strengthen your family bond and improve your home life with family meetings

Family Group Relaxing Outdoors In Autumn Landscape

Does the idea of holding a family meeting seem a little corporate and well, a little Brady Bunch to you?

That’s certainly how I felt when I first read about the idea.

Family meetings? That’s a little formal. Surely we can just work things out on the fly?

But as they say, nothing tried, nothing gained, so we gave the whole family meeting idea a burl and were pleasantly surprised with the results.

The kids really got into it. Even my two year old contributed to the meeting – our expectation was she would get bored and wander off. Instead, when we were planning activities for the upcoming week, she said she would like to do singing and dancing in the mornings.

We’ve now incorporated dancing into our morning routine, Justine Clarke style.

Even Frugal Dad got into the swing of things when, in ‘other items’ my four year old son suggested daddy should be allowed to have a sleep in on Saturdays. Frugal Dad was pretty quick to second that motion (although he swears he didn’t put the little fella up to it).

Why have a family meeting?

All too often, families live more like flatmates – ships that pass during busy schedules.

A family meeting is an opportunity to bring everyone in the family together intentionally and regularly.

If you’ve never held a family meeting, try it for yourself and see how it improves your home life.  Read More

two things every woman should know about getting fit

Stretching In The Park

That’s not me in the picture.

I’m not big on fitness. I’m more of a bookworm than a gym junkie.

I wish reading about fitness for women counted. Because then I’d be super fit.

Unfortunately, all that reading, and the sitting around on my butt, has a the opposite effect.

Darn.

Frugal Dad and I were discussing fitness a few months ago and we agreed that life would be better if we were more fit. We’d have more fun. We’d live longer. We’d enjoy our kids more and they would enjoy us more. We’d be healthier and better role models.

So I went to my neighbour, who is a total fitness guru, and asked her to give me a routine and keep me accountable. When she asks over the fence, Wilson style ‘have you done your exercises today?’ I don’t want to hang my head in shame.

All that reading hasn’t gone to waste, though. There are two important things I’ve learned – and that I think every woman should know – that help me get the most out of my exercise time. Read More

clean the whole house for less than $3 a month

clean the whole house for less than $3 a month

Household cleaners can take up a big chunk of the grocery budget.

But they don’t need to.

You can save money cleaning the house by making your own cleaners from just a couple of basic, natural ingredients that you probably already have on hand. And don’t worry – it’s quick and easy – as convenient as a regular spray and wipe.

There’s a lot of good reasons to make your own cleaners. Homemade cleaners are better for your health. They’re better for the environment. But just as importantly, they’re better for your budget!

You don’t need a different cleaning product for every cleaning job in the house. That’s just genius marketing convincing us to spend more.

With just a few inexpensive ingredients, you can clean just about anything around your house for less than $3 a month.

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Category: cleaning and laundry · Tags:

the essential superfood you should eat everyday–and it’s super cheap

how to make bone broth the essential superfood

So what’s this all important superfood and why do you need it? After all, I’ve voiced my scepticism regarding superfoods in the past.

Well, the picture gives it away a little bit.

Today I’m going to talk about bone broth, or stock for us Aussies (yep, it’s the same thing). Bone broth is a frugal staple – a must for every household. It’s so cheap and easy to make, versatile, and it just so happens to be one of the healthiest foods in your kitchen.

Bone broth is a traditional food found in almost all cultures. It’s rich in minerals and amino acids, which is what makes it so healthy.

Stock cubes just don’t cut it. They’re super salty, full of questionable ingredients and they don’t impart the health benefits of a good bone broth. Store bought stock isn’t too bad, but it’s also not as healthy as homemade and it’s sooo much more expensive.

You can make your own bone broth for practically free.

This recipe shows how to make beef bone broth in the slow cooker. Making bone broth in the slow cooker means there’s almost no hand’s on work involved. The method is similar to making chicken and pork stock, which I’ve shared in the past, so you can use the same recipe and interchange the bones. Read More

Category: basics · Tags: , ,

make every photo amazing {for free} with pickmonkey

Make every photo amazing with picmonkey

I have a confession: I edit all my photos, both blog photos and personal ones.

Even the family snaps get edited before being uploaded to Facebook or emailed to nanna, let alone before printing them out.

While a good photo starts at the click of the camera button, you can do a lot with a picture to make it look amazing with a few simple photo edits using a free online photo editing program.

And it only take a minute or two to do. Unless you start playing around with all the cool tools and features, in which case you can spend hours editing pictures, but hey, it’s loads of fun.

There are dozens of photo editors available, but today I’m going to talk about PicMonkey* because it’s the one I use and I love and I’ll show you the very easy basic edits that will make your pictures pop as well as a few premium edits that take your photos to the next level. Read More

Category: DIY · Tags:

roast veg ‘free-up-the-fridge’ frittata

free up the fridge frittata

Another shopping week has past and a few more leftover vegetables are knocking around in the crisper waiting to be used up.

Last fortnight I shared a kid-friendly vegetable curry that uses up the bits and bobs left over at the end of the shopping week. Today’s recipe is another idea: the versatile frittata.

Not only can you use up vegetables and herbs in this frittata, you can also use up cooked meat, bacon, ham as well as bits of cheese, the last of the cream, sour cream, yoghurt…whatever you have on hand.

As long as you have eggs, the rest is variable.

I love roasting vegetables and just having them in the fridge. It makes recipes like this really easy to knock together.

They also make great lunch wraps with a little avocado, cheese and home made hummus.

Use a little pitta bread and some homemade sauce straight from the freezer for an easy roast vegetable pizza.

Toss them through pasta or whip up a quick vegetable lasagne. Read More

Category: main dishes · Tags: , ,

conquer overwhelm – get more done with less stress with this one powerful habit

conquer overwhelm with this one powerful habit

Write lists, she said. Brain dump and you’ll feel better, she said.

One hour later and a to-do list four A4 pages long and I was hyperventilating.

The brain dump had backfired.

As part of my little heart attack episode, I received a few free stress-management sessions with the counsellor. A lot of what she recommended is stuff you all already know, like writing to-do lists, but it’s stuff that falls to the wayside when you’re stressing out.

Of course, my four page to-do list was ridiculous. Consumed by overwhelm, mind in overdrive, I wrote down everything that fired synapses.

Can you see the problem here?

By making concrete everything that came to mind, the to-do list fuelled the feeling of overwhelm instead of fixing it.

There’s a massively important fundamental to keeping a to-do list that I was failing to do.

That important fundamental is prioritising.

Brain dumping is not enough to overcome overwhelm. It just acts as a visual reminder of all the things we haven’t yet done. It reinforces the feeling of overwhelm, making it worse.

So I’ve started using a little mantra that will quieten the multitude of tasks that buzz noisily around your brain.

This one little phrase gives you laser-sharp focus and allows you to de-stress and get more done.

Conquer overwhelm, conquer the to-do list and thrive with this one simple yet powerful habit. Read More

how we stick to a grocery budget of $130 a week

Supermarket receipt

Slash your grocery bill, feed the family on $150 or less each week without eating rice and beans every night – can it be done?

Can it be done at Aussie prices?

Can you still enjoy things like smoked salmon, brie cheese and 70% dark chocolate?

The answer is yes, yes, yes!

Our average grocery spend each week is around $130 per week. Some weeks it’s more, some weeks it’s less, but it averages out at $130.

To give you a little context, we’re a family of four with two kids: 4 years old and 2 years old.

And while we’re not feeding hungry teenage boys (yet), there are times when the kids eat and eat (and eat and eat and eat…).

And that $130 covers food, cleaning, laundry, night time nappies…the lot!

I’m not saying anyone should stick to a grocery budget that’s as low as possible. $130 a week is just what we can afford at the moment.

If you buy all organics, or you have voracious teenagers, or you have allergies that need specialty foods, or you’re a family of 10, then your grocery budget is going to be more.

And that’s ok.

The most important thing to aim for is not to spend as little as possible but to buy the best quality groceries that you can afford on your budget.

Buy the best quality groceries that you can afford on your budget.

No more, no less.

Set your budget and work your grocery shop around that. Here are some tips to help you stay within your budget. Read More

Category: grocery savings · Tags:

diy hot oil treatment for stronger, healthier hair

happy woman with oil bottle

Treat yourself to softer, smoother, stronger, healthier hair with this easy DIY hot oil treatment.

You probably have most of the ingredients already in the pantry.

I can’t believe how nice my hair felt after doing this treatment. I didn’t want to stop touching it it was so soft and smooth.

And the frizz-ball that is my hair here in the sub-tropical climate, wasn’t looking so frizzy, despite the evening downpour and the humidity.

There’s a heap of hot oil treatments on the market, but why spend a fortune on a product that may contain synthetic ingredients when you can make your own just as easily for a fraction of the price, straight from the pantry?

This treatment can be used once a week for particularly damaged hair or once a month for a relaxing hair treatment. Combine it with a diy facial, some music and a cuppa for a real beauty spa experience at home.

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reduce waste with this kid friendly, clear-the-crisper curry

kid-friendly clear out the crisper curry2

It’s the end of the shopping week or fortnight, and you’ve got a bit of this and a bit of that left over in the crisper.

What do you cook to use up the dribs and drabs and reduce waste?

Here’s just one idea: a vegetable curry that’s delicious, mild and kid friendly.

Add whatever you have in the fridge, the freezer or the pantry to this curry.

Leftover meat? That can go in too.

Or keep it vegetarian if you prefer.

Spice it up with fresh or dried chilli if you prefer a little heat.

Chill it down with a dollop of cooling, natural yoghurt.

While this curry is kid-friendly, it can be very adult as well.

Want an easy, mid week cheat instead of an end of week, gotta-use-up-the-leftovers meal?

Use frozen veg instead.

I bought a bag of frozen mixed veg in Aldi the other day for $1.90. It was of New Zealand origin and included peas, corn, carrot, beans, cauliflower and potato. Half to one bag of veg and you have a very quick and easy, very cheap but healthy and tasty curry.

This is my little lady loving her vegie curry. My son however, is going through a decidedly fussy I’m not eating it! stage, even though he’s loved it in the past.

Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

Kid Friendly Curry

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Category: main dishes · Tags: ,