Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Easter

Yesterday I made my first environmentally friendly cleaners. I made an all purpose cleaner for bench tops etc and an air freshener.

Here are the recipes:

600mls of white vinegar
300mls of water
20-30 drops of eucalyptus oil.
Place in spray bottle and shake.

150mls of water
10-15 drops of your favourite essential oil
Place in spray bottle and shake

Tonight some vegetarian Pizza - very easy and yummy.

(Not missing meat one bit)

We did an easy dinner because Miss R had her Easter Hop at school today and then we came home from school early.

Happy Easter everybody and if you are going away -enjoy your holiday.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Happenings at our House
We are all loving this rainy weather. Although its not cold at night time the three of us (Bill, Rhianna and I ) are climbing into bed to watch Season 2 of Little House on the Prairie.
I love this series for a lot of reasons. Firstly it takes me back to my own childhood. You never have to worry about inappropriate content and of course Michael Landon (aka Charles Ingalls) was the moral compass of the 1970's. So, a good wholesome lesson for the youngsters in every episode.
Last night was an episode about Mary getting glasses and being called four eyes at school - so its a great avenue to talk about things like name calling and kids being different. I highly recommend it if you have kids around 6-12 years of age.

Rhianna and I picked up a copy of Pippi Longstocking at the Op shop yesterday for 20 cents. It's a chapter book that's appropriate for her age and we read a chapter last night after LHOTP and before sleep. This also brings back fond childhood memories as I read this same book when I was about 7.
Here's an update on the knitting. The squares are building up and I am still enjoying it.

Miss Rhianna lost 2 teeth last week - the tooth fairy was very busy at our house. And we enjoyed our last afternoon by the pool on Sunday before the rain started. This little girl adores her daddy - can you tell??

Hope you all are having a lovely week.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

One of My Dreams

Do you ever wonder where you might be 20 years from now? I do, all the time!

When I was about 20 I used to think I would end up living overseas - maybe Paris. I would paint all day long and eat cheese and chocolate all night. Of course, I never thought of how I was going to finance all this but still......

Now I am 41 and I have a different vision of where I would like to be at say, 65. The kids will (hopefully) have left home and Bill and I will only have ourselves to consider. I hope that Bill will be retired by then and that the world is our oyster.

After being a little beach bunny all my life I can't believe I am saying this but I don't think I would like to move back to the coast. We love the mountains, the whole feel and the sense of community here is great. However, we'd like to move up further into the mountains. At the moment we live at the bottom. We'd like to ideally move closer to the top and really enjoy all the seasons of the year. And yes, we do like snow.

I'd like to live in a house like this
And if I can't have property then I'd like to be in a house like this
Here, I would grow fruit trees, bake and craft all day long and rescue puppies from the pound
Then I will wear this shirt so people know not to mess with me and all my dogs.

Where would you all like to be in 20 years time?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

IKEA Madness

Last week my friend Julie and I had a day out at IKEA. And I do say a day out, because we were there for over 4 hours. Now, I know this blog is about non-consumerist pursuits but I have no hanging space in this house and Rhianna desperately needed a wardrobe. (Of course that doesn't explain the other 47 things I bought......)

First we picked up a bag for our goodies, little did we realise that we'd leave with 2 trolley fulls.

Trying before NOT buying

Julie finds some exciting accessories in the cupboards of the display kitchens.

I purchased the new wardrobe without thinking how it was going to fit into Julie's car. Doh!!!!!

After much manouevering we had it slanted from the back to the front of the car. Unfortunately that meant I had to sit scrunched up in the back seat on the kids car seats with my legs hanging through to the front of the car.

This was my view on the way home

Not comfy Jan

After all that trouble here it is. $150 well spent.

Has anybody else braved the IKEA store at Homebush recently?


The first birthday party of the year for Rhianna today. It was for a little boy in her class at school. I racked my brain trying to think of a home made gift for a 6 year old boy but I just couldn't come up with anything that wasn't a bit lame. Hence a trip to Toys R US. Does anybody have a suggestion for next time?

A lovely friend named Michelle has taken on the challenge to teach me to crochet. We started last week while our daughters were at dance class. Below I present one hours worth of crochet. Unfortunately, my dog Finn got hold of the ball of wool this crochet was attached to and had his own attempt.

Sorry Michelle, I owe you one ball of wool.

Rhianna decided to recycle the remains of the wool into "spaghetti cupcakes" - Close your eyes now Michelle.

This is my food waste for this week. Again with the shallots. They are the bane of my existence.

Dinner tonight - seafood vol-au-vents. We've been doing these for years and we all love them.

Hope everybody is enjoyong their weekend.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Girl who knew Better.

About 5 years ago when I first moved to Sydney we lived in an apartment block and it was here that I met Shoshannah. She was my neighbour and quite quickly became my good friend. She had a daughter, Heidi and we would often babysit each other kids only having to pop to the apartment next door to drop them off . It was fabulous. It was like Melrose Place.

Sho was right into organic food and cosmetics at that time. She had been a model and I just thought "organics" were a fad thing those "model types" did. Sho would drag me all over Sydney to different Organic supermarkets and cosmetic places. She would shop and I would tap my foot, mind the kids and look longingly at the other shops across the street.

Sho would often invite Rhianna and I over for lunch where we would enjoy organic meals but again, I kind of did it to humour her. She once told me that I had my head well and truly in the sand if I was feeding my family non-organic food and putting Sunsilk on Rhianna's head at night.

Sho, you were right.

I had my head in the sand.

You are not a crazy, eating-disordered model.

You are a woman who had her head screwed on from the beginning.

I apologise for every time I ever laughed at your organic "creations".

Please come visit for a meal with us soon - so I can show you how far out of the sand my head has emerged.

Shoshannah - eating organic and racing cars

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Electricity is Scaring Me.

Bill and I have been really concerned about recent electricity price hikes. One of our last bills was $660 (that's a quarter) an increase of 21% on the same bill last year.

News reports are estimating that we can expect an increase of another 17.2% by July this year and a further 62% by 2013.

Now, if this doesn't scare you, well're either living off the grid or you have more money than sense.

We have tried really hard to rein in our electricity consumption. I run around like a crazy woman turing off lights, appliances and computers, when not in use. We limit our pool pump time and use our gas where we can. And still we end up with a $660 bill!

So with the money from the sale of the camper we intend to install some solar panels on our roof. For around $2000 we can install a panel system that will cut our electricity bill by one third. As we add more panels, of course the electricity bill goes down further. Until we are generating so much energy we can run our home and put electricity back into the grid for credit.

What do you guys think? Are you worried about electricity prices? Are your bills as crazy as mine or do you have ways I don't know about to keep your electricity bill down? I'd love to hear your comments.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Crafting (again)

It's controlled chaos here today. I have my usual chores to do as well as doing some fete craft and my own personal projects. Here was the sight that greeted me as I walked back through the door after dropping Miss R at school. It made me tired just looking at it.

I've only made 4 wheat bags so far as I haven't shown the other girls on the craft committee yet. If they think they look OK I'll make a few more.

Here is the clipboard with pad and ribbons. I'll be keeping the original for myself. And I'll definately be making some for Xmas. I just had a funny vision of my sister in law who is a bigwig for Microsoft walking through the building carrying one of these...maybe not.....

And these are the mini versions of the clipboard - just the right size for a post it note pad. You could stick some magnetic strips on the back and hang it on your fridge too I suppose.

Just a close up

What's everybody else up to today?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gettin' Crafty
You can tell it's Autumn when I start crafting continually all weekend. Somehow over Summer with the heat and the entertaining and the holidays I usually don't do much but as soon as that temperature starts to drop - I'm in up to my belly button in craft materials - and loving it.

On the weekend I made a prototype of another fete stall product. I got the idea out of this months' Get Creative Magazine. It's a cute little clip board. I haven't put a notepad on it yet.
This is the front

And this is the back.

I just have to jazz up the bulldog clip a bit. And its all done.
Below is what I now call knitting central. It's the chair in my bedroom and I just love the look of all the wool everywhere and the fact that the wool is turning into something. (Look at those squares)

There are so many craft materials out at the moment I had to put up the ironing board for extra work space.

"Westfield" also got finished on Sunday. Now where to put it........

At the end of the day - even Finn had had enough crafting fun.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Six Year old Sleepover
Is there anything more exciting in life than having your best friend for a sleepover? I don't think so. It involves doing things that would make us cringe in horror as adults. Like seeing each other in our pajamas, sleeping next to each other and having a bath together. Somehow, when you're six these things are fabulous.

A couple of games of Bingo in front of Hannah Montana repeats - Ah..... bliss

Snuggling up on the lounge

And the next morning a spot of craft. Today we are making a shopping mall out of a cardboard box.

The finished product.

If only shopping malls really did look like this- I might enjoy going there.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fed Up with "Festivals"

It's that time of year again when festivals seem to be happening every other weekend. And up here in the Blue Mountains, there is one you could attend every day of every weekend.
Now, I hope I don't offend too many people here, but I am sick to death of "festivals" and I'll tell you why.

Festivals are usually promoted as community and family events but let me tell you about the last few festivals I have attended.

Firstly, they are full of stalls, the exact same stalls you see at every craft market held in the mountains. They either have handmade items or cheap, mass produced crap from China. Either way, I don't consider it entertainment and I know my family don't enjoy being dragged past 101 of these stalls as a form of weekend entertainment.

After the stalls come the rides. I have to admit that the smaller members of the family do enjoy this part of any festival and after I take out a second mortgage I am happy to let them have their 30 seconds of fun for around $5 a pop. But again, not family friendly and not particularly culturally enriching.

Of course there is some free entertainment, usually in the form of dance troupes and singers sourced from the local talent pool.

And I don't mean to be rude but unless you are these childrens' mothers there is nothing entertaining about watching a group of amateur dancers perform on a stage about as big as my dining room table.

And that's about it. Of course there is the unhealthy food, a few stilt walkers and a fire engine or two but unless you're a fan of dagwood dogs or under the age of 2, the entertainment value of these offerings is limited.

Nope, I'm giving the community festivals a miss this year and hopefully I'll have a lot more money in my pocket as a result. More money to spend on craft supplies, healthy food to cook up on the weekend and more money for books to read. The sorts of things that really do enrich my family.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Vegie Victory

Another new recipe for tonight's dinner. I found this recipe in a magazine I was reading this week. They are vegetable pasties. Basically you steam up lots of vegetables, give a light mash, add some tasty cheeese and wrap it in the shortcrust pastry. Pop them in the oven and that's it. They were beautiful. Even Rhianna ate them and they were full of all the vegies she normally turns her nose up at.

It's also about 2 weeks now and Broc hasn't noticed the lack of red meat.

Last time I was doing the parenting thing (with my 18 year old son) I was also working full time as a teacher. That meant I was always rushing, yelling and tired. This time around with Rhianna, I have the luxury of being a stay at home mum.

And that means I can participate in everything going at the school. I do reading in the classroom, fete committee etc, and Rhianna gets to enjoy all the extra school activities like last nights school disco.

Don't you just love the outfit? She co-ordinated it herself.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wheat Bags and Worm Farms
I mentioned a few blogs ago that I am on the school fete committee this year. It's my first time as a parent and its interesting so far. Our class (1C) is in charge of the craft stall. There about 6 Mums in our class who are very interested in craft so we've formed a craft committee to source stock for our stall. We've asked the rest of the Year 1 mums for donations of craft items or resources but at this stage it looks like we are going to be making a lot of the items ourselves.

I've decided to make one item (x10) per month. For March it's going to be wheat bags that you heat up in the microwave. Here is the first one below.

This very unattractive looking item is my worm farm. I've had it for a year now and it's taken that long to really get going.

For those that aren't sure how it works: You put food scraps in the top (except meat, onion and citrus) and the worms eat it. It stops an awful lot of food going into landfill and you get the added reward of worm tea which drips out the bottom of the baskets.

Here is my worm tea ready to go. You dilute the tea 1:10 with water and water your plants and garden with it. It's packed full of nutrients and out plants are thriving. It takes no effort at all and I personally love to vist my worms each day and feed them our scraps.