Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Reflective Practice

As part of my Financial Counselling studies, I will be making about ten posts on assigned questions over the next month or so.  So you may find me making a couple of posts a day as I work through assignments, rather than my usual haphazard posting!

Life experience seems to have developed the skill of reflection in me.  How much is positive - considering how I can improve the next time - versus how much is beating myself over the head repeatedly with a (perceived) error in judgement, is however a line-ball call. 

And in some instances, I really don't want a 'next time' at which I can improve.  Such as remembering to expressly ask to be informed of what's learned from the procedure as I'm authorising a medical autopsy on my dead husband. 

As I progress to practice as a financial counsellor, being able to reflect on how I've worked with a client, the options I've identified for them, how I've presented those options and the lines of enquiry I've missed will help me improve my practice as I gain more experience.  Knowing I have a tendency to beat myself up for errors, the missed lines of enquiry will be a key area for learning through reflection.

I remember being surprised in a past job when I walked into the kitchen and found a senior executive washing the coffee cups after a meeting.  I asked him why - surely there were tasks and outcomes from the meeting he needed to work on.  He told me that doing the dishes was the time where he processed - ie reflected on - the meeting.  I found he also headed to the kitchen when stuck with a curly problem.  He simply took the opportunity to put his brain in neutral, and let the solution fall out.

In the modern work age, it's really hard to 'switch off' when you come home.  I think a lot of reflection will occur in times where you put your brain in neutral, and that's more likely to happen at home than the workplace where simple output can often equal productivity, not the quality of output. 

So, being able to put my brain in neutral regularly in the workplace will both help with further developing reflective practice, and with the issue of bringing work home with me - intended or not.  At least I can see that as one advantage of the community services sector over more commercial enterprises - stepping up and doing some of those mundane office management tasks is likely to be appreciated, if not outright expected.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Bridget Jones - Critisisms and Lessons

Having seen the spoilers, out of curiosity I read the new Bridget Jones' Diary instalment. 

My curiosity was how was someone who may not know the widow experience*, write about the widow experience?  Honestly, pretty well, taking into account it is Bridget Jones we're talking about, and she is 5 years into the journey & I'm 18 months.  At least in part, her experience is familiar to me.  Particularly being left on your own to raise young children. 

The widowhood experience is something that is very, very difficult to comprehend until you've been there.  I had not concept before it happened, and the reviews I've read seem to support that; I don't feel there is a widow amongst the critics I've read.  So the book is generally being panned.

Firstly, it was never going to be a contender for the Man Booker - it's chick-lit people.  Take it as such.

One comment that crops up is she's again a singleton/cougar, therefore reverting to type.

Firstly, she's still Bridget. And the singleton/dating scenario is the premise of her character - it's what the first two books were about, why wouldn't the third? 

And I hate to break the 'happy happy joy joy' view that spouses don't up and die on you until you've reached a ripe old age, but we widows are out there. In large numbers. You'll be surprised how many younger widows (and widowers) there are from accidents, suicide, cancer and other medical conditions and illnesses.  And some do want to re-partner down the track, so the fact Bridget's looking (and frankly, only starts at the 5 year mark, with the pressure of her friends - without that she may not have), is also a reality.  This doesn't even cover those divorcees who also find themselves single again in their 30's, 40's and 50's.

Another critique is that she's still a social klutz.  Again, she's still Bridget.  Mark's influence may well have reduced some of those tendencies through her marriage, but the stress and trauma of widowhood may well have brought them out in force again. Widowhood does change your world view and may change your personality in part, but it's not necessarily a complete personality transplant, which one critic I read seemed to expect.  In fact, that she was a social klutz to start with it's not surprising, she remains one. "Widow brain" (that I've heard a lot of long-timers talk about still experiencing, and may be a PTSD manifestation), is likely to amplify rather than dull this trait of Bridget's. The descriptor of 'foundering' by another character actually describes the experience pretty well; floundering is also apt.

Some raise a timing issue of Bridget being 51, with her youngest child a 5 year old.  This rankled with me initially too, but on reflection, we don't know if both kids were the result of a long effort of assisted reproduction (ART), or even egg donor.  It's possible for the 5 year old to be from a Frozen Embryo Transfer.  And it's her contemporaneous diary, there's no real reason for her to mention it (except for back-story, and Fielding chose not to cover it in back story).  That it's automatically assumed that both are natural pregnancies also shouts to the lack of familiarity in the broader world with the infertility experience. Heck, I did it and I HAVE the IF experience!

Some may argue that Bridget talks about Mark's death, why not any (potential) ART?  Having also been through both, you tend to focus on and re-visit the loss of your husband, not what it took to have your child(ren).  And the loss of a spouse is something that hums away in the background and then intensifies to crippling clarity at the drop of a hat.  It's something I've learned to expect to be life-long.

Early in the book it's mentioned that Mark left her a wealthy woman - this is another of the criticisms; that she's rich so it's not reality. First, they were wealthy to start with, and rich people die, too.  Plus he had made sure everything was in place, just in case - as is stated in the book.

Although really just a passing comment, this is the biggest lesson I see to the general readership of the book.  Mark had made sure that his family would be secure.  Mr Trifectagirl and I had not gotten around to getting things in place even though we'd planned to, but our superannuation system meant I've at least been left with a secure roof over J and I's head.   I've encountered a number of widows both on and off line that are not so secure. There was no insurance, or no ability to get insurance, or limited superannuation. They have no choice but to work, and/or they loose their homes when they're still in the depths of grief.  Making sure both partners are adequately insured to keep the family secure is a great lesson from the book.

The upshot is there were moments that cut close to the bone, but it was an overall enjoyable, easy chick-lit read giving an insight into the widow experience through the lens of Bridget Jones.

*in checking, no Helen Fielding has not experienced widowhood. She's obviously done some good research in writing this book. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


My mum and step-father used to make their own laundry detergent, known in the family as 'gloop'.

After the large supply of commercial powder that Mr Trifectagirl was finished some 12 months after he got sick - he'd bought a lot - I started making gloop again as a budget measure.


1 cake of pure soap
1 cup washing soda
1 tsp eucalyptus oil

20 or 10 litre plastic container, old cheese grater, old saucepan (4 litre a good idea)

Time to make: about one cycle of my washing machine - probably about half an hour, but I really haven't watched the clock.

Heat 2 litres of water in the saucepan.

While the water is heating, grate the soap (this is a PITA job - I can't wait until J is old enough to help).

Add the grated soap to the saucepan and bring to the boil - watch it as this has the ability to over boil like milk.  I upgraded to a large stock pan that I found at a second-hand store for this batch after getting jack of cleaning over flows up, and I still had a mess to clean up.

I usually add the extra water to my bucket at this time (see quantity below).

Add the soda and stir until melted.  Forewarning - the soda will cause a reaction that could result in an over-flow if your pan is too small (my old over flow problem).

Pour the mix into your plastic container, and add the eucalyptus oil, and stir to mix.

For a 20 litre container, add 9 litres of hot water and 8 litres of cold water - this results in a claggy mix and use 2-4 cups per load.

I use a 10 litre container and add 3.5 litres of hot water and 4 litres of cold water.  This mix sets pretty solid and I use about 2 cups per load. 

I find this mix lasts a month or so, and at a rough, back of the envelop calculation costs $2 per bucket to make using higher quality ingredients.

 And the best thing about the new pot - all my bits and bobs for making gloop fit in it.  I can put on the lid and put it away until next time.

I've included this post in the Homemade Mondays link party over at Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity.

Monday, 23 September 2013


In two days I have surgery, and I'm apprehensive about it.  I now have a sharpened perspective of what 'one in one thousand'  odds of something bad looks like.

Since Mr Trifectagirl died, each month I get sinus infections, and until recently off I'd go to the doctor for a script for antibiotics.  I've just taken so many now that some have stopped agreeing with me, and we need to keep a couple available for future use. 

A bit of investigating a number of months ago, including a CT scan, showed that I have quite compact sinuses, so anatomically they're more prone to infection than the average person.  As such, surgery to open them up was put on the table. 

Not liking the idea of surgery, I looked at alternatives and found acupuncture sessions every two weeks kept the infections in check. Then my acupuncturist went on holidays and BANG, hello sinus infection. 

That was enough to indicate that I should probably have the surgery.  It won't stop me getting sick with colds and such, but has a very high probability of stopping something like a common cold developing to a sinus infection as well.

One up-side to surgery, a night in hospital with someone else cooking, cleaning & no small person taking up half the bed. 

Pity it's only an overnight stay.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

End of an Era

This week, Mr Trifectagirl's mother passed away unexpectedly, aged 81.  She had been in hospital for treatment related to diabetes, which had been going ok, but must have taken a very sudden turn.  The doctors told me there was no expectation or warning of her death.  The nurses checked her, all ok.  Doctors did their rounds within half an hour or so, and she was gone.  The doctor who had to make the call sounded in dis-belief at the situation. 

We were not expecting her to last long due to grief after Mr Trifectagirl died, but she surprised us all in surviving a year.  I had money on her living another 10 - she was a pretty strong willed woman, and although restricted to bed or a wheelchair, still fairly independent getting out and about to lunches with friends and to church nearly every week.   In the end, she made it to 15 months.

She revelled in having J in her life.  She regularly told me that he's just like his father was at the same age.  I suspect J is what kept her going this long.

Nanna being gone means that here, J has no family from his father's side.  There are relatives in the UK, but not here.  I'm conscious of that potential gap in him forming his identity as he grows up. 

I am now in the process of organising a funeral, and yet again have a carport full of belongings that need to be sorted out.  All at a crunch time for University assessments, too*.

And dealing with the compounding of the grief that my mother in law's passing has added to the loss of Mr Trifectagirl.

* I don't recommend trying to do on-line accounting assessments the day you hear your mother in law has died.  You fail.  Spectacularly.   Thankfully it was only a small section of an overall assessment, but the full thing is due by 5pm Tuesday.  I'm now not expecting a brilliant final result.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Budgeting Strategy - Menu Planning

I've been menu planning for a number of years, and it's a great way of controlling the grocery budget.

Many blogs I read post menu plans for the week on Mondays, and it's a good source of tested recipes, rather than something someone's pinned thinking 'ooh that looks interesting' and not tried it.

Planning for me happens generally on a Thursday, to run Friday to Thursday.  This helps finalise my shopping list for the week.  I build my list during the week as items run out, add what I need for the menu and do my weekly shop on Fridays.

One thing I make use of is my big freezer.  It's one of the first things I bought when I moved in.  I grab meat in bulk or when on sale (or even better - both!) and freeze up into meal portions.  I also blanch and freeze excess veggies from the garden. 

This week's plan - 23 to 29 August:

Friday:  The plan was for a beef curry, however once made (from a packet spice mix) this was too hot for J, so that got passed on to the parents, while we added toppings to a frozen pizza kept for just these occasions.

Saturday:  Was going to be soup from the freezer, but I used the rice I'd cooked for the curry and made a fried rice with bits and pieces in the fridge/freezer.

Sunday:  A pasta with a rose chicken sauce with mushrooms and spinach from the garden.  The chicken used was left-over shredded chicken in the freezer.

Monday:  Tonight will be yiros using left-over roast lamb. 

Tuesday: This is family dinner night at the 'rents with my sister and her little boy. 

Wednesday:  Roast lamb rack with veggies.  I managed to pick up a few mini racks that were just enough for J and I on sale, and put them aside in the freezer.

Thursday:  Hunt the freezer night - I will often cook extra and put them aside for some nights.  I then need to schedule freezer nights.  If it gets too out of hand, it's freezer weeks to ensure turn-over.

I'll sometimes juggle when things don't go to plan - such as passing on the curry. The pasta and yiros were meant to be on opposite nights, but I swapped them over based on how the day panned out (Read: I forgot to get the meat out the freezer early enough...).  But the menu for the week basically is as planned.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Goodbye Murphy

I'm a big fan of the personal financial management practices, particularly the baby steps, advocated by Dave Ramsey.  It reminds me very much of how my grandmother managed her finances.

Before Mr Trifectagirl got sick, I was starting to get the baby steps moving.  Particularly the emergency fund.  Dave calls this 'Murphy Proofing'.  You know Murphy, the dude that makes anything that can go wrong, go wrong.

Having 3 close relatives die on me in 4 years, I have been able to clear all my debt.  Mr Trifectagirl would be pleased he's been able to put a secure roof over J and I's head.  My Mum and step-dad pleased they've paid off my education debt.  This is something I very much appreciate how lucky I am (ironic since it took my husband dying, which isn't exactly 'lucky').

I have also been able to set up a fully funded emergency fund of 6 months expenses with the residual.

Which means when my car got broken into and the window was smashed last Monday, I was able to access the funds to get it fixed with out batting an eyelid. 

Then when my computer went belly-up the next day (I kid you not), I was able to head out and get a new one to keep ticking with my current studies.

So maybe based on the last week or so, Murphy will still show up, but he doesn't cause the stress and anxiety that he used to.


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Year 2

I am now over all the firsts since Mr Trifectagirl passed on 14 June 2012; birthdays, Christmas, Mr Trifectagirl getting sick, our wedding anniversary (4 June) and his passing.

The hardest period was the anniversary of him getting sick in March.  Over the course of a month, I accessed psychology services, was advised to leave my job and I dropped both travel plans and subjects at university to relieve the pressure I was under and free up the mental space to grieve.   A couple of months later, and I'm feeling a lot better.

The passing anniversary last Friday was the second hardest and has manifested itself as an inability to focus on anything for about a week around the date. Especially difficult to focus on was my accounting textbook and exam review (exam was yesterday, I think I'll pass, but don't quote me on it...).

So now, J and I are marching into year 2 without Mr Trifectagirl.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Retirement Plans

I came across an idea this morning that really grabbed me.

Taryn over at Widow's Voice is gearing up for a trip to India.  As part of the post she mentioned a 'Once in a Lifetime Trip, Once a Year'.

I REALLY like this idea!!  For years I've been building a list of trips I'd like to take, so I can add this concept to my savings plan and my plans for retirement (only some 20-odd years down the track...)

  • Climb Kilimanjaro
  • Visit Sri Lanka, probably as part of a cricket tour
  • Visit Argentina
  • Cruise Alaska
Trips Mr Trifectagirl & I wanted to take as a family so our children would have the experience are also on the list, but will wait until J is a bit older and he'll remember them.

  • Travel the UK from John o'Groats to Lands End.
  • Travel the East Cost of the USA, top to bottom.
  • Do a Dawn Service at Galipolli
I also want to scatter part of Mr Trifectagirl's ashes with some of those of his father in Cork, Ireland.  I'll wait until J is older so that he can remember it.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Looking into the Future

A few weeks ago I found Mr Trifectagirl's high school report cards.  His grades were generally OK, particularly in the early years, but he was described as a 'distraction' in class and his grades began to reflect that as he got older.

Two thoughts from having found those reports:

1 - I would have HATED to be his teacher.

2 - A friend mentioned that I'm probably looking into the future.  She's probably right.

Friends who are choosing to send their children outside of the public school system are starting to look at schools, or receive offers of places at their chosen schools.  Competition can be stiff  for entry; one friend did a school tour recently planning for their 7 week old's primary school education.

Since J will start primary school in February 2016, I figured it's time to get off my butt and look at schools, both for primary and high school. For primary, I'm generally happy to send J to public school, but I've always preferred to go private for high school; Mr Trifectagirl wanted his old public school, which I wasn't too adverse to, but it wasn't my first choice.

So I did some research on the public primary school our house is zoned for.  It's what is known as a 'super school', where 4 smaller schools have been brought together onto one campus.  Although it's all new facilities, I'm not too impressed with the size. On the plus side, at least it's only "Birth to Year 7", not "Birth to Year 12" like many of the other new super schools Add that results in the national standardised testing place the school at the lower end of achievement and since it's a new amalgamation, there's no historical data to see if there is a trend of improvement, I'm just not comfortable with this school.  So I'm going for 'out of zone' enrollment for a couple of selected public schools, with hopes of moving into the relevant zone by the time school starts or at least within the first year. I just need to finish my own studies, then get a job so I can get a mortgage to move!

For middle and high school, this week I put is name down for one of the most elite (and therefore expensive) boys schools in the city.  With Mr Trifectagirl no longer with us, the structure this school will provide may well be needed, especially if J is likely to reproduce his father's report cards!  I've been asked why I'm getting his name on the list now for Year 7 entry in 2023. For entry at any level, the school gives preference to brothers of current scholars and sons and grandsons of old scholars.  Since J is in neither of these categories, I want his name as far up the 'unconnected' list as I can get it.  It doesn't mean we have to accept any place offered, but right now I need to set up the opportunity to get an opportunity to go there.

Sunday, 21 April 2013


With all the various first anniversaries having started, I've been feeling generally disconnected and getting really flat.  I've heard through the widow community that some find year two harder than year one.  I'm coming to the conclusion I'm in that category.

I've found I've been far more conscious of the absence of Mr Trifectagirl since those anniversaries rolled around - it's like a spotlight has been focused on what's missing.  I also think there is an element of slowing down now that all the administrative stuff that needs to happen after someone dies is done. The reality of life without him is coming into sharper focus.

In 2008 both my mum and step-dad passed six months apart.  My step-dad's passing happened to coincide with my retrenchment from my job, so I had a payout to live off of.  After an intense year, plus the stress of clearing out a property, I wound up taking 6 months off before I felt like I could go back to work.

Since Mr Trifectagirl passed, I've taken a total of 5 weeks off work. Some of the motivation of not taking time was that initially I felt like I didn't need the time off - to keep busy with work and taking on study felt like what I needed at that time.

My body's been saying regularly that I need to take time by giving me recurrent sinus infections, but I've not listened.  So now my brain and body have definitively said enough's enough - time to stop pushing yourself.

In the past month I started jettisoning extra load.  I first cancelled travel plans for July - 4 weeks travelling across the US alone with a toddler just did not seem like an enjoyable break.   Then I dropped one of my uni subjects.

Two weeks later, it became obvious that eliminating those two pressures/commitments was not enough, so on medical advice, I have finished work 11 weeks earlier than planned. I'm disappointed that I won't see out the end of the program, but thinking with my management brain, it's better they have as long as possible with someone back-filling my role to ensure a solid wrap-up.

Keeping healthy for J, and spending more time with him, is much more important right now.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Blessing Others

One of the mammoth tasks I've had with Mr Trifectagirl's passing is clearing out the storage locker.

The rental came up for renewal a short time after he got sick, and we paid a year in advance, so we didn't have to worry about it for a while.

Of course, that's about to come up again so we're madly trying to get it done so we don't have to pay for more than one more month.

We've nearly cleared out all the boxes that I had nothing to do with packing and putting in there.  These are the boxes that came from my mother-in-law's house when she moved into a nursing home, and that Mr Trifectagirl and his ex brought home from the UK.  There are still quite a few boxes I put in there, but most of the 'unknowns' are dealt with.

Yesterday, I sorted through the pile of boxes we took out last weekend. In them, I found some gems like Mr Trifectagirl's school report cards and leaving certificate.

What I'm most thrilled about is we will be able to bless a needy family, or new arrival refugee family with pretty much a full kitchen, apart from crockery.  It will be great to walk into a charity on Tuesday afternoon with a collection of boxes, and say 'you will be able to set up a family'.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Anniversaries and Holidays

Mr Trifectagirl's birthday was on St Patrick's day, which also happens to coincide with the anniversary of him getting sick.  To observe this anniversary, a group of his friends and I went to the restaurant we were at last year.  I was apprehensive but enjoyed the day and the food is still fantastic.  This was the third year in a row we've been there for his birthday.

And I've spent most of the time since then sick, overloaded and just generally feeling like crap.  Not surprising since this is one of the big anniversaries, but I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Today's Widow's Voice blog post sums it up well (this blog, part of the US based Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation, has been a fantastic resource).  

J still has sleep issues.  He generally sleeps through, which I'm thankful for, but "sleeping through" is between him going down around 9pm and up anywhere from 5am.  Which sucks if you're not a morning person.

Due to having a toddler running around in the evenings who requires a railroad engineer, story book reader and human jumping castle, I've struggled to keep up with my uni work, so have dropped my statistics subject.  Thankfully the census date, which is the cut-off for paying for the subject, is tomorrow so I made that decision just in time.

I was planning to travel to the US over the mid-year break to meet a whole bunch of wonderful women who have supported me through infertility, pregnancy, parenthood, and Mr Trifectagirl's illness and passing.  But the thought of travelling all over the continent, alone, with an over-active 2 year old for 4 weeks just did not sound like fun, so have cancelled those plans.

Now that I'm down to a hopefully more sensible load, I'll be able to cope with the 3 month run to the end of my job and the start of my time as a full time student again.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

I thought my kid would be able to do that...

Last night my sister and I took our respective little boys to Granite Island to see the fairy penguins at dusk.  Well, as much as a 2 year old and 5 month old will cooperate with that plan.

Visiting the island to see the penguins was a stock-standard of our childhood and school camps.  And the penguins were everywhere.  In fact one of my best friends and I spoke for the first time on the bus on the way back to our accommodation after the visit our class made for our Year 8 'get to know you' camp (for US readers, year 8 is the first year of high school in South Australia).

So N and I were expecting to see the hundreds of them that you used to see when we were kids.

I had heard numbers were in trouble, but was gobsmacked to hear they're down to 26 birds!!

Down from 2000 birds around ten years ago.

As J was not a happy camper while the guide was filling us in, so I didn't really hear the reasons, but apparently one main one is there has been an explosion of seal numbers.  And fairy penguins are quite yummy to seals.

On the drive home, N and I were saying we thought  this is one of those things we'd always be able to do with our kids at any time - turns out we may not be able to.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Politics and Elections

What a week in Australian politics - the Federal election called for September, change in leadership in the South Australian opposition, arrests, pollies opening their mouths to insert their foot...   TV news has been saturated with it.

My Mum was active in politics and  Mr Trifectagirl had been very actively involved in both of our political parties in his life. We came to the conclusion that 20 or so years ago, we were probably at the same events!

As such we'd often discuss what was going on. 

Maybe this is another reason the surgery anniversary is hitting hard.

The house is very quiet even with a 2 year old boy in residence.   I'm very conscious of both the lack of insults being slung at the TV as particular politicians come on screen and open their mouths, and the conversations I'm not having. 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Death March

Many widows who now count their journey in years talk about the death march - the physical and emotional experience in the lead up to the anniversary of their partner's death. No matter what else has passed, including re-partnering, the body keeps those memories and marks time.

My grief shows itself physically.  For the last week or so, I've been feeling like crap - unable to eat, sleeping even worse than usual, actually feeling the effects of my life-long tendency not to drink water, very short with J and struggling to deal with the 2 year old meltdowns that have appeared.

So it looks like my death march has begun, even though the 'deathaversary' isn't until June.  

I've actually been feeling pretty good.  University starts next week and I've reached the milestone of being able to take my wedding rings off - the time felt right. 

So I've been trying to think 'why now'.  I've know all along that I've been grieving on a two-date rhythm based on when Mr Trifectagirl got sick, and then passed.  And for my experience, the illness date is the stronger of the two  and the anniversary of him getting sick is 6 weeks or so away.

Then it dawned on me as the calendar flipped into February there is a third date I hadn't been conscious of, February 22nd - the date of the surgery that lead to his illness. The surgery I still believe that if he'd listend to doctor's orders, he could have avoided in the first place.

It doesn't help that prior to the 22nd I have J's 2nd birthday, the first without his father, and cupid day.  Not that it was big for us, it's just freaking everywhere and a reminder of what has gone. 

At least now that I've identified what's going on, I can do what I can to take care of myself.

I still don't feel like eating, though.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

23 Months

I cannot believe that J is 23 months old. 

One month until he's 2. 

Where did the last 2 years go???  Don't answer that - a good chunk of last year was well and truely a write-off, as much as I tried to be conscious of J's growth and development while one stressed-out mamma about Mr Trifectagirl.

His favourite things at the moment are his wooden train set, water, baseball set, water, Fireman Sam, Lazy Town, Thomas, Giggle and Hoot, chasing mum with a spray bottle full of water, ice (frozen juice or frozen oranges or strawberries), bathtime.  This kid is a water baby.

Party plans are in full swing.  We're going to the same park as last year since it gives options for older kids to run around - and I suspect J will only stop long enough to inhale some cake that a friend is making for us, and get back into playing himself.

Gift wise he goes up to the toddler room at childcare on his birthday, so he'll get a new bag and hat on his birthday.  I also want to get him a sand pit, but that will have to happen later with grandpa's help.

Other gifts I've been told about are an easel, bathtub stickers, a quilt cover set and some size 2 clothes - and since it looks like he had a growth spurt Saturday, he'll be in them sooner rather than later, I think!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

New Years Organising Revolution - Week 2

This post is part of an organising contest that I'm participating in through I'm an Organizing Junkie.  Please vote for me from Friday - it's the one labelled "39 Trifectagirl". Thank you!!

I missed week one.  I'd planned to work on my desk, but that just got a bit too much last week.

This week the challenge area is the kitchen, so I chose to organise my utensils drawer.   I had sorted through my counter-top caddies just after the kitchen renovations, but not tackled the drawer yet.

I've had a pretty good double decker drawer divider/utensil holder for a number of years, so organising in this case was simply a case of 'empty, purge and allocate a home for what's left'.

My starting point was this jumbled hodge-podge mess. 

J loves pulling things out of this drawer, so I had already removed most of the knives (but I happened to find a few I'd forgotten about at the bottom of the pile).  I found multiple citrus zesters, pizza cutters, items I have no idea what they are, a chestnut cracker and 3 carving forks over and above my grandmother's good set.

I grouped things together, such as salad servers, useful but not used often (on the bottom rack!), skewers, spatulas and measuring spoons and long or chunky items. 

The top layer is things like can openers, garlic press, microplane and peelers.  Since finishing this and cooking a meal, I've done a bit of tweaking putting the microplane to the side and the nutmeg/ginger grater fits at the front of the divider.

I've decided I need to get one of these dividers from my cutlery drawer.  I'm using the moulded one that came with the kitchen, and realised tonight after doing this sort out that there is a bunch of wasted space in the existing set-up.

In the drawer I worked on, and my top one, I found a bunch of tea and hot chocolate items, so I bundled them together and have stored them in a glass mug with the tea and teapots. 

One thing I stumbled on in the drawer was a tea-bag squeezer, which I had forgotten I had.  I've stored this in the jar of teabags that sit on a lazy susan on my bench with the rest of my every-day coffee/tea making things.

This was a pretty quick project - if I'd not also done 2 loads of laundry and folded them, I'd have achieved the sort and this post while J was doing this:

Ask Anna

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Things I've Been Meaning to Do - 2013 plan

Previously I've done monthly 'Things I've been meaning to do' posts, and since I found them really useful to keep me moving on all those things I've been meaning to do, I'll resurrect them for 2013.

This list are things I've been meaning to do in some cases for years that I'd like to knock off in 2013.  Many of these I can set smaller goals during the year on a month by month basis to get them done.

  • Make photo books of the photos I have of my mum and step-dad.  I've got piles of baby and childhood photos, so I'd like to get them organised and published into photobooks.  Only been on the list for 4 years or so.
  • Finish J's baby cross-stitch.  He's nearly 2.  I need to get it done. I don't want it to be like the table cloth my mother started crocheting when she was pregnant with my sister in 1976.  It was left unfinished when she passed in April 2008.  By unfinished, there is one square to finish and and two to connect to the tablecloth!
  • Sort through my filing cabinet.  This is just a general maintenance task that needs to be done, but something I tend to avoid.
  • Sell the stuff I've been planning to sell for ages - some of this also dates back 4 years. 
  • Tidy up the couch grass in my yard.  It's invaded the garden beds and since I have good edging, I really should get in and clean it up.  This will be a winter job when the ground is hopefully softer. 
  • Re-paint all the trim around the outside of the house, a job that is well, well overdue.  I may use this as an opportunity to update the look.
I'm sure I'll come up with other things.

*The montly 'Things I've Been Meaning to Do' originally came from I'm A Lazy Mom.