Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Synergy Competition

I'm not huge on Synergy having the entire states' electricity supply as a monopoly & have absolutely no affiliation with them, but I did like their new website & competition (who wouldn't want to win $1000 off their power bill!!). I really liked the fact that everyone in the community is contributing to energy saving ideas and from this  massive pool of experience I'm sure that there will be something in there to help save you money & reduce your energy consumption (yes I've put in a couple of tips , & so feel free to vote for them!) most of the basic tips have already been contributed, but I'm sure there is something you are doing to save money/energy that could be contributed so add a tip now!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kiva loans, charity & cleaning!

Well it's been a long time between posts - I've was fortunate enough to be given a winter lurgy in April from DH & then another in May from DS and I still haven't managed to shake off the later, but fingers crossed I've gotten my winter dose of bugs early this year so will be healthy for the rest of the season!! I guess it also didn't help that the country has run out of flu vaccines and they are only givig them to high risk, elderly or children - which means DS got his, but I didn't.

Enough whinging though as I've had a really exciting fortnight - I complete online surveys occassionally and use the money rewards to do Kiva loans and I did my 5th last week & 6th this morning *happy dance* two of them have been paid back in their entirety so I was able to reloan that money. I linked my 5th loan last week to my facebook page and two more friends signed up as well, so that was awesome. Everyone has their own individual charities that they support - mine are the  National Breast Cancer Foundation & Australian Marine Conservation Society and if you gave to everyone who knocked on your door, phoned, emailed or wrote letters you'd be bankrupt in a week!  I am a big supporter of the Kiva micro loans, they help empower those that want to get ahead without going to loan sharks and also of TEAR (great place for buying gifts for those that have everything - although not everyone "gets" why you've given them a goat, pair of chickens or a toilet, but they are probably the same people that don't appreciate handmade gifts or spending quality time with people rather than getting a giftcard in the mail). Anyway I've digressed - the funny thing was last week, I told DH I'd made another Kiva loan - well I'm not entirely sure which part of the conversation he was listening to, but when I cleared away the dinner plates later that evening and he was still sitting there and I was like "did you want some icecream for desert?" and he was like "no - I want some kivalone that you made" it was so funny, his face fell a mile when I told him that I had made a Kiva loan not a desert. Anyway the next day I made him sticky date puddings and he was all happy again!

I do find it interesting seeing how others clean their houses (not that mine is ever clean, more like in damage control most days), but I helped a friend clean for a morning last month and I don't generally use harsh cleaning chemicals (well except for the 20% bleach solution in a spray bottle that got used a lot cleaning up whilst my son was toilet training - but that 2lt contianer of bleach I've had for over 18 months so I don't go nuts with it) and we only used Ajax, Windex, Glen 20 spray stuff etc at her house, but my hands/skin/lungs felt rubbish for days afterwards - not to mention I was sneezing for about 5 minutes when I first started there. For the bulk of my cleaning in the kitchen/bathroom I use white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda & elbow grease. I do buy Eco Store dishwasher powder/laundry powder & detergent for dishes as well, but no toilet cleaners, bench cleaners, air sprays, etc. Below is the quickest & easiest way I know to descale our kettle & as it's glass you can see the grot and it gets cleaned at least weekly and takes about 10 minutes and no effort at all.

Yes - a lemon chopped in half and boiled in water in the kettle, leave for 5 minutes, then empty & rinse twice to remove any lemon taste. If you don't have any lemons, use 1/4 cup of white vinegar - don't overfill the kettle as it'll boil over otherwise - then boil & clean the same as for the lemon. To clean my dishwasher I definitely don't pay $10 for some super dooper thing to shove in the dishwasher - I sprinkle 1/4 cup of citric acid on the base of the dishwasher and put it on a quick wash cycle. For toilets 1/2 cup bicarb & the same of white vinegar, throw it in & leave for 10 minutes or overnight then a quick scrub and it's done. For spraying all bench/bathroom surfaces I use white vinegar and just wipe over, works great on the stovetop as well - if there is something stubborn on the later I sprinkle a little bicarb and rub and it all comes clean in a matter of seconds. I have found a wonderful addition to my cleaning arsenal is from Qantas - I used a business class toilet on a flight a few years ago and they have cloth handwipes, so me being 1/4 Scottish couldn't throw them out like I was supposed to - I brought them home & they are awesome for cleaning everything - it's reduced my consumption of kitchen roll by about 80% and I wash & reuse the cloths so many times. If they do get super grotty for any reason, I put them into soak in a bucket in the laundry prior to washing with the normal clothes etc. I keep them in a Tupperware container I got from the Op Shop for $2 on my kitchen bench and they get used daily for everything, from benchtops, floors, sink, children's faces/hands - the best thing is they get used once and then thrown straight into the wash so hygenic, cost saving and sustainable!

I've been doing lots of baking witht he weather getting cooler and my two boys eating everything not mailed down - some days I swear my almost 4yo eats as much as DH. I have been pulling out my tried and tested biscuit recipes as well as trying some new things (like the sticky date puddings) and found these cornflake biscuits from a friend's recipe and DH loves them - as they were just like his Mum used to make.............

the biscuits are on the left and on the right were some chocolate & vanilla cupcakes that I made for one of the boys in my son's kindergarten class' birthday (there were more than a dozen, but that's all that fitted in the photo!) don't you love the gorgeous colour of my bench tops (not) fortunately they don't affect the taste of the baking!!! Generally though when I have a baking session I make lots of items as I don't like having the oven on for just one thing as it's a waste of electricity e.g. today I've made a batch of chilli jam on the stovetop, chocolate chip biscuits (afternoon tea), mini quiches (for lunches tomorrow), bolognaise pinwheel & baked herb potato wedges (for dinner tonight) & the only thing left is to peel LOTS of apples to make a batch of fruit leather, before doing the school run and have DH ask what I've been doing all day!!!!

Have fun & enjoy

Ann x

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Splitting Up & saving water

Don't worry it's not DH and I that are splitting up!!! I am splitting my blogs - I now have a new one for my Stampin' Up! stuff which can be viewed here, so that this blog which is more personal and about my whacko environmental side is now separate from my stamping creations.......although since I am such a tardy blogger and average a post a month I'm not sure what that will mean whether I'll get more organised by separating and post more constructively or drop down to posting even less!

I bought something really cool last month - a new sink!! Yes even though our sink is 100% fine and didn't need replacing I bought a Hughie sink insert. I have been eyeing them off for about 6 months and found them at the National Geographic store, but of course have since seen them at the local Bunnings hardware store for ~$25. Ohh well at least I'll be saving water even if I didn't get mine at the cheapest price. It is super easy to use and really sturdy. If i have lots of yucky bits of food etc in the water I do put it in the compost bin rather than on the garden and it's mainly just rinse water I'll recycle onto plants and of course if I am cleaning the cooktop or similar the water goes down the drain as normal and definitely not onto the garden.

We got to celebreate Earth Hour early this week when a storm hit our city and we had not only a spectacular lightening display and desperately needed 40mm of rain, but also large marble sized hailstones! This meant there was havoc on the roads, massive damage to cars and buildings and we lost power for 21 hours, but my cherub had a ball collecting the hailstones

I must say apart from losing power and some perishable food, we got off amazingly lightly compared to some friends who had car damage, water damage in their houses to carpets and worse. It was a little surreal in the shopping centre after they were closed for 2 days and the supermarket looked like a war zone with all of the perishables (fruit/frozen & deli items) almost completely empty. However I am sure by next week most things will be back to normal.

So stay safe and have a good weekend

Monday, February 1, 2010

RIbbons & Rain!

Firstly a very big thank you to everyone who was kind enough to follow the ESAD Sale-a-bration blog hop and also leave a comment. The three winners were Keegan R., Donna Z. & Charmaine B. so congratulations to all & I hope you enjoy your prizes when they arrive!

I also got a pleasant surprise this week - my talented DH and son spent an afternoon making sawdust in the shed and presented me with this.......

It is a solid jarrah ribbon holder/dispenser for my Stampin' Up! ribbons - as you can see there is room to expand my collection, but not a bad effort considering I only joined at the end of October! It is really easy to add new rolls to the holder or remove them if I need to do so for a class or project.

I recently took our son 3.5yo to visit my Dad on the other size of the country & was unpelasantly surprised to find that their summer wasn't quite what ours has been of late. We've just had the 2nd hottest January on record with the average temperature being just above 33'C each day & we're going for another record of the longest time period with no rain (record is 83days, but I think we're going to beat it) - however when we arrived, they had rain, thunderstorms, howling winds and snow on the high country which required +4 layers of clothing, the electric blanket on all night and we were still cold (although it didn't slow DS down very much as there was far to much to explore on the farm to entice him to stay indoors!), after 4 days we did glimpse the sun though and it did make a nice change (especially since it was +40'C at home for the same 4 days), but it was just weird that two sides of the same continent of similar latitude has such different climate at the same time.

Sadly though the extreme heat and lack of water has had a devastating effect on our gardens. Virtually all of the vegetable beds have been fried to a crisp (like the tomatos & strawberries were all cooked on the plants) and we're barely managing to save the native plants, the rhubarb, half the raspberries and the pumpkins by bucketing laundry water and DS bath we're having to have a serious re-think about what to do garden wise as climate change is definitely here to stay and if we want to grow our own vegetables with the heat and lack of water we are going to have to come up with a new strategy for next summer........ultimately I think we are going to have to sacrifice a lot of it over to natives (not that that is a bad thing as our native animals are in desperate need of habitat since urbanisation has removed and fragmented so much of it). It does make me wonder what effect climate change is having on a global scale if this is what it has done on an incredibly small local scale and how people will respond to it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sale-a-bration Blog Hop

Firstly appologies to the blog hoppers trying to hop in sequence - I was given the wrong information and that it was to start tomorrow - but all fixed now!!!! Sale-a-bration is a wonderful annual sale from Stampin' Up! that gives you the opportunity to get FREE stamp sets. This year there are four wonderful sets to choose from and I have used Whimiscal Words in my examples below.  This is the first blog hop I have participated in and the second that has been organised by Leonie Shroder for a terrific Stampin' Up! demonstrators group that I now belong to called ESAD (extra special Australian and New Zealand demonstrators) this group has over three hundred members from all over Australia and New Zealand. It is a great forum for sharing  ideas and tips, answering questions and queries and providing support for each ther. If you would like to join the group and you are a Stampin'Up! demonstrator you can visit the home page here and click the join now button.

Of course if you would like to earn these stamp sets for free or host a workshop during Sale-a-bration and live in Perth, please don't hesitate to contact me or check out my Stampin' Up! website for class information if you are interested joining in the fun!

Stamp Sets: Cheep Talk & Whimsical Words
Papers: Good Morning Sunshine DSP, baja breeze, brilliant blue & whisper white
Inks: Chocolate chip, old olive, brilliant blue and baja breeze
Accessories: whisper white taffeta ribbon

Stamp Sets: Butterfly Prints, Fresh Cuts & Whimsical Words
Papers: Almost amethyst, bashful blue & whisper white
Inks: Almost amethyst
Accessories: whisper white taffeta ribbon, butterfly punch

Stamp Sets: Heartfelt Thanks & Whimsical Words
Papers: Certainly celery, rose red, regal rose & whisper white
Inks: Certainly celery, rose red, always artichoke
Accessories: Scallop circle punch, 1 1/4" circle punch, 1 1/2" circle punch, mat pack, stamping sponge, stamping dimensionals, stamp-a-ma-jig

Stamp Sets:  Whimsical Words
Papers: Raspberry Tart DSP, rose red, pretty in pink & whisper white
Inks: rose red& real red
Accessories: Scallop square punch, 1 1/4" circle punch, 1 1/2" circle punch, white gel pen, stamping sponge, stamping dimensionals

Stamp Sets: Whimsical Words
Papers: Tea Party DSP, certainly celery, pretty in pink & almost amethyst
Inks: Basic black & pretty in pink
Accessories: Scallop edge punch, heart to heart punch, white gel pen, stamping sponge, stamping dimensionals, dazzling diamonds & crystal effects.

The last card layout was CASEd from a member of SCS (when I find her original design I will post a link - so if you recognise it let me know and I can give her credit as I've lost the link at the minute!). I hope that you enjoyed having a look here, you should have come to my blog via Andrea and when you have visited all the blogs on this blog hop and left us all a very nice comment, you are then qualified to be entered for a big bunch of Stampin'Up! blog candy. All you have to do is write to Leonie and let her know you have completed the tour and left comments for everyone, she will in turn put your name into the draw for a chance to win all the wonderful blog candy! The next blog on the hop to go and look at is Bronwyn's so happy hopping!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Melee

Well I'm still not entirely sure why I braved the big shopping centre this morning (probably because I had to as I can't think of any other reason!) being the last Saturday before Christmas almost everyone in a 20km radius also felt the need to go there............I'm not sure if it's because I am getting older and crankier or just society is changing, but people are so rude this time of year. Honestly I'm not sure if it's the heat or just that Christmas seems to bring out the worst in people instead of the best?

Whilst I was out DS got to help put up and decorate our Christmas tree, so he is in raptures over that and keeps wrapping everything in sight up in pieces of paper and reams or sticky tape to put under it (I don't think he'll have much Lego left by Christmas Day as it'll all be wrapped up under the tree - we don't tend to put the presents under the tree until after he goes to bed on Christmas Eve as it's just too tempting for a 3yo to have enticing gifts left out and not be able to open them).

Stamping wise I have two things to share with you, one was done recently as a swap and I wanted to try something new as I had seen this tutorial online by Jan Tink and I wanted to see how challenging it was. Turns out it was pretty simple! I used one of the stamp sets from the new summer catalogue Hello Again, but I didn't have the circle sissors (yet!) so I didn't get the double circle effect on the front which I think would have made it look better, but never mind I can always re-make it later!  You can see inside the card - the Retro Remix wheel is so nice - I did see it coloured individually with markers and then wheeled on a blog recently and the overall effect was stunning, although no doubt time consuming - I've added it to my to try list!

Last night I was also playing around with some left over bits from my I Wish Simply Scrappin' kit, after making my I Wish album and came up with this 6"x6" of my DS first Christmas - did I mention he loves opening presents!!!

Can you tell I am still getting used to scrapbooking and am working my way up to doing 12"x12" layouts....but more on that another post. Am I the only one with a to do/try list that is a million miles long or is it just a sign of being creative, I have never yet been able to truly understand people who say they are bored *grin*

Yesterday also saw me making more fruit leather in our food dehydrator, basically it's just a case of blending up cooked apple, passionfruit from our garden (those are the black bits), a drained tin of peaches ($2 on sale for 850g Australian grown fruit) and then spreading it over the sheets and drying it down.

With the PV panels the electricity cost of this is negligible and the entire ingredients and power etc costs approximately $10 per kg of dried fruit - a bit cheaper and healthier than the store bought $4 for 90g and most of it is wheat/maze bulking agents and only has 25-30% real fruit - mine is 99% real fruit and 1% sugar. I've also used strawberries from the garden, bananas and basically whatever left over fruit or fruit that is cheap that is around, although I do find having about 40% apple gievs it a nice smooth texture. The sheets are taken off the dryer, rolled into logs and wrapped in plastic film (if anyone can think of an alternative to plastic for this please let me know!) and stored in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks - although rarely does it make 3 weeks in our house......

Thursday, December 17, 2009

SU creations, sale & stamp club

I've been fairly busy of late with my Stampin' Up! and have run 3 classes now from home, plus demo'd at a couple of parties & so far the feedback has been good (either that or I have really polite friends!!!). A popular one has been the scrapbook album made with the I Wish Simply Scrappin kit which makes a lovely record for Christmas or as  a gift for loved ones.

The original design has been done by a very talented Canadian lady, Andrea Walford, and would look equally stunning with any of the Simply Scrappin kits depending upon the occassion e.g. a baby album or a wedding etc. What is also awesome is that it can be done as a complete class by mail and as there is no stamping required it just requires some time and patience which will definitely be rewarded! I am thinking of using a few other of her designs as I am still new to teaching scrapbooking and I really felt this showcased the product far better than I would have thought of doing!

The 4x2 Christmas class was popular making 2 cards, 2 decorated envelopes, 2 3D items and this month instead of 2 tags we made one tag and one bag topper for reindeer poop (read chocolate coated fruit & nut in a medium  size SU cellophane bag). In January this class will have a Summer theme to it and the stamp a stack (6 cards) is a masculine theme, for details go to my class timetable here.

I have also been making up some lipbalm holders as gifts for day care carers which make a nice change for the girls from chocolates! The original design was made by Renee Ondraka and I modified it to fit the Australian "standard" size lipbalm tubes

This week has also heralded the first ever SU stamp clearance sale - yes they are clearing out all of the old non-die cut rubber stock, so for a limited time you can get up to 50% off some stamp sets and also listed in the sale are some lovely accessory items as well, you can see the full list here (ohh my goodness I think I have finally learnt to hyperlink!) and if you would like anything, then please just leave me a request in the comments section and I will answer (and not publish your comment to protect your privacy).

I am in the process of putting together a stamp club for SU for 2010 which is a $30 per month commitment for 10 months, a free class each month and one of the 10 months you get to hostess and get all of the benefits from that - if you are interested I can email you the full benefits, again just leave me a request in the comments section and I will answer (and not publish your comment to protect your privacy).

Okay it's now late and I've raved on enough about SU for the minute - but I am having fun stamping again after such a long break having DS and as I always say stamps & paper etc is still cheaper than therapy!!!!