Feels Like Friday

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I have not posted anything for the past couple of days as I have been totally committed to work.  We have had colleagues from interstate working with us for a few days and I had to give it my undivided attention so as to maximise the results from being able to work face-to-face.  Despite all of the advances in technology which allow us to connect via, phone, email and videoconferencing, there is nothing quite like being able to sit down and look at the same work together.

Everyone has headed back to their respective locations and I am now home with the prospect of 5 days at home stretching out in front of me.  It really does feel like Friday!  I will be doing some work from home tomorrow but other than that my time is my own.  As an added bonus we have a long weekend due to the Australia Day holiday on Monday.

I hope to make some progress on a number of projects around the house and garden and I am sure I will have lots to show you.

We have the prospect of slightly cooler weather for the next few days and possibly some heavy rain.  I think the first thing I will do is make sure all of the washing is up to date while the weather is still fine.

TowelsIt is lovely to have time to look forward to spending as I choose rather than having a diary crammed full of appointments.RelaxingDo you plan every moment or do you go with the flow, so to speak?

Planning a Picnic

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On Saturday we were going to be out for the whole day so I decided to pack a picnic lunch.  We knew that we were going out for dinner so it seemed ridiculous to consider ‘eating out’ twice in one day.

2015-01-12 01This is where we had our lunch.  It is not out in the country but a suburban park about 4km from the Brisbane CBD.  There is a bus depot across the road and a major freeway and interchange a few hundred metres in another direction, yet it was a quiet and peaceful oasis where we stopped for our picnic.

We unpacked our picnic set and cloth, added the food and drink and we were ready to tuck into our feast.

2015-01-12 02I had made a mixed salad of lettuce, capsicum (red peppers), cherry tomatoes, cucumber and cheese as well as a couple of hard-boiled eggs.  There were rice crackers and some mango chutney as well.  I packed some walnuts and dried figs to finish and the whole lot was washed down with lemon cordial and soda water.

A pleasing note is that the lemon cordial, mango chutney and soda water were made at home, the chickens provided the eggs and the cucumber and tomatoes were picked from the garden.

Just a few minutes spent planning meant that we saved at least $30 and were able to enjoy some of our favourite foods in a pleasant setting rather than doing battle with holiday crowds at a cafe or food court.

Time To Take Three

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I have been very busy this week and working long hours in order to catch up on some things at work.  I had planned to take a day off tomorrow but have changed it to Monday so that I can finish some tasks before the end of the month.

In between all of the busyness I managed to cross 3 things off my list on Tuesday.  The first thing I did was to articulate what I was going to achieve by telling The Duke.  Letting someone know helps to make you accountable.

My 3 things were relatively minor but need doing.

1  Make a dental appointment

2 Send an email to our accountant to make an appointment for our tax

3 Contact the owner of the venue where we will be holding a birthday celebration for The Duke

Appointment

These had been rolling around in my head and going nowhere but suddenly they took on an unexpected level of importance once I had shared them with someone else.  Best of all, it took a total of 5 minutes to do them.  I now have the dental and tax appointments in my diary and some details confirmed regarding the dinner.

Planning is the Key

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As I sat down at my desk on Saturday morning to write a menu plan for the week, I started to think about how much planning goes into keeping our lives running smoothly.

Menu plan
I have always menu-planned to some degree but I have now developed a routine which works for us.  Every Saturday morning I write a plan for the next  7 – 10 days.  I keep in mind what food I have in the refrigerator as well as what is available in the garden.  From that I then write a shopping list.  This generally a few basic groceries such as milk and cheese as well as fruit and vegetables.  I buy meat every couple of months and pantry staples about every 3 months.

We have big plans, such as our overseas trip but also small, day-to-day plans that ensure things run smoothly and we work towards achieving our goals.  If this sounds like our lives are totally structured and regimented, think again as nothing could be further from the truth.

Over breakfast on a Saturday morning, either The Duke or I are often heard to say, “So, what are your plans for today?”  Then follows a discussion about what we have individually considered that we need to get done.  It usually centres around shopping, washing, lawn mowing and the like.  The next step is to plan.

On Saturday morning we had to take the dog to the vet at 8.30am so we decided to leave the shopping until Sunday morning and do some outdoor work.  We needed to finish by 4.30pm so we could be cleaned up and head off to dinner and the movies by 6pm.  We planned our outdoor work and achieved a real sense of satisfaction when the jobs were done.  All of the piles of mulch were collected from various spots around the yard, we weeded and mulched the garden bed beside the front steps.  The Duke lightly pruned the roses and we planted 5 more pineapple tops.  The remainder of the mulch was spread under the native shrubs on the front verge.

Since it was drizzling with rain most of the day we then adjourned under the house to start on one of the other jobs on the master list – covering the area which is bare dirt under the verandah with pebbles.  The original plan was to build 3 more low retaining walls to create stepped levels to hold the pebbles in place, however, we have decided to retain the sections using some timber sleepers.  We will also place some along the outside edge to separate the pebbled area from the garden bed outside.  We have calculated how many sleepers, how much weed mat and the volume of pebbles that we will need to complete the job.  The ground has been dug out and is almost at the levels we need so I hope we can get this finished over the next few weeks.

Wall and lattice - finished
Sunday was a different story.  I did the ironing early, before we went to do the shopping in a couple of different locations and came home with the intention of more outdoor work.  One simple message on the answering machine changed that.  A friend had left a message to ask us to come for drinks at 4pm, so I amended the menu plan as I knew we would have plenty of late afternoon/evening nibbles.  I then spent the rest of the day in the kitchen.  I made pizza bases, wraps for our lunches and a chocolate cake (all gluten-free).  I made 1 pizza and took that and the chocolate cake with us that afternoon.  The remainder of the pizza bases are partly pre-cooked and in the freezer.

So, to round off a fairly long-winded story, I think it is important to have a plan, otherwise things can turn into a disorganised jumble and you end up wasting a lot of time.  The organisation that results from these plans allows you the flexibility to change those plans to accommodate things that arise out of the blue.  What do you think?

Project 333 – Oops!

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I came unstuck this morning with my small wardrobe.  I am back at work today after a week off over the Christmas period, however, the dress code is casual for this week.

It is going to be hot again today so I put on my white shorts and one of my new spotted tops (the black one) and my black leather slides.  It was all looking good until I was standing on the railway platform and noticed that the top was navy, not black.  I would normally have chosen to wear my red sandals with this outfit.  I doubt that anyone will notice but it does not feel right to me.

Sleeveless top
Navy is a new addition to my wardrobe so I will need to be careful when choosing this top especially as the black and navy ones are otherwise identical.

Do you have ‘rules’ about your clothes or is it a case of ‘almost anything goes’?

Keeping It Simple

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It is a challenge to just keep my head above water during the week as we are commuting/working  for long periods each day.  It is very easy to just flop in a chair and do nothing, and some nights I do just that.  However, I find that if I do a little bit each day it is less onerous when the weekend comes around.

Here are some of the things I try to do to keep it simple:

Plan meals – on a good week I have the whole week planned out but otherwise I at least know what we will be eating for dinner the following night.

Pantry

Plan what I will wear – as above.  It saves wasting time on thinking in the morning.

Lunches planned and at least partly prepared.

Rinse/wipe the basin and vanity to keep it looking clean.

Washing/folding/ironing – make sure it is up to date.  This morning I hung out the sheets, tonight I took them off the line and they are now folded and put away.  I also handwashed some jumpers and hung them out.

Ironing basket

What do you do to keep the wheels running smoothly?

Project 333 – Red Replaced by Pink

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Remember my post from Sunday where I showed that I could wear my red cardigan all week with different outfits?  Well that plan came to a shuddering halt yesterday because I was wearing it when I had my hair cut.  Now, I know that I had the towel around my neck and a plastic cape on but nevertheless, those tiny bits of hair just end up everywhere.  So, the cardigan was consigned to the washing basket – and I had not even worn it on Monday at all as my 3/4 sleeve shirt was warm enough!

All is not lost as I have kept my basic outfits the same and swapped to a pink cardigan for the rest of the week.

Wednesday outfit

Luckily, my choices for today and Friday are fairly neutral and tomorrow’s outfit combines red and pink in the one dress.

It would not have been the end of the world if I did have to re-think what I was planning to wear but I still maintain that it is better to have a plan than not.

Planning – Dinner and Dressing

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As you may have guessed from my lack of posts recently, I have been rather busy both physically and mentally.  There is a lot going on at the moment and I had dropped the ball as far as menu planning went.  We have still been eating meals – almost all cooked at home but I have been throwing them together without a lot of thought.

Today I decided that I needed to refocus and get organised.  Here is the plan for the week

Sunday – Beef stroganoff with mashed sweet potato and green beans

Monday – Stuffed mushroom slice with coleslaw

Tuesday – Sausages and salad

Wednesday – Chicken and green bean stir-fry

Thursday – Nachos with refried beans and guacamole

Friday – Cheese omelette with bacon and avocado

Saturday – Rissoles and salad

We have green beans and avocadoes from the garden and the remaining fruit and vegetables that I need were bought this afternoon.  By having a plan I make sure that I use the food on hand, wastage is reduced (hopefully to zero) and I can do some preparation the night before.

The other thing that I like to plan in advance is the clothes that I am going to wear.  Here in south-east Queensland we are into some seriously warm weather with the maximum temperatures forecast for this week ranging from 26C up to 32C so my footwear each day will be my very comfortable strappy sandals with a small heel.  Here are my planned clothes for the week.

Monday – white cotton drill 3/4 pants and blue/white striped collared shirt

Tuesday – sleeveless cotton dress – black with white spots

Wednesday – skirt – cream with black spots and black sleeveless t-shirt

Thursday – Pink/red/white floral, sleeveless dress

Friday – skirt – navy with white spots and white sleeveless t-shirt

It can still be cool in the mornings and also the office is air-conditioned so I will wear a red 3/4 sleeve cardigan with all of these outfits as required.

I will try to take and post a photo of my outfit each day.

What do you plan in advance?

Owl or Fowl

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Are you an ‘owl’ (night person) or ‘fowl’ (morning person)?  I am definitely a fowl.  I generally get up at 5am to leave for work by 5.40am but even if I have no specific commitments I am often out of bed and rearing to go well before 7am.

It is so much more efficient to plan your day so that you get the maximum benefit from your prime time.  I can achieve more in 30 minutes in the morning than I can in 3 hours of an evening.

This evening is an excellent example – there is a basket of clean clothes to fold, some ironing to do, sewing to work on as well as sweeping and mopping floors.  I will not be doing any of it tonight but once I have had about 8 hours sleep it will be finished in less than an hour.

When do you do your best work?  Do you have different times for different activities?  How do you structure you day and what needs doing?

Planning Ahead

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We will be going to a wedding in March 2013 and while that is still 6 months away I have begun to consider what I might wear.  In fact, while we were on holidays I did look to see if I could find something suitable.  I do not even know what I am looking for which does make shopping rather difficult.

While I was sorting out some items in my sewing room I came upon this skirt which needs to be mended.

2012-09-27 01The skirt is fine – it is the lining that is the problem.

2012-09-27 02The lining is much narrower than the skirt and it has split at the sides.  I had only worn the skirt a couple of times before this happened and then I gained weight and it was a bit tight.  Now the skirt is fine and once I replace the lining with an underskirt that matches the shape of the outer skirt it will be fine.

2012-09-27 03This is the top which I originally bought to wear with the skirt and although I have worn it with other outfits it definitely looks best with the skirt.  The photo is not very flattering and the top looks better in real life.

I tried the ensemble on last night with black heels and have decided that it will be suitable for the wedding.  I am thinking of making a black jacket – possibly velvet and also having a black shawl/wrap.

My only concern is that the wedding is in Canberra in March (early autumn/fall) and the weather is totally unpredictable.  I could wear a camisole under the top and an extra slip if it is really cool.

I need to start looking at replacing the lining and choosing a suitable pattern and fabric for the jacket so that the sewing does not get left to the last minute.  A little bit of lateral thinking and planning may have saved me  a significant amount of money.