Wednesday, February 29, 2012

First Impressions are Everything in Black and White

Today we are talking entry foyers and we are talking entry foyers in black and white.
I am sure you will remember Nicole's lovely Hamptons renovation in blue and white,  Her open plan kitchen/ family room, was a completely new addition to the house and called for a more modern style of furnishing.  Her entry foyer, by contrast, is part of the original 1920's house and was given a more traditional treatment.     Nicole loves contrast in her decorating and I believe one of the most affective ways to achieve that, is in the use of black and white and I think she's nailed it here.

The black furniture provides clear definition against the white walls and creates an impression of space.  The high ceilings with beautiful lantern style lighting draws your eye up, which adds to the spacious feeling of the foyer.  The gold accents add interest and yet another contrasting layer.  When I entered the foyer for the first time, I immediately knew I was in for a treat and it created excitement and stimulated thoughts of what other treasures would unfold, as I viewed the house.  It lifted my expectations and made a fabulous first impression.

Even the shiny black door was impressive and gave a hint of what was to come in terms of colour and style.

Black and white can look great in a small area as well.  My mother has a small foyer which is furnished in black and white.  I did a 10 minute hall stand make over for her the other day and I think the declutter improved the look of the room.

My mother, collects many things and this hall stand is evidence of that.  There are 4 collections laid out right here, hats, walking sticks,  miniature houses and an art gallery of  period houses.

 I cleared everything off the hat stand and only put back the essentials.  As you know my forte is working with what I have.  It's easy on the budget and is kind to the environment.  The red roses had to go and they were replaced with a beautiful silver bowl of white roses, which compliment the gorgeous chequered floor tiles.

The miniature houses were replaced with some silver framed vintage family photographs and some sweet little silver ashtrays my mother picked up on her way through Egypt in the 1950's.

I put back several of the walking sticks, one umbrella and a straw hat.

And I think the results speak for themselves.  It's amazing how reducing some of the clutter is so liberating and can so easily improve your surrounds

Here at the Beach House we do not have a foyer but I love black and white at the entrance to a home, so that is the way I am going  on my ever so slow, snails pace deck redo project.

Blogger seems to be up to her tricks again.  My new posts are not showing up in my GFC follower's dashboards or on the blog rolls that my lovely readers have put me on.  I usually post on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning Sydney time, so be sure to check back if you don't want to miss something. Hopefully Google fixes this soon.

Today I am partying here
Wow Us Wednesday
DIY By Design
What We Wore and Made
Power of Paint
Blue Cricket Design
Rock N' Share
Whatever Goes Wednesday
Pin Inspirational Thursday
Open House Party
Crafty Soiree
Transformation Thursday
Hookin Up with HOH
Vintage Inspiration Friday
Fridays Unfolded
Home Sweet Home
Inspiration Friday
Potpourri Friday
Feathered Nest Friday
Show and Tell Friday
Flaunt It Friday
Simply Designing
Furniture Feature Friday
Feature Yourself Friday
Seasonal Sundays
Sundae Scoop
Weekend Warrior
Home Maker on a Dime
DIY Home Sweet Home
Sunday Showcase Party
Show Off Your Cottage Monday
Market Yourself Monday
Metamorphosis Monday
Coastal Charm
Table Top Tuesday
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Monday, February 27, 2012

My IVF Story....The hurt, the heroics and the happiness......

It's not unusual for me to take shots of my locale on a beautiful day, then write a completely unrelated back story, like the one I did on weight loss tips that work here.  Today is another one of those stories.  It is one that is thankfully a distant memory now, but at the time it was all consuming and very very painful.  I may be over sharing here, but If my story helps one person, then it's worth it.   I am purely writing this because I want the Beach House Brat to read one day, what I went through to get her. I also thought some of you may be interested in one of the most trying times of my life and for anyone who is going through this now to take heart.  

At the time you are going through this, it is very difficult to see a happy ending.  They do exist, but not always....I tell you, I was that close to missing out on mine, but by some miracle, I just scraped in under the radar and got my second child.  So it is possible.

I got my first baby exactly when I wanted him.  We wanted to start a family and bingo, I was pregnant on the second try.  Although I had nothing to compare it with at the was an eventless pregnancy.....a horrendous birth,  which luckily we both survived and he was a fabulous baby....although being my the time I thought he was difficult..... Looking back, he was nothing of the sort.

As with most new mothers....I didn't know what hit me and found the whole thing incredibly difficult, but it slowly got better and better, until I was totally into it and absolutely adored my role as a stay at home mother.  So much so, that by the time the first Beach House Brat was one, Mr Beach house and I began to try again.  I had my first one when I had just turned 36, so I was 37 when we started to try for number 2.  Much to my surprise it didn't happen....I couldn't believe it...It had happened just when I wanted it to last time, so why not now?

After several months, I went to the doctor to see why it wasn't happening.  He told me it was completely normal for women actively trying to get pregnant, to have one pregnancy per year.  Not a live birth, that is one pregnancy, what ever the outcome, every 12 months.  He told me to go home, stop worrying and keep trying.  I can tell you I didn't feel normal, it had happened so quickly before, why not now?

But he was right, within the 12 months I fell pregnant.  So I thought I was home and hosed.  I told everyone at 5 weeks that we would have a new baby by August....done and dusted, here we go again.  Yippee!!!! It was Christmas day..we all met at my SIL's for Christmas father in law, a retired obstetrician, rushed over to the car on arrival and handed me a pudding, cause I 'was in the pudding club'.  A sweet gesture...but a fact that would no longer be true by the end of that day.

I went to the bathroom at 5pm after the presents had been opened and there was a small amount bright red blood on my underwear.  I didn't know what to make of it, as I knew this could happen and you could remain pregnant.  I just didn't want to believe it.  My FIL had left the party, so I rang him as soon as we got home.  He said just go to bed and see how it is in the morning.  I got my hormones tested and  they were declining, which meant it was over.  

It was such a complete sense of having your hopes dashed. A year of trying, raised hopes, a feeling that our family was growing........ I so wanted it and it was all over.  Back to the drawing board.  Days 10, 12 and 14 of my very regular cycle were greatly anticipated at first and then the chore of trying to have a baby set in.  I can't go into it as it's too painful, but it wasn't fun any more. 

At some point soon after that first loss, we began IVF.  I went straight to the top, no IA or less invasive procedures.  I wanted IVF and I wanted it now, as in my mind, that was the only way to 'fix' this. After hormones, copious scans, tests, questionnaires, hospital visits and lots and lots of $$$$$ being handed over, being prodded, poked and pricked endlessly,  it was finally time to have my eggs harvested under general anesthetic.  Funnily enough, I found the first round really mood swings, no reaction at all really, but I did think that if I had to do this lots and lots it would get harder and harder, which of course it did.  I should say at this point that we were probably the only couple in Australia that were doing this without having private health care ( that's another story in itself) but the Australian national health is very generous and I believe a very good system.

So I produced 6 eggs, 3 fertilised in the petri dish and only one was good enough to put back in. Apparently a good result. You walk into a room, they show you your little embryo on a screen.  It's perfectly round and just looks like a clear bubble.  The insertion is easy.  You get up straight away, drive off into the sunset and hope for the best.  I never took Mr Beach House to any of the procedures I could attend alone.  Looking back now, I didn't want to hassle him any more than was necessary.  Getting him to come across at the exactly right time. was taking it's toll and to have forced him to attend every gory procedure might have caused him to resist.  I was on a mission and nothing was going to deter me from doing my best to achieve it.  The truth is, he was quite happy with one child.  He had his boy and was fine with the way we were.  I am an only child of an only child and I began to call it the curse of the only child.  It was fine growing up, I never noticed, but it is now when all I have left of my old family is my mum, that it is more difficult. 

So I'd just completed my first IVF procedure.  By now my confidence was dented and I wasn't sure of a successful outcome, but surprisingly, within a few weeks, I was pregnant again.  Yay, what a great outcome, yes we'd spent a bit of $$$$$ and been through some drama but, it wasn't that bad and it worked.  I got through the dreaded first 6 weeks and was off to have my first scan at about 10 weeks.  The gel went on my tummy, the switch was flicked and my lovely IVF doctor's face dropped.  'What's wrong', I the way that's about the first thing I say at all my scans now.  'I'm sorry but there's no heart beat' he said...Well the feeling inside must be something akin to how it feels to loose a child.  It hurt very very badly.  I was devastated, but I remember not crying I just went numb....I'm like that...I begged him to check and check again but he was right the first time. 

By now there were other issues coming to the fore as well.  It seemed like everyone else in my cohort was having their second or third baby.  It was very hard to be around and although I was happy for them, in all honestly I was very jealous too.  But I made a conscious decision not to burn any bridges and be very excited for them.  Can you imagine turning up to see your friend's brand new baby when you're desperate to have your own.  I always took a gift and the lunch....gooing and garing over this gorgeous little bundle, when all the while wishing like hell that it was me in that position as well.  It was hard, but I decided very early on not to avoid these lovely, if a little not so lovely moments with my friends.   I was going to' fake it 'til I make it'.  I noticed that friends stopped telling me they were pregnant.  I began to find out through group texts, or through friends of friends.  Actually that probably made it easier on both me and my friends.  One gorgeous friend couldn't bare to tell me and just waited til I called around to her house for lunch one day, to be greeted by a very large baby bump.  She said she just didn't know how to break it to me and I so get it!!!!  She knew I was hurting.

I wore most of my pain on my sleeve, by talking alot about it to lots of my friends.  No one seemed to mind but I'm sure I was completely boring.  This only encouraged the free but well meaning advice.  Here's what not to say to a friend who's having trouble conceiving:
'Well at least you already have one'
'You're lucky you got one, considering the chemicals Mr BH works with'
' Oh yes I had a miscarriage between my 2, it's so common you know'
'At least you can get pregnant'
'when are you going to have a second?'
' What's the point of having a second, they are so far apart now, why go back to baby land?'
'Just relax'
'Oh I have a friend who stopped trying and she was pregnant within 3 months'

The worst part of all was the lead up to my 40th birthday party with yet another dead foetus inside me.  I couldn't have the currette until the Monday, so I was taking drugs to keep it inside and prevent a miscarriage at the party, which couldn't be easily cancelled.  Funnily enough, I had a great night at my birthday. It was a girls only dinner party for 20 at my house.  I did all the cooking and they all knew the situation and they were stupid sympathy, just lots of fun. It was all just making me stronger.  Soon after that my mum offered to pay for us to go to France on  holiday, which was very kind, I got pregnant again in the mean time, lost that one too.  So now I was up to my forth loss.  And can you believe for the three months before we went to France, we stopped trying ,because I wanted  to be able to eat all the unpasteurised cheeses and saussison and the travel insurance didn't cover you if the baby had been conceived by IVF.  That felt really weird....not to be trying.

France was amazing.  When we got back I had another embryo inserted that had been frozen from another round of IVF.  I got pregnant again and lost that one too.  I'd like to say that I could stop trying, but I couldn't.  I'd given myself 'til 43 and I was just 41 at this point.  It was then that we began down the Chinese herbs road.  I saw this hilarious Chinese lady in Surry Hills named Lily Liu.  The herbs and acupuncture was as expensive as IVF, but by now I was driven.  In her waiting room, was a wall of letters and cards, with photos of babies attached.  There were hundreds of them and I think I must of read every one.  Women who had been at the end of their tether, who had finally had success with Lily.  They were so grateful.  Oh how I hoped that a card from me with a picture of my tiny baby, would be up there one day.  

I remember walking through the streets of Surry Hills loaded up with two big shopping bags of  shaved deer antler, goji berries and Chinese dates that I was told to boil up and drink day and night.  I remember just laughing out loud thinking.....Oh my it has come to this, what am I doing?.   Mr Beach House had to take something called Golden Gun.  There were many other powders potions and liquids for me.  It all tasted terrible, but I did exactly as I was told.  Two weeks later, I was pregnant again.  To me it was just blah blah blah, absolutely no joy, because by now I was sure I'd lose this one as well.  I was still seeing Lily in the early days to try and make it stick.  At nine weeks, I was walking through inner Sydney to an appointment with her. My now 5 year old son was with me and I had a terrible fall, we were almost killed by on coming traffic as I fell from the footpath onto the road.  By a sheer miracle the lights turned red and the cars stopped just before my head.  I can remember my son standing at my feet just crying 'mummy'!!!!.  Some gorgeous man picked me up and helped me get my bag  and my son's packed lunch back together, whilst the traffic waited patiently for me to get off the road.  I gathered myself together, as I was well accustomed to doing by now.  I went to the appointment and I think Lily gave me something extra that day. 

The next week was my dreaded 10 week scan.  Of course there wasn't going to be a heart beat.  I'd had the fall and it would all be over again.  I knew that but I went through those well worn motions anyway.  I explained about the fall to the nurse.  She just said before we go any further lets go round for the scan.  The lead up procedure was the same....cold gel, the flick of the switch.  But this time was very different, I could see on the screen a bouncy little foetus with a heart beat as strong as an ox.  I just broke down and silently sobbed with happiness.  My baby was alive.  I was still sure I was going to lose it, but it was alive for now and apparently all normal for dates. I had a glimmer of hope.

That hope began to turn into a baby bump.  At 16 weeks I had an amnio.  I was a public patient but didn't want the risk of a student doing the procedure on me.  I did my research, found the best doctor in Sydney with the greatest success rate, to do it.  In the preliminary scan I pushed the sonographer hard about the baby's sex.  She said it was too early, but she thought she could see a penis.  So another boy, I would have been happy if I was told it was a chimpanzee by then.  Another boy was fabulous.  I adore little boys, they are so loving and affectionate.  When we got a clear amnio result ( I forgot to say that all the other miscarriages had been due to chromosomal abnormalities which was primarily due to my age) it was just bliss.  And I said to the doctor delivering the results.  It's a boy isn't it?''  She said 'Do you really want to know?' and I said 'Yes'.  She said 'It's a girl actually'.  I was just over the moon.

Again it was an eventless pregnancy...everything was just so normal, which was weird in itself.  When I got her, I couldn't quite believe she was mine.  It took me along time to accept that I wasn't going to lose her.

So who are the heroes in this story.  OK I'll put it out there.  One of them is me.  I went through hell on many levels and I got there.  Mr Beach House also .  Even though all he had to do was jerk off occasionally and lie back and think of England at other times, he did have to put up with the worst bits of me for over 5 years.

But the real hero in this story is my little baby girl.  She had to over come being the product of aging DNA. She grew normally and did what my 5 other little babies could not, she lived.  Our family is now finally all here.  She has a life that almost didn't happen.  I am just so happy for her as well as us!!!!

Today I'm partying here
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Beach House Video and a Comfort Cookie Recipe

I had to make a strong one of these and some comfort cookies this afternoon as the Beach House Brat was out there fending for himself, risking life and limb, making his way home from school on his own.  I don't know why I even gave it a second thought.  I was younger than him when I used to walk home from school, through a bush track, let myself into the house, or sometimes climb through a window, if I'd forgotten my key and wait patiently until my mum got home from work/social engagement/shopping expedition.

I was pretty independent, although probably as an only child, quite over protected for the times.  So why have I waited this long to put him on the bus.  The truth, I'm scared of losing him.....the consequences of that are unspeakable but also highly unlikely.

I collect Carlton Ware China.  Love how this C.1940 piece has kept its luster.

It all went very smoothly and he can't wait to do it again.  As I dropped him at school this morning he wanted to put his first ever bus ride off again.  He's been doing that since last week and and I've given in. I decided enough was enough and today I insisted he take the trip.  As with everything, he usually has to be pushed and then when he gets through it, he can't wait to do it again.  Well, so it was with the first ever bus ride home.  When I sat down with him whilst he ate his afternoon tea, he gave me a run down of how nervous he was when the bell went and how the bus trip and his preceding walk to the school gate went.  It made me laugh, so I got the camera and asked him to tell me again. 

Click on the video for a laugh.  Oh and if you need to do some comfort eating yourself, the White Chocolate Comfort Cookie recipe is below.

So if you watched the above you may no longer need comforting, but here's the recipe anyway.  Apologies for my think Aussie accent.  Had I known I was going to post it, I might have used more precise diction.  Hope I haven't burst your bubble, but as I have said many times before in this place, we blog it like it is here at the Beach House.

White Chocolate Chip Comfort Cookies
1/2 cup or 125g Butter softened
1/2 cup or 100g firmly packed brown sugar
1 tspn vanilla essence
1 egg
1.5 cups or 225g plain  flour
1/2 cup choc bits.  You can use milk or white chocolate here
Preheat oven to 180C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place Butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and beat until combined.
Add egg to butter mixture and beat until combined and mixture starts to thicken.
Add sifted flour to batter and combine. Stir in choc bits.
Using a tspn, place a ball of mixture 3cm/1inch apart.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
Stand on tray for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

I've got a great friend who I know could do with a plate of these.  I've hung off ringing cause I bet you're being inundated by all your mates. Hi Les, I know your're out there.... I'll be up soon with a dose of comfort cookies to make you feel better.  I bet you could do with some!!!!!! 

Today I'm partying here
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Great Day at The Beach House and a Surfboard Makeover

Well Hello!!!!
 Some funny things have been going on here today.  I typed the title of this post ' A Great Day' etc and then proceeded to write it and have been contending with the 'spinning wheel of death' for the last 5 hours.  Just fixed it and I feel much better.  If you don't know what I am talking about count yourself very very lucky!!!!!

Anyway why do I feel great, well there's a few reasons actually.  Firstly after a year of hard but very enjoyable work producing content for this blog, I earned my first $$$$ today.  To tell you the truth, it felt like my first pay cheque ever it made me so happy.  I never started this blog to make money and would do it forever for nothing, except your lovely interaction, but gee it was so nice to earn a few bucks....literally.  I mean it's not going to put food on the table, but I worked hard and it's mine and I'm so proud of me.

The next great thing is that when I knocked the vase of greenery off the bench you can see behind the surf board, it bounced.  It fell from a great height and not a single chip.  It's symbolic of my life right now.  Falling from a great height and keeping on going in one piece, that is. So that made me feel great.

Then there was getting blogger to work.  Man she can be naughty.  I've already got one naughty but nice girl in my life and believe me, I don't need another.

Then finally, the best bit of my day was making this surf board black board.  Remember the blank white surf board Mr Beach House brought home for me from the factory, well you know how I love to make art works and that I am making over the front deck? This is what I decided to do with it.

Paint it with chalk board paint

Glue some starfish at each end

And invite you all over for a mojito at 5pm sharp.  Man did I need one of those this afternoon.  I only decided on mojitos after blogger crashed.

Well I am so pleased with her I have asked Mr Beach house to salvage a few more blanks for me.  I am on such a high from earning a few $$$$ from my blog, I think I might start a market stall and sell these black boards. Mama told me there'd be days like this. Yippee!!!!!!!

Pricing information here

Today I am partying here
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Monday, February 20, 2012

My Top Ten Budget Tips and a Fabulous Weekend

 Hi Guys.  This was going to be a post about blueberry muffins, but I had a better idea, the reason I made them in the  first use up the blue berries I had from my union Jack flag cake.....we are not wasting a thing right now.
I've always been a very good money manager.  By 30 and still single, I had bought my own home, furnished it, paid off my car, was paying my own law school fees and had travelled extensively.  Fifteen years on, we find ourselves in a very tight financial position. Although I have never let go of my good management principles, I find I am really dusting them off and polishing them hard, as the Beach House budget gets tighter. I chose to primarily, to be a stay at home mum and we have lived on one income for the last 10 years.  In that time we have moved house and remained mortgage free, made the Beach House over extensively, updated 2 cars, put our kid through pre school and had several small holidays within Australia.

So how did we do it, I hear you ask?  Well apart from working very hard in our own business.....(I do Mr Beach House's books at night and support him where I can) the basic answer to how we did it, is that we have lived within our means.  Although our household income has been limited, due to the capital requirements of our business, we have spent less than we earned. Believe me, it's not rocket science. 

Here's how we have done it. 

1.  We do not like debt at all and avoid it were possible.  We avoid any interest payments and late fees by paying bills on time with a credit card and paying off the credit card in full on the due date.  In other words, we use the bank's money for free.   I must say lately' even though we are still able to practice this with our personal credit card, we haven't been able to do that on the business credit card. We didn't realise the business income was going to drop so dramatically  and quickly and we just kept going on as usual.  When time came to pay the business credit card, we didn't have the money and culturally it didn't sit at all well with me.  Although our business income is still patchy, over the last 6 months, we concentrated on getting the debt down and have now paid off 80% of the business credit card debt and are better placed if we need to raise more funds if things get even worse.

2.  I buy lots of my childrens' clothes at the red cross shop and the new ones are only ever bought on sale.  The Beach House Brats are constantly getting complimented on their outfits.  I would never be able to buy designer pieces at full price and personally I don't see the value.  Frankly my daughter would look great in a hessian sack at the moment...she's just at that age.  I feel great when someone comments on a dress she's wearing that cost me $2.  If I see something and it's gorgeous, but way too big for her now, I'll still buy it and save it for when she's older.  She has a wardrobe full of gorgeous clothes that cost me next to nothing.

A dress I bought at the Red Cross Shop for $2
Jeans for boys are another great find at the Red Cross Shop.  They don't wear out quickly so are usually in great condition.  I bought my son a pair of khaki pants last week for winter for $6.

3.  I colour my own hair and have done since 1992.  That is the year I went back to being a brunette cause it's easier to do myself, than blond.  Enough said there, except that the coloured greys create a natural looking streak for free.  At the moment, I don't do facials or massages but I will again when things get better.

4. Lately we visit the video store only on Tight Tuesday, when all the videos are $2 each.  I try to get weeklies for the kids, as they seem to love to watch them over and over.  Lately, I have been getting overnight ones for myself that I have put off seeing at the theatre.   A movie ticket in Australia costs $18, which is crazy.  I always make the sure DVDs are returned on time to avoid late fees.

These really cute Chinese PJ's worn by my daughter cost $2 at a garage sale and still had the labels on.  And Yes you can see they are watching TV whilst eating dinner.  A terrible habit I regret allowing to develop and one that is thankfully not practised every night.
5.  Speaking of's a good time to food shop.  The green grocers prices are still high on a Monday, as people tend to restock after the weekend.  The guy at Harris Farm even told me they reduce their prices on a Tuesday 'because it's quieter'.  Lots of mums are at work on a Tuesday so there are less shoppers and more bargains to be had.  Lots of budget experts tell you to use a list, but that doesn't work for me.  I like to see what the specials are and what is in season and work with that.  You do have to be strong though, as the stores really go hard to get you to impulse by.  Learn their strategies and avoid them.  I also use cheaper cuts like lamb shanks Frenched and lean mince.

6. When something that we eat regularly is on special, I buy lots of it. My kids love the Italian style tinned tuna stirred through pasta with lemon infused olive oil, avocado and Danish fetta.  When the tuna and oil are on special, I'll buy lots of it.  It usually lasts me till the next time it's on special.  I do the same thing with tomato sauce, Jatz biscuits and lots of our other household staples.  I often wonder what the supermarket thinks of me as a shopper. They are definitely checking.   I don't think they like me much, cause I'm pretty switched on to some of their tricks.  I always check the price per kilo, which is usually cheaper on the bigger packet size but not always, so it pays to check.

Jazz in the Pines
7.  Speaking of supermarkets, if they have a rewards program join it.  They all do (except possibly Aldi) so you don't need to change your shopping behaviour in anyway.  I am into Fly Buys because Coles is next to Harris Farm which is my green grocer of choice.  I usually get the big Christmas presents for the kids for free using this rewards program.  They have some fabulous toys on offer so this system works really well if you have young kids. They also have lots of other discounts and freebees.  If you actually calculate how much you need to spend to get the free toys etc it can be in the hundreds, but I figure I am shopping there anyway, so I might as well take advantage of their program for doing something that I would do anyway.

8.  I have a budget of $5-$10 for The Beach House Brats friends' birthday party presents.  I buy these at what we call $2 shops, although most things in there are a little over $2 these days.  For boys I buy stuff like calculators, compasses and stationary.  The girls get craft items, fairy stuff, jewellery or glittery photo frames or stationary again.  I've never had any complaints and infact the kids are often thrilled with their gift. Sometimes more so than the big ticket items they are lying next to on the floor,  amongst the shredded wrapping paper.  It makes me laugh actually.

Jazz in the Pines Dural
9.  I kitted out the biggest Beach House Brat with all his back to school stationary needs from the $2 shop as well and recycled what we had in terms of folders from last year etc.  I am still yet to buy him some red pens but, what with shopping the house for erasers and pencil cases the final bill was just $6.

Jazz in the pines Dural
10.  Eating out is a difficult one, as I adore it and it has been hard to go without that at the moment.  In the good times we limited it to once a week anyway and when my now 3 year old was too small to take to a restaurant, it was usually take away.  But even someone like me, who loves to cook, needs a break once a week.  We are lucky to get away with dinner  out for 4 for under $80 these days and that can be at our local RSL, so even the cheap eats are off the menu right now.  If I really need a restaurant fix, I'll organise to go out with my girlfriends.  That way I only have to pay for myself.

The Pines Homestead Dural
I have so many more ways to save but they are for another post.  The following is perhaps the most important.  If you do all the hard work you should have something to show for it.

Bonus Tip:  This is one from the greatest thrifter of all time and someone who taught me everything about financial planning and sticking to a budget.  A person who was wise enough to cash out of the stock market 18 months ago, which has saved her a packet as well.......My mum.......She was a child of the depression and had a great teacher in her mother.  She has always taught me to have what she calls 'running away money', more commonly known as my own savings.  Even though I have worked only sporadically over the last 10 years....for Mr Beach House, the odd day of casual teaching and now in my styling business, I have continued to save every week and I have reinvested those savings.  I siphon about $100 off the house keeping budget by way of a direct deposit before I spend a cent.  It's kind of like paying myself first.  Because of this, we are now able to  live on our savings which we are about to start doing.  I predict, they will last about 6 months.  Hopefully in that time, we will have reorganised our lives sufficiently to generate some more/different income streams. 

So what are your best budget tips?  I'd love to know....I need all the help I can get right now!!!!!

PS. The Beach House Brats, my mother and I found a fabulous Jazz concert to attend on Sunday afternoon.  Sydney turned on one of her fabulous sunny days, we booked a table under a pine tree had a BYO picnic and grooved to the beat.  Great fun.  We also took a tour of the historic homestaed on the property.  A culturally inspiring afternoon.

Today I am Partying here
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