Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Money Regrets

Princess Laya....was that you that pooped
on my patio? .......cluck....What poop?

Do you have any money regrets?  I do, the list is depressingly endless.

The good thing about leaning into a more frugal, self reliant and simpler life is that I am not adding to that list of regrets very much.  Yes, I still make the odd stupid purchase now and then, but by and large I've learned my lesson the hard way.

We cannot change the past, but we can draw a line in the sand and intend (it is all about intention) to no longer act in ways that cause inner regret. Regret is a heavy burden - let's not go there anymore....ya'll with me on this?

That poop there right next to your foot
gurl!.......cluck, cluck....I lay you eggs
every fool day and you go on asking
me about poop?! I don't see any
poop - what you on about boy?!

Some positive ways to evaporate regret:

Be Future Focused

We simply cannot move into the future if we are all hung up on the past. We need to mindfully sit down and think up or dream up our future. It needs to be specific, measurable, attainable and have a date of achievement....without all these elements it is just day dreaming. Write these elements down clearly and succinctly and look at them 3 x daily, 7 x days a week.  Every night before we go to bed, we ask ourselves "What have I done today to move me toward my future life?" If we have not done anything, then stay up till we have.

Garlic drying out

Calculate Your Future Personal Earning Capacity

Do you know how much you are worth as an income-generating asset to your family?  Here is how to do the math.  Take your average annual salary x the number of years you intend to work in the future = the monetary figure you are worth as an asset to your family.
e.g. 40 year old earning $50,000 per annum x 20 years left of work = $1000,000.00. Using this realistic yet fictitious example, this person is monetarily worth a million dollars to their family in earning potential.  How are you going to best use that million dollars?

My pot plant watering can

Make A Detailed Sketch Of Your Future Life

We are all so good at ledgers and spreadsheets, but how about getting a big sheet of unlined paper, a packet of coloured crayons and sketch out the details of our future lives.  It does not matter if our drawing skills are hopeless.....this activity triggers the childlike creativity in the brain and makes us communicate the future to ourselves in a different creative medium. As serious as this activity is, it is also great fun to do.

Home made vinegar

Take care folks and stay nice out there.


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

A Box Arrived From America!

The impatiently awaited for box from USA

A box has arrived from USA all taped up securely.  I have been VERY excited about the arrival of this box. (I'm easily excited)

The first beautiful cut glass
lamp emerges

Some of you may remember (quite a while back) that I had been looking for old matching kerosene/oil lamps. The reason that I wanted these lamps is twofold:

  1. To use during power outages
  2. To add some old-world, simple living charm to our dining of an evening

Four lovely matching lamps
all mine!!

We had a week of extended power outages after a storm a couple of years ago and all our batteries and torches went flat and we ran out of candles. We badly needed another source of lighting using a different fuel and my mind immediately went back to the old days for the answer.

Using a funnel to pour in the Kerosene

Well, I have scummaged through second hand shops and also antique dealers, Gumtree and eBay, but the lamps were either in parlous or fragile condition or were very pricey. Then I was introduced to the store called Lehman's in Ohio USA.  I was instantly hooked on their type of wares but never thought about buying through them because I assumed the freight would be prohibitive.

Then Christmas came and I thought I would look through the catalogue for some oil lamps (just for fun, you know...) - they have oodles of the things and at very good prices.  So, I stepped through the whole order process just to see what the freight would cost and to my surprise it was very low.  So I ordered four beautiful brand new lamps and had them shipped to Australia for a quarter of the price that I could get them new in Australia (go figure?!)

The blue of the Kerosene looks splendid

Running in the new wicks after
two hours of wicks soaking

Kerosene in Australia is coloured blue, so when the lamp reserviors are filled they turn the cut glass bases of these lamps a pretty blue.  We mainly eat outside for 3/4 of the year and our dining room table is on the deck.  The lamps will live here and be used regularly.  I can hardly wait to have a tribe of people over and have all four lit up and throwing out their warm light.

I was actually expecting a fairly low-grade product for what I paid, however, when these lamps arrived I was a bit shocked at how sturdy and well built these lamps are. I also was dubious about all that glass surviving the freighting rigmarole, but they were packed within an inch of their life - (yes I have kept all the packaging for reuse).

Turning up the brightness - wonderful.

Lehman's also slipped in a printed catalogue.....the ultimate window shopping for simple living folk and preppers alike I reckon. I will not be spending any more this year, but gosh, it is the best piece of junk mail I have read in decades. It heartens me that there is enough folk out there buying these type of yesteryear wares to make a business out of it.

A close up of the 'action'
Gee they pump out some heat once
turned up - no wonder Nan used
to say you could warm up a meal
over them.

You'll see these lovely lamps featuring on and off through my posts for many decades to come no doubt.

Take care and stay nice folks


P.S. No, I am not being paid in any way by Lehman's to say any of this stuff.  I am just genuinely delighted with these lamps, their quality, the shipping speed and the price. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Do You Have HIDDEN Money?

So much Pizza dough - gonna try freezing it.

Yes, we pretty much all have hidden money.

In an increasingly cashless society it is now 100% normal to never have to pay cash for anything. In fact, Australia is apparently one of the leaders in emerging cashless societies. I know that it is 100% possible for me to never need to have cash on me and this was the way I lived for many years.

Being cashless however hides our money....or to be more exact, it hides our spending. Zip, zip, zip as transactions silently slide from my account to whoever's, deliciously intangible and non emotive. Cashless transactions have no feelings, there is no tangible exchange, no physical letting go of something, no real-life hand to hand exchange, no looking down into our wallets to see less money.

Paper cash partitions now in use in my wallet

Cashless transacting is like a drug - it removes the pain of a situation, numbs it, trivialises it.

Once upon a time it was gold, silver and brass coin that physically was worth something in its own right and was exchanged for goods....then came paper and alloy coinage which were simply representations of value and of little intrinsic value themselves. Now it is just numbers on an electronic ledger stored as a tiny piece of memory in a random unidentifiable computer/s....hidden.

I've returned to start doing cash again after years of being cashless in an attempt to reawaken the emotion of spending money.  Cashless for me is so smoothly painless - I really now need to feel the exchange, the loss, the hand to hand human exchange.  I need to look in my wallet and see that I only have $20 petrol money left - I need to see the full or empty pockets in my wallet envelope. I want to reconnect visually and emotionally with my money.

Salads made 90% from the garden

Hidden money, hidden transactions, hidden consciences, hidden actions, surreal purchasing encounters and hidden consequences are the ploys and tactics of a cashless society. I am slowly becoming more and more disobedient to this consumerist regime.

Have you ever thought that your spending has been pretty OK and then opened your online banking statement and stared at the long list of tiny transactions relating to coffee and the makes me want to turn my head away in denial when I see this on my statements. Bringing my money out of hiding as cash is helping this weakness of mine.

Remember June he clucky hen?
After months of her being unbreakably
clucky, I simply turned her
nesting box to face the sun. Cured.

Cashless is so, so sinister.  It is a bit like feeding a bad habit on the sly.....cashless makes it so impersonal, disconnected, non judgemental and easy-as-heck to feed the addiction that is spending. It hides what's happening with our money, it hides the normal physical motion of paying money, it hides the realities if we can't really afford it , it hides what money we are actually dipping into, it hides a destructive habit.

Bad things happen in dark and hidden places. It is time to get our money out in the light, making the transaction real, meaningful, observable and emotive.

Bread making. So satisfying and
frugal at 80 cents per loaf.

Take care folks and stay nice.


Saturday, 14 January 2017

Rethinking Success

Freshly made pizza totally from scratch.
Beats the pants off a bought one.

Hi folks

I have been pondering the concept of success lately and am now a bit suspicious of my long held beliefs about success.  You see, success nowadays seems to be so fleeting, so circumstantial, so costly, so subjective and ....well...just plain competitive.

Freshly baked Romertopf bread cooling.

For instance...success in a career will always come at the price of time away from home, time away from family and some serious educational debt - I am not so sure the slightly inflated paycheck is actually worth the effort in real terms.  These days I take satisfaction in successfully completing the family's laundry - am I losing it?!

I found my half-finished home-journal/grimoire. Now to find
some nice secondhand leather to make the cover. I used to think that once I was successful that I would experience a real sense of arrival, satisfaction, achievement and self esteem - but no. I just felt like I had climbed someone else's mountain instead. It was resentment that I felt not success.  I also used to think that success would evaporate my non-specific anxiety about life and I would be very 'together' and confident. Again, computer said "no".

Deep-fried eggs and bacon
Who can resist?!

I always believed that once I was successful (at whatever) that I could relax, enjoy, relish, celebrate and share.  I still want to believe that.

It is true that  for many years I chased success in areas that were totally incongruent to who I was and my core values, so really I had Buckley's chance of ever truly feeling successful. Instead I felt like a fraud. Thus I am really starting afresh over the last couple of years in creating a list of goals and achievements that actually line up with my core values, not someone else's.......

More freshly made pizza.

Something I have begun noticing more is the things others say I am good at......these comments always take me by surprise because the things mentioned are not things I am working at being good at....and I do not even think I am good at them. Nevertheless, I have not brushed this observation aside because there probably is a lesson in other folk's observations.  Maybe the answer to the success riddle is hidden somewhere in this.....time will tell.

There is a very special story about this.....for another day.

Another thing I have begun to mindfully take note of are activities and situations where I feel energised.  This has been an interesting experiment as it has brought up some surprising results thus far. For instance: Why do I feel so energised when I am chatting to someone about creating a pathways for their success? Why do I feel so energized with 30 people sitting around my dinner table eating and drinking and being happy?  Why do I feel so energized teaching people things (anything!)....I am meant to be a deep introvert and yet I am energised by these 'people' things. I feel SO successful  whilst doing these things - weird much.  I'll keep observing and see what manifests I think.

Two more in the oven - you full yet? No?

As you can tell my mind has about 100 'screens' open at the moment and the over-thinking warning light is flashing too....ha ha.

I wonder if your perception of success has changed across time?

Another one ready to go into
the oven.

Take care folks and stay nice


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Rose Marshall - Resting In Peace

   The greatest legacy is not in what we have but in our collective memory.

                                                   Rose Marshall

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Alphabet For Thrifty Folk

Creme patissiere about to fill
the fresh choux pastry.

A is for ACRES productive and green.
B equals BUDGET, the secret of success.
C means CONSUMERISM so sneakily normal.
D stands for DEBT, that huge public enemy.
E is for EMERGENCY – our debt is just that!
F stands for FRUGAL that virtue so rare.
G equals GRANDPARENTS – go pick their brains now.
H just means HOME, the foundation of life.
I is for INTEREST – virtuous on savings, vicious on debt.
J is the JINGLE of our pockets when saving.
K might mean KETTLES, KOMBUCHA and KIDS  - but gosh, not Kardashians
L means our LARDER all full of sweet canning.
M is for MORTGAGE – pay it off fast!
N means saying NO to waste and caprice.
O is for OFF GRID – the ultimate freedom.
P means PANELS – solar ones at that.
Q is for QUESTIONS – ask lots, be annoyingly curious
R stands for Rhonda  - her books change the world
S is for SAVINGS, the answer to life.
T stands for THRIFT, the wisest of traits.
U is for UDDER where milk comes from ….. who knew?!
V means good VALUE and not just cheap junk.
W is for WATER to grow all those veggies.
X is the CROSS that marks off those goals
Y is for YESTERYEAR – keep one eye on the past.
Z stands for sleep (zzzzzzzzzzz) so sweet when we’re debt-free!

Eggs from the back yard

Take care folks and stay nice.


Monday, 2 January 2017

Bullet Journal for 2017

The beginnings of my bullet journal for 2017

Hi dear folk

Some of the HM daughters and I are bullet journaling this year.

I have always journaled, kept a diary, made lists and written down goals etc, however these have all been in separate places and never all in one spot.  So, with a bullet journal I can keep everything all in one spot.

I received a unlined parchment
plain paged journal for Christmas.
It has a clip-over cover and a nice
Badgers skin faux cover.

There are a 'million' pins on Pinterest on how to do bullet journaling (none of it is rocket science). I referred to these just to give myself  some visual concept of how to do it (I am a very visual learner). I am keeping mine simple but adding colour to stimulate the ol' brain.

I sat down this morning with all my various note books, cards, spreadsheets, charts and other spurious bits and bobs and started transferring and reinventing this into my bullet journal. So far my bullet journal holds:

  • My core values
  • Goals
  • Financial details, coded passwords and website names
  • Daily and weekly disciplines, tasks and new habit forming tasks
  • Faith-based cyclic readings
  • Debt reduction charts and trackers
  • Savings charts and trackers
  • Weight loss tracker
  • Page-per-week and daily bullet tasks

.....transferring and reinventing all my stuff into the bullet journal.

That is just the start - I will be including plenty of other stuff too as it becomes meaningful during the year. The type of things I will include are
  •   I want to learn a new piece of music every month once I get my reed organ
  •   I also want to bit by bit go through and refurbish my old piano - its a big job I can chunk down into diarised tasks to tick off.
  • Going through the scores of boxes in the shed - box at a time. If I diarise the task it will get done.
  •  Ramping up my eBay selling item by item - again diarisable and thus achievable.
  •  Ramping up the frequency of blog posts
I am a 'list' guy - if it is on the list it is 95% guaranteed of getting done (as long as the list is not too stupidly long).  One of the good things about bullet journaling is that after 3 transfers of a task you need to take it off your task list as it obviously is not that important - this discipline forces simplification and prioritisation.

This week's page taking shape.

Anyways.....just thought I would share with you all, just for fun. 
Do you do something similar I wonder? Any great ideas for my bullet journal would be much appreciated.

Take care folks and stay nice.


Friday, 30 December 2016

An Exquisite Present

An Exquisite Present

This week, an exquisite present arrived in the post for us from Jenny of the Elefantz.

This present was quite out of the blue and we did not even know what it was going to be....I maybe expected something quite small or perhaps a letter. However this grand package arrived with the most beautiful handcrafted cushion inside and a lovely personal card with a thoughtful meaningful message.

The stitching is nothing short of perfect.

The attention to detail and design is gorgeous

The execution of this design cannot be adequately shown
in a photo.

Mrs HM spent a good deal of time just quietly inspecting the cushion and at last said to me that it was that well crafted that it needed to have a special place in our home. It now sits on our made-up bed in all its elegance.

To be truthful, I think the thought, wisdom, messages, intention and personal encouragement that accompanied this beautiful present was even more meaningful than the present itself. This beautiful piece now is a daily visual reminder to us of these virtues.

Challah freshly baked for Sabbath
meal tonight.

Jenny has already done a post on the making of it HERE if you wanted to see the detail in much better photographic clarity than I can manage on my little phone camera.

I still marvel at the generousity, ingenuity and care that our simple, frugal online community musters up. I most certainly am unlikely to ever meet Jenny in the flesh, however she has touched our lives and rekindled a spark of possibility and hope in our hearts here at the Home Makers household.

I took Mrs HM away last night and this is the breakfast buffet
we enjoyed this morning.

Take care folks and stay nice. Take heart and stay hopeful.


Thursday, 29 December 2016

Men’s Wallet Envelope System

I’ve always been a bit envious of my wife’s purse….oh wait, let me explain!! 

Well, my wife’s purse has so many compartments and folders for organising coins and cash etc whereas my old ‘blokey’ wallet just has one perfunctory spot for cash and the rest is geared to cards. Having all my cash lumped into one spot just does not work for me, so I thought it was high time I remedied this…..without buying a new wallet.

What I needed was some compartments to separate all my cash and easily divide it up according to its purpose. With a fresh $260 sitting in my wallet every payday, it gave me false sense of wealth and the spending-addiction-tingles would kick in hard…..meh.  So I hatched a devious spend-a-holic thwarting plan.  This plan cost me zip to execute too.

All the pretty Aussie bank notes
now have their own envelope

I created a mini envelope system that fitted exactly into the cash compartment of my wallet. I made this using an old yellow document envelope that was in the waste paper basket at work.  I cut the yellow document envelop into three, glued all three sections together back to back, labelled them according to how I needed to divide my cash up, left it to dry then allocated the cash accordingly per compartment and popped it in my wallet.  Too easy by half.

Mini envelope system slides exactly
into my wallet

Now when I look in my wallet, I can see exactly how much cash is left in each compartment and will be able to proactively convince myself out of thinking I have money to burn – a place for everything and everything in its place.   Mission accomplished.

There, done-sky - non bulky and my cash all organised.

Now to figure out the coinage……..hmmmm.

Take care folks and stay nice.


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Scrounge, Stretch and Slow

Christmas morning breakfast 

Hi folks

We had a lovely Christmas in every way this year, loads of homemade food, no credit card debt, quality presents instead of loads of stupid plastic rubbish.....what a change from our previous life - gosh!

Home made glazed shortbread
in a re-purposed tin

So, many of us are probably having some vague thoughts about revisiting the budget and money matters next year. January goes like a flash of lightening and it will probably be February before those vague thoughts about revamping the budget become a reality....and then we have missed a whole month - so let's start NOW.

Carpe Debudget!

Home made monogrammed
Christmas bags for each of us.

I have some previous posts of budgeting and finances in general Here, Here, Here, Here and Here ...oh! and not to forget this one Here that you may want to revisit to rekindle the fires of thrift.

Some of the hens seeking shade....and perhaps a tid-bit.

Here is a great way to start or restart - using the principle of  Scrounge - Stretch - Slow

Scrounging is simply shopping around to buy what we need at the best price.  That's everything from coffee to cars, or honey to houses.

Stretching is making things last longer. That can entail fixing and repairing, diluting and re-purposing.

Slow means slowing our use of consumables. We can do this by driving less or being a producer (rather than a consumer). It can be as simple as making our coffee instead of buying it or learning to repair things instead of replacing them.

Home baked bourbon and clove glazed
ham - delicious much.

Some Examples of Scrounge, Stretch and Slow

Food: An excellent example of scrounging would be only buying specials at 1/2 price and stockpiling them. Stretching food would mean perhaps learning the cost of each ingredient and it's relative food value - you might want to replace red meat with eggs for some meals, eggs being a wonderful source of cheap protein compared to say a T-bone steak. Slowing food would be watching consumption and how much gets thrown out at the end of a meal. Can left-overs be kept and re-used? Can the chickens eat the scraps? Do I really need that sized meal? Do I need meat every meal?

Home made cookies (thanks Ellie) and left over pudding cakes in
lovely glass jars.

Transport:  Scrounging with transport is easier than we often think - cars being the top hitting item. Paying $40K for a brand new car plus interest on a loan is just criminal...instead, search for low mileage cars for $5K. Stretching the life of a car is always around regular servicing and knowing that it is almost always cheaper to fix the old one than buy a brand new one (despite what we feel). When it comes to transport and cars, one of the simplest ways to slow is to amalgamate trips. Instead of going out five times for different things, plan our trips in the car to be as efficient as possible. Whilst we are out at the shops, let also visit grandma, get petrol, drop off that thing at Kate's and pick up that mulch at Bob's.  Slowing can also mean taking the bus and train instead of driving.

Home made chocolate balls.....
what's left of them anyway!

Accommodation:  It goes without saying that most people would be happy to scrounge when buying a house.....driving some type of  deal.  However, sometimes the most important scrounging needs to happen before we even start looking to buy a home....scrounging with our ideals and asking pertinent questions like; Do we need to live in a house this size? What can we get in a different suburb? What is the best value for money? What could I do without all this debt? Do we need to wait and save for longer? etc. Same goes for renting - could we live in a different suburb or state and get better value for the rent we are paying?  Stretching sometimes takes the shape of adding that extra bedroom instead of moving house or even converting the garage to a rumpus instead of moving house. Stretching could be painting the house ourselves instead of paying someone or learning how to do our own home maintenance. It could even be fixing a single roof sheet instead of completely re-roofing. Slowing is rather unique when it comes to housing and might look like this: Staying put and making the very best of what we have instead of 'moving up' to a bigger and better home. It might mean down sizing. It might mean renting out rooms so your home earns a little income instead of being a black hole of expense. Slowing in the housing/accommodation area might mean being happy with that perfectly functional bathroom or kitchen and not remodelling for tens of thousands of dollars - Sometimes a coat of Antique American White paint over the 1970's orange kitchen cupboard doors can utterly transform a kitchen. Sometimes leveraging the existing retro look is truly a wonderful option.

A wonderful gift from our friend
Gail - I have had my nose in this
ever since Christmas morning
only to emerge when yelled at!

Anyhow, I am sure you all get the drift of applying Scrounge, Stretch and Slow to any topic to realise a diverse list of savings and economies.

Take care folks and stay nice.


I think I enjoy Christmas
breakfast more than Christmas dinner.
Chocolate croissants and freshly
brewed coffee - aaahh.

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