Perspective

I haven’t been writing like I normally do, simply because I have not had the time, energy or really know what to write.  Monday was a horrible day for me, and I honestly just wanted to crawl into bed and cry.  I questioned my life decisions and felt that I was a bad mum.  I’m sure we’ve all had that kind of day.  Thankfully Tuesday, yesterday, was a wonderful family day.  It was a simple day with my husband and gorgeous twin boys just out and about.  It reminded me of just how happy I am, how much I love them all (even when they drive me crazy) and how lucky I am.

Life is all about perspectives.  Some people view my life as hard and at times awful, and lately I’ve been listening to it a bit too much and buying into what they have been saying.  Yes having twin toddlers can be extremely challenging, but its also so rewarding!  Watching them play, hearing them laugh and being there when they discover something new is wonderful!!!  Not having a stable income and living on a budget is also hard, but it’s not impossible.  We still manage to go out and have a coffee and I still get to treat the boys to a trip to the local play centre or a new toy.  We may not be able to afford fancy dinners and expensive holidays but we do manage.

Being a stay at home mum is a choice I made.  I became a mum because I wanted to spend time with my children and help them learn and grow.  I choose to stay home most nights, put my kids to bed and then relax on the couch.  I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.  I know parents who have had their kids and been out drinking again with their friends within the week.  That’s a choice they make, but that is not me.  My kids are my responsibility and I take that very seriously.  I take time out when I need it, which isn’t very often and the boys have no problem with being looked after by family.  I’m not the person I used to be, I’ve grown up.  I may not fit in like I used to but I’m ok with that.

Yesterday reminded me that I’m ok with where I am at and that I need to drown out the voices of others, because their perspective of my life is not my perspective.

sunset

My perspective is pretty beautiful

Reusing tins

So following on from my post on reusing items from around your house, here is a short list of how you can reuse those tin cans, rather than just throwing them into the recycling bin.

* Tins (particularly formula tins, as they have a lid) make great money boxes.  Simply cut a coin slot and start saving.  If its for something special decorate the outside of the tin so you know what you’re saving for and aren’t tempted to ‘borrow’ from the tin.

* Tins make great planters for seedlings.  Just drill one or more holes in the bottom (depending on the size of the tin) for drainage, fill with soil and plant your seedlings.  For an attractive display attach 3 to a plank of wood and plant some herbs.  Perfect for just outside your back or side door.

* Paint a tin can white and attach some white lace for an attractive vase for flowers.

* Use tin cans around the house for storage – paint them or cover them in paper to match your décor, and use them to hold your kitchen utensils, pens, or toothbrushes.

* I have also been told you can make tin cans into DIY candles.

* Below is a great idea for a DIY Tin Can Lantern from Apartment Therapy, you can view the directions here.

tincan7_erinboyle

Looks great for outdoor entertaining!

Parenting

I’ve been doing a bit of reading the last few day (online, despite my stack of books waiting to be read) and I never cease to be amazed by how different everyone’s opinion is and how when someone doesn’t agree it can turn into an argument over nothing.

As you would know we are going through our own rough period and some days it is extremely difficult.  I am positive everyone has gone through these stages or will do in the future.  It’s not easy and it does sometimes leave you questioning your decisions, looking back on your past and wondering what if.  I love my little family and I honestly can say I wouldn’t trade it for the world but that doesn’t mean its perfect.  It’s hard, damn hard.

I’ve lost my temper a few times over the last week and honestly felt like I was going to snap.  Unfortunately I’ve yelled at my kids and although I do feel bad when they cry, when they are doing something dangerous it’s necessary.  Not everyone sees it that way though and I have seen far too many people getting into arguments over the way you ‘should’ parent.  What I do in the privacy of my own home is not for anyone else to judge (unless it is abuse in which case the police should be involved) and to be honest I’m a bit tired of hearing that ‘my child never listens to me’ nonsense.  Yep my kids frequently ignore me, it doesn’t mean I’m just going to give up because eventually it’s going to sink in and they will learn.  And when they are touching power cords or anything else that could potentially hurt them they will definitely get yelled at.  My boys are smart enough to know that there are things they are not allowed to touch, although we are still going through the curious toddler stage they are well aware that some things are off limits.  And of course they are going to test those limits again, they want to make sure the same rules still apply.  Every few weeks one of the boys will toddle off to a power cord, get down low and look at it, reach his little hand out and look at me.  He is checking to see if I’m watching, which I usually am, and to see how I will react.  They know that they will get a warning call out of their name and a stern ‘NO’ to remind them that they should not touch.  If they choose to ignore me, which does occasionally happen, then they get yelled at.  And usually tears ensue, then we cuddle and make up, explain that its dangerous and move on.   Until the next time.

There is no right way to parent, we all do it in our own way and we learn from our mistakes.  For most of us parenting is the biggest learning curve in the shortest space of time and we have to learn to adapt.  Sometimes I just wish people would keep this in mind before telling everyone else they are doing it wrong.

Recipe – Apple muffins

I’m always on the look out for ways to use up what I have without having to buy a whole lot of new ingredients, so I adapted this recipe for apple muffins from some other muffin recipes I found and I must say they taste yum!

Ingredients –

* 2 1/2 cups self-raising flour

* 1 tablespoon caster sugar

* 3/4 cup milk

*  1 egg

* 1/2 cup vegetable oil

* 3/4 cup brown sugar

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1 cup apples (finely chopped or pureed)

 

Directions –

* Preheat oven to 160°C. Spray two mini muffin trays or two regular muffin pan trays.

* Combine the flour, caster sugar and brown sugar in a bowl.

* Add milk, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix until just combined.

* Mix in apples.

* Spoon mixture evenly between pans (you want to make each spot about 3/4 full).

* Bake for 10 minutes mini muffins or 15 minutes for regular muffins.  When you insert a skewer it should come out clean.

* Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

Notes –

* I make mini muffin size for my twin toddlers as they are perfect size for a snack.

* You could adapt this recipe to use other fruit such as pear, blueberries or banana.

* These freeze so well, I freeze them in a container and take a couple out in the morning and they are defrosted in time for afternoon snack.

Meal planning

So last week was such and up and down week with one of the boys having a broken leg and being out of action and me trying to contain his twin from destroying my whole house.  All while nursing my own shoulder, which still hurts.  I probably haven’t done myself even favours carrying the boys around the house but as parents we do tend to just grin and bear it a lot of the time for the sake of our kids.

A few days ago we headed out to the shops to stock up on some fresh fruit and veg, not to mention bread and milk, and I’ll also stocked up on some cheap cuts of meat to put in the slow cooker.  Hubby is on a shift change for part of this week so it’s really going to mess with the boys usual routine, but we will see how we go.

Monday – Chicken burritos

Tuesday – Salt and pepper squid (the calamari has been in my freezer for so long)

Wednesday – Spaghetti Bolognese (sauce made in bulk a while ago and frozen)

Thursday – Chicken souvlaki (home made)

Friday – Take away (pizza?)

Saturday – Fettucini Carbonara (sauce made in bulk a while ago and frozen)

Sunday – Chicken and tomato risotto

I’m still on the kick to use up the bits from my pantry which is why I stocked up on some cheap cuts of meat this week (all those meal base type packets are going to be used if it kills me!).  So far I have made beef and mushroom ragout in the slow cooker, and a mild chicken curry (using the very cheap drumsticks) also in the slow cooker.  I made big batches (we’re talking 12 portions) that have all been divided up and frozen.  I also defrosted part of my old batch of beef ragout and made meat pies with it for lunch for hubby, he tried one tonight and is very impressed!  Tomorrow I’m hoping to get a beef stew thing on, as well as a chicken, bacon and potato bake.  I’m very glad to be using up lots from my pantry, as I can finally see my stocks going down, which makes more room for other things – seriously don’t ask what other things, stuff just seems to accumulate and appear from no where!!

Recipe – Bacon and Egg Pies

So we have a huge accumulation of eggs at the moment so I went on the hunt for recipes to use them up.  But we are also on an extremely tight budget this week meaning I could only use what we already had.  I made some orange curd and meringues and have a frittata in mind, but a friend suggested I make some bacon and egg pies.  I found a few recipes but nothing really worked with what I had, so I put together a few bits and pieces and came up with this.  It has been a hit with both hubby and the boys, and with only a few ingredients is quite simple to put together.

Ingredients –

* 2 sheets frozen ready-rolled puff pastry, thawed

* 300g bacon, thinly sliced

* 1 cup sour cream

* 1 brown onion, diced

* 8 eggs

* 1 cup shredded cheese

Directions –

* Preheat oven to 180°C.

* Lightly grease a Texas muffin pan and/or a regular muffin pan.

* If using a texas muffin pan cut pastry sheets into quarters, for a regular muffin pan you need to cut them into 9.

* Gently ease a square of pastry into each muffin pan.

* Cook bacon and onion in a small frying pan over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until light golden.

* Place three-quarters of bacon into base of each pastry shell.

* Whisk sour cream and eggs until well-combined.

* Spoon mixture over bacon.

* Top with remaining bacon, onion mixture.

* Sprinkle some cheese onto each one.

* Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling is cooked.

* Allow to stand for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

 

Notes –

* You can substitute the bacon for ham is that’s what you have.

* The above mixture made 6 texas style muffin sized ones and 9 regular muffin sized ones.  The larger ones are great as a lunch on the run, while the others are perfect for snacks.

* Add in some fresh herbs if you have them on hand to give it some extra flavour, and add in your salt and pepper with your egg mix.

* Serve with tomato relish – yum yum!

* You could also throw in any other left over vegetables to this mix (I generally make “leftover” scrolls with all my odds and ends).

Buying second hand

buying secondhand

I’m a bit advocator for saving money and one of the best ways I’ve managed to do this over the years is to buy second hand. There are lots of items you could and should buy second hand if you are on a tight budget.

Ebay is great for second hand items, but there are plenty of local options too, such as Vinnies and The Salvation Army stores, as well as markets. I’ve bought items at all of these places and never had any problems. Social media has also made buying and selling second hand even easier with local buy, swap, sell pages popping up all over the place and don’t forget Gumtree.

So what could you buy second hand?

* Women’s clothing – you can often pick up items with the tags still on that someone else has purcahsed but didn’t quite fit properly for a bargain price!! Designer dresses are often available that the seller has only worn once for a special event that could be your bargain purchase for your next event.

* Babies clothes – seriously they grow out of clothes so fast and they go through so many changes of clothes some days that it can really add up if you have to buy everything new. I’ve bought bulk lots of clothes off ebay for an absolute bargain, I’ve got other clothes from our local salvos that still had the original tags for only a couple of dollars.

* Furniture – Although there are many cheap type furniture stores these days you can’t always find what you want for a decent price, particulary when it comes to baby furniture. The cost of a cot, change table, drawers, etc, etc can really add up quickly!! Search ebay or check out a seconds store.

* Toys – There are so many toys available second hand, a ridiculous amount!! This includes everything from rattles, bouncers, bikes, through to cubby houses and everything in between. The only things I would recommend not buying is anything that is broken. Any toy that you do buy should be throughly washed to ensure it is safe for your baby.

* Electrical appliances – Although you can get some great items second hand you need to always be cautious with buying anything electrical second hand. Do not buy any electrical item that is damaged, always ask if it is in working order and make sure you read the description and look at the photos carefully. Always check out seconds stores and major stores often have a slightly damaged section or store.

There is so much more you can buy but that is a basic start and will save you lots of money if you are on a budget.

Look out for my guide on how to buy (and sell) on ebay coming soon.