Buying a house is stressful.

You have to make a lot of phone calls and engage with actual people about things you aren’t an expert on.

My introverted self wants to magically turn inwards and present itself as a snail.

House Life

I am currently the butt of a facebook joke (of my own creation really) about the choice of where I do my grocery shopping.

A few months back I decided to introduce more regular meal planning and a consequently a more regular grocery shop in order to save money. After first getting married, Geoff and I lived in a little town house (still one of our favourites) that was just behind a main street and within walking distance of an interesting IGA Supermarket. We also had no pantry. It was great – lots of disposable income back then, but it taught us some bad habits. Because really, the more often you visit the supermarket, the more you tend to buy. What’s another $5 on this and that? It adds up fast. I also have more recently been looking at how to buy fruit and veges in ways that aren’t buying them from the big chain supermarkets. I love the practicality of the big chain. No seriously – it makes it easy but it’s not always that nice or that cheap. A few facebook competitions later of winning free fruit and veg from my local shop inspired me. I now try to do a shop at a fruit and veg place and I go there first. If you are eating reasonably healthy meals (meat and veg) then you can do almost ALL your shop at a decent place like that.

What I do.

Sunday nights I meal plan. Sometimes it’s vague, sometimes it means we eat less variety especially because I build in a few meals that can be made in double and frozen. This is wildly convenient because I am a lazy cook and adding extra ingredients to a meal is much easier than cooking another meal. I only meal plan four nights, because realistically our Fridays through Sundays are all over the place. We go out to friends/have people round etc. There are always things in the freezer if desperate or good old b’rinner… takeaway. I try to make meals that overlap somewhat in ingredients (eg. herbs… who ever uses and entire bunch in one dish?) or that will use up things I have in the fridge.

On Mondays I shop. I go to a fruit/veg and then a supermarket and sometimes a butcher (if there happens to be one nearby) – I still haven’t really worked out buying stuff from a butcher -don’t pay enough attention to meat prices and I try not to let meat make it into every meal anyway – too expensive and so not necessary.

I don’t love grocery shopping, but it’s better now. I shop with a list and rarely deviate. I shop on a regular day. My mother thinks I’m mad, but hey she’s not especially grand at organisation. And I try not to go other times during the week.

The change in cooking habits and shopping has helped me save money. How do I know this? Well, I used to spend closer to $150-$200 a week on the ‘big shop’ and now I can do in a well planned ‘cheap week’ for $70-80.

I still buy chocolate and things I shouldn’t have. I still often opt for the nice yoghurt (at least then it gets eaten) and the nicer bread. But hey you do have to start somewhere and know your limits.

As for the butt of the joke. After our move I have been looking for somewhere that is a) not too far from a decent fruit/veg place (if you can get 85% of your stuff there you save A LOT) b) is easy to get in and out of. I have a two year old who doesn’t like riding in trolleys and I don’t want to stuff around with crappy car-parking or walking too far because quite frankly I don’t love groceries and I have better things to do with my time. The better organised and bigger the shop is (in terms of chain supermarkets) the easier it is, the quicker it is. The more likely I am to cook to freeze because I have more time at home. I appreciate well organised things and dingy supermarkets don’t do it for me.

And that friends is why I am still in reconnaissance mode.

This has also been a slow but achievable part of aligning life with being a bit more sensible with where our money goes - there is still a long way to go.

Experiments House Life Money

I was sick yesterday. Made Geoff come home from work. I don’t do that often. But hey, I’m 6 months pregnant and have wedding to shoot on Saturday. No playing games.

Claire is nearly 2. She talks. She talks and talks. Some more = more some. It’s pretty excellent. Our days currently look a little like: Geoff getting up in the morning when Claire does and they play and make us all coffee/baby chinos. She loves it. I love it. I think Geoff loves it. When he leaves she pesters me enough for ‘bubbles’ (cereal) or porridge to get me out of bed. We eat breakfast and I attempt to deal with the kitchen while she does. She likes to steal my toast. Then we play/read/clean etc. The independant play thing is slowly happening. She likes me involved and I try to give her good attention in the mornings because a) I should b) she sleeps better c) she’s generally a quality time girl so it’s super important. Around 10am’ish we have a drink of milk (she does) and read a story and she goes down for a nap. 1-2hrs. I work mostly when she naps, sometimes I relax. I always make a cup of tea, sometimes I remember to drink it.

She wakes up happy. We potter around and eat lunch. The afternoons are fair game – sometimes we stay home sometimes we go out. Naps are also fair game and rarely happen and if she has one she usually wakes up grumpy. By 3.30-4pm I’m done, done, done and I hang out for 4.30pm Playschool time. I love Playschool. Playschool = sanity. She gets to watch that (if anything), Giggle and Hoot and Peppa Pig and if we pushing everything some Bananas In Pyjamas – which usually holds her attention for about five minutes. Geoff comes home. We deal with dinner. We eat early. Claire has a bath, books and goes to bed 6.30-7pm. The bedtime routine works almost without fail. It’s magic. Collapse.

At night there is: TV, conversation (if we aren’t too tired), work and general electronic distraction eg. Pinterest. Sometimes we watch a series together.

This is how we spend our days.

I am attempting to build some more routine into my weeks around cleaning – because it’s falling a bit flat at the moment and I have a semi inspired list of all the things I’d like to prioritize – one day I’ll find the energy. Small steps. Day to day. Currently am grocery shopping and cooking meals to freeze on Mondays. That’s working well.

Things I do with Claire who is almost 2:

  • Read lots of books
  • Minimize TV time. We do not watch tv during the day. Ever. Not until the 4.30pm slot.
  • One on one play. Drawing/Little People/Animals/Tea parties etc.
  • Cleaning – I let her help where possible, involve her in this so I’m not cleaning while she sleeps.
  • Grocery shopping

Things I should do more of

  • Walks
  • Trips to the park
  • Trips to the library
  • Being outside generally
  • Get a babysitter more

Geoff says I say ‘should’ too much. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I need to.

Baby House Life Parenting

Recognising the characteristics of a Enneagram One, we don’t celebrate small achievements well. The inner critic is ‘strong with this one’. And so here is a small celebration of some things I’ve done recently that I have spent a long time not doing and a long time wanting to do.

1. Meet my neighbour

We moved to this house back in February. After living on a main road with almost never seeing our neighbours we are now in a court. A court off a court. You can’t get much more ‘communal’ than that. Not that it’s a very communal street at all. I had every intention of going to meet at least one of my neighbours and it never happened. You know when you leave these things a few months, you’re no longer ‘new’ and it just gets more and more awkward (in my head). About a month ago those neighbours moved out. The house has been empty since then. Yesterday I met Mark. He is my neighbour. He was pulling down the fence/fixing the pailings between our two houses. He came to the door to ask if it was fine to walk across our property. He and his wife (whom I have not met) are fairly similar in age to us. When I was heading out to get groceries I had another brief chat to him. They own the place and they are renovating. I have met my neighbour.

2. Composting

Another little thing. We live in an area where you get three bins: recycling, rubbish and green-waste/composting. We have major issues with our rubbish as in this region you get a half size bin and it is emptied once every two weeks. This is a great theory and works to reduce waste until you have a baby and nappies OR you go on holidays and forget to put your bin up. I am currently using our greenwaste bin to store excess (humbug). Regardless, our lovely rental came with it’s own, rather robust compost bin which I haven’t been using. When I first moved in I put some scraps in a bucket and erm, I am embarrassed to say that the bucket is still under the sink (I don’t want to know about it). But as of this week I have been using a small open top container on the bench and when it fills up I take it out. I am composting.

3. Journalling

As mentioned in my previous post, I have started journalling again, after a much too long hiatus. This also means I am spending somewhat regular time reading my bible and praying and reflecting a bit more on life. Something I used to do regularly and something I find I need to do, to main some kind of inner clarity.

4. Cooking

I am a lazy cook. I can cook okay, but we eat a lot of pasta. Pasta sauce often just from the jar. I have had a long standing goal to plan some meals and so consequently eat better, spend less. Yesterday I did just that. I roughly planned some meals. Went shopping. Sadly the local fruit and veg shop isn’t open Mondays – which I’d forgotten. But best of all: I didn’t get bogged down in a system (which is what always thwarts me… wanting to instigate some kind of comprehensive database so I can plug in the meal I want to cook and spit out a shopping list – which is still terribly appealing and I do have a marvelous app that will do so, it just need a lot of work to get it functional). Last night I made gnocchi  from scratch. And I have some other different food planned for the rest of the week. Nothing too daunting, just different. Geoff does probably most of the cooking, but I’d like to learn to cook better: some simple, tasty, healthy meals – variety. Two of my sisters are great at this and the other one is a pastry chef/librarian-in-training (I don’t even want to pretend to compete!).

I find that routine is truly helpful for instigating stuff in my life. With a baby now on a routine (and boy does she have a freakish inner clock) I am set up with regular blocks of time and if I intentionally do certain things in those blocks of time, things get done.

Enneagram One Experiments House Life Sustainable