Family of 5 – No Spend Month

Photo by on Unsplash
Photo by on Unsplash

Today is Rosh Chodesh Iyar (well, technically the 30th of Nissan – but that’s just how the Hebrew months work sometimes…). This month we are doing a no spend month!

Why a no spend month?

The easiest way to sum up why I want to have a no spend month is this – I want us all to get out of the habit of mindless spending. I want our family to move past common consumerism, and to be more grateful for what we have.

I am obsessed with watching videos on youtube about tiny living, minimalism, and simple living. I love those things, and I yearn for them to be more true to my own life when I watch those videos, but the reality is I feel like my life is far from it.

Last week when I came to a head on this, and thought back, I could see that my children were consistently asking for things every time we would go somewhere. Sometimes big things (“I’ll put it on your Wishlist for your birthday” I’d say), and more often small things, $2 things, ya know? Annoying little toys from machines, or their favourite chocolate. Often I would say yes, either to appease them, or to get out of the shops quickly, or even sometimes because I wanted them to be happy and to reward them (or bribe them).

We end up with a hole in the wallet, and crappy toys filling our house.

I could see that the kids were not content with what they had, and worse than that they were always “bored” – so what good were these annoying toys?

Luke and I have been doing a lot of extra spending the last few months – we’ve been using our extra income to buy some big ticket items (new bed, new mattress, photo books, conversion application, mower etc. These were all necessary things, and we don’t regret buying them, but having the extra income also made us (maybe just me?!) a bit more lazy with sticking rigidly to the budget – things like my acupuncture and herbs aren’t technically in the budget, and I have spent a bit of extra money investing in health things. Again, I’m not saying this was so bad, I’m just saying it contributes to a lazy budget attitude, and it’s something I want to reign in.

In summary, I want to give everyone in our family a spending detox, and help us make good decisions about our spending in the future.

You’ve still gotta eat! What can you buy?

Of course! We still have to eat, and pay our bills, and there’s no way around that. I asked on instagram stories for some suggestions of what we should put on our “can spend” list, and got some great answers. Here’s our list:

  • Groceries (stick to the grocery list though, and no extras snuck in like magazines or Diet Coke at the checkout!)
  • Paying bills
  • Acupuncture (am considering this a health bill as we’ve already made a commitment to continue it for a certain amount of time)
  • Petrol

Any extra money from this will just be put into the kitty (we use a cash based system) for some sort of family experience at the end of it all (zoo day, ice-cream party… etc.), or give to a charity – depends how much (or even IF!) we save anything.

Out of interest, what can’t you buy?

So basically we can’t use our bank cards for anything other than to get the cash out that we need.

No online purchases – no games, no apps, no things we’ve been wanting that come up on special (because they totally will now that we’ve committed to this).

No coffees, no buying snacks, no spending money to buy whatever we life (for me that’s often art supplies or crystals). You get the idea, right?

No take-away, no random grocery top-ups above the standard grocery budget, no buying lunch when we’re out.

What do you foresee to be the main challenges?

Surprisingly, I don’t expect the kids to be a bit problem. We will sit down with them today and talk about it (I will try to tie it into our daily study of the sefirot as we count the omer), explain why we’re doing it, and how long it will go for. They usually respond well to these types of scenarios, so while there could be a few hairy days, in general I think they’ll be fine.

I actually think the hardest thing with me will be not buying snacks/lunch out. For example, today we are going up the coast to visit my parents, and will stay overnight. We’ll be out and about during lunch time tomorrow, and usually I’d just buy some lunch. In this particular situation it should be okay, as I only needed to do a small grocery shop this week, and have some spare money from that, so I can technically buy them lunch. BUT to keep with the spirit of it I’ll just be heading to Coles and getting some “real food” things (even if it’s just bread and peanut butter), rather than going to a food court for sushi.

The other hard challenge will be resisting sale items as they come up.


So that’s what we’re doing! I hope it will be a good exercise in self control, and that we’ll be able to stick to it. I am woman of extremes, and so my first thought was definitely to do it for a whole year, but I wasn’t really sure we were up to that! If this works out well, I think it would be a great exercise to do again later in the year!

It’s possible that emergency things will come up. That’s okay. This isn’t some sort of massive things I absolutely can’t fail at – if we need to buy new tyres, or there’s something we have to pay for for school, that’s also okay. For these sort of things though my decision making tool will be to ask myself if it needs to be bought NOW, or if it can wait until next month. And its level of urgency.

One Little Word 2018: Womanhood // January

2018 one little word process photos // January // Womanhood

So at the end of 2017 and start of 2018 I decided to enrol in Ali Edward’s One Little Word Class. I have known of the idea on choosing a word for the year for a fair while, and have actually chosen a word for the last few years, but this year, what with all the big changes in our home life and in our family I thought I would indulge myself in actually doing the course! I just chose to do the course (which came with printables), and then bought an album and a couple of other bits to go with it. So no official kit for me, just whatever I made up.

It’s been slow going getting into the project. I think it’s just because I’ve not done it before, so each month’s prompts are totally new to me not just in the content they produce (based on my word), but also in the idea of them. When I watch videos of seasoned OLW-ers like Essie Ruth, they seem to know the mechanics of the prompts, and so are able to then create using their word a bit easier. I’m not sure if that totally makes sense written down, but hopefully you understand that I’m trying to say, that the more years you do the project the easier it is.

Anyway, it’s the end of February and I finally finished both the January and February prompts! I have decided I really like watching the videos and knowing about the prompt at the start of the month, and then actually completing it in the second half of the month. That way I’ve had time to mull over it and think it through. Again, perhaps this won’t be necessary in future years when I’m more familiar with how various prompts work, and how I want my book to look.

My word for 2018 is “Womanhood” – a word that I thought I kind of knew, but that I am absolutely loving exploring deeper. When you really put something out there, that you want to learn more about it, I feel like Hashem honours that, and will teach you! That’s certainly been my hope & prayer.

January One Little Word Tour

// I started the album with a photo of myself, and some embellishments. I wanted to put myself front and centre in this book, because I really see this as a personal journey of self discovery.

// On the back of the photo I made a mixed-media page with my word “Womanhood”. On the opposite page I added a personalised “January” title card, and one of the quotes from the kit.

2018 one little word process photos // January // Womanhood

2018 one little word process photos // January // Womanhood

// On the back of the monthly card I included a reflection on how I related to my word this month, and added my completed prompt cards.

“Womanhood” in January

January was such a busy month for me that I struggled to find time to even think of my word. But on reflection of the month, I realised that I lived a certain reality of womanhood – serving others, mothering, creating celebrations and family traditions, and recording family stories. These mothering and homemaking aspects of womanhood are beautiful things, and our resilience to get through things, to keep going, and to also find the space for self care is so important.

In January I sent two of my children off to school. One to year 1, and the other to part-time Kindy. I went from homeschooling 3 kids all day every day, to only have 2 kids at home half the week, and 1 at home the other half! I experienced  VERY broad range of emotions. Everything from joy to guilt, sadness to pride, and relief to disappointment. 

Emotions. They are a massive part of womanhood.

Emotions. They are a massive part of motherhood.

I think I want to really FEEL all those emotions, respect them, acknowledge them, and also process them well and control them.

Reason Why: I feel like I’m on a journey to discover a deeper layer of Biblical womanhood and all its complexities.

Quote: “Her intuition was her favourite superpower”

Definition: NOUN. * The state of being a woman *The qualities considered to be natural to or characteristic of a woman. *Women considered collectively.

Let Go: *Immaturity holding me back. *Past idea of womanhood that don’t align with Biblical/Jewish values.

2018 one little word process photos // January // Womanhood

// The next spread includes some more prompt cards, and my planning page for the year ahead. 

Invitation: *Wisdom from Hashem in how and why he created women. *A deeper love and connection with myself and my womanhood.

Note To Self: You are a mighty woman with a strong purpose and an everlasting God on your side!

The Year Ahead:

In what ways is my word already part of my life?

Well, I am a woman, so I guess it’s a pretty HUGE part of my life! I’ve only just started exploring womanly rituals and sacred spaces as they relate to Judaism.


More: Self care, self acceptance, self AWARENESS, and more inner beauty.

Less: Self doubt, hurt and pain, confusion.

What do I feat most in the coming year?

Not completing this project! (not in my album, but should be:) Getting too busy and distracted to finish.

Maybe, more seriously though, not growing in my potential or exploring my womanhood enough. I want to be more enlightened by the end of the year! 

What am I most excited about for the year ahead?

Embracing my own womanhood and really exploring this topic without reservation. I’m excited to see what Hashem reveals to me.

2018 one little word process photos // January // Womanhood

// My last page for January is the intentions page!


Physical – *Holistic health (oils, food, supplements, herbs etc.) *KNOWING my body. *Monthly cycle/pregnancy – tracking and acknowledging

Emotional – *Meditation *Acknowledging the various parts of my monthly cycle. *Gratitude lists *FEELING emotions (all of them!) and not being afraid of them!

Spiritual – *Meditation *Bibilcal femininity (study) *Establishing feminine prayer rituals *Brachas *Gratitude *Rosh Chodesh

Relationships (family) – *Coming back to being a nurturing mother *Being vulnerable, honest, and growing together with Luke.

Creative – Exploring art journaling more and especially exploring womanhood THROUGH art journaling.

Relationship (others) – *Limiting social media *Cultivating good, honest, womanly friends.

VLOG: Why SAHMs Should Make Time For ART!

inhale the future, exhale the past

Mums! Do you ever find yourself wishing you had more time for art? Or like it goes to the bottom of the priority list in your life? Well this vlog is for you. This is how I went from never having any time for my art, to making it a priority!

Key Points:

My story of going from being cranky and frustrated to making art a priority and being a happier, more attentive mother because of it.

Making art a priority – adding art journal pages to your to do list!

Consequences of not doing art, and consequences of not doing the washing.

Not doing any household duties in the evenings after the kids are in bed.

Blocking out time in your daily schedule for art.

Prioritising art is not self indulgent.

If you know you only have X hours during the day to do your chores because the evening is blocked out (for art!) then guess what?! You will get it done! (within reason!)

Lets continue the conversation – let me know in the comments what’s stopping you and we can try and find a fix!

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Rosh Chodesh Shevat 5778

shevat art journaling page

Rosh Chodesh Shevat

What is Shevat all about?
This is a month BURSTING with information and insight. The explanations of the month are as full of growth and potential as the month itself! The dreams we made in Kislev, the progress we made to work through anger in Tevet, are culminating together to be planted like seeds in Shevat.

There are so many aspects I could talk about this month – newness, gratitude, food, nature, righteousness, or trees, but I just want to focus on one or two. I will put links at the bottom to all my favourite resources, so you can do your own research if you want!

Shevat is a month to start bearing new fruit and to welcome newness within you. We did so much work on ourselves in Tevet, tilling the soil so to speak, that now it is time to really bury those seeds, water them, get excited, and feel the growth and new life rising within us.

I challenge you this month to say “yes” to some things that you’ve been putting off, or de-prioritisng. Say yes to self care, and say yes to new experiences – especially ones that take you out of your comfort zone a little and bring some excitement!

Of course I can’t go past the obvious connection to food this month, starting with the tribe of the month is Asher, which means happiness, and is connected to the sense of taste. The tribesmen of Asher were rich because they were abundantly happy. They were so happy because of their contentment with what Hashem had given them – they were not a tribe who often compared themselves to others, or were always wanting more.
They experienced pure joy and happiness because of their contentment with what Hashem had given them.

So it should be with our food – not always lusting after this meal, or what someone else has. But being content to eat good, nourishing food. Being mindful of the food we eat.

At the full moon this month is the minor holiday of Tu B’Shevat, which is like a new year for the trees. A great time to be mindful of the environment and our responsibility to look after it. But also to be mindful of the food we eat. Definitely make time to research a Tu B’Shevat seder, or just put out a platter of the 7 species of Israel to enjoy on this day.

There are many many rules in the Torah about food, and this reminds us that God really does care what we put in our mouths and when. I am loving researching kosher laws, brachas before eating, and Jewish ways of eating this month. The purpose of eating is the elevate the godliness in food, and we can do that by honouring God with good healthy food that he has deemed acceptable.

I’ll end with this quote from At The Well.
“Jewish teachings have long equated humans to trees. The Rebbe equated a tree to the spiritual life of a human. The roots represent a person’s faith, the body represents the spiritual life through intellect, emotions, and practical achievements, and the fruit and seed the power in each of us to in uence others and help everyone in our community become their own healthy trees. “It’s not enough to feel and experience God just when you’re in prayer. You need to feel and experience him in the every day.

Tu B’Shevat. – Full of Moon of Shevat. 15th.

Questions & activities for personal reflection:
Spend some time in nature this month. What are you doing to help repair the world in an environmental sense?
Be mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth. Think about why you are eating, and ask yourself if this is how Hashem intends for it to be.
What new things do you hope to welcome into your life this month?
Are you content with what Hashem has given you, or are you always wanting more?
Write out a continuous gratitude list. Don’t break your list up into days, or worry if you miss a day, just keep adding to the list every time you thin of something to be grateful for!

Art Journal Process Video: A Reflection of death & grief

Hi everyone, and welcome to my first process video for the year. This was quite therapeutic to put together, and I loved just having a chat with you guys in the voice over.

In the video I explain how I’ll be improving this channel in 2018. I look forward to your input!

As I work through this art journaling process video I talk a lot about death, and grief, and the reality of not having any tomorrows promised to you. I hope that by the end it is encouraging for you. Sometimes art journaling is less about the page you make, and more about the therapeutic process you went through whilst making it. That’s definitely what this page was for me, and I felt really free by the time I’d finished – like I’d worked through any unknown fear or worry that was in the back of my mind.

Please don’t forget to “like” and “subscribe”. I’d love to get a comment from you – tell me what you think of my philosophy on death and life, or my plans for 2018!

Hello 2018

art journaling page of a girl with text in her red hair

Hello 2018! I am looking forward to creating beautiful art this year.

I thought I would start this blog with a list of some of the creative projects I will be working on in 2018.

  • Weekly Parsha Project. This project is where I create an art journaling spread related to the weekly parsha (torah portion). I started at the beginning of the cycle a few months ago after Simchat Torah, and will continue through till then. I missed a few weeks while we were away, so it’s a priority for me to catch up on those ASAP! You can check these all out with the hashtag #taliastorah on my arty instagram.
  • One Little Word. This is my first year doing this project! I often choose a word for the year, but this is the first time doing the course. I haven’t bought a kit of anything, just the course, and hope to complete it simply and efficiently. I do NOT want this to turn into another unfinished project.
  • Rituals Class. I won this on New Years Day, and I am so excited to participate!
  • Regular art journaling goals – I want to art journal frequently, and continue to learn new things.
  • YouTube. It’s here if you want to subscribe. This year I’ll be posting twice a week – one day will be a process video like the ones currently there, and the second one will be a review of a product including ways to use it. Part of the reason I am doing this is because I want to increase my following places so that I can make it onto a design team for 2019.
  • Family photobook. I like to think this is an ongoing project, but it seems it’s just a December/January project! I like putting these together and having all out photos from the year in a neat little book!
  • Monthly Videos. I’ve been enjoying watching some of the old monthly videos I was doing a few years ago. It’s so sweet to watch the kids being smaller, and learning to talk, and walk and all those things. Luke would LOVE it if I got back into these again, and I want to really try hard to put aside time to do them.

So this is a lot of projects, right?! I figure now that I’m off facebook, Lior is a school 5 days a week, and Eli at kindy 2-3 days a week I should be able to make it work. It will require some self discipline and organisation though!

Do you have any creative projects you’re working on this year?

Rosh Chodesh Tevet 5778

Chodesh Tov! We are a few days into the month of Tevet, a month of purification, emotional healing, and self reflection. Tevet is often considered a challenging month, but only because our souls are yearning to be improved, and so our weaknesses rise to the surface, waiting to be healed.

The sense connected with Tevet is anger. Anger can of course be righteous. Hashem himself is described as being angry in Tehillim, and when we respond to an injustice in the world with anger, or a sin in our life, and that anger causes us to take action and make a change, then it certainly can be righteous.

But for most of us our experience with anger isn’t usually righteous. It is in fact, usually sinful.

For ages I felt guilty about the anger I felt, and the way I erupted, but through my research on Tevet I’ve seen that this anger is actually just a wound within me that needs to be healed. Of course, Hashem is the ultimate healer, and while I am often really focused on physical health, I need Him to be with me and by my emotional and spiritual healer as well.

This month of Tevet is a great opportunity to spend some solid time in prayer (more than your morning or evening prayers – some deep reflection time) so that you can find the root cause of any anger within you. Finding this cause gives us an amazing opportunity to grow, heal & expand. Talk to G-D about the hurt and anger you feel and ask Him for help and direction on how you can respond better.

ancient oil lamp

Questions & activities for personal reflection:

  • Today and tomorrow, take specific note of how you act in the day. Do you experience any negative emotions? Prayerfully choose which ones you want to work on this month.
  • Alternatively, look inward, and ask yourself “What is a negative emotion I often have?”. See what pops into your head first. Trust that this is Hashem leading you.
  • Do you experience any anger in your life? Is it frequent, or sporadic? Does it affect other people? What is the root of this anger? Note: This is an internal root – it can not be another person, or another situation. This has to be something within.
  • Write yourself a letter specifically addressing this anger or negative emotion. Treat yourself like a mentee you are looking after. Be truthful, but kind in your critique and encouragement.
  • Once you’ve discovered the root cause of your anger or negative emotion, make an action plan of how you will process it. Do you need some time to cry, pray, and write
  • Organise a time with your spouse, or someone else who can help so you have time this month to heal.
  • Create yourself a beautiful reminder that you can stick to the wall in your kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, car… anywhere you spend a decent amount of time and need to be reminded!

Self Care Mama

self care mama

In 2017 I felt like I could well and truly say that I have self-care  under control. I have learnt how to prioritise my needs appropriately with the needs of the others in my family and how to incorporate the cost of self care into our budget in a mindful and responsible way. 

This has been a huge process over many years, and with many mistakes, but I’m glad to be at a place where I  know what I need, and be confident to make that happen when it needs to.

I totally recognise that I still have a VERY long way to go in terms of reducing my stress, limiting my angry outbursts, and  being a kinder and more gentle person, butI also recognise that this year I’ve made progress! I’ve also set up a bunch of things (listed below) that will help me on this path to being more at peace.

One of the hardest things about self care is starting, and I believe the first thing that needs to take place is a conversation with yourself about your worth, and an honest look at the most effective way you can be a good wife/mother/employee/employer/volunteer/person in general. It starts kind of life this:

angry woman

How To Initiate Self Care:

“Oh gosh, I am a terrible mother. I yell at my kids way too much. I want to chaaaange!”

Okay, so lets look at this objectively and work out why you yell – because you’ve accumulated stress that you haven’t had a chance to process or let go of. Because you’re running on empty. Because you feel like you don’t get time to pursue other things you enjoy. Because when you debrief to your spouse they think you’re complaining and they just want to fix things. Overworked, underpaid.

Okay, got it.

So honestly, the best thing to do in this situation, is to work out a way to get some time to yourself. Once you’ve talked it out  with yourself, and you’re committed and understand all the benefits (do a bit of research – I’ll post a link to a blog post with links), it’s time to take action. As you read links and do your research on the benefits of self care it’s best to share these tidbits with your loved ones (spouse, parents, friends) as you come across them. These are the people you will need to support you, and so it’s great if you’re all on the same page and they understand how important this is.

It’s An Experiment 

I love that I’ve had the freedom to explore and experiment with a range of different self care methods, and that my husband has been supportive in giving me time/space as much as he can in order for me to try things. But the truth is, a lot of what I do I have had to carve time for myself in my regular life. If you rely too heavily on needing other people’s help to look after your kids while you do self care, then you will end up with disappointment. Also, you miss a really valuable opportunity for you to both teach your children how to care for themselves, and also that self care is important for you as a mother.

Choose something you can do on your own, without help, and start there. You don’t have to be committed long term to this, but you do have to be committed to the length of the experiment – however long you make that. For example, regular massage might fit into your budget once a week for the next month. So commit to that. Then reflect and see if it’s helped, if you enjoyed it, if you’d rather spend your time some other way. Then either give it up and try something else, or find a way that you can commit to it for longer.

happy woman

Some of my favourite self care activities in 2017 include:

  • Regular massages
  • Dedicated art journaling time on the weekends (husband looks after the kiddies)
  • Art journaling in the evenings
  • Essential oil time – learning about them, reading books on them, figuring out new “recipes” and applying them
  • Meditation – just a new practice for me, and one I’ve grown more confident after reading a great book on Jewish meditation. I hope to do a book review about it soon!
  • Walking to the shops by myself
  • Shabbat
  • Gardening
  • Daily reflection, connection with the moon, and tracking my cycles
  • Regular (weekly/fortnightly) “date nights” with girlfriends. Venting totally allowed!
  • Dropping Facebook (embracing just having one social profile)

Snow Day in Atlanta – December 8th 2017

One of the great things about being strangers to the snow is that when you’re travelling in a foreign city and it ends up being a snow day, it’s really no bother to you at all! I mean, for us, going back to our airbnb, turning up the heater, and grabbing a cup of tea while we look at the window at the snow fall is just as exciting as seeing the sights of Atlanta!

The place we’re staying at here in Atlanta is nice, and the host family (we’re in a granny flat out the back) is really welcoming and friendly. Our boys loved playing with the kids in the back in the snow this afternoon, then going into their house for hot cocoa – another classic “Americanism” I am glad they could experience. Hot cocoa on a cold snowy day – seriously, it’s what kids movies are made of.

We were out and about in the morning though – walking through the park in the icy rain, wishing it would snow, grabbing coffee (cue crying toddler in the middle of the shop because she’s obsessed with drinking your coffee when you’re not looking, and that’s seriously no good), and watching the snow start from our Korean lunch place.

We loved having a snow day, and it was made even better that it was in such an unlikely place like Atlanta!