Planning For Christmas

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It is a little over 7 weeks until Christmas so it is time I at least gave some thought to plans for the festive season.

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This year we will be at home for Christmas and most of the family will be joining us with some coming from interstate and overseas.  It is a few years since we have been at home for Christmas Day as the last 3 years have included 2 Christmases in Melbourne and another at the beach.  I am looking forward to the opportunity to be together and share a meal on Christmas Day.  That is the essence of Christmas for me.  I expect there will be fun times and other meals to share during the extended break at that time.

I will most likely be catering for 9 adults and 3 children (9, 7 and 6).  There are food allergies/preferences to consider so there will be no gluten, seafood, nuts, roast pork or kiwifruit.  I will have to put my thinking cap on as I like to come up with some new things to try as well as tried and true favourites.

We tend to keep the gift-giving modest and low-key as most of us do not really need more ‘stuff’ in our lives.  I try to include experience gifts for our grandchildren as they will remember those far more readily than another pile of toys.

What do your Christmas preparations include?

 

A Frugal Mindset – 1

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As promised yesterday, I plan to address the points from the link I posted one by one.

The first point is:

1. Frugal people plan ahead. Planning ahead may not, at first, seem like it has anything to do with money, but it really does. Frugal people plan ahead in many ways. They do things like plan out their meals for the week to save money at the grocery store, or more long term planning like knowing that they’ll need a new roof on the house in several years, and to begin saving for this expense now.

Frugal people live by the mantra that failure to plan is planning to fail. They’ve learned that taking steps now for anticipated future events helps make those future events easier to deal with. And typically those plans make it both easier in both time spent, and in money saved.

Question to ask yourself: What can I do today to make tomorrow and the future easier to deal with?

If you really want use this strategy to its fullest potential don’t just make those plans in your mind. Write them down!

I regard planning as one of my strengths and there is no doubt in my mind that it saves money.  It also saves time and my sanity which are equally important to me.

I plan our meals, plan to combine errands in a single trip, plan what I will wear to work, plan what to pack for a holiday, plan future projects at home – there is no end to what we plan.

An example of long-term planning was when we began looking for our current home.  This was over 10 years ago and I was still in my forties but one of the things that we considered was that it would have to have at least one point of ground-level access or be able to be relatively easily adapted to meet this requirement.  Although we have numerous stairs to reach the verandah we know that this can be altered if required – we have a plan.

We are also changing and adapting our large garden to reduce the level of maintenance which will be required as we age.  Putting in the effort now will reap rewards in years to come.

As a result of ensuring that we have sufficient rainwater storage as well as the installation of solar panels means that we are pretty well self-sufficient for water and electricity which minimises the ongoing costs of running our home.

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As GMan regularly quotes from Baldrick in Blackadder, “I have a cunning plan”.  The difference between Baldrick’s plans and ours is that ours are realistic and generally achievable.  Even if things do not go quite according to plan you have a framework with which to start again.

 

Retirement Plans

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No, we are not about to retire, although today is GMan’s birthday and it is a reminder that the time when we are no longer in paid employment is edging inexorably closer.

2015-08-06 01It is strange how thoughts seem to align.  A friend posed the question on Facebook today, “What are your retirement plans?”  The answers varied but an overarching theme seemed to be travel and writing which may have something to do with her particular group of Facebook friends.  However, I was blown away when one respondent stated, “I’m hoping to simply make it to retirement age!!”  That really put it into perspective because although we all risk not making it her odds are definitely not as good as most of us.

I also saw my own plans with a great deal more clarity.  I realised that my retirement  plans are very similar to the reality of my life today and while some could view that as rather boring I can see that I am living my life as I choose here and now, today and every day.  I don’t want to sound morbid but if anything happened that I did not reach the age at which I intend to retire I would still have done and seen much of want I want to do and see.

We need to create a balance in our lives but I would implore you to savour each and every day as well as planning for the future.

Planning Ahead

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On Saturday or Sunday morning I generally make a menu plan of our meals for the coming week.  This based on what is in the fridge, freezer, pantry and garden and is used to create a shopping list for any additional requirements.  I try to incorporate a mix of fish, chicken, red meat and vegetarian meals.

The next couple of weeks are very unpredictable due to family issues and will mean that I am not at home some nights but potentially with very short notice.  So I used a different method today and simply made a list of 20 meals for which we have the ingredients.  We will need some additional fruit and vegetables during that time.

1  Pizza
2  Grilled salmon and vegetables
3  Tumeric chicken and rice
4  Pumpkin soup
5  Chilli con carne and rice
6  Nachos
7  Sausages and vegetables
8  Vegetable pie and salad
9  Hamburger patties and salad
10  Celery soup
11  Beef curry and rice
12  Tuna patties and vegetables
13  Shepherd’s pie and vegetables
14  Scrambled eggs with bacon and avocado
15  Chicken stir-fry and rice
16  Pizza
17  Chilli con carne and rice
18  Pumpkin soup
19  Lasagne and salad
20  Chilli chicken and corn chips

The entire plan is gluten-free.  I make my own gluten-free pizza bases and hamburger patties, buy gluten-free sausages from Aldi, buy gluten free corn chips and lasagne sheets and use gluten-free flour as required.008I intend to work roughly from the top of the list and we had home-made pizzas tonight.  This is how I make them.

Do you plan your meals?  How closely do you stick to a plan?

Feels Like Friday

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I have not posted anything for the past couple of days as I have been totally committed to work.  We have had colleagues from interstate working with us for a few days and I had to give it my undivided attention so as to maximise the results from being able to work face-to-face.  Despite all of the advances in technology which allow us to connect via, phone, email and videoconferencing, there is nothing quite like being able to sit down and look at the same work together.

Everyone has headed back to their respective locations and I am now home with the prospect of 5 days at home stretching out in front of me.  It really does feel like Friday!  I will be doing some work from home tomorrow but other than that my time is my own.  As an added bonus we have a long weekend due to the Australia Day holiday on Monday.

I hope to make some progress on a number of projects around the house and garden and I am sure I will have lots to show you.

We have the prospect of slightly cooler weather for the next few days and possibly some heavy rain.  I think the first thing I will do is make sure all of the washing is up to date while the weather is still fine.

TowelsIt is lovely to have time to look forward to spending as I choose rather than having a diary crammed full of appointments.RelaxingDo you plan every moment or do you go with the flow, so to speak?

Planning a Picnic

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On Saturday we were going to be out for the whole day so I decided to pack a picnic lunch.  We knew that we were going out for dinner so it seemed ridiculous to consider ‘eating out’ twice in one day.

2015-01-12 01This is where we had our lunch.  It is not out in the country but a suburban park about 4km from the Brisbane CBD.  There is a bus depot across the road and a major freeway and interchange a few hundred metres in another direction, yet it was a quiet and peaceful oasis where we stopped for our picnic.

We unpacked our picnic set and cloth, added the food and drink and we were ready to tuck into our feast.

2015-01-12 02I had made a mixed salad of lettuce, capsicum (red peppers), cherry tomatoes, cucumber and cheese as well as a couple of hard-boiled eggs.  There were rice crackers and some mango chutney as well.  I packed some walnuts and dried figs to finish and the whole lot was washed down with lemon cordial and soda water.

A pleasing note is that the lemon cordial, mango chutney and soda water were made at home, the chickens provided the eggs and the cucumber and tomatoes were picked from the garden.

Just a few minutes spent planning meant that we saved at least $30 and were able to enjoy some of our favourite foods in a pleasant setting rather than doing battle with holiday crowds at a cafe or food court.