July Debrief

I think I did a little better with my July goals than my June goals. I did manage to tick off a few and with the start of August just around the corner, I am excited by the chance to achieve a few more goals.

Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project dedicated July to Money: buying some happiness with the following ideas:

  • I do now choose to ask myself  how does this support my happiness goals before indulging in a modest splurge. I decided that Trinny & Susannah’s plan of putting aside 10% of your housekeeping money to makeover yourself after having done work to decide you deserved it was not really for me.
  • I am trying not to be cheap and make sure I am always well stocked with needed things, although I did run out of both milk & tampons once this month. Lucky I have a husband willing to do an emergency stop at the petrol station on his way home from work.
  • I am still really bad at holding onto old broken worn out things while I save the new replacement for a special occasion. It just feels so wasteful to chuck something that is still workable.
  • I have decided to give up two of my magazine subscriptions and cut my morning coffee fix down to 3 days a week and I am channelling the saved money into a Christmas club account.

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy suggested the following joyful simplicities for July to help bring more harmony to my everyday life:

  • I have ordered the book Out Of The Garden: Women Writers on The Bible and am waiting for it to arrive.
  • I have bought Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, Catering For Nobody, Dying For Chocolate and Cereal Murders by Diane Mott Davidson and I am currently reading Reckless Appetite: A Culinary Romance by Jacqueline Deval
  • We ate Beef in red wine while watching Babette’s Feast.
  • I have bought the Cake Bible and have committed to making a new cake from it every Sunday, so far I have made pound cake and deluxe double vanilla pound cake
  • I wrote and posted a love letter to myself but have not opened it, I’m saving it for when I need a boost.
  • I am reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning poems after purchasing a book of her collected works.
  • I added some lace to my life in the form of some new lingerie, some new camisoles and a black top.
  • I framed two childhood pictures of myself and placed them on my dresser.
  • I have stocked the larder and put in place a menu plan & shopping list.
  • I did force some hyacinths bulbs to flower inside but did not have great results I think I left it too late in the year.
  • I always do wear perfume everyday
  • I have tried to wear red lipstick everyday this month, my application still needs work but is much better than it was at the start. This really did push me out of my comfort zone and I felt quite self conscious until I got use to it.
  • I did treat yourself to one long stem rose for your desk as well as a vase for it to go in
  • I downloaded Cole Porter onto my music player but have since switched the songs out for more modern versions, such as those by lady Gaga.
  • I have not watched Out of Africa but I have ordered the DVD and am waiting for it to arrive
  • I have not read Isak Dinesen & Beryl Markham
  • I did make a batch of old fashioned chocolate fudge which I took to work to share.
  • I did not create a sacred space, I think I need a little more direction with this one

Trinny & Susannah in their book The Survival Guide: A Woman’s Secret Weapon For Getting Through The Year said that July was the time to think about the art of not looking your age by doing some of the following:

  • I did not sort my skiing kit, it does not snow here and I can not ski.
  • I didn’t book a mid-winter facial & eyelash tint, I did book and  have an eye trio done though.
  • I have not completely given up cappuccino & croissants but I have given up the croissants but I have only reduced my morning coffee to three times a week
  • I did turn your mattress with the help of hubby.
  • I didn’t have any jewellery fancy enough to warrant special cleaning
  • I may need to still work on introducing some spiritual solutions to my everyday life
  • I am still limiting the amount of news I am exposing myself too.
  • I am continuing to collect goodies for the bath and escaping off for a good restorative soak regularly
  • The beauty tips I am regularly following are, singing in my car every morning, taking my fish oil supplements, drinking camomile tea and going to bed early.
  • I am learning how to eat my way to gorgeousness through switching my morning porridge accompaniments from brown sugar & cream to berries, apple & cinnamon. But I think the menu as a whole that they suggested I might save for when Hubby is away and I’m just feeding myself.

Kim Carruthers in her book Less is More: How to De-clutter Your Life said July was the perfect time to do the following jobs

  • I did sort & clean all my bags
  • I need to sit down with the family next time everyone is home and reassess our families goals
  • I am continuing planning for the Christmas holidays
  • But I still have not sorted my tax return

Rhonda Hetzel in her book The Simple Home: A Month-by-month Guide To Self-Reliance, Productivity and Contentment said that July was the time for simple home bakes which worked well with my cake baking meditation I am now embarking on every Sunday thanks to the cake bible.

A lot of the things I have introduced to my life this month have had the surprising effect of making me feel more romantic and feminine. I think it is the accumulative effect of romantic literature, movies, music, lace, flowers, baking, and of course the red lippy. On the down side I think I may have spent more money than I saved. I will definitely still keep working on this list of goals and am very much looking forward to what next month may bring.


Simple Home Bakes

Rhonda Hetzel in her book The Simple Home: A Month-by-month Guide To Self-Reliance, Productivity and Contentment says that July is the time for simple home bakes.

She say’s when visitors are expected it always makes you feel good to set the kitchen table with a special cloth, fresh flowers, napkins, tea, coffee and just baked cakes, slices and biscuits. She thinks such a spread acknowledges the importance of your visitors and the significance of providing hospitality. She believes that offering visitors good food, drinks and a comfortable place to rest, especially visitors who have travelled a long way, is part of living a simple life. In addition to baking for visitors many of you see the good sense in providing your family with bread and simple baked goods everyday. If you eat bread or like to put snacks such as cakes, biscuits or slices in lunchboxes then baking is a good skill to develop. While its a delight to bake in winter and fill your home with the aroma of hot bread and freshly baked biscuits, baking can be done any day of the year. There is no doubt that by making your baked goods at home you’ll save money, but you’ll also be healthier for it. Home baking doesn’t rely on the preservatives and flavour enhances that are commonly included in supermarket baked products such as bread, biscuits, cakes, flans and pies. You’ll be able to offer your family a greater diversity of baked goodies, including the traditional baking of your own heritage and you can modify favourite recipes exactly to your own liking or dietary needs.

Storing Ingredients: If you do a lot of baking and have the storage space try to buy your ingredients in bulk. If you have no local shop that sells in bulk you may find a store online that that can deliver through the post or by courier. Make sure your potential purchases will be cost effective before you order. Buying in bulk helps you bypass the wasteful packaging that more often than not surrounds purchased food. Supermarket cakes, biscuits and snacks are often over packaged with plastic and aluminium  trays, small bags in larger bags and a lot of cellophane or plastic wrapping. Store your ingredients in sealed glass or plastic containers so you never waste any and when you bring home new bags of flour or any dry goods, if you have the space put them in the freezer for a couple of days to kill off any larvae that might be in the packet. Once they’ve had that initial time in the freezer, you can take them out and store as normal on the shelf, confident that you wont be troubled by pantry moths or weevils. A chest freezer with a very good energy rating is generally a sound investment in a simple home. It will allow you to kill off insects in dry goods such as bread flour, store bulk ingredients and meat as well as pre-prepared food. It doesn’t have to be situated in the kitchen because you wont use it frequently. Any cool place out of sunlight will be fine.

Caring for your equipment: Some bake ware will be sold with specific instructions on how to bake in the tin or tray the first time and how to care for it over the life time of the item. Always follow those instructions. Aluminium is an excellent conductor of heat and aluminium cake tins are the best value for money bake ware. If there are no instructions wash the baking tin or tray by hand without using detergent or soap, then dry. The first time you use it for a butter cake or any cake containing fat either brush melted butter on the interior of the pan or line it with parchment paper. You can hold the parchment paper in place with a dab of butter in a few places. If you are cooking a sponge or other cake with no fat in it, don’t butter or line the baking tin. Do not use olive oil or grease your aluminium bake ware because over time it will discolour it. When you finish baking, wait till the tin has cooled and soak it in warm soapy water for about an hour. Then simply rub over the tin with a soft dishcloth and make sure all the fat and any remnants of the cake are removed. Dry completely before storing. If your storing one cake tin inside another it’s a good idea to place a sheet of paper towel or clean cotton rag inside the tin so they don’t rub together. Never cut a cake in the tin and don’t use a pointed knife to help remove the cake from the tin. To clean enamel cookware after baking allow to cool then soak in warm soapy water for an hour and wipe over. If there is a lingering stain, make a paste of bicarb soda and water and apply to the stain. Let it sit for a couple of hours then wash off. Dry completely before storing and be careful when storing one thing inside the other because enamel can chip.

Recipes: With any made from scratch recipe the results will depend on the ingredients you use as well as your techniques. Don’t substitute margarine for butter because frankly if you do you might as well buy commercial biscuits and cakes full of trans fats. Try to source local ingredients if you can, if not, buy the best quality you can afford. That doesn’t mean buying the most expensive ingredients. You’ll need to do a bit of test buying and tasting. Look for different butters, flours and milks and see which of them you prefer. From then on buy them and not what’s on special or the most expensive.

Eat Your Way To Gorgeousness

Trinny & Susannah in their book The Survival Guide: A Woman’s Secret Weapon For Getting Through The Year say that July is the time to think about the art of not looking your age by learning how to eat your way to gorgeousness.

Dr Nicholas Perricone recommends in his book The Wrinkle Cure, going on the following face saving diet for three days before a big event like a wedding or big night out.


  • Fresh fruit salad including lots of berries
  • Slow cooked porridge made with water, sliced apple and cinnamon
  • Herbal tea


  • A slice of grilled organic salmon
  • A salad of Cos lettuce leaves dressed with olive oil & lemon juice
  • Green tea


  • Steamed broccoli, mixed peppers, green beans & cauliflower
  • Slices of cantaloupe & honeydew melon
  • Camomile tea.


Beauty Tips

Trinny & Susannah in their book The Survival Guide: A Woman’s Secret Weapon For Getting Through The Year say that July is the time to think about the art of not looking your age by learning some new beauty tips

  • Go to bed early: Sleeping is not a waste of precious time, it is your bodies most valuable time. Make sure your bed is as calm, comfortable & inviting as possible.
  • Camomile tea: A cup of camomile tea at bedtime helps to bring forth sweet dreams.
  • Pillow spray: Use a heavenly pillow spray to create a sense of relaxation & wellbeing.
  • Fish oils: Eat three portions of oily fish a week. Try sardines, salmon, mackerel, anchovies, trout or herring. They all count as good brain food.
  • Water: Drink lots of water, 2 litres a day is recommended to flush out toxins & keep skin hydrated & looking good.
  • Sing: It expands the lungs & makes you feel great. Let the neighbours think what they want to.
  • Detox once a year: Every major world religion includes a period of fasting, a recognition that it is necessary to rest the digestive system periodically. The western diet is rich in fats, meat, refined sugar & wheat, all of which can leave you feeling tired & sluggish. There are plenty of detox diets around, ranging from complete fasting to juice or raw energy diets. Browse the internet & check out your local bookstore to find one that suits you. They recommend detox gurus Dr Gillian McKeith & Leslie Kenton.

Bikini Body

Trinny & Susannah in their book The Survival Guide: A Woman’s Secret Weapon For Getting Through The Year say that July is the time to think about the art of not looking your age by making a start on your bikini body by giving up cappuccino & croissants. They say that if you’re nervous about wearing a bikini come summer, cut out cappuccino and croissants now.

I think it may take a bit more than this to get me bikini ready between now and December I am however willing to give it a try in the name of science and all. Though I will be very sad to give up my morning coffee on the way to work, will have to swap it out for some kind of slimming herbal tea and my  Saturday lunch time treat where I catch up with loved ones over coffee and croissants at the local French Café might need a re-think too.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy suggests making a batch of old fashioned fudge in July to help bring more harmony to your everyday life.

My Favourite recipe for fudge comes from the Edmonds Cooking Book

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 TBS cocoa
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 25 g butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla essence

Put sugar & cocoa in a pot. Mix to combine. Add milk & butter, heat gently, stirring constantly until sugar has dissolved and butter has melted. Bring to the boil. Do not stir. Let mixture boil until the soft ball stage. Remove from heat. Add essence & leave to stand for 5 minutes. Beat with a wooden spoon until thick. Pour into buttered tin & cut when cold.

Stocking The Larder

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy suggests stocking the larder in July to help bring more harmony to your everyday life. She feels that two home caring tasks that consume a great deal of energy each week are grocery shopping and meal preparation. She has created simple strategies for stocking the larder that can help us reclaim a sense of control when cooking.

The first thing we need to do is to sit down and write out our families favourite seasonal meals. Be sure to include side dishes, vegetables and deserts. Then create a master menu file. A core of at least half a dozen meals enables you to create a sense of variety at dinnertime and avoid the dreariness of eating the same thing over and over again. While planning  think Home-style suppers Monday to Friday, which with planning can be easy fast and delicious.  Weekends call for your favourite meal one night and a culinary feast the other. Try two new recipes a month, save them for weekends when you have more time and can enjoy the simple pleasure of cooking something new and different.

The second thing we need to do is to devise menus including breakfast, lunches, snacks & dinners so we’ll know what we’ll be eating and cooking for the next week. By writing out our meals including side dishes, we’ll avoid forgetting any necessary ingredients at the market. Decide on approximately 15 different seasonal meals and rotate them. This gives us an opportunity to control not just grocery cost but what we’re eating too.

Then lastly create a master grocery list. This task will take about an hour but will save an abundance of time in the future. Divide your grocery list into different categories such as Fresh Produce, Dairy, Meat, Fish, Staples, Paper, and Personal Care Products. These will serve as automatic reminders. Keep a copy of the master list on the refrigerator and instruct your family to mark items on the list as they use them up. Save time and money buy making a minimum of visits and try to grocery shop only once a week.

To Help with all of this she recommends the following book.

  • Monday to Friday Cookbook by Michele Urvater