promo Code: SEPT15%  

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24 September 2014

Sharing photos

I've been going through my blog from the beginning - not reading everything, but skimming - and remembered how I used to share photos all of the time. In fact, that was the purpose of my blog in the first place. I wanted a place to share my pictures as I explored photography as a hobby (and later as a business). Hence the title!

I realised that I've stopped doing that. I share photos as part of blog posts, or to illustrate tutorials, and sometimes to share a family day out, but I no longer share photos for the sake of the photos. I've also largely stopped taking photos for the sake of the photos, and I really want to do more of that as it makes me happy.

So, I've decided to start sharing again, in between my Monday-Wednesday-Saturday (and Fashion Friday) posts. Here are a few to start with.

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22 September 2014

Organising loyalty cards

I wanted to post about this because every single time I get my loyalty cards out at a store the checkout person says, "That's awesome," or "You're so organised!" or "What a good idea."

I'll be up front and say it's not even my idea - I saw it on Pinterest. But it's a really neat way of carrying your loyalty cards around without cluttering up your wallet.

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Yup, it's that simple - punch holes in the corners and put a ring through them. I got my ring from the dollar store - you can also find them at scrapbooking or craft stores in various sizes.

I use my Cropadile tool to punch the holes. I bought this tool years ago for scrapbooking (it sets eyelets silently and it has a large and small punch) but although I haven't scrapbooked in ages we use the punches ALL the time to punch all sorts of things. Any punch that will go through plastic will do.

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I punch the first card, then for subsequent cards I line them up ...

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... and punch through the first hole and through the new card, so that the cards sit neatly together.

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Be careful to check the back of your card - don't be like me and punch through the swipe strip. Most loyalty cards are scanned or simply shown to the checkout person, but some will need to be swiped, so it's better to put the hole on the other end.

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This system also works with cards that open up and get stamped.

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I store my cards in the cellphone pouch inside my handbag - it's not big enough to hold my iPhone anyway.

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20 September 2014

Blurb books and offers

I wanted to do a post and talk about Blurb books and my posts about them and how I plan to share their offers.

As I've mentioned before, I was using Blurb for my photobooks for years before looking into their affiliate programme. I'm now an affiliate, which simply means that if you click on a link in one of my posts and order your own book through them then I get a tiny amount of money (and it is really small). I used to receive free books from them, but they no longer offer that so I pay for my own books now.

I have looked into other affiliate programmes but there was nothing that I wanted to pursue. The reason is that I didn't want to suddenly start talking about products or stores that I hadn't before, just to make some money. I became an affiliate for Blurb because I was already talking about their products and because it's a company that I genuinely want to promote because I appreciate their goods.

Now, Blurb sends me offers to share all the time. And I want to pass those offers on to you. BUT I also don't want to turn my blog into a hard-sell commercial enterprise (we all know those blogs, ahem.) I share them now and again but there are plenty that don't make it to my blog. So I thought I'd start sharing them at the bottom of regular posts.

I currently post on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, with an outfit post on Fridays. I think I'll add any current Blurb offers to my Fashion Friday posts, so you can always pick up the latest code but not have extra posts just about Blurb. I hope that suits you - please let me know if you have any other ideas, for example if you'd like to see a Blurb post on its own as an extra post, detailing the offer, or a separate page with the latest Blurb offers.

I'd love to hear from you. Have you ever used one of the offers I've posted? Are you likely to?

That said, I will share the latest offers for you here, and it is (this is an affiliate link).

Offer: New customers only. Save 20% off photobooks
Valid: through 30 September
Promo Code: SEPT20%

Offer: Save 15% off photobooks at Blurb
Link: Save 15% off photobooks at Blurb with code SEPT15%
Valid: through 30 September
Promo Code: SEPT15%

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19 September 2014

What I wore to go grocery shopping

I found these cropped jeans while thrifting recently and didn't want to wait until summer to wear them. Voila - with boots over them you wouldn't know that they are calf length.

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Chiffon top: thrifted (SaveMart)
Black long sleeved T-shirt: Tesco
Turquoise cropped jeans: thrifted (SaveMart)
Boots: The Warehouse

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17 September 2014

Snippets of our life

I thought I'd put together some video clips that didn't make it into day-in-the-life vlogs. For example, Grant's fastidiousness when it comes to packing out groceries onto the conveyor belt, Daisy at puppy preschool, and a freaky sleeper, among others.

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15 September 2014

Lace your shoes with elastic

Shoes are easy with little ones - velcro straps make putting them on and taking them off so convenient. However, they do create a certain laziness. While Daniel can tie shoelaces, it took him years to learn and he finds them tedious.

I can relate - I get pretty impatient about shoelaces, especially because in NZ we tend to leave shoes at the door when entering someone else's house. If you're in and out a lot then that's a lot of faffing around with laces.

The easy solution is to lace your shoes with elastic, which makes them super easy to slip on and off.

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Simply remove the original laces and lace your shoes with some strong elastic, making sure that it lies flat after each turn. You want to do this with the shoe on the foot so you can get the elastic tight enough but not too tight, and to ensure that both feet feel the same.

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Take one of the ends and put it back through the hole next to the one it came out of.

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Do the same with the other end.

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Then tie the elastic in a knot, and tie a bow to finish it off.

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Voila, no need to tie and untie the shoes - just slip them on and off and the elastic will stretch to accommodate your foot as it goes in and out, and at a glance the shoes look no different to those laces with shoelaces.

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