Monday, July 30, 2012

First Orders

How exciting... after my post regarding my Weekly Activity List, I had 3 friends request their own!  Here are my first 2 completed orders:

My third order is just waiting on confirmation of their personalised details and then I'll be able to complete another one!

I've been so excited about this project and the interest it's generated, that I've made up some "Forever Springtime" stationery to send out with the orders - a covering letter and some labels to pretty up the envelope the kit is being sent in.

It has actually been very interesting making Weekly Activity Lists for other people.  I feel that I've been privileged enough to get an inside look to my friends' lives that I might not have otherwise known.  Getting a list of all their activities for the week gave me an insight to how they organise their week, or perhaps how they wish to see their week unfold.  It showed me what their priorities are and got me thinking about mine and how their calendars were the same and different from mine.  I didn't expect to feel this way, but I do really feel privileged to receive this information and to hopefully play a part in helping them feel more organised, if not get them more organised!

If you'd like one of these for yourself, please email me and I'll let you know what information I need from you to complete your personalised Weekly Activity List!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Shopping Spree

What a pity that I had to go out and buy news clothes for my new job coming up!  A friend and I had a wonderful day today shopping for many outfits for this special occasion.  I managed to find a few bargains and get some discounts here and there, so the damage wasn't quite so bad!  The photos aren't that great (my camera takes beautiful pictures during the day but I've always had issues with night time/flash shots), but this gives you an idea of my plunder for the day!

 1. Gorgeous black dress with white polka dots and a bright red belt (we ran out of time to find some beautiful matching red heels to complete the outfit).
2. Stunning black pinstripe dress with a flattering flaps on the hip (I think my favourite purchase of the day).
3. Some new, simple black heels to complete each outfit.

 1. Gun metal grey slacks with slight stretch for a beautifully comfortable fit!
2. Black pinstripe below the knee skirt with belt.
3. Basic black below the knee skirt.

1. Stripped ruffle front shirt.
2. Basic red stretch shirt.
3. Cute little cardigan to throw over an outfit when slightly cooler in the office (jackets are a little redundant up here, so a cardigan is a practical, essential alternative!).
4. Another stripped, pleated shirt.

Can't wait to wear them for 'real' in the coming weeks!  My first day will be here before I know it... and so much to do before then!

#16 (36 to 36)

Getting caught up on some of my achievements from my 36 to 36 list!
Get rid of as much 'processed' food as possible from the pantry and fridge.  I've already been trying, but it's a definite goal.  Whether it be giving it away to the charity food bin at church or using it up, I want to get it out of the house!
Since I first shopped for my Cooking Like Grandma Experiment, my pantry has been so unorganised and I haven't been able to find anything.  I'd moved everything off of one shelf so that the week's food would all be together.  That meant everything that was on the shelf, no longer had a specific place and got shoved where I could find room.  Each time I went to the pantry after the experiment, stuff just got put back wherever and it got more and more unorganised.  It had been driving me crazy for weeks!  So, yesterday, I finally went through the cupboard and put everything back in an organised fashion.

However, not everything made it back into the cupboard.  Some got thrown and some was donated to the food box at church.  This was in line with #16 on my list.  I was pleasantly surprised, however, at how much stuff I was actually able to put back.  I didn't have too much processed stuff and the processed stuff that did make it back is hard not to have as a staple in the cupboard.

Also, I wasn't quite as strict as what I'd planned to be... I had to be a bit more realistic.  Due to the fact that I'm going back to work next month, I'm probably not going to have time to make every single thing from scratch.  As much as I'd like to, it's just not a realistic expectation.  Having said this, I will still try and avoid buying processed food as much as possible.  The experiment really influenced me in that way, and I am still keen to keep "Cooking Like Grandma" as much as I can, whilst staying realistic and in the realms of not making it too difficult for myself as a working mum!

The fridge is looking pretty good too, but I haven't provided a picture because it's actually pretty empty as I'm due to do a shop tomorrow!  With only fresh food (mostly) going in there, it gets bare much more quickly now!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

#33 (36 to 36)

Another task complete!
Make my own pasta for the first time. A friend is lending me her pasta maker and I hope to start using it often so I can justify spending the money on my own and make fresh pasta.
I've made it once so far.  It didn't work out too badly!  Not the best, but it was edible!  The friend who lent me her pasta maker, verbally gave me the instructions on how to make the actual pasta dough.  When I made it based on the memory of what she told me, it didn't really have the right consistency, so I just kept adding ingredients until it felt right.  Because I wasn't fast enough with each step, the dough stuck together a bit, but I made it work as best I could.  When I cooked the pasta, it turned out pretty well, but there were a few more clumps than I would have liked.

However, for my first attempt, I was pretty happy with the end result. I look forward to trying again sometime in the near future!

Have you made homemade pasta before?  If so, please share your recipe... I'd love to try it!  I'm keen to perfect the art!

Bar Codes and Shopping List Apps

I love the Woolworths App on my phone.  There are so many benefits to using it, my 2 favourite being 1.) the ability to scan in products I have at home to add them to my shopping list and 2.) having the shopping list automatically sorted by aisle number to make shopping more efficient and easier.

As I was sorting out my pantry today, I came up with what I thought was a pretty good idea (and Big Spring thought so too!)... when I get to the end of a product, I naturally add it to my shopping list on my phone straight away.  For something like a jar of peanut butter, it's nice and easy to just scan the bar code on the jar and have it added to my list automatically.  It's more frustrating when I use something like flour or sugar that has been put into a container and I no longer have a bar code to just scan and add.  Instead, I have to add it manually and scroll through a number of items to find the particular item I need.  I admit that it's not really that hard, but it's not as convenient as having the bar code at my finger tips.

So, I came up with a solution!  I've started to cut the bar codes off of the packets, after emptying them into the relevant container, and then sticking the bar code to the back of the container.  That way, when the item gets low, all I need to do, is scan the bar code that is conveniently located on the back of the container and the exact item I'm after is added to my shopping list.


I only have a few containers with the bar codes attached, but I look forward to slowly building my collection!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Big Changes

So, yes... as I was saying in my last post, I'm going to be starting back at work next month!  Does it seem like this has happened out of the blue?  That's because it did happen out of the blue!  Here's the story...

Big Spring and I have previously discussed me going back to work part-time while putting Amy in 3yo kinder next year, but when an opportunity arose recently, we decided to relook at things and assess the possibilities.

Big Spring received an email from MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) asking him to let his church know of a vacant position for “Personal Assistant to Regional Director (RD) and Senior Staff /Receptionist-Office Coordinator”. After some discussion (especially because the job ad mentioned that the role is full-time but applicants wanting to work less hours may be considered), we decided I should get more information on what the actual role was and what ‘less hours’ meant. They emailed me the job description and said they would consider less hours for the right person – they wanted the role to work for both parties, so would negotiate accordingly. As I read through the job description, I fell in love with the role. I then started looking on MAF’s website, to find more information about them. As I read through what they do, I got so passionate about wanting to serve with them.

After much more prayer, we decided that I should apply for the position, so I emailed my resume. They advised they would contact me by the end of the following week, however, the next day, I received an email saying that HR had a meeting and decided to get selected applicants to go through a practical exercise to help in their selection for interview. Wow! One step closer to the position! I thought the practical (a week later) went really well and later that day, I got a call to say they’d like to interview me, so a time was arranged for the following Monday.

What an interview… it went for 1hr 15min with a panel of 3 people. I felt that some of it went really well, but for (what seemed like) much of it, bumbled my way through it and thought it was just disastrous and figured that was the end of any hope of getting the job. As I left, they told me that I should find out by the end of the week if I had been successful. Imagine my surprise when I received a call the following morning saying that they were delighted to offer me the position! I took them up on the offer to think about it for the day before accepting. After continued prayer and much thought, I rang back in the afternoon to say that I would love to accept the job. Oh my goodness!

Obviously in between all of this going on, Big Spring and I had a lot on our minds! I was constantly thinking about it and praying, pleading with God to give me a clear answer whether this was the right thing to be applying for the job. We took each step as it came and hoped and prayed we were following God’s Will.

So what does this all mean for us? Well, I’ll be working from 8am-3:30pm Monday to Friday. Little Spring will be in child care 4 days a week and Big Spring will look after her on his day off. The one we are most likely to send her to is literally just around the corner from us, a minute’s walk away, so nice and close.

I’ll be starting on 13th August and of course have a mixture of excitement, nervousness and everything in between!

If you'd like to know what MAF is and what they do, click on the link above to take you to their website.  If nothing else, please check out their "Impact" page and watch some of their videos.  It's truly inspirational stuff!  Here's one in particular, from their US site, so you don't even have to leave this page!

Reverse Maternity Leave

Reverse Maternity Leave \ri-ˈvərs\ \mə-ˈtər-nə-tē\ \ˈlēv\ n. opposite or contrary to <reverse order> a period of paid absence from work, to which a woman is legally entitled during the months immediately before childbirth.

I came up with that little definition by splicing together the definitions of the words on their own.  And why would I do that?  Because I had to come up with a name for the period of time I am currently in and how it feels.

I don't speak for everyone, of course, but I think for many women, when they leave work on maternity leave, before having their baby, they spend the time preparing the home... cleaning every nook and cranny, baking and cooking up a storm to stash in the freezer, ensuring the nursery is just right and ready to bring home baby, frantically trying to fit in all those projects you know you won't ever touch again after baby comes along and treasuring the quiet time to relax and kick back, because you know you'll forget what "quiet time" and "relax" means in future and they will, in fact, become a redundant concept!

So, what does this all have to do with me?  Well, I’m now thinking about all the things I need/want to get done before I return back to work next month.  The list is growing in my head and I know it’s going to have to spill out onto paper if I want to keep track of everything.

“Hang on, back up,” I hear you saying.  “Before I return back to work next month?”  Yep, you read correctly!  If you haven’t already heard, you’re probably thinking you’ve missed something!  And you have, except it’s not your fault because I haven’t written about it on my blog until now.  I’ll tell you more about it in a minute, but in the meantime, I want to get back to this “Reverse Maternity Leave” concept.

As I was saying, I have a growing list in my head of all the things I need/want to get done before I start work.  I’m thinking about:
  • getting the house thoroughly clean now so that I can try and maintain the cleanliness on a much more manageable level.
  • baking and cooking to put in the freezer so we have ‘emergency’ food for the times I don’t feel like cooking or don’t have time after a long day.
  • starting to look at what routines I’ll put in place to manage my time well (using my activity list – I’ll need to make some new tags!)
  • organising all the things Little Spring will need for child care – clothes labelled, spare clothes in abundance, toilet train her (Big Spring is doing a wonderful job of taking that in hand today!), paperwork to enrol her, register her with Centrelink in order to claim the costs, start taking her to the centre a few times, to help familiarise herself with the other kids, staff and surroundings.
  • fitting in some pampering for myself to feel nice and refreshed for my first day – massage (got a voucher for mother’s day… the perfect time to use it!) and pedicure/manicure.
  • buying new clothes – I got rid of all my corporate wear when I decided not to return to work after my maternity leave ran out.  I figured that I’d had all the clothes for so long that I was due new ones when I eventually went back to work anyway!
  • trying to knock off some of my 36 to 36 list, especially the ones that involve helping me clear out my office here at home.  It’s a huge, unorganised mess at the moment and it deflates me every time I walk in here!
All this feels very similar to how I felt when I left my last place of employment before having Little Spring way back in 2009!  There are obviously some different tasks to when I went on maternity leave, but the concept is the same.  It got me thinking about a name for this period and I did try inventing a whole new word, but couldn’t come up with anything catchy enough, so a splice of words that gets the meaning across would have to do!

Now, I did promise to tell you more about this new job of mine, but I think that this post is already long enough, so instead, I’ll do a whole new post on it.  Stay tuned for the next post, or if you’re reading this later down the track, I’ll link you to the post here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

Seeing as my mum was up visiting, I thought why not celebrate the fourth of July, for the first time ever!

First of all, I made some very delicious pre-dinner snacks.  They weren't festive for this particular occasion, but Mum loves ladybirds, and had found these on Facebook, so I said I would make them for her when she came up.  Tonight seemed like as good a time as any!

We had a simple, but yummy BBQ dinner with Porterhouse steak and salad and made sure we saved room for dessert... Hidden Flag cake:

 It was a little messy, but I think it turned out pretty well, seeing as I based the design on something I saw on the internet, but didn't have the right 'equipment' to make it exactly.  How clever is that cake?!
Little Spring absolutely loved it... she's been on a sugar high for most of the day - licking beaters from the cake batter, from the icing and finally the cake itself!  It was actually very, very sweet, with all the cake and icing in between, that I got a bit of a sugar headache after eating it!  We had 5 adults and Little Spring to taste of the beautiful cake, and this how much is left.  I certainly don't want to be finishing it all off myself!

After dinner, we proceeded to play some American Football... on the Wii!  I found the game today at a bargain shop and wouldn't have bothered buying it except for the fact that it had American Football as one of the games and today was the fourth of July, so couldn't resist!

It wasn't one of the best Wii games we've ever played, but we had fun taking turns and we got into the other games as well - volleyball, cricket, boules, football (soccer) and disc golf.

So, tonight was one of the most interesting fourth of July's I've had, seeing as I've never celebrated it before, but I look forward to trying again next year and perhaps perfecting the hidden flag cake a little!

Did you celebrate Independence Day?