Reality Bites

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So apparently, I can’t be trusted – not even by myself.

I won’t bore you with the details, suffice to say this last week has been a matter of rinse-and-repeat of less-than-stellar habits and resulting outcomes, and rather than continue to beat myself up and feel horrible about myself and this rut that I just can’t seem to get out of, I looked at how I manage to keep doing the same things, over and over.

Not just the why (that’s a no-brainer, just another incredibly emotionally stressful week in the life of this weary girl), but the literal how – if I keep making a good budget, and I keep paying my bills and essentials first up (which I have, yay me!!!!), how is it possible that I can keep spending money that I shouldn’t have to spend?

The answer was right in front of me, and until today, I didn’t even see it.  Cards.  I have a couple of debit cards that only work when there’s cash in the account, and when I leave funds in those accounts for future expenses, something in me still sees them as available funds, that are very easy to access when I’m feeling vulnerable and looking for the quick fix.

Fortunately, the solution to that part of the issue is easy – as evidenced by the photo above.  No more cards = no more access to enabling my own poor spending habits.  I’m still working on the emotional connection part of it, as I keep saying, it’s one step at a time.

On a more positive note, I’m feeling less overwhelmed by the status of all my current debts, as I finally seem to have nearly everything sorted – payment arrangements made with various companies, direct debits set up, smaller amounts owing assigned to the budget.  It is a constant juggling act, especially when those unexpected things come up – sometimes I feel like I’m constantly potting out spot fires and trying to stop everything from going up in flames.  But I know that this will pass, and that every single day, I have exactly what I need.

Baby Stepping

So how did you go writing up your budget?  Whatever you’ve done won’t be perfect, and will be continually subject to change, but I hope that you’ve worked out at least the beginnings of some framework to manage your income.  It’s an ongoing process, believe me!!!

I feel like I need to back up a bit, to give you a bit more insight into my process in dealing with my financial situation.  I have been dealing with financial ‘issues’ my whole adult life, and as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve gained a wealth of information through all my investigating and researching over the years.  I’ve tried so many ‘methods’ – which have ultimately failed due to me, not the method – but a couple of resources have really resonated with me and the principles have ‘stuck’, even if I haven’t adhered to them.

Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover has been a literal guidebook as I’ve been navigating my way through financial waters.  It is based on the US financial system, however the basic principles can apply to anyone, anywhere.  Dave talks about starting with 7 Baby Steps:

  1. Build up a $1000 emergency fund
  2. Pay off all your debt with a ‘debt snowball’
  3. Save 3- 6 months worth of living expenses
  4. Pay 15% into your retirement funding – (here’s the first difference between Australian and US systems)
  5. Save for your kids’ ‘college funding’ – (another difference)
  6. Pay off your home early
  7. Build your wealth and give

Right now, I’m working towards building an emergency fund, and as I get overwhelmed by too much information and too many things to focus on at once, I’m focusing on this one goal for right now.  An emergency fund serves as exactly that, funds for emergencies – things that we don’t anticipate, like the car breaking down, or a cricket ball going through a window, unanticipated medical expenses, the list could go on forever.  This fund isn’t for the things that we can anticipate – needing to replace appliances, general car or household maintenance, ongoing bills etc.

Dave has a program called Financial Peace University, available as an at-home study and as classes (only available in the US, to my knowledge), and the website also has a forum community (limited access for free, unlimited access for a subscription fee, along with other tools), and in FPU, the baby steps are broken down even further.  These extra steps are very sensible and relate to what we’ve already talked about.  Here they are as they make sense to me – what to do even before you start your emergency fund (Step 1):

  1. Vow and declare that you will NEVER borrow money for anything ever again, except maybe a house.
  2. Cut up any credit cards you have, and if need be, any other cards that access your money (this actually comes after Step 1, but I needed to do it now)
  3. Make a budget
  4. Stop any contributions into super (for the time being)
  5. Get up to date on ALL your bills
  6. Get life insurance if you have considerable debt, that would be a burden on your family if you died
  7. Get rid of any major ‘Luxury’ items that you’re currently paying off, that would stop you from paying off your debt snowball within 12 months
  8. Cut out any spending in the ‘Luxury’ category so you can put that money towards your emergency fund.  Get a second job if you can!!

Once you’ve done all this, you can start building your emergency fund.  For me, I’m at stage 5, getting up to date on all my bills, although I can already tick off steps 6-8 as well (I’ve stopped spending, don’t have any major items to get rid of, and I have life insurance through my superannuation fund)!!  Once my current bills are up to date, I can start putting any extra funds towards my emergency fund – at this point in time, it’s going to take a few more months before I can do that, but I have that next step as my goal.

It helps me to have a plan, with clear, specific steps along the way that show me where to go next.  And for that to be broken down as much as possible, so that when I get overwhelmed, I can just look and see what is the next thing to do – transfer a payment, revise the budget, call a company to discuss a payment arrangement.  Small steps, but ones that are realistic and manageable.  ‘Pay off my debt’ is overwhelming.  ‘Write down my current bills’ isn’t.  That’s it – not even ‘work out how to pay them’, just write them down.  Here’s a great article on The Art of Simple about simplifying and focusing on your financial goals, and for more encouragement, another mum’s journey to getting out of debt.

Here and now is where I need to look, where my focus needs to be.  When I look too far ahead to there, when I think about living in The Land of When, it all seems hopeless, too far away, that it will never happen.  But I can do now, I can cope with what’s right in front of me, as challenging as it may be.

And you?  What are your particular challenges in the here and now?  How do you manage with doing all-the-things?

Accountability and moving on

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So the last couple of weeks have been particularly stressful around here, but despite the emotional and physical energy spent in dealing with all the stuff of life, I learnt a few more things about myself when it comes to money.  Well, to be more specific, a few things I already knew were confirmed in the absolute, and required a very honest, unfiltered look at myself.

When life throws curveballs at me, I drop the balls I’m already carefully juggling to to be able to deal with what’s right in front of me, and invariably turn to junk food for comfort, which requires spending money, and I will find money in areas I have no business looking to fulfill this comfort.

Even though I know that this is borderline harmful for me in so many ways.  I still do it, just for the relief of a few moments of getting what I want.

And then I start feeling guilty.  And my physical symptoms worsen because of the c**p I’ve eaten.  And I get grumpy, and my family bears the brunt of it. whether it be my snappy mood or my withdrawal to try and deal with it all in my head.

Ouch.

That’s an intellectual ouch.  I wish it physically pained me to write that, but it doesn’t.  Because it’s not new information, it’s a truth I’ve known for a long time, but have never really, truly faced up to, let alone spoken it aloud.

Yesterday was one of those days, and also my youngest son’s birthday.  I had chosen to cope with yet another emotional upheaval with c**p food, and by mid-afternoon felt absolutely terrible, and limped through the rest of the evening, a version of myself that I didn’t even have the energy to feel guilty about.  Awesome birthday present for my kiddo.

So yes, I most certainly have emotional triggers when it comes to spending money I shouldn’t, and eating food I shouldn’t, and I’m tired.  Physically and figuratively, I’m so, so tired.  But today is a new day, a fresh page to keep writing this story.  And I will, as imperfect as it is.

Where to now?

So.  We’ve talked about creating the vision of your ideal financial life, and starting to take steps to work towards it.  I’ve said it before, and you’ll keep hearing it along the way, I am far from being an expert in all this, and I’m just fumbling my way through.  But I have got enough experience and knowledge to work out a rough plan of where to go next, and for me that’s been working out the most important things requiring money right now, and working out my budget.

I get paid fortnightly, as is probably the most common format here in Australia, so I work on a fortnightly budget.  Each round of two weeks has some constant spending requirements, and some that vary, depending on the time of the month.

To work out what needs to be spent where, the first thing I do is look at my list of Essentials, Helpful and Luxury.  At the moment, my income only covers the Essentials category, and for me the list looks like this:

  • Mortgage
  • Giving
  • Grocery shopping
  • Electricity
  • School fees
  • Petrol
  • Personal loan repayment
  • Credit card minimum balance
  • Home and contents insurance
  • Phones (home and mobile)
  • Council rates
  • Water supply
  • Car registration
  • Medical costs
  • Miscellaneous (a tiny amount!)

That’s it.  Right now, there is no wiggle room for anything else.  I have two jobs, one for which I’m paid a fortnightly retainer + any extra work above that amount, and the other which is casual for a set amount of hours per week.  To work my budget, I work on the absolute minimum amount of income I can receive in a fortnight, and anything extra is a bonus.  As it stands at this point in time, my income plus government family allowance *just* covers the bare minimum essential expenses. I am very grateful that I have these jobs to provide for what I need, and the last year has very much been a lesson in defining needs and wants.  Losing your job and being unemployed for 5 months can do that for you!!!

Whenever I work more hours in my main job and earn over the minimum amount, I try to put that towards some of the things in the Helpful category, but something always inevitably comes up, and as I don’t have an emergency fund, or funds for the unexpected, that’s where the money goes.  I have been very fortunate to date that I’ve (nearly) always had money when I’ve needed it, just the right amount, and the times I’ve been short I can look back and go ‘hmmmm, if I hadn’t bought that c**p food/ coffees/ insert any other things I didn’t need, I would have more $$$ for xyz that I DO need!!’.  So yep, lessons learned.

I have also learned that the best way for me to not spend money on things that I don’t need to – and to avoid filling emotional needs with food (or anything else) – is to make sure that every single dollar of income is allocated to a category (also known as creating a ‘zero budget’ and ‘giving every dollar a job’, read much better advice at Dave Ramsay and You Need A Budget) and to get rid of my income as soon as it comes in, on the things I need to spend on.  I get paid on a Wednesday evening, so I sit down and pay all the bills I can via internet banking that night, and as of today I will be doing my grocery shopping on a Thursday morning, to make sure all the grocery money is spent on groceries, and not dipped into for anything else!  I’ll go into how I plan for meals and grocery shopping later, right now I’m focusing on the ‘mechanics’ of spending my income as it needs to be.

I’m sure some of you might be asking ‘but HOW do I work out my budget?  How do I work out what I need to to spend each fortnight/month/ whatever, when my bills are all over the place?’.  Some bills/commitments will fall into your budget cycle (fortnightly/monthly), but other don’t, like the bills that come quarterly, every 6 months, annually etc.  For all the bills that fall outside of your budget cycle, work out the total annual cost required, and divide them by 12 (for monthly payments) or 26 (for fortnightly payments), depending on how often you want to include it in your budget.  You can do this with any payments that you want to split up.  For example, I have some payments that are debited directly from my account fortnightly (school fees, personal loan repayment), so I don’t have to worry about those.  Then my mortgage payment is monthly, but I divide it by two to create a fortnightly payment – the amount is still debited monthly, but the full amount is spread out over two budgets (this is in theory anyway, this month will be the first time I’ve done it!!). For my quarterly payments (council rates, electricity, water supply, car registration), I add up 12 months worth of bills, then divide that amount by 26, and allocate funds in my fortnightly budget toward that bill (again, in theory, I’ve done it in the past and have fallen off the wagon, but am back on it now!).  This way I don’t have large payments consistently in each budget that I’m struggling to pay (as has been the case for the last 12-18 months).

Once you have the amounts worked out, you can decide what method you want to use to pay them, whether it’s contacting a company and requesting a direct debit be set up, or you manually make a transfer via internet banking, or go and pay it in person with cash (do people still do that anymore?), it’s completely up to you.  I use a combination of all three, but do try to set up direct debits as often as I can, that’s what works best for me.

Now some of you will have unallocated funds after fulfilling your Essentials commitments, and even Helpful and possibly Luxury categories (well done if that’s you!!!), or you might have some other goals you want to include in your budget – don’t worry about that so much for today, we’ll come back to that next week.  Just keep your $$$ in a safe place and try not to spend them!! (Yes I know it seems a bit backward, to wait to ‘finish’ your budget, but I’m just making this up as I go!!)

Phew!!  That seems like an overload of information even for me, and I’m the one writing it!!!  There are some fantastic resources available online for all things regarding money management, budgeting being just one of them – my favourite go-to sites and goldmines of information are Money Smart (Australia), Dave Ramsey and You Need A Budget (both US).  Go here, here and here for the budgeting areas on each site (or search for ‘budgeting’), I’ll be referring to these sites throughout this journey as I have learned a lot from them, and love their very practical approaches to managing money.

This week, I’m going to set you some homework – go forth and budget!!  If you need any help, please feel free to contact me via e-mail stitchingmum at gmail dot com, or in the comments below, and I’d love to Skype with anyone if they’re game (contact me via e-mail for info)!!!

Remember, you’re not alone in this, we’ll take it all one step at a time.

Exhale

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For quite a while now, I’ve been unsettled, restless, almost irritated, and I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on the cause of it all.  My life this year has seen a lot of change and transition, which is actually pretty normal for me, but there’s been an undercurrent of something, something which identifying seems elusive and just out of my grasp.

At the centre of  it I know is stuff, the stuff we have and the time it takes to manage it all, the self-resentment I feel for feeling burdened by my choices and having to keep myself and the kids in line to not let it all get out of control.  First world problems, I know, and ones that are so common to so, so many people around me.  But it’s been even more than that, and today I had an experience that gave me a little moment of clarity and a great deal of encouragement.

I’ve been going back through the pile of e-mails in my inbox (yes, more stuff, albeit of the electronic variety), and I came across a blog post from Michael Hyatt, where he discussed Chris Guillebeau’s new book ‘The Happiness of Pursuit’ and a quote from the book stopped me in my tracks:

“Properly examined, feeling of unease can lead to a new life of purpose.”

The words resonated deep within me in relation to another area of life, but as I sat writing out my brain this morning, trying to work out the core of this discontent, I thought of this quote, and let it sit over how I was feeling about the current state of my house.

Stifled and scattered.  That’s what immediately came to mind, and initially I felt despair over trying to work out how to fix it all.  Of course, I knew I couldn’t in the space of a day, but I could start.

So, I started to make a list.  And then realised that was a really bad idea, because it would potentially be never ending and even more discouraging.  I then asked myself ‘what’s stealing my joy today?’, and I immediately knew the answer.

The back of our house is primarily made up of what we call ‘the back room (original, I know) – it was originally the back porch, and 20+ years ago was enclosed to become an extra living area.  After having floor covering put down nearly a year ago, we were finally able to start really living in this space (previously it had bare concrete, after I got rid of the old carpet squares), and it’s currently zoned into tv/gaming, my office and sewing/creating space.  As so often happens, the flat surfaces become holding areas for things that get dumped, and I was at my limit of coping with it all.

So, I just starting clearing it out and cleaning it up.  Which didn’t take that long at all, even sorting the pile of ‘to deal with’ paper that had been getting higher and higher, and eventually, I got my room back.

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Like the rest of my house, this space will never appear in a magazine or a design blog, but it works for us, and I have plans to make it even brighter and welcoming.

But the moment of clarity came for me today when I was driving around later, getting some jobs done around town, and I felt like I could take a big, deep, unrestricted breath for the first time in a long time, and I just felt peace.  Re-setting my space and getting rid of the excess had shifted something inside me and left me feeling lighter, and I just got it – the peace of not just less, but of simply having what I need.  As I prayed this morning in the early waking hours, simply speaking the words of The Lord’s Prayer to my Father, the prayer to ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ became more than just words.  It was an awakening to the fact that that is all we can truly ask for – what we need for each day as it comes, one day at a time.  And to learn to live in that, nothing more, trusting God that He knows what we need to get through the day.

By examining what it was that was making me feel uneasy today, I got something done that felt purposeful and encouraging – a very small example of what Chris Guillbeau talks about, but one that shows me that listening to this discontent might just be what I need to find where I need to go.

What is it that brings those little – or even big – ‘aha’ moments for you?

The little things

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Our poor bathroom is routinely neglected of any TLC, always being used in a very utilitarian manner. The renos are still not quite finished, and it can be a bit of a dumping ground for tools and such.

A bit of lavender and a glass vase brought in a bit of pretty. And the best part? The flowers don’t need water and can dry as they are.

Yep, I’m all about what I can achieve with minimal effort. Especially if it means getting things done.

And it’s already making me smile.

What makes you smile in your home, big or small?

31 Days

It’s October again – just like clockwork.  And that means it’s time for joining The Nester’s 31 Days writing challenge.  Writing for 31 days, with or without a topic, and being part of a community of writers sharing their lives and hearts every day through October.

I’m writing about my home this year.  I actually started this earlier in the year, and it’s still something dwelling deep in my heart, this desire to purposefully love where I live, every day.  So, I am.

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Ever since I first moved out of home when I was 17, I’ve longed to make my home my haven, my nest, the place where I feel, well, home.  I’ve had visions dancing of decor and renovating and the perfect kitchen and open plan living.  I’ve dreamed and planned and cut out pictures and spent hours reading home decorating magazines and browsing blogs and design sites.  Lots of thinking and not much doing.

21 years on from that first place of mine that wasn’t with my parents, I still feel like I’m in a holding pattern, waiting to start making my home.  I’ve been in my house for 5+ years and when I fist bought it, I thought I knew just how things were going to go.  I had been renting for 5 1/2 years after my husband and I separated and I was so happy to call this place mine.  I started planning, kept dreaming and wishing and over the last 5 years I have painted, pulled up carpets and sanded floorboards, planted a garden with fruit trees, pulled out a fireplace and filled in the hole and renovated a bathroom – all DIY.

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But I still feel like I’m waiting.

Not waiting to feel like I’m home, because I felt that the first night we moved in.

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Waiting to start, to really be living in this space.

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Waiting to be ready to decorate, to design, to make our space truly ours, a place that reflects us and who we are.

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I’ve collected artwork and frames and pretty things and furniture to make-over and paint samples and a thousand ideas of how I want to bring our home to life.

And I’m still waiting.

I’m still hovering in a holding pattern.

Exactly why, I don’t really know.  A large dose of fear, of I-want-to-be-ready-before-I-start, wanting to do it all at once, lack of confidence in my self, in knowing my style.

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Not knowing where to start.

Not having enough money.

Not having enough time.

Not having enough faith in my self.

I don’t want a perfect house.  That’s not who we are.  We live life out loud, with cats and dogs and chooks and mess and love and dust and dirt trekked in from the garden.  But that’s where the beauty of our life can be seen, and that’s what I want to capture in our home.

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So I’m going to stop waiting for the perfect time – because there isn’t one – and just start truly appreciating and loving where we are, right here, right now.

The funny thing is, after 5+ years of living here, we’ll likely be moving out in the next 6-12 months as our family changes.  I’ve had things packed away (rather than having to manage allthestuff) and haven’t done much in the way of prettying things up as I truly want to.

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But we’re still here.  We’re still living life within these walls and I want to fully love where I’m living at any point in time.

For now, that means fully settling in to where we are today and leaning into what’s around us, even if we won’t be here tomorrow.

31 days of loving where I live.  Some DIY, some inspiration, some questions and a whole lot of love.

Right where we are.

How about you?  What does it mean to you to love where you live?

You can follow me through this month via the links below:

Day 2 – The little things

Here’s one I prepared earlier

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Once upon a time, I had a blog where I planned to share my adventures in DIY, all the learning, mistakes and results in all their glory.

Cue the record scratch called life-that-happens, and that blog went by the wayside.  But no matter, here we are again, and I’m sharing with you the project that was the catalyst for starting that blog, especially as I still get asked even now how I did what I did.

The very first time I walked into my house, I was nearly blinded by the carpet that looked like the 70’s had vomited all over the floor:

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I knew that it had to go.

December 2011 saw the carpet being pulled up and ditched, and initially I wanted to paint the timber floors white with a basic acrylic paint.  I already knew that I had to investigate alternatives to general commercial paint, as recent renovations at my office had proved literally hazardous to my health – even the low-VOC paint used by the painters had made me unwell enough to have to stay out of the office as much as possible for a few days.  So when I decided that I wanted to give my floors a limewashed look, I naturally turned to that online font-of-all-knowledge – Google – for advice.  And I was somewhat surprised when I struggled to find a simple, step-by-step tutorial on how to achieve the effect I wanted, and so I found myself gathering all the information I could to work out how to create beautiful floors.

I was very fortunate to have my Dad volunteer to sand back the floors, with my then – 14 year old son as his sidekick (a good how-to tutorial for sanding floors can be found here).  Dad hired a floor sander for the day, and with a few hiccups along the way, transformed the pine flooring from grubby to gorgeous.

Before the floors were sanded, I had already found the brand of paint I was going to use.  A few years ago, I committed to reducing the use of toxic chemicals in my house as much as possible, for a whole variety of reasons, including some chronic health issues I have.  When it came time to find the right paint to use, I Googled ‘eco paint’ and was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few Australian companies producing low or non-toxic paints and associated products.  I discovered Ecolour paints in my search, and knew that they had the product I was looking for.  From their site:

ecolour is an Australian manufacturer of premium quality, climate friendly synthetic paint. It performs like any other premium quality paint, can be tinted to almost any colour from any paint chart, is scrubbable, and is certified Carbon Neutral.

Traditional household paints contain toxic chemicals that are released into the air for years after application, called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). All our paints are water based, and kind to your health with ZERO VOCs.

Our unique Australian invention uses re-cycled re-refined waste engine oil to make our water based paint. The oil acts as a preservative, providing durability and smooth application qualities to the paint. ecolour paints have been proven in the marketplace for over 10 years.

The ecolour range includes interior and exterior paints as well as timber finishes. It is suitable for residential, commercial and retail applications.

While Dad was sanding the floors, I rang Ecolour and after some discussion regarding what ‘look’ I was going for, I ordered a limewash tinted sealer product called ‘Polyclear’, at a cost of about $200 for 15 litres (including delivery).

I had initially thought that I was going to have to prime the floorboards, paint with an outdoor paint, and then top them off with a clear sealer.  The lovely gentleman at Ecolour put me on to the limewash tinted Polyclear, for which I was very grateful!

Whilte I waited for the paint to arrive, I did some more reading on what to do when sealing timber floors, and I had to go by information provided for sealing timber floors with a polyurethane finish and just hope that it was effectively the same process!  I knew that I’d need to sand the floors again after the first coat, and figured I cross that bridge when I came to it (I wasn’t keen on having to hire a floor sander again – this is a budget DIY project!!)  When the paint finally landed on my doorstep, I painted a small test patch of flooring and was initially disappointed with the result – the effect was barely noticeable, and I figured I’d just have to trust that the result would be what I wanted in the end.

Before I got painting, I went to the local hardware store and bought a microfibre roller designed for paining floors with a clear-coat product (along with a paint tray, I really had very little in the way of equipment at the beginning!).

First I taped off the skirting boards that were still in place with painter’s tape, and then  with not a small degree of trepidation, I got painting!

My heart sank when I began to see this emerge:

The timber was turning pink!  I had a moment of panic before something in the deep dark recess of my memory came to light, reminding me that somewhere along the way I had read that when sealing some timbers, the timber’s natural oil would be drawn out, giving them a pink tinge – pine being one.  After the first coat was dry, the pink-ness went away, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

I cut in around the edges of the room with a broad paintbrush, and wasn’t too fussy about my application, as any messiness would be covered by the skirting boards when they were replaced.

Painting the floor was effectively like painting a wall, just horizontal instead of vertical.  I painted along the direction of the floorboards, going agross the room in sections about 4 boards wide at a time, and overlapping each time I started a new section.  After the first coat was done, the ‘burr’ of the timber was quite noticeable, which I knew would happen and required another sanding with a finer grade sandpaper (240 grit).  I weighed up my options, and ended up buying a 1/2 sheet orbital sander and convincing my son that he’d *really* be helping me out if he could sand the floors for me.  All 52 square meteres!!  Fortunately I have a great kid who was happy to help (and who also knew there would be a pay-off for his efforts!), and he set to work with one of these little treasures – my very first power tool purchase!!

(I have no affiliations with the brands of any products I use, but I was one happy camper with this sander!)

My dear son worked in sections across the room, working the sander side-to-side across 4 boards along the length of the boards.  After the sanding was finished, I swept and vaccumed the floors, then went over then with a very lightly damp mop to pick up any dust.  After this, it was just a matter of applying two more coats of paint.  You can see below the difference between one and two coats (second coat on the left):

and 2 and 3 coats (third coat on the right):

And the finished result!

I was very, very happy with how my floors turned out, and it was a relatively easy process in the end.  There was absolutely no residual smell from the Polyclear (in fact apart from at the time of application, there was no smell at all!), and even though the end result is different from my original vision, I love how the lightness of the floors really brightened up the place.

Nearly 2 years down the track, the floors certainly show signs of being ‘lived on’, pine is a soft wood and I don’t have a hard lacquer coating on top, so we were always bound to end up with evidence of a life lived well with these floors!!  I still love them, and since this project I have replaced the skirting boards, and repainted the walls, skirtings and architraves, and it’s a beautifully light space to live in.

This project was definitely a labour of love, and one of the first things I did to really love and care for our home.  I’ve done more work on my house since finishing the floors, both DIY and with professional help, and with everything that gets done, this space we live our lives in feels more like a home and less like just a building providing shelter.  It’s not perfect and never will be, but it’s ours, and it’s where we love – every day.

Eat well, live well, love well

Woolf Inked

This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I’m thrilled to be part of. To learn more and join us, head here.

Hoooo boy.

This is one of the biggies for me.

And probably the hardest, most challenging-every-day part of my life.

I believe in heating whole, clean, as-close-to-its’-natural-state-as-possible food, for me and my family.  I’m intolerant to gluten and sugar, dairy and grains in general don’t agree with me, and forget anything artificial.  I have an auto-immune disease that can be crippling, the symptoms of which are very much affected by my food choices.

Basically, the cleaner I eat, the better I feel.

Period.

You would think that would make the choice really easy for me, wouldn’t you?  Eat well = feel great.  Eat rubbish = feel like death warmed up.

I wish it were that easy.

I am so very blessed to live in a wonderful part of the world where I have very ready access to beautiful, wholesome food.  We have a small farmer’s market once a week that provides seasonal produce, and great fruit and veg shop sand butchers  that provide a range of local/organic/fresh produce and meat.  There’s really no excuse for not eating whole and clean, all the time.

The biggest problem is what goes on in my head.

I struggle constantly with want vs need, and I give in to the wants way too often.  Sugar, anything baked, creamy cheeses, carby goodness, and my brain is satisfied – for all of about 30 seconds.  It doesn’t take very long for my stomach to start processing.

When I don’t eat well, I get tired, grumpy, foggy in the head and simply just don’t function well.  I certainly don’t love well, that’s for sure.

Reducing the amount of processed rubbish and replacing it with wholesome, home-cooked food is important to me, as it is one way in which I can love well.

Love my family by taking the time to think about what will nourish their bodies and meals they’ll enjoy, and to prepare them and share in them together.

Love my community by supporting local farmers and producers.

Love this planet God has blessed us with by choosing food that hasn’t been modified or tampered with, or required being shipped thousands of kilometres (that is not to say that I don’t buy out-of-season or non-local food, because I do, I try to keep that to a minimum).

Love the people I do life with by encouraging them to do the same, and walking alongside them in their own journeys to eating well.

Loving myself and my body, being grateful for this amazing creation I am thanks to God, by making choices that only enhance my health and well-being.

The choice to live like this isn’t hard.  Resisting the temptation to give in to temporary, fleeting satisfaction in lieu of being intentional about what I eat because it is good for me, not just because I want it, is the challenge.

My choices haven’t been great of late – I could blame the ongoing tooth infection and resulting pain I’m living with, losing my job this week, or any number of other life stressors, but here’s the thing:

There’s always going to be something.

There’s always going to be something that will make me want to turn to comfort food, to seek out instant gratification, to feel like it’s too hard to fight the resistance.

So I’m simply going to make a choice.  To eat well, and to love well.

It really is that easy.

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