Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sustainable Shopping

With the weather rainy and pretty dreary up here in the mountains, it seemed the perfect time for some sustainable shopping. We left the house with the proviso that anything we bought must be second hand. First stop, the antique shops.

Here we are at the cutest little antique store in the mountains. Rhianna bought an old Golden Book and I bought an antique cross stitch tablecloth.

The tablecoth from Robyn's Nest and a Toulouse Latrec Biography from the Blue Mist Cafe.

After 5 antique shops we are in Wentworth Falls and the home of our favourite cafe - The Blue Mist Cafe. We love this cafe because it combines our 2 favourite loves - good food and books from floor to rafters (which are second hand and for sale- lovely!!!!)

Rhianna decides that yes, pancakes are a lunchtime food.
(and no, I don't need to brush my hair to go out in public)

Rhianna and I nab a seat by the window to people watch.

Who has time to eat when there are so many books at such cheap prices?

Rhianna realises that help may be required to finish the pancakes.

Fully saited, we head home having spent around $50 on some good books and a lovely old tablecloth to add to my vintage linen collection.

What did you get up to today?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weekend Fun
Rhianna and I are both a bit tired today so we decided just to hang out around the house and get into a couple of projects we had been talking about for a while.

I had this very large nightie from when I was pregnant with Rhianna. I loved the pattern of the fabric but it's synthetic and not very comfy for bed.

I'd splurged last year and bought a French Country nightie made from cotton so sheer, you felt like you were going to put your finger through it. I decided to make the nightie its own little pj bag for protection.

Old nightie

French Country nightie and bag

Of course, then Rhianna wanted a bag for her little nightie.

Rhianna had seen a project for apple printing she wanted to try. We had great fun printing with the apple halves and with some Gardenia leaves from beside the front door. We then decided to make some placemats for her friends at school. After gluing them onto A4 paper we laminated them. We are calling them "Back to school placemats"

Hope you are having a nice weekend with your loved ones too.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Before I throw or give anything away I ask myself to think outside the square for some other way in which to use the item. A couple of things I have repurposed lately are pictured below.

Magnetic L-Plates

My son recently got his license and his L-plates were no longer needed.

Now, he may be able to drive a car but he still can't tell if the plates and cutlery in the dishwasher are clean or dirty. Many times I have opened what I thought were clean plates and dishes to find Broc has thrown a cup and plate in there and contaminated the whole load.

So, I took 2 of the L-plates and glued them back to back (magnetic side out) and then decorated them with scrapbook paper. One side says "Dishes Dirty" and the other side says "Dishes Clean".
I then laminated it.

It sticks on the front of the dishwasher and when I turn the dishwasher on I turn the "Dishes are Clean" to the front. When I unstack the dishes, I turn "Dishes are Dirty" to the front.

Now there are no excuses.


I purchased this lovely doll house for my daughter 2 years ago.. I think she's played with it about 5 times. And for around $200, I did not want to give it away or even Ebay it.
Then I realised it was just a bookcase with a roof on top. I've put all the dollhouse furniture into storage for when I do want to sell it, and in the meantime it's a handy toy storage unit.

An Award

Stephanie from Striving for a Simple Life has honoured me with this award. It's the first time I have won anything in such a long time, so thank you Stephanie.

As part of the award I am supposed to tell you 7 things you might not know about me.

1. I used to be a competitive swimmer and have represented Australia as a junior swimmer. (Of course now I would struggle to swim 2 laps in a row)

2. When I first left school I was a Nanny and worked for some fairly prominent families in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney. (Most of the people I worked for should not have had children, they were either insane or never home)

3. I was bullied most of the way through primary school by another little girl called Jackie Wilson. She made my life an absolute hell. (I hope one day she reads this)

4. My biggest love is reading. I'll read just about anything. (Except comics)

5. I used to go shopping a lot. (hangs head in shame)

6. I wish I had of had 3 daughters. (I left my run too late)

7. For the first time ever, I love where I live. The Blue Mountains of NSW.

Thanks again for the award Stephanie. It means a lot to me.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

One Small Change

This year I've decided to start making small changes to become more sustainable. One of the first changes I have made is to move away from disposable products as much as I can. I bought these handmade dish cloths from Made It, which is an Australian website that sells handmade items. These dish cloths are 100% cotton and they wear really well. I love them so much I just ordered some more. I only use one a day and then throw it in the wash. I hope never to buy Chux again. Next month its time to get rid of the paper towel.

Handbag Voyuerism

Libby from Life is a Journey and Not a Destination asks what is in our handbags? Well, mine is very boring I have to say. But I embraced the challenge as it was a good excuse for a cleanout.

Handbag in the background is brown leather. I love brown bags as they go with everything and can do Summer and Winter.

Keys are on a blue lanyard as I've found they are easier to find this way and I can also throw them around my neck if I need to.

I have a small date diary as when I run into people they often say what are you doing on such and such a day and without my calendar there I have no idea. This allows me to answer people on the spot.

Nurofen and quickeze. What can I say, I hate to suffer.....

Nail file....obvious

Wallet and phone....obvious

Breath mints for after a garlicky lunch out.

Wipes...for Rhianna.

Little black wallet....for those girlie things you (or your girlfriend) may need when in the middle of a good shopping day out.

Tape measure... I never go into Spotlight without it.


I might think of something unusual to put in there in case I am ever hit by a bus and they check my bag. I'd just like one person, even if it is a paramedic, to think I had an interesting life.

Any suggestions????????

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back into a Routine
Well the Summer school holidays are officially over and this morning Miss Rhianna excitedly got her uniform on and demanded to be taken to school - pity it was only 7am

From school, it was straight to the charity shop. I hope to make this a fortnightly event until I have fully decluttered the house. This was this mornings stash. This is my clutter and my girlfriend Julie's clutter combined. We sort through each other's clutter before we hand it over to the charity shops in case my clutter is her new treasure and visa versa.

Then to the local fruit store. I am trying to buy local as much as possible but even in the fruit shop you have to check labels. Now, some of the oranges were from Orange (funny that) which I consider local but some of the others were from SA. You have to be careful.

A bit of crafting at lunch time. I chose an easy project that took me just half an hour. I made another pillow from an old jumper for my son's bedroom. Dead easy.

Then finally into the garden. I hung these pots by the pool as the possums won't come near them. At the moment I have strawberries in them and they have been a bit pitiful. The fruit is nice but only about a handful of strawberries a week. Today I will give them a tidy up and a good water.

Then my day is over and I pick up my little cherub from school to hear all about Year One.

Hope you've had a nice relaxing day also.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Home Schooling
Another blogger has asked me why I don't Home School (HS) Rhianna considering I am a teacher and I do believe that HS is superior to a Public School Education (PSE). The question did make me think about Rhianna's attendance at the local primary school.
PSE is a fairly recent development in human social development. It wasn't so long ago that a child Rhianna's age would be half way down a coal mine helping out the family financially. And even if she was born into a wealthy family, children were educated at home by Mum and Dad.
As PSE took off, children were sent to specialised education institutions know as "schools" where children were separated from parents and daily life in the community. Later on, children were synthetically grouped according to age and peer scaffolding became a limited educational influence.
Research shows that academically children who are HS do better (by a considerable margin) than most PSE kids.
PSE is all about "outcomes" and test performances. Actual education is a by-product (if you're lucky). If you doubt this, ask yourself if you can remember how to do a calculus equation. Or better still, how often you use that equation in your every day life?
There is no beureaucracy with HS and your child learns at a flexible and tailored rate that is suitable for THEM.
Research also indicates that when children go to school they stop trying to emulate the behaviour and values of their parents and start to emulate the behaviour and values of their classmates. Now, this is great if your children's friends are future Mother Thereses'. Not so good if they are Charles Manson wannabes.
Bullying is a huge incentive to HS children. The effects of bullying can be catastrophic to children and I would not hesitate to HS my child if she was being bullied.
So why does Rhianna go to school?????
Well, at the age of 3 Rhianna saw children at a pre-school and begged to be able to attend. There were no tears or clinging to Mummy's leg. No, not even a backward glance as she raced off to play with the other kids.
And so she has remained. A kid who thrives on being with other kids. As my only other child is 18, she does need the company. And she LOVES school and everything about it, the uniform, the rules, singing, assemblies, scripture and sport. She embraces it all.
But if ever there came a time when she didn't I would re-evaluate our positon.
Plus, I figure we do such a lot of incidental teaching here at home anyway that she gets the best of both worlds (for now).
What are your thoughts?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pink Fluffy Cuteness.

I found an old pink fluffy jumper in the local op shop the other day. The sort of jumper one would have worn with pride in about 1989. For $2 I snapped it up. Rhianna had been complaining that her desk chair was uncomfy - especially in Winter. Problem solved.
One cute pink pillow made and on the seat in half an hour. I had some iron on strawberries hanging around that I added at the last moment as a bit of interest.
One old jumper repurposed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Old Books for New Books

After the declutter, I have many books to get rid of. Some go to the op shop and some that are fairly new or in good conditon I take to my second hand book store for credit.

My favourite store is Jimmy D's book store in Springwood. The lady who owns the shop is Magda and I am never out of there in under an hour as Magda and I love to talk books and of course everything else (like how a roast chicken used to be able to feed a family of 5 with leftovers for sandwiches the next day).

Anyway....... Magda takes my used books and gives me credit to use within the store on other used books. What a fantastic deal for a bookworm like me.

This time I had Rhianna with me so my book selection time was short. I got one book to take away on holidays with me. "Things I would like my Daughter to Know."

No trip to Springwood is complete without a stop at our favourite coffee shop for morning tea.

So all up a very pleasant morning with my girl and only spent $10 on milkshakes and melting moments.
Recycled Crafting

One thing I love to find at Thrift stores (op shops) are old craft books, especially those printed around the 1970's. They are full of easy craft ideas using easily accessed household items.

I love to spend time with Rhianna crafting especially when I know we are helping to reduce our carbon footprint and better still, we have a whole morning of fun without spending a cent.

These are 2 of my recent craft book finds at the local op shop at East Blaxland.

This is one of the first projects we made from the book on the left. Obviously it is an owl but it was made from an old Milo tin from the recycling bin. We already had some felt scraps so we were good to go. We use it as a money tin. Every time we have some spare change we throw it in the owl and then when we have a reasonable amount we might enjoy a treat such as take away Thai which we all LOVE.

Pictured below are 2 little magnetic pockets we made from old jeans. We cut off the pockets and attach magnetic strip to the back of them using fabric glue. We then decorated them using a bit of ribbon and some fabric paint to decorate. Rhianna puts her lunch order money in her name one and her pocket money (obviously) in the other to use when we go to the shops.

A morning's worth of entertainment for nothing and we managed to use up some resources that would have otherwise gone to landfill. So proud!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Day to Myself

The good news was that DH had decided to take the kids sailing for the day. The bad news was that it was 45 degrees and not much fun outdoors. Now, in years gone by, a day to myself would have meant a day at the local Westfield, but with my new save money mindset in place I content myself with a day at home.

Firstly I get the horrible chores out of the way. Luckily (or unluckily I suppose) I can still iron in air conditioned comfort.

Would you believe there is 2 hours worth of ironing in that basket?

Next, a reward for all my hard work. Morning tea and a movie.

Then a little bit of pampering, after all it is "my" day. A quick pedi by the pool. And then a swim. Bliss......

I've now just realised it's the perfect opportunity to do some more decluttering. Especially as DH is gone and I can ransack his side of the bedroom as well. I do love a tidy bedroom.


I thought about riding the exercise bike for half an hour...... but no it was not to be........

Maybe I need to Ebay that. It is kinda large for an ornament and that's about all it does.

This is the result of all that decluttering. This is the recycling corner. Packed to capacity with lots of useless crap that I am ashamed to say I bought into the house.

The it was time for a shower and into bed. What a lovely peaceful day. But I can't wait for the gang to get back.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

First Sewing Project.

One of the ways I am trying to save money and acquire new skills is learning to sew.

Luckily, I have a friend who offered to lend me a spare sewing machine to see how I would go and if I would like it. (I do)

My first project was an Amy Butler bag. I like Amy's patterns as there is no assumed knowledge. She spells it all out for you step by step. Sure, there were plenty of stuff ups - like ironing the interfacing to the ironing board cover but overall I was pretty pleased with the end result.

It is quite a big bag and I use it when we are going to be out at somebody's place till after dinner and then I will pack all of Rhianna's toiletries and Pj's etc in it.

Other than that it hangs on the back of this chair to remind me that I'm not to old to learn new stuff.

More Decluttering.
The school holidays have been a very lazy time for us. Lots of sleeping in, hanging around in our Pj's till lunchtime and plenty of time to potter.

I love to potter as it allows me to sort through our junk and toss, toss, toss. I have broken the house down into rooms to declutter. Obviously, I am starting with the easiest ones first. No point burning out in January is there?

The Patio.
Not much to do here really, just a straighten and a tidy. You can't see it but this area borders the pool so lots of towels and cossies and goggles often live here. In Summer it can look really untidy.

The bar area.
This is not really my area as I'm not a big drinker. This is more where Will likes to hang out and of course we use it when we entertain. Not much decluttering to do here although Will has offered to drink up any alcohol that I feel is in the way. Haha

The lounge area.

This area needs daily decluttering thanks to a little 6 year old we know who likes to do craft, gymnastics and cubby building in this area. But I have limited the stuff kept in this area to DVD's, books, Wii stuff etc.

Another thing that has to be done is to go through the DVD's and Ebay any we are never going to watch again. I mean how many times can anyone really watch ET?

The study

This "room" is a bit of a cheat by me as I call it the study, but really it is a desk and a chair in the corner. Still, it accumulates its fair share of crap on top and in the draws.

Will has one draw that I am not allowed to touch and as such, it is still a mess but the rest is decluttered. By the way if anybody needs a paperclip just ask me, I must have 10,000.

Next week I'll do (I can barely stand to type it) Broc's bedroom. If I'm not back on here by the weekend send in a search party to find me.

Hope you are having a great day


Cooking Competition

Western Star Butter is running a cooking competition for kids.

Kids have to devise a recipe using the butter, cook the recipe and then picture themselves with the finished product.

With Australia day around the corner, Rhianna and I decided to make Aussie Cookies. We even used chocolate icing to detail the states and mini m and m's to locate the capital cities in each state. A cooking lesson and a geography lesson. Put me down for Mother of The Year. LOL

If you'd like to enter too just have a look at

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Retro Fun and Crafts.

You can tell its nearing the end of the Xmas School holidays when inspiration and funds start to run low. Time for some retro fun and an easy craft.

This will be a blast from the past for most people reading this blog. The old paddle pop sticks around the tin can trick. We have pencils, crayons and textas coming out of our ears around here so another container is always welcome. The sticks cost $2 and the tin was from the recycling basket.

We are mad recyclers in this house and we also love our diet coke which is a great combination for making a home made ten pin bowling set.

We washed out the bottles, wrapped with some undesirable scrapbooking paper and then Rhianna decorated with stickers. To make it a little more interesting Rhianna has added a points value to each bottle so we can score. Great fun, no cost and little fingers entertained for an hour or so.

Hope you and your kids are enjoying the holidays as much as we are.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mini Me

One of the greatest joys in my life is having a daughter. Finally I have someone who is interested in dong the same things as I do. Even if I just start to do some washing up she wants to help.

Rhianna is 6 now and as the years go by I let her undertake more and more tasks as she builds her skill level.

I also firmly believe in making children as independent as possible as early as possible. She is also learning that being in a family means being a team memebers and all members must contribute. Except the dog - he just has to look cute - which he does very well.

This year Rhianna wants to learn to knit and to actually make a simple garment to wear on the sewing machine. I encourage her in these efforts as far as my patience will allow. I have learnt to only give her old pillow cases to iron, plastic bowls to wash up and old scraps of fabric to sew on.

I'm really excited that as she grows older our passion for all things "homey" as she calls it will grow and develop. At least until she hits those teenage years when me and everything I do will be considered "boring". But those days are a little ways off and I intend to enjoy every minute till then.
Simple Living

One of my 2010 goals this year is to get back to basics. Now this can mean many things to many people but for me its about living simply with the minimum amount of "stuff" that I can get away with.

As a reformed shopaholic this creates a bit of a dilemma - how to offload all the "stuff" I already possess. Luckily some bright spark invented Ebay for people just like me.

So this year I intend to tackle the house room by room, decluttering all the possesions that are simply taking up room and not contributing in any meaningful ways to our life.

A by-product of this decluttering will be that each room will have a specific purpose and items that do not contribute to that purpose can no longer live there.

For example the lounge room is a place to relax, watch movies, read books or listen to music so only items that relate to those pursuits may live in the loungeroom. So all toys, craft items, computer bits and pieces etc must be removed at the end of business each day.

The first room on the agenda is the dining room (see pic).

I cheated a little bit in starting with this room as it was pretty easy. This room has a table and chairs. It has a small pantry that is only filled with food, so everything good there. It has a small cupboard with my appliances in it.

The only thing I have removed was a candle centrpiece from the middle of the table. Firstly, we never actually lit the candles and secondly I was always having to move it when I wanted to use the table for craft or sewing. So not only was it not useful it was actually an annoyance on occassion so off it has to go.

Next, the office.