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