Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Play Patch

A little doll I made for my lovely niece.
 As both of my growing-up-too-fast girls are off to school this year, Brannen and I will be finding ourselves with some time on our hands! I have decided to finally give a long-term goal of mine a good go.... establishing a little made-at-home business, selling some of my sewing projects at markets and swap meets.

Taggie Ball

Introducing The Play Patch. This casual little venture will see me sewing up lots of 'play resources'.... toys, games, dress ups, playroom decorations, toy storage bags and the like. I have enjoyed making some of these things for my own kids and their friends over the last couple of years, and would love to spread some imagination and fun onto other families too! Most of what I make will be from upcycled or thrifted fabrics, and all a bit one of a kind.

Simple Princess Tutu

My first stall will be on February the 16th, so I will be very busy getting my stock together before then. I am only doing markets this year, not orders, just in case I find it hard to fit it all in. I don't want to disappoint people by not meeting order deadlines.

Wishing Hearts

Some more pics of the types of things I will be making:

Playroom/Garden Bunting

Peek-a-Boo Bags

Fabric Travel Chalkboards


Fairy Wings

Soft Toys

Doll's Nappies

Fairy Crowns

Lego Bag/Mat

Lego Bag/Mat
I'm pretty excited, and a little bit nervous, and starting to feel that little panic that comes with having a lot to do in a very short amount of time! I have so many ideas of other things I could make, but need to start small, I think, and hopefully the first market will be a success!

If you live in WA, you will find The Play Patch at the Bakers Hill Swap Meet on February the 16th. Come and say hi!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Happy Australia Day

Happy Australia Day, fellow Aussies. This is a day on our calendar that I particularly love. When I was younger, I would go to the Perth Skyshow (fireworks) with friends and an esky full of beer and celebrate with the thousands of others doing the same thing, down on the South Perth foreshore. There was always a game of cricket going, some people took paddle pools and it was always a very rowdy, happy day that I look back on with fondness.

I haven't done that for a very long time, and Australia Day is celebrated in a much more civilised and, ahem, mature kind of way these days. Often it will be a barbecue with friends, or, as our wedding anniversary is the day following, it may be a weekend away.

Big batch of baked beans for the week's breakfasts.
Today, though, I plan to put up a few bottles of passata using some tomatoes that I peeled ahead of time. I will put a new batch of yoghurt on, maybe two, and generally potter around the kitchen with the radio on. I am generally a local AM radio station kind of girl, but today I will turn on JJJ and find out what all the younger ones have been listening to all year! Nath will be putting a brew on (beer) for enjoying in a few weeks' time, and I'll do a bit of sewing, getting some stock together for a market stall in February.

Peeled tomatoes, ready for passata making.
At 4:30 this afternoon, the TV will go on for the Twenty20 match, and we'll barbecue some lamb and snaggers, make some salads and maybe even a pav for dinner.

Basil given to us by a friend, for drying and pesto making!
It's a beautiful warm day (36 degrees), the windows are open, the cicadas are singing and I couldn't feel more blessed to be right where I am.

Pesto and nut butters for sandwich spreads.
I hope you are enjoying your Australia Day, however you decide to celebrate it!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

On The Path To Frugality

I really don't like the word 'frugal'. It sounds so ungenerous and purse-lipped. It is a word that is used a lot these days though, and I hope that the negative associations are starting to diminish, both of the word and what it represents.

So many blogs I read lately, so many conversations I have, are around the themes of reducing spending, tightening the belt, lowering the grocery bill, and being able to afford electricity and other essentials, let alone luxuries like holidays. People are thinking more about the little changes they can make to slow the flow of money out of their hands.

A couple of years ago, Nath and I decided to go a year without buying anything new (except, of course, groceries and other consumables). We made this decision for environmental reasons, rather than financial ones, to try to reduce our personal use of the Earth's resources. So often, though, I find that the things we do that are good for the Earth are also good for our wallets. It could be coincidence, but I suspect that living simply and spending less play a key part in an environmentally friendly lifestyle!

We have decided to return to buying only secondhand, or finding things on Freecycle, or doing without. Since the last time we 'officially' did this, it has pretty much become our lifestyle, but I have noticed a few careless purchases slipping into our spending ( I have a bit of a thing for new CDs!). So we are making it 'official' again. We will buy nothing new, except food, toiletries, underwear, anything required for medical reasons, or car parts if we are unable to source them secondhand and our car needs repairs.

I plan to start making some simple clothes, particularly for the kids, but I'd also like to attempt a dress or two for me. I also plan to start making soap. We currently buy Miessence body wash, which costs me $18 for a small bottle. Homemade soap will be far more cost effective.

I am no expert in living frugally. I still get tempted by shiny new things occasionally. However, I know that since the last time we did this, my skills have developed considerably. I am a far better sewer than I was, and getting pretty handy with basic tools, too. Nath has built a few things around here and is very good at repurposing things to meet a need.

We have a few holidays booked this year, including family trips to Melbourne and Bali, so living as frugally as we can is a pretty high priority at the moment. I'm thankful that we have the opportunity to make some changes to our spending habits so that we can more easily afford to do these trips while the kids are still young. So many people are having to tighten the purse strings simply so they can put food on the table, or pay the mortgage. Everyday life is definitely becoming more expensive, and I would love to hear your ideas on how to reduce spending. Who knows, it may just make the world of difference to someone when they need it most!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Keep Your Cool

We are already a week into 2013, and I hadn't intended on being away from the blog for so long. Sometimes, though, it's nice to take a break from all the things we think we should be doing, and instead spend time on things we actually should do more of.

We have been camping, and swimming (lots of swimming!), and playing cricket, and frisbee, and having water pistol and water balloon fights. We've been bike riding, and scooter riding, and kite flying, and going to the beach, and sand castle making, and kayaking, and searching for fresh water mussels in the river. We have been to wineries, and breweries, and distilleries, and ice-creameries. We've been through a giant maze, and four wheel driving through a giant forest. We have been spending time with lovely friends, and lovely family, from near and far. Nath and I went to see Katie Noonan, Mia Dyson and Wendy Matthews, playing an intimate acoustic gig at my favourite hotel in the Hills. Miya learned to swim in the river near where we were camping, and now she is like a little fish, so full of confidence. A very happy sight, from my girl who screamed whenever we took her close to water when she was younger. She was the oldest of the eleven children we were camping with, and took to the role of pack leader with reckless abandon. Our little tribe of barefoot, grubby little campers became independent explorers and friend-makers, and were right at home among the tents and caravans.

What a lovely holiday.

Too soon, though, it is over, and we are back amidst washing and work and weekly routines. It was very hard to drop Nath at work this morning. I told him it felt like he was a book I had borrowed from the library, and now had to return. Like he doesn't fully belong to us anymore.

Nevertheless, this is where we are at and our days are largely about coping with the heat right now. While the news stories focus on heatwaves happening right across the Eastern Seaboard, our little town in the West quietly goes about it's business of enduring strings of days of 40-degrees-plus. Tomorrow, it is expected to be 45 degrees with a possible thunderstorm (which usually means no rain but bloody muggy!) and as I type at 7pm it is still 37 degrees.

Despite the heat, we have managed to avoid using the air conditioner (apart from a very short spell one afternoon, when Nath's brother and his wife were staying with us from the UK. Nath's brother was unwell for a day or so and definitely needed some cool air! They coped extraordinarily well for the rest of the time!), and we even handled the weather okay whilst camping when nearly every day was above 40. We are acclimatising to the heat again, this being the first year we have chosen not to use air-conditioning, and are finding other ways of 'keeping our cool'.

We get up early to do the things that it is just too hot to do later in the day, such as hanging washing, feeding and watering the chooks, or going for a run. We use the ceiling and pedestal fans and have the windows and doors open in the evening, overnight, and in the early morning, shutting the house up and drawing blinds and curtains at about 9am. We then try to do very little in the heat of the day, to keep as cool as possible. We drink loads of water and have a thirty second cold shower if we need it. That's usually enough to manage the heat. In the evenings, we put the kids to bed, then utilise the rest of the light to do some more of the labour-intensive or 'hot' work, like cooking or gardening.

It has been surprisingly easy to get used to. In some ways, it is almost easier than having the air-con running all day, because it can be hard to acclimatise to the outdoor heat when your house is a constant 18 degrees. I often wonder at people who have their house so cool, that they need to wear warmer clothing! Some days are harder than others (I don't cope as well with the humid weather) but none have been unendurable.

We have chosen to do this for frugality and environmental responsibility, but I definitely do not think this is the right thing for everyone. We are young and fit and healthy, and used to the warmer climate, and are able to keep hydrated. People who are elderly, or unwell, or not in good physical health or families with very young babies should definitely use the air conditioner in extreme heat. Hot weather can be dangerous for some.

So, how do you keep your cool?
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