Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Lovely Thought on Parenting

I've been cruising around the internet tonight (because once again I have too much time on my hands) and I came across an article on Slow Parenting at

Within in the article is this quote:

"....while there is no ideal model because there are lots of ways to grow up, there are basic ingredients all kids need: “healthy food, enough sleep, time to play and get bored, freedom to think and explore the world, the right to chose their own path in life, love, security and affection with no conditions attached”."

This is timely for me as I've spent the day listening to some families compete on how many activities their five and six year olds do - soccer, football, violin, piano, dancing etc etc. We don't do much in the way of activities so I wisely kept my mouth shut. This article reminded me of why we keep the kids schedule reasonably free.

Monday, September 24, 2012

My First Visit to Costco

I've been meaning to check out Costco for a while now and have a few friends who absolutely love it.
So today I took myself and the kids off for a morning adventure to see what all the fuss is about.

Firstly, there's a $60 annual membership and you can't even walk in the door without one. Crazy no? My initial thought it a shop that makes you pay to shop there is basically ripping you off. But they offer a money back guarantee so I figured I could always get my money back if I wasn't impressed.

Secondly, it took me about 30 minutes to get there and I was there for about 1.5 hours even though I only did a very quick trip around the edges of the warehouse. It is massive to say the least and a lot of  my time there was spent manoeuvring around all the other people with my MASSIVE trolley that had fixed back wheels. And it is Monday today - supposedly one of the less busy days there. I can only imagine what a weekend would be like. I'm going to have to make some pretty big savings to make the effort worthwhile.

Thirdly, I have complete baby brain and forgot to take my price book with me so I couldn't compare prices before I bought. I did remember my list. I also have a weekly grocery budget of $150.00. I needed to get anything from Costco plus everything else on my list for the week and not go over budget.

So here is what I bought:

Item Price at Costco Current Price at Coles My Savings
Tomatos - 12 x 400g cans $7.29 (60c ea) $1.58 $0.98/can - $11.76 total
Lemons - 1.36kg about 10 in the packet $3.99 (40c ea) $2.98/pkt6 (49c ea) 9c ea - $0.90 total
Greek Yoghurt - 2kg $5.49 ($1.37/500g) $5.87/kg ($2.93/500g) $1.56/500g - $6.24 total
Lamb Rack - 0.668kg $19.16 ($28.69/kg) $37.99/kg) $9.30/kg - $6.21 total
Deli Ham - 500g $5.99 ($11.98/kg) $16.50/kg $4.52/kg - $2.26 total
Proscuitto - 150g $5.39 ($35.93/kg) $6.50/100g ($65.00/kg) $29.07/kg - $4.36 total
Ricotta Cheese - 1kg $5.69 ($1.42/kg) $5.74/500g ($11.48/kg) $10.06/kg - $10.06 total
Lebanese Pita Breads - 2 packets of 7 pieces $1.89 (13.5c ea piece) $3.90/pkt6 (65c ea piece) 51.5c/ea - $7.21 total
Whole Almonds - 1.36kg $13.79 ($10.14/kg) $10.84/500g ($21.68/kg) $11.54/kg - $15.70 total
Rice Vermicelli - 4 x 375g packs $4.79 ($3.19/kg) $2.12/125g ($16.96/kg) $13.77/kg - $20.65 total
Fresh Strawberries - 1.4kg $9.49 ($1.69/250g) $2.00/250g punnet 31c/250g - $1.73 total
Tuna in Springwater - 12 x 95g cans $12.49 ($1.04/can) 90c/can 14c/can - $1.68 total

My Total Savings $88.76

Ok, so I am a bit shocked by the amount I've saved. I really didn't think it would be that much. So I have already made my annual fee back.

A couple of points though
  • Some of these quantities are huge and I think we may have to work at eating it all. For example the yoghurt may go off before we finish it. Same goes for the ricotta.
  • We don't eat that much tuna and I probably shouldn't have bought it there. Considering I haven't saved that much I would have been better buying it at Coles and not having to store the extra cans.
  • The fresh food is in such large packs that most would end up going to the chooks. We might finish off a pack of apples but not 2kg of tomatos.
  • I need to find out more about the meat. It didn't have free range or grass fed all over it. I did notice they had Lilydale whole chooks.
With a bit of planning and restraint I think going to Costco a couple of times a year could be worthwhile.

BTW - of I have made a gross error in my calculations please tell me. My brain hurts after all that.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pinterest - Sewing Tutorials

One of the wonderful things about blog land is all the great sewing tutorials. People are so generous with their time (and talent).

Here are some great tutorials I've pinned on Pinterest. Some of them involve drafting your own pattern from your favourite clothes which is what I have just started to do whilst others have a printable pattern.

Click on the source underneath each image to go straight to the blog and the tutorial.

Source: via Emma on Pinterest
Source: via Emma on Pinterest
Source: via Emma on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest

Thursday, September 13, 2012

20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge – Day 8

Day 8 of the challenge was to tackle the craft room (or in my case the sewing room/study).

Originally this was only my sewing room but Mr Berry has been slowly moving in and using it as his study. The room is super tiny and there just ain't enough room for the two of us. And this was the result:


You probably can't tell in the photos but everything was super dusty. Cutting fabric and sewing creates heaps of dust. I think the dust bunnies had well and truly bred and created their own empire. So I removed everything I could out of the room and cleaned.
  • windows
  • light fitting
  • shelves
  • desk
  • floors and skirting boards
Everything was put back in it's place and I burnt a lovely smelly candle whilst I was cleaning to make it all seem pretty.


Everyone was super impressed. I'd love to get some lovely baskets and wot not to make the shelves all pretty and magazine-like but honestly I have other things to spend my money on at the moment so it will have to stay as it is.

Want to check out the challenge? Head over to The Organised Housewife.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

20 Days to Organise and Clean your Home - Back to Day 1

I  thought I would show you where I started on this challenge.

The first day of The Organised Housewife's 20 Days to Organise and Clean your Home started in the kitchen. The tasks were:
  • to clean the kitchen (benches, sink, window and sill, walls, light fittings)
  • clean the microwave
  • clean cupboard doors
  • clean tops of the cupboards
  • declutter benches
  • clean and organise under the sink
I felt like I'd spent all day cleaning the kitchen but the end result is well worth it.

Just to be clear, this is a before shot. I hadn't cleaned up after breakfast but let's be honest, it looks like this most of the time.

And After

I'd like to move the fruit bowl and have nothing on the main bench but then I'd just be adding something else to the dining table (which I am yet to tackle).

What I am super happy with though is under the kitchen sink.



I'd been meaning to clean it out for weeks now and it was filthy so it's great to finally get it done. I always feel better when my cupboards are clean and organised. It's like everything is right in the world if the insides are tidy.

Day 1 was a big day and by the end of the day I was really tired. The kitchen was a major job but now it's done maintaining it won't be so bad. Just a quick wipe here and there. The remaining days have been easier as I have a regular cleaning routine and always try to keep things in their homes.

If you're interested in checking the challenge out, it's here.

We're Quitting Sugar.

Talk about new things.

After a long discussion with my husband the other night we came to the conclusion that the health of our family is a top priority. And the best thing we could do for our children is to quit sugar.

For well over a year I have been reading and re-reading David Gillespies books Sweet Poison, The Sweet Poison Quit Plan and Big Fat Lies. I have also done my own research and I am convinced that sugar is giving us all kinds of grief and that there can be no such thing as moderation. (At least for us. We always seem to go nuts with sugary foods.)

So on the weekend we began the process of removing sugar from our lives. To help keep me motivated and to remind me of why I am doing this I've started a new blog How I Quit Sugar.

So why such an extreme move? I've known about the effects of sugar for a while now and I've must admit I hadn't really tried too hard to eliminate it. Lately I've realised how much sugar my kids eat. It's steadily growing. I've always battled with my weight and I've always said that I don't want my children to go through what I went through (and still go through). But the other day that really hit home.

We were at Miss Berry's kindergarten orientation and there was a performance from some of the older students. Four pairs were doing ballroom dancing and three of the girls were slim and one was on the chubby side. Actually a bit more then just on the chubby side. The poor girl stood out like a sore thumb on stage, especially in comparison to the other three who really did look like you would expect dancers to.

My heart went out to this girl and it brought back all the memories of myself at that age. I was the fat one at school and back then I was pretty much the only fat one in my class. I was always the last in the sport races, the last to be picked on the sporting teams and the first to get puffed when doing sport or running around in the playground. Growing up is hard enough, let alone when you are different and seeing this girl made me determined to do everything I can to make sure Miss and Mr Berry do not become that child.

And guess what? Sugar makes you fat. As well as leading to all sorts of illnesses including Type 2 Diabetes which is becoming more prevalent at even younger ages.

Interested in my journey or to know more? Please come over to How I Quit Sugar and join me as I break our addiction.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

20 days to Organise and Clean Your Home Challenge by The Organised Housewife.

Over the past few weeks I have been giving the house a good spring clean. I think my nesting has kicked in early.
To help keep me motivated I've joined The Organised Housewife's 20 Day Challenge to Organise and Clean your Home.
    The Organised Housewife

I've been pretty slack on the whole house keeping thing over the past 18 months. I've had a cleaner doing the basics but I must admit I haven't really been doing much extra and the house is disorganised and somewhat cluttered. It finally came to a head when my cleaner told me she could no longer continue cleaning.

I've been doing the housework on my own for a little over a month now and the house is actually starting to look rather clean but it is far from tidy, and I admit there are a lot of things without permanent homes (unless the dining table or end of the kitchen bench count).

So to keep this spring clean on the go I'm going to do this challenge. If you want to, please join the challenge too and let me know. I'd love the company. Even if you're not doing the challenge, I'd recommend you check out the her website. It has tons of great ideas for running your household.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Time Has Flown

Wow, it's been almost 2 years since I have blogged. Things have been very busy here at the Berry Patch but honestly, I must admit that blogging has just not been a priority.

We have a new (or now not so new) addition to the Berry Patch.

Master Berry is 18 months and is just the cutest toddler ever. I love this age and would freeze time if I could. He is so mischievous and keeps up on our toes, but the things he does are so funny and cute. I love toddlers.

Miss Berry is almost 5 and over the last couple of months has really grown up. I keep wondering where the last 5 years have gone. She is starting school next year and she is so excited about it. I am a little sad about it but at the same time so very excited for her as she moves on to the next stage in her life.

And, we are expecting Berry number 3 in February. (Sorry, no picture. We will all have to wait.) The pregnancy is going smoothly and is similar to the other two, except that I am also running after a toddler and young child. As you can imagine I am somewhat tired.

Mr Berry and I were talking over the weekend about our goals for the family and I thought about my personal goals. Over the past year in particular, but I suppose it would have started two years ago, I have drifted from our simple, eco life. Rather then living deliberately I have been in crisis management and just trying to get through each day. Obviously with 2 children things do get hectic and I have been trying to do too much and also expecting too much of myself.

I must admit I have also been feeling pressure to contribute financially to the household. Not from Mr Berry but from myself and I think society in general.

As with any choice made as a mother, you are saying that I think my choices are better than yours(compared to those who choose different things that is). Because if you thought that their choice was the right thing to do then you'd be doing it too. I know we don't usually consciously think like that but I do think it is implied. Combined with the whole mothers guilt thing it can make people quite defensive in their decisions.

Think about any conversations you had about breast feeding vs bottle feeding, cloth vs disposable nappies, organic vs non organic foods or the big one - going back to work or staying at home. Some of these can get pretty heated and even if they don't, I have found that a lot of mothers seem to defend their choice to those that have made a different decision.

And I guess that is why I have felt I 'should' be working. People do define themselves by work. It is often one of the first questions someone asks you and I have received the 'oh' and then silence when I've told people I'm a stay at home Mum. Work is also a very common topic of conversation and when you are with a group of people who all work and are discussing (or complaining) about the trials of work I do feel left out and find myself internally justifying my decision. I know it sounds extreme but I think you are discounted in society because you don't go to work.

I think I had lost sight of why I am a SAHM (stay at home mum) and what I do contribute to this family. I also needed to really think about and define what gives me purpose in life. More money is not going to make us happier. It may not sound very ambitious but I do not need a career to make me complete. What I do want is to bring up our family so they can be well adjusted, successful adults. (successful in life, not necessarily in a career). If I can do that then I know my life will have had meaning and purpose.

Last weekends adventure. The Royal National Park.

So I am going to commit to continuing this blog to keep me on track and to help me remember why I have made the choices I have. I may not blog about serious environmental issues and I will admit our lifestyle can at times be full of materialist consumerism. But I will blog about our trials and tribulations as well as the joy of our family. I'll also keep you up to date with my home-making as I embrace my Stay-at-home-Mum-ness.
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