10 October 2008

Friday is my at home day. It's the one day of the week where I deliberately don't make plans to go out, meet anyone, do any interviews or make any other appointments. Friday is cleaning day. It was cleaning day when I was growing up and I'm not sure what would happen if I changed it but I sure as heck am not going to risk it.

Every Friday I clean our home from top to bottom and it positively sparkles by lunchtime, in my eyes anyway. Today was an especially nice day for cleaning, bright sunshine, stunning blue sky and just a light breeze to dry the washing. The gorgeous day prompted me to start washing the winter blankets off our beds ready to put away until next April. Two down, two to go. They may get done on Sunday.

I'll let you in on a secret: cleaning has become easier for me as I've eliminated products. Nowadays I have white vinegar, bi-carb, laundry soap and lots and lots of microfibre cloths. Put those together with a bucket of cool water and there isn't much that can't be cleaned, and cleaned quickly. There's not a lot of residue to clean off anything when you use simple cleaning solutions. There are some recipes for simple but really effective homemade cleaning solutions in the October Journal if you are not sure what to use to clean things.

I've even changed the way I polish the furniture. Mum found some gorgeous orange scented beeswax furniture polish when she was a way and bought a tin for me. It is so nice to use and gives the furniture a lovely glow - patina I think the antique dealers call it. It's the glow built up over time by repeated polishing. Whatever it's called the timber has never looked lovelier.

One thing I noticed as I was cleaning out the fridge is that there weren't any leftovers lurking anywhere this week. I usually find at least a couple of odd things hiding at the back and use them to make a mufti soup or stew or pie or something but not this week. It was a little off-putting until I realised that I have been extra careful with portions and recipes to try and keep the grocery bill down. Don't get me wrong, no one has been hungry and there is still plenty to eat if they are, but I have been making sure that absolutely nothing is being wasted. Hopefully it will show when I go shopping next.

Another thing I've gone back to doing faithfully is tracking our spending. The kids have even been telling me what they've been spending their money on so it's been going into the notebook too. So far this week we have had three days with no spending by any of us, so that was neat.

I picked up a jar of Tandoori powder at the greengrocer last week, it was only $2.25, must less than the jar of paste I usually buy (I haven't tried making my own yet). By my estimate it is the equivalent of 20 jars of the paste so that's a considerable saving. If you're interested it is GFresh Tandoori Seasoning, Spicy. The company is SA Spice, 64 Wood Ave, Ridleyton. Ph. 08 8346 0688.

There were some bbq lamb chops languishing in the freezer so I mixed 1/2 teaspoon with 1/2 cup plain yoghurt (homemade of course) and it was just lovely. I brushed them with the tandoori and put them in the fridge for a couple of hours. Then Wayne cooked them on the bbq while I made a salad like the one we get at our favourite Indian restaurant. It's a simple salad - torn lettuce, diced cucumber, diced tomato and thinly sliced onion tossed together and seasoned with sea salt and ground black pepper. Hannah made some naan and we had a really nice "Indian" dinner and for about a quarter the price of eating out.

Our kids have had lots of questions this week about money and banking and how a bank in another country can cause such trouble all over the world. Hopefully we have been able to reassure them that as a family we will be fine. They understand that we don't have any debt, I think I've told them often enough that credit cards are not for spending so they know we don't have any cc debt and they know we bank regularly into a savings account that is just for saving. They also know that when the gas bill came in this week I was a little unhappy, it was slightly over what I had budgeted for this bill and I wasn't happy until I worked out that the price has actually gone up, we haven't used more than usual, so we are all working on ways to cut back on using gas. We are trying to get the next bill down to the minimum charge.

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