Thursday, December 11, 2008

More on my crap gifts . . . and a win!!

The knob on my camera broke on Monday night while putting up the Christmas tree, so please forgive the dodgy photos, I seem to be stuck in 'sports' mode :O

Firstly one more Chritmas vent . . . I specifically hadn't taken Em to go see Santa until nn could come with us because I know that he likes to be there for those sort of things . . . we leave Em with my MIL for a couple of hours while we go to do some Christmas shopping and she has taken it upon herself to take Em down to the shops and get a photo with Santa :( It was the good Santa too, the one we had planned on taking her to . . . Emily didn't smile but MIL bought the photo anyway and we've put it in a frame next to Em's bed and every time Em looks at it she calls it her 'no smile' LOL Oh well, not like I can do anything about that now . . .

Okay, back to my 'crap' homemade presents . . .

Very Hungry Caterpillar - this is for one of my one year old twin nieces birthday which is a week before christmas. I did make a felt board for it too, but I'm not happy with it, so I'm trying to find one now.

A wall hanging for Z. The butterflies were made by my Grampa :) I haven't glued them down yet, so they might be a little off centre.

Felt food for my nearly 2 yo twin nieces :) You can pull all the toppings off the pizza and I will have a sandwich still on the way . . .

Hair clips and ties - a tonne of these still on the way . . . in a family with 8 girls under 8 and then friends too, these will never go astray!

Pencil rolls for some friends kids . . . I have made one for an older child that I no longer need, so I might put it up on buy4baby to try and cover some costs . . .

An upcycled purse for my 15yo SIL I love this pattern!! It was made with this online tutorial. I have a purse made with the same tute in a cherry print :D

And finally some knitted face washers. The rainbow one is bamboo and the purple one is corn fibre!!

I have also made body butter and lip balm for the female in laws with organic coconut oil, fairtrade organic cocoa butter, local beeswax and sweet almond oil, but haven't made a final decision on how to pretty up the jars/tubes yet lol

Now, to my win :D On the Aussies Living Simply site they held a raffle, where everyone who wanted to be included offered up a prize and then the prizes were split up between x people. And I won one of the prizes :D There is still some on the way, but so far I have received handmade goats milk soaps and handcream, books on herbs, bread making and a recipe index, a beautiful handmade bag, giftcards and wrap, a cd full of info on self sufficient living*, radish seeds*, a decorative butterfly* (*these not in the pic because they arrived today!) and another one which was a little . . . odd. A pair of candy panties/g-string . . . with a used by date of Dec 2006 . . . that was interesting to explain to Em who wanted to eat the lollies :O Gave me a giggle though.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Feeling defeated . . .

Probably sounds melodramatic, but plans just aren't falling into place at the moment and it is making me a little depressed. I had visions of having a simple Christmas, with minimal fuss , homemade or simple presesnt for the kids, no presents for the adults (who need nothing anyway) but instead it is fast becoming a consumerist nightmare again - the only difference being that it is even more expensive this year because I have bough materials to make things (or have even completed some things) but my gifts aren't seen as good enough and nn doesn't want to give his family my "shit presents" :(

I have also 'bought' gifts from 3 charity organisations this year, TEAR Australia, World Vision Smiles and Oxfam Unwrapped but apparently they are 'crap gifts' too (well one of them is literally . . . hehe) We are at the stage that we get to every year when nn is sick of going to the shops and so our $20 per person budget gets stretched to $30+ per person because he *knows* that such and such would like something and so lets just get it . . . grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

My family does a Secret Santa that all of us girls had decided that it was unneccessary to buy for adults anymore - but then some of the boys got huffy and so now it is back on. At least that means we buy for 2 people and not the full 7 (not including ourselves).

The girls are another story again. Their budget is between $100 - 150 each (including Santa Pressies) They have each had about $50-60 spent on them from us and the Santa Pressie is meant to be a trampoline. We can get an 8' round tramp for $200 including the nets and padding but nn has decided that 8' isn't big enough for our 2.5y and 8mo . . . they need at least a 10' and it can't be the one available online so it is going to cost a MINIMUM of $360 . . . and hey if we are spending that much why not pay the extra $60 and get a 12' . . . ARGH!!! A 12' would take over most people's backyards . . . Yes we have a big yard now but if/when we move early/mid next year we may not have the same room. Everything has to be bigger and better than everyone else and it is driving me nuts!!!

Why can't Christmas be about enjoying each others' company rather than who can spend the most???

Monday, November 24, 2008

Long time no blog . . .

Been having some personal problems lately, so not much blogging going on . . . hopefully getting back on the right track now . . .

I can't believe it is one month to go until Christmas!! My immediate family celebrates on Christmas Eve, Nn's mum's side Christmas day and his Dad's side Boxing Day!! What a run around!! And then we are going away for about a week in between Christmas and New year to arrive back in time for Bec's 30th!!

My plan was to make pretty much everyone's pressies this year but it just isn't going to happen :( Not enough hours in the day! I did have something in mind for Bec's older girls, but NN has gone and bought them MP3 players . . . so there goes that idae!! They will still gt some home made hair clips though . . . In a 4 week peroid, we have one set of twin nieces turning 1, another 1st b'day, Christmas, Bec's 30th and another set of twin nieces 2nd b'day!! EEK!!! There is 6 nieces, 4 nephews and 2 other friends little girls, plus our two!! Lots to do!!!

In other news, Zoe is now crawling!! Everything is going so quickly it is scary!!

On a totally different note, but before I go, we got our electricity bill and it is down 3 kw/day - and that was with only starting to pay attention halfway through the first month of the quarter (and being very bad in the first part!! oops!!) My goal this quarter is 15kw/day - hopefully better!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Community Gardening . . .

I have just found a great community garden located not too far from me :) I wish there was one closer, but there isn't so this will be fine for now. It is run but Disability Support and they meet up 3 times a week, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. At this stage I will only be going on the weekdays because nNn isn't too keen on interupting our weekend . . .

By just going the past 2 times it has opened my eyes to how much I still have to learn about, well, everything! Besides the food growing side of things, dealing with the centre's clients who range from non-verbal onwards. It is a very big learning curve!!

The people who run it are lovely too. They won't let you go home empty handed, so I am learning to cook with many new foods . . . I even made moussaka for the first time when they gave me several egg plants! On Wednesday I am going to officially join, which is a $10 fee for the whole year. I have received more than that amount in food and it feels really good to be among it all.

I have met Ellice from ALS and her gorgeous little girl Zahli and have arranged to regularly buy fresh eggs from her. I know that Em will love Zahli and she had a great time last Wednesday diggin in the dirt :)

I am really looking forward to tomorrow afternoon :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Broken the Clothing challange . . . already :(

But it wasn't intentional!!! Em threw up all over her skirt at the shops today (feeling much better now) so I had to buy her a pair of shorts . . . well I did't HAVE to, but it was either do that or have her walk around in just her knickers, and when the car was parked at the library, which is across a main road) I thought better of it . . .

But one small $4.19 hiccup is not going to deter me!! I will keep trying!

On an unrelated note, I sent my first letter to council today :O I have requested some books at the library via their online service and when the first book arrived, I received a letter. I have mde the suggestion that since you can make requests onlinne, perhaps they can advise you of it's arrival via email . . . no doubt I'll get a letter for each of the other 3 books I've requested lol

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Blergh weekend . . .

Everyone is sick here at the moment :( When I went to pick Em up form kindy on Friday they said that she hadn't been herself and she had coughed and sneezed at the same time at lunch covering her sandwich in strawberry flecked phlem . . . nice. She started throwing up overnight and we were still going at 4am this morning. No sleep happening here. And now it is the other end . . .

I think Nn has the same thing. Although he hasn't actualy thrown up he has felt like he has needed to all weekend and has spent most of his time in bed :( Z is okay (touchwood) but has just got her first tooth comig through so she is cranky anyway *sigh* And I have a cough I just can't shake. Z gets her 6 month needles tomorrow can't belive it has gone so quickly!

As a plus though, I got outside yesterday while everyone was in bed and pulled a tonne of weeds out of the lawn (before they flowered too, so hopefully that should stop so many coming up again)

Our first tomato is nearly ready, just going red now, and we have another 6 in formation and ANOTHER 8 flowers on it at the moment too!! Love it! Our tiny capsicum is just starting to bub up again - I counted 8 buds - on a plant no higher than 15cm?? Weird! We have chillis flowering too :) I pulled out the last of the broccoli yesterday - didn't really eat much of it! Z didn't like the florrets, but would eat the stems pureed (after scraping away all the woody bits) so at least it wasn't all wasted! I don't think I'll plant them again in a hurry.

Three of the 5 lettuce seeds have sprouted and I am going to do another sowing this week. Our last lot of lettuce have bolted, so I am waiting for the seeds to finally be ready to plant because I don't want to buy any more seedlings and I really likes those lettuce.

We have 2 strawberry plants. One has 1 berry a few days away from picking and about 14 more flowers . . . the other has nothing!! Not sure what to do with it. In Jackie French's book, Backyard Self Sufficiency, it says that she hits hers with the whipper snipper after their first fruiting . . . maybe I should clip this one right back and hope it produces next round??

My loofa is coming along :) going a lot slower than I had expected though?? I was hoping that the actual 'fruit' would be ready for Christmas pressies, but I can't see it happening. Oh well, there is always Mother's Day and birthdays . . .

Better go and wash Em's sheets yet again . . . I hope she i better again soon - it is horrible to see them sick :(

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Going to be an Auntie again :)

Hooray!! We found out that my SIL is pregnant with her first bub :D Due the day before Em's 3rd birthday.

I am estatic for them (they had been trying for a bit) but I'm feeling, well, a bit jealous. Not neccessarily jealous that they are having a baby (sure there is a bit of that :P - even though Z is not even 6m old yet!!) but also jealous that she'll share her pregnancy with her Mum . . .

My Mum wasn't well when I was pregnant with Emily, and she was pushing us all out of her life, so even though she was 'excited' for us, it didn't seem real if that makes sense. And when Em was just 10 wks old, she took her own life. I was a brand new mother , breastfeeding still hadn't been established (and that dried me right up) and I needed her support. Just before she died we were taking and she said that she was disappointed that she had changed hundred's of kids nappies (she was a daycare provider for 12 years) but hadn't yet changed one of Emily's. Less than a week later she was gone, that still makes me . . . angry? sad? frustrated? I really don't know if I can pigeon hole it . . .

I went all through Z's pregnancy with no-one . . . I mean yes, I do have Bec(and not discounting her great advice and help) but I needed my Mum and she wasn't there . . .

I just think over how many things in Em and Z's lives that she has missed out on and it hurts so bad.

Jade is incredibly close with her Mum, the way I was before Mum's sickness took over . . . I just hope she appreciates how lucky she is . . .

I wish her all the best and hope she has a very calm, uneventful next 8 months.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The little things . . .

. . . can make you feel so good :) I went to our local fruit and vege shop (well not the most local, but it is near Dad and they grow a lot of their own produce) and took along some home made f+v bags. Nothing special, just tule bags with a drawstring, figuring that even if I save 5 plastic bages a week with my f+v that it saves 260 plastic bags a year. I paid for my purchase and as I walked out I heard the person who served me say to teh other person working there (perhaps the owner??) "Did you see those bags she had? What a great idea!!" and the other person agreed with her and said that they are surprised more people don't do that!!

That put a smile on my face for the rest of the day . . . :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Swapping goodness :)

I received my swap from an "Upcycle Swap" I participated in on Nappycino today . . . a copy of Backyard Self Sufficiency by Jackie French :D:D:D I have been looking for a copy of this book for MONTHS!!! It is out of stock at the publishers and I haven;t had any luck finding one secondhand either.

A HUGE thankyou to my swap buddy Amy for such a thoughful gift . . .you stalked me well lol

Monday, September 8, 2008

Garden notes

This post is more a diary entry for me to remind me when I planted things lol

Today I planted:

4 garlic cloves (don't know how these will go, they are meant to be a winter crop up here . . .)

1 tomato sprout (only popped up a couple of days ago!)

5 lettuce seeds

2 rockmelon seeds which I found sprouting in the worm farm!!

I removed the pak choy - which had gone to seed, harvested 3 carrots (very small!!), moved the capsicum from the top tier to the second . . . um I think that is it!

I have quite a few tomatoes coming up and have harvested 3 (small) capsicums from that plant but no other flowers in sight. My loofa seeds have also sprouted and I am quite excited to see how that grows! I have visions of giving the female in laws home grown loofas and ho,e made beauty products for Christmas . . . who knows if that will happen though!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Clothing Challange . . .

I have set myself a clothing challange. I will not buy any new clothes for myself and the girls for ONE YEAR - hopefully not too ambitious, but I have been doing it for probably 2 months now with only a few minor hiccups along the way. There are a few exclusions . . . underwear, socks . . . and I won't stop people from buying clothes as a gift (many of the in laws buy a few items for Christmas etc).

I *may* buy fabric to make clothes, but I will try my best to source it second hand first but lets face it, I have enough fabric to last quite a while I just need to bite the bullet and use it!!

I have discovered that I am in love with my local Endevour Foundation OP shop. Every 4 weeks they clear their *older* stock (ie it has been on the shelf for 2 months without selling) in a "fill a bag" for $10 . . . but it isn't just fill a bag, it is basically grab anything you'd like with a x coloured tag for $10. I have got SO much stuff their recently - generally between 10-15 items each time!! I got nn some great stuff last week (and he isn't usually into secondhand clothes) but a denim jacket and a ripcurl button up collered shirt - they ended up being 76c ea!! :O

I also recently go myself a dressmakers mannequin :D It ended up being just under $55 from ebay and it is a perfect condition 1920s "Ese Jane" I LOVE it!! Her breasts are a bit too perky for my liking though - obviously SHE never breastfed lol I can't wait to make something for ME!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A time for reflection . . .

08.08.08 - for most people, they will remember this day as the day the Olympics started. For my family it is when we commemerate the 2nd anniversary of my Mum's suicide. In some ways it feels like just yesterday I was talking to her, in others it feels like a lifetime has passed. So many things have happened in the past two years - so much she has missed out on. She would have seen 5 more grandaughters born, two sets of twins and my own beautiful Zoe, seen my brother get engaged to a wonderful girl, shared her 30th wedding anniversary to my Dad and celebrated his 50th birthday. She has missed so many happy times, and caused so many sad . . .

Shannon, the girls and I invited Dad up to the Sunshine Coast for a few days and were joined my Tim, Laura and Warren (my Uncle) on the Friday as Shelly Beach, the place where we scattered her ashes last year. I didn't go to the actual spot where we scattered them - I have so many fantastic memories of that place growing up I don't want to always be reminded of the sad - and we had our best Cowrie haul in years :) It was a shame that Bec had 3 sick girls and couldn't come too.

After lunch, when everyone else had left, we went for a walk along Kings Beach. Having a look at the shells as we went by, I said to Dad "I wonder why we never find Cowrie shells along here?" and right in front of us, all by itself, was a large, perfectly intact Cowrie - almost as if Mum was letting us know she was there . . .

We had a beautiful few days up there and I think it will be a continuing tradition from here on. I have still to go and see her plaque which has now been put up at the place where we held her funeral, I am hoping to o this week . . .

RIP Mum, you will be missed forever.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My sewing mojo has returned!!

Helped along by the fact that I have found that you can buy a separate bobbin winder - mine on the machine had broken and they wanted a fortune just to LOOK at it!!I went to spotlight for something quite particular yesterday (which they didn't have) and came away with some really nice material :)

I also picked up some really cheap patterns on Oztion this morning - so I am looking forward to getting started :D Today I am re-sorting my material so that it is easier to access and tomorrow I should be underway!

We also had our first home grown product in our dinner last night :D We had Mongolian Lamb Wraps, using shallots and lettuce from our pots - YAY!! Nn won and we pulled out the snow peas :( but planted capsicum and tomatoes in their place. The capsicum is already fruiting (3 at various stages of growth atm) and I noticed the first flower on the tomato yesterday. I did sneak one snow pea into a pot though, so hopefully it will keep going for me lol

Monday, June 23, 2008

Worms, worms, worms

Every year when my birthday comes around, nn normally takes me to a shopping centre, we walk around for hours while he trues to make medrop hints about what I'd like then he plonks me in the food court while he goes and buys something . . . not my idea of fun AT ALL.

This year he has earnt himself brownie points :D He has bought me a worm farm - YAY!! Although my birthday isn't actually until tomorrow, we picked it up today and have settled our new friends into their new house :) We looked at compost bins, but given that we don't have an actual garden here, fugured that worms would be more suitable. For those who don't know and live in QLD, the QLD government is offering rebates on compost bins and worm farms - 50% of the purchase price up to $50 :)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

We have a vegie garden (kinda)!!!

What is the point of having a HUGE backyard if 1. there is NO shade for the kids to play in 2. It is swarming with Green ants (ouch!) and 3. you are not allowed to plant a garden. Grrr to renting!

So we decided that pots were the way to go. But not just any pots we got a "Jumbo Mini Garden" which is basically 4 pots that stack on top of each other. So now we finally can start planting the tiny seedlings that I have grown from seed myself - very proud of myself :D Although I did buy the Strawberry seedlings. In there I have a total of 3 snow peas, 10 carrots, 2 corriander, 2 chives, 4 strawberry, 3 pak choy, 4 lettuce, 3 broccoli and 2 chilli. The snow peas were really taking off in their little pots, I planted all the seeds at the same time (23/5) and some are still tiny little things, but they are going great guns!!

The pak choy said that they are ready to harvest in 30 days, but I can't see them being ready in 2 weeks?? Oh well, I'll have to wait and see. I'm just so excited to be growingsomething and can't wait to taste my home grown food :D

I also managed to score some passionfuit from the fence across the road from my MILs house. No idea what I have planned for it yet though!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

For Sale or Trade

Okay, stage one of my de-cluttering.

Listed here is what I have on offer. Catagories are down the left hand side (thanks for pointing that out Lisa :) )If you click on a picture, it will have more information listed. If you are interested, email me at mel_heard @ (no spaces) or post on the forum where you found this post (if that is their guidelines).

There is a folder of "Sale Only" items. These are things that nn would kill me if I didn't get actual money for lol There is a "Sale or Trade" folder. The items in here will have a price listed against them but I am also happy to accept trades. The things I am looking for are listed on the right hand side of this blog, but if you have something else you think I might be interested in, just offer!! There is also a "Freebie" folder. These are things either that generous people have given me with the understanding that they would be passed on once I had finished with them or that I wish to pass on. Likewise, I'd like them passed on for free after you have finished with them. Share the love :)

Some items are too big/awkward to post, so pick up is available from Victoria Point, on Brisbane's Southside. Other than that, I can post (generally in pre-paid satchels) and prices (if you are paying $$) do NOT include postage. Once it leaves my hands, I accept no responsibilty if it is lost in transit, so if you would prefer registered post, please be sure to request it.

Most people I know . . .

Well life as we know it is changing. Global warming, food, water and oil shortages, rising interest rates and less money to cover everything.I have made small changes in the past, using cloth nappies, switching to energy saving lightbulbs, recycling home waste, signing up for a % of greennenergy on my electricity bill and, just recently, converting to cloth for my own monthly needs. But it's not enough . . . now I've got the bug!!! And like Billy Thorpe once sang, Most people I know think that I'm crazy!! Or make that CRAAAAAAAAZY . . .

The biggest nay-sayer I have . . . my husband :( Shannon (hereon refered to as nn lol) thinks that it is all just a waste of time. When I first started to convert DD1 to clothat the age of 2m, if he changed her nappy he'd change from a mcn into a disposable (which we had there for nights and back up as I was building/sewing our stash) So after a while, I bought some terry flats as back up and went cold turkey on the disposables. He didn't change her nappies for quite a while, but eventually came around. DD2, I am proud to say, has NEVER had her beautiful little bottom in a disposable nappy. I know that they have their place in the world, but it isn't at my house.

Due to rising interest rates, an unsuitable house and an impending arrival (now known as Zoe hehe) we sold our house of six years and moved into a rental. Moving from a fairly small three bedroom highset house with air-con to a sprawling 4 bedroom lowset with 2 large living areas with no aircon just before Summer while pregnant was a big shock to the system - but so was the first electricity bill. Despite moving to a much larger house, the bill was down around $200 - our usage dropped from 38.3kwh to 15.8kwh!!! Mainly due to having good insulation and no airconditioning!!!

As it is, we are looking at moving on already. We were broken into less than a week after moving in and nn has never liked the place since. We have feral neighbours (grrrr!!) and while a huge yard would be great if we were allowed to do something with it, we have no shade and grass that could easily do with a mow every week if we had the time (as it is we hire someone else to do it!) so it is a huge waste.

I have been pestering nn about starting a vegie patch. Although I think he thinks I want to do it just as something fun to do, I really want to do it to ultimately cut costs both to our budget and to the environment. I have been doing a lot of reading lately (Aussies Living Simply is now one of my fave sites - and the food miles involved with our weekly groceries is just scary. If we grow it ourself, not only do we know that it isn't doused in chemicals, but we know that it hasn't come via the other side of the country. He was hesitant, recalling my previous black thumb (killing cacti and the like - oops) but I think he can see how serious I am about doing it and putting in the effort. We have decided that since we are wanting to move again soon that we'd be best off doing it in pots/planters. So I am now reading frantically about what will grow best both in pots and our climate. Wish me luck!!

My next step is de-cluttering. Nn is a hoarder. His whole family are. They are also mass consumers. I think (and no disrespect intended) that since they were not well off while growing up, they are trying to make up for it with material possessions now that they do have some money available. We bought singstar for the playstation a couple of weeks ago and we were trying to figure out which room it should go in - the carpeted lounge room or tiled family room. nn wanted to get a second playstation console because it was cheap 'and then we could have one in both rooms' Huh??? We hadn't used the playstation since we have lived in this house and now all of a sudden we have a great need for 2??? As it turns out we put it in the lounge room, an my Dad promptly spilt his beer on the carpet . . .

We also have old plates and coffee mugs from 3 previous sets, because they just HAD to be replaced, empty photo albums that have been given to us even though we have everything stored digitally now and a tonne of other stuff cluttering up our house. Slowly I am going to go through this and get rid of it. But not to just throw it into land fill, oh no, I have discovered the joy of trading!! The number of things that have been just taking up space here that I have been able to trade for things that I need is just fantastic!! There are a few things that i thing nn would kill me for if I trade rather than got actual money for (video camera, bird avairy) but other than that, I am open for offers!! Anything I can't get rid of that way, I'll eventually freecycle or donate to an op shop. Watch this space because I have a tonne of stuff I plan to be putting up.

Ultimately I want our next move to be away far away from where we are now . . . somewhere a bit rural would be great. I have told nn that I don't care how many times we move in the next few years (although it is a PITA!!) but I want us to be settled by the time Emily starts school. The big thing that is stopping us from doing the big shift is nn's work - but he hates that anyway!! He is up for long service leave at the end of this year, so we are trying to stick it out for that - even if it means a bit of a commute to work after our lease here expires in August. It will be a big move away from family, but it won't be that much further from my sister (probably about the same distance, but in a different direction) and MIL is always saying that she'll be on the move "soon." I think us moving will likely cause a chain reaction amongst our families, with everyone saying that they'll do it "one day" but no one taking that first step. if not, we might just have to make do on our own.

I am starting to crave the simple life . . . sick of nn working stupid hours so that we can afford to buy more junk that we either don't need, breaks well before it should, or is contributing to a dying world. I watched this a couple of days ago and it really opened my eyes up to what is going on around me. but I have decided that I'm not going to preach to nn about these things though. I'll make changes slowly and, like with the nappies, soon it will be the normal way of doing things and there won't be an alternative.

Sure I might end up being labelled the crazy hippy woman, but if I'm happy I don't care!