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.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Blessings at Christmastide

Hi dear folks

Blessings to you all this Christmastide.  Enjoy each moment, no matter what.

The last child to awake gets to open the first present!

Take care, stay nice and stay safe.


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Stretching Expensive Laundry Liquid 16 Times Longer

Hi folks

Here's the thing......if we are not feeling up to grating soap, boiling stuff over the stove and want to still use our favourite store-bought laundry liquid but baulk at the price of it - then we CAN!

Gather everything you need first

Here's how to do it for 1/16 of the normal price:

 1. Buy your most favourite laundry liquid when it is on 1/2 price sale.
 2. Boil the jug (minimum 1 litre)
 3. Take an empty, clean two litre container
 4. Add 1 litre of the boiled water (still hot)
 5. Add 1/2 cup of your favourite laundry liquid
 6. Add 5 teaspoons (flat not heaped) of Borax
 7. Add 5 teaspoons (flat not heaped) of washing soda
 8. Gently pour in cool water till the container is 99% full (leave a little air space)
 9. Pop the lid on and gently mix by rocking the container upside down and back for 1 minute.
 10. Use 1/3 of a cup in either your front or top loader per wash.

 Caution: Use a small funnel for ease and also be very careful of the boiling water.

Boiling water in first.....


Washing Soda in....

Pouring in neat laundry liquid
from the expensive bottle

....topping up with cool tap water.

At the end of the day, the bulk of the washing action is actually done by the movement of the clothes inside our washing machine - this is proven by peoples all over the world who simply wash in a running stream and beat their clothes on a would be astounded how clean these clothes are without a trace of soap - just running clean water and a rock!

The beauty of this recipe is that it cuts the cost of our favourite store-bought laundry liquid to 1/8 of its original cost.....and if we wait for it to go on 1/2 price sale then it will only cost us a 1/16 of the standard price.

Ready to pop the lid on and
gently mix.
The net result is that we still get our clothes smelling exactly as we like for a fraction of the price. This is truly sneaky frugal.

Lean in, give it a whirl.

In other news......

We are off to the Newcastle Cathedral tonight to hear the nine lessons and carols after which we will all go out for coffee and cake (an extravagance indeed!) then come home and open just one present each....that is our little Christmas Eve tradition.

Take care folks, stay nice.


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Core Values - Having Enough

A beautiful Christmas Cameo gifted to us by dear friends.
Feeling thoroughly spoiled.

Having enough - this is one of my core values.

It was a core value that remained hidden for decades under piles of 'stuff' both physical and emotional and has only been emerging over the last few years as a core value.

True, not having enough can be worrying but also having too much is just as much of a worry as is working our be-hinds off to try and accumulate too much (tips hat to consumerism).

For so long I was a human having instead of a human being. Essentially I now believe that mindful contentment is at the core of knowing that I have enough.

Hanukkah starts soon - on the 24th.

What does 'enough' look like for me?

  • enough money to pay for basic bills and a little put aside just in case.
  • enough to be clothed sensibly, and occasionally, even smartly if the need arises
  • enough to reach out and assist others anonymously
  • enough to eat and a bit put aside as stockpile
  • enough to pay for a home (rent or modest mortgage)
  • enough to feed another family for a meal
  • enough work so as not to be idle
  • enough discretionary time so as not to feel trapped
  • enough love and care to stop me wandering off
  • enough to educate myself to be a better man
  • enough to stay grounded
  • enough to be able to follow the occasional domestic dream 
  • enough to follow an occasional creative urge
  • enough to buy a pot of interior paint

Fresh lemons - who can deny!

Strange things that make me feel poor are:
  • running out of tea and coffee
  • a run of unexpected bills
  • not being able to get warm
  • Monday morning's 4.30 am alarm
  • not being able to pay a bill on time
  • running late
  • when a pen runs out halfway through a letter

Fruit soaking in sweet sherry...

Inextricable things that make me feel rich:
  • fresh berries for breakfast
  • sitting in a cathedral
  • new underwear (don't ask!)
  • new socks for Christmas
  • a parcel in the mail
  • a dinner table surrounded with guests enjoying our food
  • candles on the dinner table
  • linen
  • fresh sheets
  • the sound of rain at night
  • our stockpile cupboard
  • cashews
  • sunrise

As I write this post, my girls are all making chocolate truffles in the kitchen with John Denver turned up loud and them all singing along...."country roooooooooad, take me hooooooome...".  There's laughter, chatter, choruses sung in harmony, aprons unfurled and the inevitable "taste this Dad" - I am truly blessed.

I have enough.

An inner voice lets me know that I am enough.

Take care folks and stay nice.


Friday, 16 December 2016

A Friday Chat Over The Fence

Arancini balls from scratch - my new food folly.
Simply delicious!

Work has been rather (very) busy and has kept me from my garden, my kitchen, my blog and indeed most things around the house - so it is time to remedy that right now.

Breakfast out on the deck.
Pancakes, muffins, bacon, scrambled
eggs, watermelon, grapes, yoghurt,
fresh berries and cream, local honey
and real maple syrup.

This year I am letting a few things go to seed and will be trying my hand at seed saving. I can remember when I was a child and my mother seed saving with all sorts of seeds drying out in jam jar lids on the kitchen window sill. Time for me to do the same in the hope of free seeds next year.

The sewing machine running hot.... linen present bags being sewn
up with a lovely simple binding.

The tomatoes are coming to an end as are the leeks and the radishes, so I will have to compost the spent potting mix from their self-watering boxes, mix it in with hen house muck-out and leave it be for a little while to rot into another luscious pile of compost.

Leeks going to seed

Radishes going to seed

Christmas and Hanukkah are simultaneously being prepared for here at our place. Secrets abound, the sewing machine is whirring flat out, wrapping is getting done covertly in bedrooms and the budget is holding out wonderfully. I am very thankful for having budgeted so well this year as we have had some significant emergency expenses in the last four weeks - it has been nice to just be able to pay them straight from the emergency fund.

A little Kent pumpkin growing

We had an exquisite present arrive in the mail this week from a wonderfully encouraging blogging friend - I will be dedicating a post to this soon as it it worthy of its very own watch out for that soon.

Just sayin'.....I am amazed and humbled yet again that this community can provide so much wisdom and connection with folks I have never met in real life and probably never will.

Caramel mousse tart made from
scratch. Chocolate crumb base
with an airy caramel mousse filling.
Not sickly sweet - just perfectly
balanced in flavour.
Great with coffee and a blob of cream.

I am going to relish the next two days at home. I am not venturing a single footstep out of my home this weekend as I scrub, polish, repair, tidy, rearrange, freshen, plan, cook, launder, garden, hen-watch, mow, iron, read, drink cuppa's, nibble home-made goodies, wrap presents, write cards and smile.

Enjoy your Friday evening folks. Take care and stay nice (of course!)


Saturday, 10 December 2016

Meet Mavis

After a 4 hour drive from the country there are bugs sticking to the grill and
Mitsubishi emblem. 

Hi Folks

There is a member of our family you have not officially met - Mavis.

Mavis is our frugal car, the car we paid cash for, the car that is a classic (well almost!), had only done a genuine 63,000 km's, perfect cloth interior, affordable to run and old enough for me to service myself.

We have done 10,000 km's  in Mavis this year.

We've chatted recently about cars and car loans HERE and similar notions are also supported by Australia's Bare Foot Investor and USA's Dave Ramsay regarding cars and car loans.

Mavis is a real sweetie and meets our needs perfectly.  We have two L plate drivers with a third about to 'hatch' later this month and a P plater as well as Mrs HM and I.  Mavis's fuel economy beats the pants off our big family car (Rosa) and thus the girls are keen to use "Mavey" (as they affectionately call her) for all their commuting needs. She draws a crowd of admiring fans wherever the girls take her as she has a certain amount of 'cute' value.

Mavis in all her 1980's glory. 

Mavis cost me $700.00 and although she has very little kilometers on the clock there were things that needed doing due to the age of the vehicle.  I spent over a period of one year about $1,500.00 slowly working through these small but important repairs and thus have paid in real terms $2,200.00. She is in top mechanical nick now.

Very neat and tidy little car indeed.

So my girls are unknowingly achieving the following frugalities:

  • Car sharing
  • Debt free whilst many of their friends have car loans
  • Economical 4 cylinder
  • Shotgun proof go-for-ever Mitsubishi pack-horse engine
  • Leveraging classic (well, classic to them anyway) styling as a social talking point that costs zip.

Recently Dear Daughter number 2 (DD2) drove Mavis down to her rural teaching placement 4 hours south and Mavis went there and back a few times without missing a beat - so Mavis can certainly be relied on and is not just a fragile old heap. We have bugs on the grill to proove it! hehe.

The cloth interior is spotless.

I did have plans to use this as my car....but the dear daughters have 'commandeered' it and I am permitted to use it to drive to the train station!  Truth is, I am happy for them to commandeer it if it is saving them from being in debt and teaching them lessons in financial prudence.

Anyway.....just thought I would show Mavis to you all and that Mr HM does put his money where his mouth is and encourages others to do the same. You can now have a chuckle as you imagine me shoe-horning myself into this little cutie every morning at 4.30am to drive to the train station - ha! 

Take care folks, stay nice.


Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Tree Is Up!

The outside deck lights add to the ambience

Big smiles....the tree is up.

We have reduced the plastic content by 50% on the tree this year by using paper decorations made from old books.  We also have brought out our non-plastic traditional ornaments that we now use every year (pics below).  We are using the left over baubles from last year....and now the challenge of how to keep Toshi the cat away from the tree. She hates Christmas trees.

Hanukkah falls on the 24th this year, so that will make things 'interesting' this year.  Normally there is some breathing space between each celebration, but this year Hanukkah overlaps with Christmas.  It gets a little tricky with those in the family with Jewish heritage (dear wife and five daughters) and me, the good ol' fashioned British/Irish bloodline with Christian roots. Luckily we all totally enjoy both types of festivals from each heritage - it is just tricky when the dates line up.  And...then there is daughter number five with her birthday two days before Christmas....who planned that?!

Anyway - enough yakking.  Here are the pics.

I have pine needles to vacuum up by
the looks.  The house smells
amazing with a real pine tree.
Carbon neutral, non plastic and
can be used in the chiminea
once dried.

Some prezzies under the tree.
Brown paper and string wrapping.

Porcelain bauble with nativity
scene - by Wedgwood.

Mamma HM reaches up
with the star........

....can't quite reach!

We placed it in front of the window
that looks out onto the deck
so we can enjoy it from both
inside and outside.

Papier mache bauble from

Three wise men looking rather lost.
They should have asked for directions!

Painted metal cow bell from Austria

Mr Squirrel.

Paper book baubles

Do you think it will reign deer?

Paper snowflake to counter-act
the Aussie summer.

Aaaaw - pretty. It is starting to
look a lot like Christmas.

Sleigh bell on a satin ribbon

Christmas doll from Austria

Wooden rocking horse.

Apparently there will be some red and gold material bows to be added yet.

Take care and stay nice folks.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...