• All About Fern
  • Online Shopping; The Way it Should Be

    Well, it’s over. Frugal February, that is. I failed. Like I actually, really, truly failed. I’m not even going to tell you how much money I spent yesterday (because I feel sick when I think about it, to be honest), but I will tell you that tonight we had Pizza Hut for dinner. Again. It hasn’t even been a week since we ate it last.

    I’m not going to attempt to explain myself. For one thing, I just can’t be bothered. And for another thing I don’t wanna. And anyway, this is my blog so I get to play by my rules. So there.

    Instead, I’m going to change the subject. Ready?

    I’ve been thinking a lot about clothes. I’ve been thinking about how it’d be nice to be one of those people who has a small wardrobe of quality clothing. No Kmart cheapies, no reduced to clear impulse pieces, just a few (okay, several) items that work well together, that make me look good. But what makes me look good?

    I am a fan of online shopping. I like being able to look and look and look at things without feeling awkward. I like making up my own mind instead of being talked into purchases by pushy sales assistants. What I don’t like are the photos. I mean, photos of things are fine, obviously, but the photos of clothing? Not good.

    I am 33 years old and my body has housed four separate human beings. And while those days are behind me, these days my body houses pizza and Coke and potato chips on a regular basis. Thanks to this, er, lifestyle, I now resemble an inverted hourglass: Skinny up the top, skinny down the bottom, and boom boom fatty boom boom in the middle. Am I pregnant? No I am not. My tummy just makes a really good cushion, okay?

    The main problem with a body like mine is that it’s incredibly difficult to clothe. So when I go online to look at what’s available, and I see image after image of skinny minny models, I end up scratching my head. Will her outfit work on me? Will it cling to my matronly middle, or will it hold all my jiggly bits in? Am I just supposed to guess?

    The thing with the internet is that it’s infinite. We’re not going to run out of space. Websites can get bigger and bigger and bigger… The internet is basically an online universe. And yet fashion sites are so limited. Would it be too much to ask that people of all body shapes and sizes are photographed wearing the clothes that businesses want us to buy? I mean, we all know that people with tight, flat, toned bodies look good in clothes. What we really need to know is whether or not people who look like us will look good in the clothes we find appealing.

    What I propose is that online clothing stores start taking photos of a whole range of people wearing their outfits. Then we, the consumers, can search by body type. Like I could select “No boobs, fat tum, square bottom” and some poor woman who looks a lot like me would pop up, looking completely awful in a whole bunch of photos, but really, really amazing in the rest. And then on every good photo I would click the little add to cart button (because obviously I’d just have to buy all the clothes she wears well) and I’d type in my husband’s credit card details (which I know be heart) and then we’d all be winners. Seriously, how is this not a thing?

    – Fern xxx


    The only part of Frugal February I’ve managed to stick to has been my plan to cut back on groceries each week. This haul’s a little different because I included a look inside my pantry, fridge and freezer…

  • All About Fern
  • I am The Best (and also The Worst)

    I was planning to write this blog post yesterday, but everyone who blogs was writing about Valentine’s Day and I gotta tell ya, that’s enough to put me off blogging for life. No offence or anything, I just reckon V. Day is v. lame. But that’s just me. Also me? Kind of good at making excuses for things like not blogging when I feel like I should be blogging. I might put that on my CV.

    So yesterday, the 14th, was the official Halfway Through Frugal February point. I feel like I should have some sort of exciting anecdote to share, like maybe some people would’ve found some sort of penny pinching way to celebrate that milestone? But no, not me. Much like my feelings toward the day of V’s, I felt pretty meh about it all.

    But that’s probably because I’ve already failed.

    The saddest part about failing is the fact that I didn’t even spend money on something good. I could’ve bought clothes, or shoes, or just taken the baby to get the haircut he so desperately needs, but instead I bought fish ‘n’ chips. And coke. So not only have I failed at not spending, but I’ve failed at not eating sugar too. I am the worst.

    On the other hand, I am also the best. Because after the fish ‘n’ chips and coke, and – okay I admit it – after the Pizza Hut and coke I bought the day after I bought the fish ‘n’ chips (this is why I look pregnant, just FYI), I got myself back on track. I didn’t rush off to Kmart to buy all the things I’ve been thinking about for the past 14 days. I didn’t overspend on groceries when I placed my online order. And I didn’t take the remaining cash the husband found in his drawer last week to carry around in my purse just in case.

    There was a bump in the road, but I got myself back on track. And considering only a month ago money was running through my fingers like I sand, I reckon I’m winning. Maybe I should go and buy a Lotto ticket…

    – Fern xxx


    The easiest way to find out what I’ve really been up to is to watch it unfold for yourself. Just don’t watch it if you’re not interested in hearing me talk about chickens, because holy crap I talked a lot about chickens. Bok, bok, bok.

  • All About Fern
  • The Road is Long

    This morning I was feeling all pleased with myself because I’m doing so amazingly well at not spending money. Then I looked at the calendar and realised it’s only the sixth of February. Oh. There’s still a long road ahead of me. A really long road, if the first (not quite) week of the month is anything to go by… Does anyone else feel like it’s been February forever? No? Just me?

    Yesterday I spent money. I know. I know. But my mother had invited the troops and I over for a BBQ lunch, and she was shouting (lunch, I mean, not yelling at me), and then she messaged me to ask could I possibly break my Frugal February plans and pick up some “nice fresh bread for lunch”. What was I going to do? Say no?

    We stopped at the bakery and I exchanged seven dollars and forty cents for two loaves of Nice Fresh Bread.

    I miss that seven dollars. Hell, I even miss the forty cents. That is money I will never get back.

    I kind of did get the money back though, because all my ranting about minimalism and consumerism obviously affected my husband in some way. Today he cleaned out his top drawer. Do you know how long it’s been since he cleaned out his top drawer? Well, to be honest I can’t actually say. But what I can say is that he found a Christmas card we received when I was pregnant with the kid who turns four next month. And that Christmas card contained Three Hundred Dollars.

    He found another fifty dollars floating around in the drawer too. So that means that we are now up $342.60, which is great. But, you know, it could’ve been $350…

    In other news, my tight ‘n’ light grocery shop doesn’t look like it’ll be enough to sustain us for the week. We’re out of Weetbix (okay fine, Homebrand Wheat Biscuits). And bananas. And I estimate we only have one cup of oats left to go. Looks like breakfast will be toast for six for the next few days. Hmm, I guess that Nice Fresh Bread will come in handy after all.

    – Fern xxx


    Thankfully we won’t be running out of lunch foods any time soon. I have been a very good girl this weekend, planning and baking for the week ahead. Somebody give me a medal!
    (Oh, and then strip me of that medal because there is a freaking TYPO in this video. I can’t even handle it. I didn’t see it until it was uploaded. Wah!)

     

     

  • Health & Wellbeing
  • A Fire in my Belly

    Something is happening to me. My month of no spending, my efforts to reconsider my relationship with money, spending, shopping, are stirring things up inside me. There is a fire in my belly. I am ready to change.

    After watching that documentary on minimalist living the other night, I searched through all the other docos Netflix has to offer, and added a bunch of them to my watchlist. “Fast fashion” had been mentioned in Minimalism, and I wanted to learn more about it.

    I stumbled upon The True Cost, and decided that’d be my entertainment for the evening. And oh, it made me feel sick.

    I was wearing a Kmart nightie. My favourite nightie. It’s black and falls to my knees. It’s comfy yet cute, with lace detailing and a faux cross-over at the bust. It makes my boobs look nice, and it makes my boobs easily accessible (for the baby, I mean). It cost me $18, or maybe it was $15? Either way, that nightie ticked all the boxes for me. It was cheap. I love cheap. Cheap is good, right?

    I don’t want to sit here and write out all the things I learned last night, because it’ll be better, more confronting, if you just watch the documentary for yourself. But because I know a lot of you won’t, let me just say this: A real human being, with real thoughts, real feelings, a real life, made the clothes you are wearing right now. They pieced it together, sewed it into life, and – if it was cheap – it’s likely they were barely compensated.

    Clothes are polluting our planet. Your discarded items are releasing toxins into the earth as they waste away (or not) in landfills. The factories in which our “bargains” are created are spewing filth into rivers, oceans, skies. You may have paid just $4 for your T-shirt, but what is the true cost? What the f*ck are we doing?

    I am full of a sort of jittery, gotta-do-something energy today. I feel powerless yet powerful. I have the means to change. The love I felt for Kmart just five days ago is fading. My flame of passion is dying out. I do not need things to be happy. I do not want a wardrobe full of clothing that could have cost a mother her life. Something’s got to give.

    Something has got to give.

    – Fern xxx

     


    It feels trivial now, but I uploaded this video to share the foods I bought to fuel my family for a week, spending $50 less than I usually would. If you’re after a more light-hearted watch, then maybe this’ll appeal…

  • All About Fern
  • The Frugal Life

    Okay, so I can hardly claim to be living a frugal life when I’ve been at this thing for two days, but I’m pretty sure there’s a saying out there that suggests it’s good to start out the way you intend to be. Or do. Or something. I’m too lazy to google it, and anyway, I don’t really like quotes.

    To contradict myself, I would now like to share a quote that comes from Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things (it’s on Netflix, you should watch it).

    Love people and use things, because the opposite never works.

    I know. Deep. But it’s true, don’t you think? We should spend more time loving each other, truly being with each other, than looking out for things, stuff, that we think will make us “happy”. I mean, how exactly will a new candle, or an expensive bottle of perfume, or a 10th over-sized coffee mug impact our lives in the long run? After the thrill of the new has worn off, is that purchase going to become a treasured memory? Or is that item going to become just one more thing you need to dust…

    I’ve been looking at my house differently today. Even after 100 days of Sh*t Sorting towards the end of 2016, I can still see junk everywhere. Thanks to Christmas (and my overwhelming urge to Buy All The Things in the lead up to the holidays) we’ve added new junk to the old junk. To my left is a window through which I can see our back yard, and it’s a mess. A jumble of faded plastic contraptions my kids have been programmed to believe they need. To my right is a drawer in which there are two phone covers, neither of which have been removed from their original packaging. I bought them because I had a new phone. I bought them because they were cheap. But all I’ve ended up with is unnecessary clutter and $11 less in my bank account. Wasted money is not a bargain.

    It’s not easy to change overnight. In fact, I can honestly say I haven’t really changed at all, because this morning I ran into a friend who mentioned that perhaps she’ll go out on the town to celebrate her birthday this weekend. Immediately I said I would come. Music! Drinks! Fun! But that all equals money, and I’m not supposed to be spending money. And then I came home and tinted my own eyebrows so I wouldn’t have to pay someone to do it for me. But as soon as I looked in the mirror I thought, Oh I’ll have to go and get them threaded now.

    For whatever reason, Go and spend money (even when I’m actively working towards not spending money), seems to be my first reaction to everything.

    Being the first week back at school, my daughters are all fired up about their new stationary, and how cool everyone else’s books look. They want me to cover their books. They want me to take them to the shops so we can pick out rolls of sticky plastic to spread over the cardboard jackets of their exercise books, because everyone reckons this will help protect their work. But will it? What difference will it make? I could spend the money, buy the junk, waste hours attempting to apply it smoothly… How much enjoyment would my children actually take from it? How long would the thrill truly last?

    I’ve told the kids about Frugal February, about our attempts to spend less, save more, be content with our lot. And they’re okay with it. If you want decorated books, I told them, just find some pictures you like and I’ll help you paste them onto the covers. They seemed happy with that. They are happy with that. Children, it would seem, really understand that money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness.

    – Fern xxx

     


    Another great way to save money is to prepare your own foods rather than buying pre-packaged stuff as much as possible. Check out this video for a few tasty, cost-effective lunch ideas.

    Mummuddlingthrough
  • All About Fern
  • Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

    The weird thing about life is the way we spend so much time looking forward to things. We wait and wait for a particular day, and then the day comes, and then, often, it’s just like, Oh.

    Take today, for example. I sent my kids to school for the first time this year. All holidays long I was all, I can’t wait for these children to be out of my house. And now, as I type, those children are out of my house. Am I making the most of it? Nope. I’m just kind of drifting around, wondering what to do with myself. I even made a pot of soup, for god’s sake, and it’s the hottest month of the year. Why was I so excited about this?

    Because I’m tired of getting excited for no reason, I’ve decided to take a step in another direction. Yes, from now on I’m going to actively work towards things that I’m not excited about. Okay, not things. Just thing. A thing. One. But it’s a big thing. In fact, it’s a Very Big Thing. It’s such an incredibly Big Thing that I think you might want to sit down for this…

    I’m breaking up with Kmart.

    For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past year, I’m basically the Kmart Queen. My YouTube channel is full of Kmart hauls. My drawers are full of Kmart clothes. And you know all those Kmart memes your friends tag you in on Facebook? Yeah, I get tagged in those almost daily. For months and months and months now, shopping at Kmart has been what I do. And I’m not saying I don’t want to do it anymore, but I am starting to think that maybe, just maybe, all those bargains haven’t been serving me quite the way I’d imagined.

    Let’s talk about the clothes I mentioned, for a start. The assorted items I picked up and chucked in my trolley because they looked cute on the hanger; because the price tag had a yellow reduced to clear sticker on it. I packed those items myself, stuffed them into a plastic bag along with the 15 other things that I just had to have, and brought them home. Then, after showing them off to my camera, they went back into the plastic bag. Eventually I’d find time to stuff them into a drawer. And then, weeks later, I’d finally get around to trying the items on.

    I don’t even want to admit how many pieces of my Kmart chic collection ended up being rejected after the first wear. They didn’t fit right or they didn’t look right or they didn’t feel right, and I’d say to myself, Oh well, it was so cheap, it doesn’t really matter. But when you’re buying a lot of cheap things they end up being expensive things. And when I add on all the Kmart clothes that shrunk in the wash (seriously, 50% of all my Kmart purchases have shrunk in the wash) I actually start to feel a bit sick at how much money I have wasted on clothes I do not wear.

    Of course, it’s not just the clothes. It’s the homeware I didn’t need, the toys the kids don’t play with, the craft supplies I still haven’t taken out of the packet… It’s the fact that I’ve been fooling myself into thinking I can shop my way to happiness. I am just another consumer. Even with a boot load of shopping bags I’m not going to be satisfied.

    This morning, soon after I got home and realised that an empty house is not quite as enjoyable as I’d anticipated, I logged into my online bank account and worked out how much money I spent unnecessarily in February of 2016. After I got over the shock (my god it was a lot of dollars), I looked at the total figure scribbled on my notepad and thought to myself, No. You will not do that again. 

    So here I am, on the eve of the first of February, vowing to not spend any money that doesn’t need to be spent for an entire month. I mean, I’ll still be purchasing chickens, because we decided months ago we were definitely going through with the backyard chooks thing, but aside from that? Nothing. No coffees out in town. No impulse buys for the kids. No takeaways on a Friday night. And, depending on how it goes, I might just keep going with the No Spending in March.

    My husband and I are lucky. We don’t have debt (aside from a mortgage, and a student loan I racked up while I floundered around trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life), and we don’t have credit cards. We can afford the things we need (and we can afford a lot of things we don’t need too), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do what we can to save more money. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about where our money is going. What it does mean is that we are in a position to build the life we want for our family. It’s just going to take a bit of work.

    Tomorrow morning my family will wake up to find that Frugal February has begun. It means I won’t be able to take the kids out to the tramp park, but I can always take them to the playground. Or the beach. Or the library. And I reckon that’s enough. I mean, okay, I’m not particularly looking forward to the month ahead, but I am excited about what this change in lifestyle (even if it is only for a few weeks) may bring. Oh wait. No. I’m not going to get excited. Dammit! Why am I such an excitable person? It only leads to disappointment.

    – Fern xxx


    My Kmart hauls have always been popular, but they have got to stop! If only it was as much fun to talk about the things I haven’t bought…

  • All About Fern
  • I Could Be a Celebrity (and Other Random Thoughts)

    I’m really good at thinking, but not so good at doing. Take this week, for example. I had many thoughts full of many ideas about really good blog posts. And did I write the blog posts? No. I did not. It would be easy to blame the school holidays on my inability to just sit down and do the things I tell myself I will do, but the truth is that even if the kids were at school I probably wouldn’t have written the things I could have written. I am quite lazy, you see. And also I’ve got my YouTube channel, which seems to be a lot easier than blogging for some reason. Maybe because speaking is more forgiving than writing. But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about, so I will move on.

    Because I am happy to both accept and admit that I am lazy, I am also happy to indulge my laziness. And so, I’m just going to bullet point some of the thoughts I had; some of the blog posts that could have been, if you will. This way I get to feel like I did blog the thoughts, and you, whoever you are, gets a small taste of what you’re missing out on (or not, as the case may be). So. Here we go.

    • I got my sister-in-law a copy of Yes Please by Amy Poehler for Christmas, because I was certain she would like it. She did like it, I discovered on Christmas eve, when I saw that exact book tucked into her suitcase. Crap. So, the new Yes Please went back to The Warehouse and was exchanged for something else, and the old Yes Please was passed on to me so I could read it, because yes, my sister (in law) had already finished reading it in its entirety.
      I haven’t made it past the preface, so I probably shouldn’t even be talking about the book yet, but I’ve got to say I found it all ridiculously inspiring. I’m not sure why, exactly, but Ms. Poehler was talking about how writing is really hard, and how it feels damn near impossible to make time to pen an entire book in between raising kids and working and generally being awesome. And somewhere in amongst all that my brain was all, Oh my god, Amy Poehler is just a person. 
      Now you might be reading that and rolling your eyes and thinking, Well, duh, but I’m pretty sure that most of us view celebrities as some sort of super-human subspecies. And it just started to occur to me that that is so not the case. All these people we look up to, whose work we watch and read and consume, are just like you and me. They’re really not that special. And I dunno, I just got to thinking that if a little girl called Amy could grow up to be a celebrated comedienne called Amy Poehler, then who’s to say that a little girl called Anita can’t grow up to be a kick-ass woman called Fern who is celebrated for her talents too?
      I mean, sure, it’s likely my imagination kind of ran away with me a bit, that happens to me quite a lot, but I’m beginning to feel like there’s nothing stopping me from achieving the things I want to achieve.
      2017 could be my year…
    • I’ve been getting really grumpy with my kids, and it’s not that they’re being extra annoying, it’s that I’m being extra impatient. This is one of those things that makes you feel a bit shitty about yourself, because the thought that you are the problem is a hard pill to swallow (cliche, don’t care), but whatever. Sometimes you just have to accept that you suck and then figure out a way to stop sucking so much.
      My way to suck less is to start my day with a slight attitude adjustment (please believe that I’m not trying to tell you how to suck less, this is just something I’m trying to do – I will probably forget all about this within a week). Instead of waking up and being all, Ugh my kids are so freaking annoying, why are they so loud, why are they so whiney, why do they want me to pay them attention when it’s only six thirty in the morning, I try to wake up being all, Wow, the kids seem pretty needy today, I better get up and help them get their breakfast, after all, I get super hangry about everything when I go too long without eating…
      It all sounds a wee bit lame, I know, but it does seem to make a difference. Oh, and turning on Netflix and dozing while the kids snuggle beside you and watch a shitty cartoon for half an hour or so helps too. May as well make the most of the school holidays, right?
    • We’ve been spending a crap ton of money lately and it’s really got to stop. First there was Christmas, and then there were general school holiday expenses, and now there is me sitting on my computer looking at all the emails that get sent to my spammy hotmail account advertising unmissable sales and unbeatable deals on pizza delivery.
      I’ve started thinking that I should attempt some sort of Frugal February thing (is that a thing? I feel like it should be a thing). Like maybe I should try and not spend any money outside of the essential living costs? Maybe I should try really hard to spend less on groceries each week, to stop buying takeaways all the time (Burger Fuel, I’m looking at you), to stick to regular blocks of cheese instead of treating myself to two or three rounds of camembert each week…
      I’m going to have to think about this one a little more, because I think we all know that I really do love to shop; I really do love to spend money. But I’m kind of realising that spending money doesn’t actually make me any happier, and as much as I fight it, my Dutch in-laws could teach me a lot about managing money and being content with what we’ve got.
      Not spending money is pretty boring though.

    So yes, that’s about it really. I mean, it’s not, but that’s all I can be bothered writing, and the kids are asking about lunch, and there’s only so many times I can say, Yes, I’ll get it for you soon, I’m just working at the moment, before they completely lose the plot.

    If any of those things sound like any of the things that you think about then let me know. And if you want to join me in attempting to be frugal in February then flick me a message, because I kind of reckon it could be sorta fun if I have someone to hold my hand through my month of cheap(ish) living.

    In the mean time, you can watch this video about my plans – not goals – for 2017. None of it actually ties in with this blog post, but it does tie in with the theme of random and somewhat jumbled thoughts, so I feel like it works.

    Happy day, yo.
    – Fern xxx

     

    We Made This Life
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