Christmas Cards: the quick and easy way

Over the last few years (since LT arrived in our lives) I have been writing Christmas cards. I love the idea of getting these in the mail and so have made sure I get them out each year. I began by writing them by hand, a few each day and posting them in batches. Over the last few years I have streamlined the process somewhat. Here are the three steps to ‘stress free’ Christmas cards.

The first thing I did was create address labels(this was prompted by my making mistakes on the addresses and having to re-envelope cards) by making an Excel file with my contacts and mail merging into word to print on ‘avery’ labels.

Then, step two, I jumped online to Daisy Designs and made my Christmas postcard. It took me approx 10 minutes (most of that time was choosing a family photo to put on the card). The file was sent to my email the next day. I took it on a memory stick to Big W and printed the right number of cards. I also picked up envelopes and enough postage stamps (Australia Post has slightly cheaper rates for card postage at Christmas time) while I was at the shopping centre.

Step 3 was putting the cards in envelopes, sticking on the address labels and stamps.

Walking past the postbox near my son’s school and posting the cards hardly counts as a step (we walk past it every day).

I have even had phone calls from some people I haven’t heard from in ages, thanking me for the beautiful cards. So, a special thanks to Daisy Designs for streamlining my card process further.

Part one of Christmas is sorted. Now, back to that ethics application!

Fiona T

Expecting the unexpected.

The last ten days have been a bit of a roller-coaster. The passing of WH’s Grandma, influx of interstate relatives and funeral were the focus of this weeks energy. The strategies I have in place (frozen meals, cleaner and emergency takeaway phone numbers) were all relied upon to make this week go as smoothly as possible.

So it is  a short post today, as I sit with a coffee and ruminate on the week past (while avoiding washing the sheets and towels). I am so thankful for my wonderful family and extended family/friends (you know who you are), for their understanding, support and wishes (this week especially).

This week is planned to be a busy one, catching up on the work I ignored last week and starting to get sorted for Christmas. I have my Christmas cards organised, printed and ready to pop in envelopes and send (BIG thanks to Maria at  for clear, easy, quick and friendly service), and so hope to get them sent this week. Then it’s the weekly juggle of work and study and LT’s school and sports. I am really hoping I can get to see him at swimming this week when he goes with school, he only has 2 weeks of swimming classes left and I am eager to see what he has learned.

Right, now on to deflating beds and getting that washing out!

Fiona T


Planning Meals

In a previous post I mentioned that I plan my meals in a 3 month block.

First I print off a calendar for the month I want to plan (or three months as the case may be).  I had originally wanted to type it, or use drop down menu fields to select meals before printing, but these took to long to try and set up. The ones I found already set up online were American and the food was just too different to what we eat. At this stage handwriting is working for me (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). I also like to sit with the calendar at the table with my latest cooking mags and books around me to put in things I would like to try to cook. It is a nice experience to plan this way. It takes approx 2 hours in total. That sounds like a chunk of time, but it seriously saves me so much more time than this over the next 3 months, as well as relieving anxiety everyday, the 2 hour investment is worth it.

Meal planning has been so helpful in a number of ways:

  • It aids speedy grocery shopping, as I know well in advance what is on the menu and can buy certain things when they are on sale.
  • It provides much more balance to our meals, as well as variety. We are not eating the same things every week and are also able to try new recipes regularly.
  • It means we are wasting less food and also eating less takeaway. Takeaway is now once a month, or if our day has gone pear-shaped.
  • It stops that 4.30ish anxiety of ‘what’s for dinner…’ This in itself is brilliant, I can have relaxed time with my LT after school and not be flipping through recipes and racing to the shop for last minute ingredients.
  • It also means that I plan the days I am cooking bulk meals and can freeze them to use on busy work/study days.
  • I also am able to have a few emergency meals from the bulk cooking that I can share with family or friends in case of illness etc. I love to be able to help people out every now and then, and a spare lasagne or soup can give someone else the night off.
  • Oh, and sometimes we don’t feel like the meal on the planner, that’s OK too…it is flexible.

A number of my friends are now using menu planners too. They are finding it helps with all of the above things. It takes one thing off the constant list that runs through a Mum’s head, and that has to be a good thing.

Below I have attached the excel spreadsheet I downloaded from the internet earlier this year. I don’t recall which site it came from, but will reference it if I find it again. I have also compiled a list of the meals we have on our list for this three month block (May-July) with our winter selection, in case you are interested. Some have links to online versions of the recipes too.

Click this Link to download the ‘monthly-menu-planner‘  it is an excel document. When you open it, make sure you enable macros (it will prompt you to do this) otherwise the calendar will not update to the month you enter.

sfi= super food ideas

Favourites from the summer planner include:

I generally have at least 3 veggies in a meal. If they are not hidden (as in sausage rolls) then they are either steamed, roasted or eaten is a salad. I have some ‘nutirent dense’ (N) food too, these recipes have been either chosen because of the extra nutrients in them or I have adapted them to have more ‘good things’ in them, like my morrocan casserole, or the nachos.

I hope this  post helps to generate ideas. I look forward to seeing what others are cooking too, always like to try new recipes 🙂

Happy Planning!


What does it mean to be paperless? (Part 1/3)

The idea of the paperless office is not a new one. With the increased availability and simplicity of computers it is a term that is bandied about a lot. Today there are even more devices, software and networks that can make this ‘paperless’ idea more fact than fiction.

Late last century (1998) I began postgraduate study, and then continued my studies to complete my Masters by research. I completed these studies just under 10 years ago. Study during this period meant attending lectures in the evenings after full time work, completing readings, research and assignments on weekends. Research on weekends always meant going into the uni campus, finding a seat at a reference computer (yes, they had different computers for everything) and looking up various databases to find articles. Then you would write down the reference numbers of the articles and go to either a) find a book/journal on a shelf , to read and photocopy 0r; b) find the microfiche (tiny pieces of plastic that had the articles printed in teeny tiny writing, which could only be read using a microfiche reader and then photocopied from there).  This took ages and cost a lot of money in photocopying…oh and filled up folders etc with articles you may only read once then never use again. Sometimes what you needed was in a book or journal that was not at that particular library or even campus. So an inter-library loan would have to be organised, or if there was no time for that, an emergency road trip to a different University to read or photocopy it from there. Whole days were spent for each assignment doing all that “research” and then the articles read, critiqued and the assignment would still need to be written. EXHAUSTING!

Fast Forward…2011. The INTERNET is an amazing tool. Now we have online journal access, PDF downloads, Podcasts and YouTube. I can find not only appropriate articles and information, I can also find out immediately about the author and if they are truly an authority in the area. No paper wasted, and it all takes only minutes. Oh, and I don’t have to leave home to do it.

A vivid example of this is that just a few weeks ago I received a text from one of my wonderful sisters directing me to read an article in ‘The Age’ that she thought was relevant to my study area. I was on the computer doing my ‘paid job’ so I quickly looked up the article. It was relevant and quoted a professor from the US. I ‘google’ said professor and find a great body of work they had been involved in and a couple of books they had written and edited. Next step is Book Depository, looked up the three books I was interested in, read online reviews and narrowed my choice. Ordered the most relevant book, it was delivered to my door a week later. In under an hour I had sourced and (almost) acquired a book that would not even pop up in an ‘old school’ library search. This is amazing and too easy.

So the research bit is definitely more easily accessible and will mean I can get so much more done to a much better standard because the leg work that used to be mandatory for study is now eliminated. Brilliant 😀

Stay tuned for the next 2 blogs that will expand on this paperless idea. They will explore:

1) the potential of ‘the cloud’ for writing, editing and storage of drafts and papers, and

2) Skype, Ted Talks, and YouTube and how these tools can open doorways previously unconsidered.

Past Posts

May 2021
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