Thursday, July 30, 2009

Saving a birthday cake

Doesn't this cake look cool? My sister in law made it for her daughters 3rd birthday. I especially love the pink bow. And would you believe it's there to hide something?

When she was making this cake, it split, much to her disappointment. What to do? Well, since she is a savvy, quick thinking chic, she quickly got the ribbon and tied it around to keep it together.

And it worked a treat! No one new about the near disaster and everyone commented on how lovely the cake was. And what 3 year old girl doesn't love pink bows?


So smart. This is such a quick fix that just looks so good. Definitely an idea to use for any cake decorating.

My new/old furniture

So, because I said I would, here's what I got last week at the second hand shop. There's no real hidden gems, but I am really happy at the price I paid for it all.

To start with is our little laundry basket. It was driving me insane trying to find one. The space between the washing machine and dryer was 32cm, whereas all the baskets I could find were 34cm. GGRRRRR. When I walked into the op shop, and saw this, I grabbed it straight away. I was ecstatic when I borrowed a measuring tape and it was going to fit!!! WOOHOO.

This is my new sewing/craft cabinet, I so badly wanted something to store my bits and pieces, something other than cardboard boxes. It is the perfect size. There's locks, but no key. I am going to try a few old keys and see if they work, because it looks like it might. It is really solid, but has wheels, making it easier to move. As my husband was bringing it in, I saw a spider walking across it, and upon closer inspection... "Honey, put it down and grab a shoe!! There is a redback walking straight to you!!!" His reply "You do it! This thing is too heavy, I'm on a roll!"

I looked to where our shoes were, but the big cabinet was between me and the shoes. The the lightbulb in my brain came on. DUH!! You have shoes on your FEET! So I ripped one off and squished the spider. It took a couple of goes, and it was gross.

Funny, I've lived in Australia my whole life and this is the first time I have ever seen one. (Seen plenty of other scary spiders).



This is inside the cabinet, my fabric side I have decided. I will sort it out properly. I have plenty more to go in there.


The picture below is of the other side of the cabinet, which has shelves, so I will be using this side for my scrapbooking supplies. I am so excited to have this stuff out of boxes!Another item we bought was this kitchen pantry, well it was supposed to be my pantry, in the kitchen...







Instead, it is in the bathroom, being used as our linen cupboard. I have a range of ideas for this cupboard I am hanging out to do, it is just a matter of convincing my husband we should do them... Or maybe I will just do it when he is a work one day, hhmmmm....


And last, but not least is the sofa bed. It is surprisingly comfy. Not what you'd expect from one of these!







Yeah, I know the stuff isn't perfect, and it's old, but we're renting and it'll do us until we buy here and know what furniture we want and need.






Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hat stand



I have wanted a hat stand for so long. I always thought they were so cute, and would picture it just inside the door.

I decided as soon as we moved to our new place that I would get one. I told my husband and off I went to find one.

I had a limit in mind and looked at all the second hand shops near us for one. I was standing there looking around at the 4th shop that day, when I took 2 steps back and lo and behold, there it was. Right infront of my face!! And here I was looking everywhere but in front of me. I grabbed it straight away.

It had no price and as I waited in line, which was really long this day, I was thinking to myself "stick to your limit!!" I got to the counter and asked, petrified it would be more, but it wasn't it was $15!! WOOHOOO.

I love it to bits. We use it for so much. I was sick of my husband always throwing his work jacket on the lounge, along with all his work stuff. I was sick of not being able to find the nappy bag when I wanted to go, and now, everything has a place.


See? Here it only has a vest and jacket, but that has since been added to. My daughters hats, the nappy bag, our keys, everything hangs off it and it is brilliant.

And my husband thought it was stupid idea. Now he loves it! (Not quite as much as me though)


Tomorrow I am off to look at more furniture I want, that he is undecided about.

Moving House

I have just moved house, AGAIN. This is the 4th house for my eldest daughter, and she is not even 2!! Why have we moved so much? Well...

The first move is a very long story, we still own that house, but just could not stand to live there any more (and not because of the house!)

We ended up closer to my family, in a hideous, way too small unit, where the toilet leaked onto the floor, there was a bullet hole in the window and the place looked like the last tenants had done a runner. It was horrendeous, BUT at least we had a home, for which I was grateful and the rent was cheap. Due to all the problems with it, we left as soon as we could.

The next house was no palace. Actually it was a 2 bedroom unit, but was bigger than the last unit. Only thing was it was on the market and has now sold. So we needed to move.

Thankfully the unit I had been longing for became vacant. It is a 1 bedroom that I first lived in when I moved out of home, years ago. 1 bedroom!!???!!! Am I crazy? Yes, and no.

This unit is stable. It is not going to be sold, the rent is good. It has floorboards, which is important as my husband is allergic to dust, so carpet is no good. It has lots of storage and is actually the same size, if not bigger as the 2 bedroom units we had been looking at.

It is in a nice area, with a great view and we have lots of friends here. There are downsides to it, but more advantages than disadvantages.

Some of the things I learnt when we moved were...

1.) I had way to many things and by off loading them, I made some money and didn't have to move so much.
2.) Using a trailer is hard work but SO much cheaper. We swapped cars with my sister, as ours can't tow a trailer, borrowed my parents trailer and did the move ourselves. It cost us $50 in petrol, compared to $500 for hiring a truck or thousands for removalists.
3.) I am stronger than I thought. My husband didn't think we could move everything, including our giant fridge down all the stairs, but with a bit of determination and a lot of communication we did it.
4.) The stair well in our old unit gets narrower as you go down. How did we discover this? We got stuck. Me against one wall, my husband against the other and the fridge between us. It must have been at least 1 foot smaller. Needless to say, it must have been quite a sight watching us wiggle around this fridge to get it out!! I ended up ripping my top and getting bruises. But I did it and I am super proud of that fact.
5.) I really should be more organised next time! I tend to leave things to the last minute, then spend ages looking for one thing I need, and typically it is not packed with all the other things like it. I end to throw everything into one box.

But I am all happy now, sorting out my new place.

Aprons


I love aprons. This is one I made for my niece from fabric left over from another project.

She is madly into pink, so I think this is perfect. My sister in law has just started to cook with her and was going to buy her a generic yellow apron for her birthday, but I told her I wanted to make her one.
She turns 3 this week and is having 2 parties. One with family members, the other with her "little" friends. Since I am going to both, I have got her a pink spatula for her 2nd present.
Aprons are really easy to make and make a great gift. I make them 2 sided, the back of this one is just plain white. Having the back just makes the whole apron feel like it's better quality, it's less flimsy adn will actually help stop anything staining the clothes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tupperware and other party plan


I love Tupperware. I used to sell it. I got what my family and I wanted on a discount and quit. I used to love party plan things. I have had different parties and gone to a ton. Problem is, now I have most things I want and am trying to save money.


When you go to these things there is always the pressure to buy or have a party. Obviously you could chose to not go at all. But a lot of the time it is a great opportunity to catch up with friends, or have a bit of child free time. If you are strong, you can just not buy. If not, stick to a budget.
A lot of people end up buying stuff they did not need or want by going to these parties, purely because they felt guilty. So here are some tips to help you.
1.) Set a limit and stick to it. You have a budget for a reason. Don't get caught up in the hype. If you only take cash and leave the cards at home, you have no choice!
2.) Check out the products online before you go. This will help you know what specials they have for the month, or if it is one you have not been to before, you can have a good look at the product. Not all the sites have prices on them, but it will give you an idea if you will use the product. You can write down what you are likely to use before hand.
3.) After checking online and writing down what you might like, put that list in your wallet. Often at parties people get caught up in it all, then forget what they had in mind to buy, this will help you remember.
4.) Think of gifts. If you don't need anything, but feel obligated to buy, think of what you could use as gifts (I have a few suggestions below).
5.) Simply say no. Remind yourself what it is you are saving for, so you don't get sucked into buying more. If the salesperson tries to get you to have a party and you don't want to , simply say no thank you. If she asks why or tries to give you excuses, just say, no thank you, I do not do parties. And keep repeating it for every question. It's their job to get you to have a party, and they have a million answers for everyone of your excuses, so if you repeat the same thing, they will have nothing to counter it with and move on.
6.) Be strong. Make it clear to the host that you wont be spending up big and if they are a good friend, they will help you stick to budget.
7.) Team up with someone and split it. A lot of thing come in sets, and since you might only want one, does any one else only want one? Do the order together and split the cost. Also a lot of parties are now charging a handling fee, so if it's is only 1 order, only 1 fee. If you are paying cash, you can team up with someone and save a few dollars. Or if they are paying cash you can put it all on your card, provided you remember to put the cash you go trom them straight onto your card.
8.) Do not buy the cheapest thing in the catalogue. Often it is not something you will ever use!
9.) The rewards are not that great. Generally you need to sell $400 to get $40. And a party booked from that party can be another 5%. But there is usually a minimum you need to sell before you get any rewards and that minimum is getting higher and higher. Also, you will almost always spend $50 on food and drinks for the party, so in actual fact, you are probably better off just spending the $50 on a product instead of a party.
Some ideas for gifts are...
Anything that comes in a set (like the clear mates in the picture) if divided make 2 great gifts. You can fill them with homemade cookies or truffles to make it more special. This is a useful and practical gift. In regards to Tupperware, they sell lots of sets, like fridge smarts, clear mates, go flex, rock and serves, so you will have plenty of options.
If there are particular items from a party you know smeone wants, but it's a bit out of your price range, why not see if someone else who buys for this person as well would like to split the costs? That way you have placed an order, and you are ready for a birthday or Christmas.
If you have a few kids to buy for , you can purchase the kids sets of bowls, snack cups and plates, then split them. This makes 4 great kids gifts, that a mum would love too!
Some party plans are now using a small product as a gift in the games, like essential oil, travel size shampoo, a lipstick etc... if you win any of these items, you can keep them aside for gifts.
Know who you need to buy a gift for. Then if you see something at the party that would suit, you can get it, without ending up with 6 gifts for Alice.

Friday, July 10, 2009

How to wax

Many people attempt waxing, but because they are not sure how to do it, they end up in a lot of pain, and find it rather messy.

Waxing is good because it removes the hair from the root, meaning longer time with no hair, unlike shaving, which cuts the hair at skin level.

It is painful, but following these steps can help a little with the pain. If you look closely at the above picture, you can see the direction the hair grows in. This is really important to notice when waxing.

Apply the wax in the same direction your hair is growing. The wax needs to be hot, but not so hot it burns your skin. Do a test patch when waxing, in an area that is not super sensitive, and not seen.



Next apply a strip of calico. Calico from a fabric store, cut into strips is fine to use.


Rub the calico on in the same direction as your hair growth. Rub it a few times, in these pictures, that means towards the toes.





Next, rip off the calico. This will hurt a whole lot less if you hold the skin taught with your other hand. Always remove the calico in the OPPOSITE direction of hair growth. Otherwise you wont effectively remove the hair. As soon as you have removed the calico, place your hand on the spot you have just waxed. This will help ease the pain a little. Blood rushes to the surface of the skin after waxing, and the hand with a bit of pressure helps your sensors think everything is ok.


And here is the finished result. Nice smooth skin.
A few things to remember when waxing though...
Always wax in the direction of hair growth.
Always remove in the opposite direction.
Do not wax over the same spot repeatedly. Do it once and if not all the hair is removed, use tweezers, otherwise you may cause blisters or sores. The skin is very sensitive after waxing, and you can even cause scarring if you do it again straight away.
Keep some baby oil on hand to help remove any wax residue.
Metholayted spirits will remove wax you get on tiles or a vanity. Apply to some paper towel or cotton balls. Hold it there for a few seconds, then wipe a bit to remove.






How to do a pedicure

Doing a pedicure yourself is surprisingly easy, once you know how. It will save you heaps of money too. To start with you'll need a few things, like in the picture above, but most things can be substituted, and I'll show you how.

Here's what you'll need



nail file

nail clippers

nail buffer

cuticle stick (also known as an orange stick)
cuticle remover (optional)

nail polish remver

cotton balls (not in picture)

something to soak your feet in

scrub

brush (optional)

pedipaddle

cuticle oil

moisturiser

toe separator

nail polish

top coat

Here is my foot (mainly the toes) before the pedicure



The first step in a pedicure is to remove any nail polish. I had none, so moved onto step 2, use the cuticle stick to clean under the nail. You can do this after soaking as well, but I find you can sometimes go a bit deep after the soak as the skin is soft.


Filing comes next, although, if your nails are long you may want to clip them first. When filing do not file back and forth. This weakens your nails. Instead start like in the picture above and move the file up, as shown in the picture below.



Repeat filing this way, the file moving in the same direction, up. Then move to the other side of the nail and do the same thing. For the top of the nail, chose one direction, either left or right to move the file, to file down the nail. Doing it this way ensures your nail stays strong.





Next, buff the nail. You can chose to buff it now before soaking, or buff it later, after soaking. If you don't have time to soak your feet, buff now. To buff, you start with the roughest side of the buffer, then follow through with each side until you get to the smoothest. The smoothest side makes it shiny.


If you wish to use a cuticle remover, you use it now, applying to each cuticle before soaking. It is not a necessary step. It just helps remove the dead skin at the base of the nail.

To soak your feet you can use a large bucket or bowl. Some river rocks in the bottom are nice. Warm water with a specific foot soak, or soap or oils all work well. You can also do the above steps before a bath or shower and use the shower/bath as your "soak".


During the soak, use a scrub. A foot scrub is not necessary, any body scrub if fine. Alternatively you could use some sugar or salt mixed with oil or use some sand. Anything that is gritty will help remove the dead skin on the feet, making the skin smoother and softer. Rub the scrub all over and into the foot, then rinse off. Dry the foot with a towel.


After the soak use the cuticle stick to push back the cuticles. If you have sensitive feet, wrap a bit of cotton ball around the end of the stick. If you do not have a cuticle stick, a cotton ear bud will be effective. If you did not buff before the soak, now is a good time to.







Using a pedipaddle, file the heel of your foot. A pedipaddle has sandpaper for your foot on it. After soaking the skin is soft and comes off easier and is more gentle. This step is really important for nice smooth heels. Rinse and dry the foot again after using the pedipaddle.
If you'd like to you can now use a make-up brush. Run it over the foot to remove any traces of scrub and other grit, before moisturising.





The cuticle oil and moisturiser are applied now. Put a dab of cuticle oil on each toe (olive oil, lip balm, body butter are all good substitutes.) Rub it into each toe. Massage a dab of moisturiser into each foot.




Using nail polish remover, wipe over each nail to remove any oil or moisturiser. You can use cotton balls as toe seperators if you do not have one.
Applying nail polish can take a bit of practice. The best way is to do a stroke in the middle of the nail, from the base of the nail, near the cuticle to the top. Then apply polish to the sides of this line. Repeat on each toe. Once the polish is dry, apply another coat. Then do the same process with top coat.
Top coat seals the nail polish and makes it last longer.





And ta da. Here it is, finished. Now, you will notice in the above picture there is some polish not on the nail. I did this, as it is fairly common for people to do when learning to do their own nails. With light polish like I have applied, it is hardly noticeable, but easy to fix.
You can apply some nail polish remover to a cotton bud and wipe over the affected area.
Or try and scrape it off once dry with your finger nail.
If you notice it before it's dry, it will usually wipe off.
And if you aren't comfortable doing it any of these ways, generally the next time you have a shower, the skin will soften and you will be able to simply flick it off.



Doing regular pedicures will ensure your feet are always pretty. Regular use of a pedipaddle and moisturiser after a shower will keep the pedicure looking good for longer. Use the paddle once a week and msiturise every day.


One extra tip I have for doing pedicures, is wax your feet. Sounds weird, I know, but it makes them look so much cleaner and fresher.




Thursday, July 9, 2009

Present Box


This is my presents box. It isn't very big and at the moment does not contain a lot of presents. More present bags and gift wrap, because I have been trying to use up what was in there and not buy more until we move.
A lot of people I know have a present box, and it is quite handy, but many I know do it differently to me.
You see, I have a spread sheet on excel, which I use to determine who I need to get for, what I might get them, or if I already have something for them and when it is I need something. Then when I am shopping, if I see something that fits my criteria and will actually be given, I get it.
Most people I know buy things because they are reduced, on sale or cheap because they might be able to give them as a gift or it will come in handy for unexpected occasions. This is how I used to do it, quite a while ago. But I found I was spending money on presents I wasn't really using, or I would forget I had already bought something for so and so and would end up with 5 possible presents for 1 person and nothing for another and would end up dashing to the shops buying gifts anyway.
What I do find handy to have lots of on hand is gift bags, wrapping paper, cards and sticky tape. I keep all these in the present box, along with gifts I will use.
If you have children at school it might be handy to have a few age appropriate gifts on hand for those last minute birthday parties, but not too many.
Another good idea for presents is to have a list of things you can make to give. For example I have a list that is broken up into categories - Boys, Girls, Teen Boys, Teen Girls, Adult Males, Adult Females, Babies. I have under each category presents I can make for each group. So when something comes up, if I have the time I can look at my lists, work out what I have and if I have the time to make something.
I have found this especially handy at times when I have not budgeted for a particular occasion, which is rare. It is easy to read and as I have compiled the list myself, I know what I am capable of. Most people really appreciate home made gifts.

Christmas stocking

This stocking has been sitting and waiting for me to complete for over a year. It was going to be a present for my niece last year, but it didn't quite happen.

I cut out some white fabric with silver butterflies on it and made the main part of the stocking. I have lined the stocking with satin, so it's all nice. The pink frill has silver sparkles on it, because I wanted it to be a girly stocking, not your normal Christmas stocking.


As you can see, I have added this beautiful butterfly to hang off the stocking. It is actually an ear ring I never really wore. Little extra's like this make a craft project extra special. It is a more personal touch.
I have made a matching stocking for my eldest daughter too. This year she is old enough to understand what is going on a bit better than other years.
Making stockings and filling them with goodies makes a great gift. There are so many different types of fabric out there, you can get one to suit anyones personality or interests. You can bake things to go in the stocking or the stocking itself can make a wonderful, thoughtful gift.

Funky Buttons

Oh, how I love these funky chunky buttons. I saw them a while ago and have not been able to get them out of my head. I loved them to bits. I had no idea how much they were, but needed to have them.

I started to day dream what I could use them for. Jackets for my daughters, decorating, oh, they are so cute.

So, what happened the last time I went shopping? Yes, I bought them. How much did I pay for these buttons.. TOO MUCH!! They were $13 for this little pack, that I so desperately needed.

Now, I better use them or else.

Goes to show, that just because you think and think about something, does not mean you should buy it.

Mind you, my daughter has entertained herself for some time lining these buttons up, taking them out of the bag and putting them back in, so at least they will get some use.

Craft mat

Officially this super handy mat is called a piecing mat and you can get it from http://www.jangles.com.au/

Currently I am using this mat to lay out my watermelon quilt, which I am making for my daughters.

I love this mat, because you can start a project and simply roll it up to finish later. When you roll it out the pieces stick to the mat and are exactly where you left them. Saving so much time, as you don't have to lay it all out again.

It's handy for sorting and storing all sorts of sewing projects, not just quilting.


The picture above shows it rolled out flat and all my quilting pieces on it.
Then, ta da.... You roll it up and store it where ever you want. It's got tabs to keep it rolled up too, so you wont accidently unroll and undo all the work you have done.
I only got this mat the other day and already love it.
http://www.jangles.com.au/ is a great site for all quilting. It has great tutorials, which is what I am using to do my quilt. They are so easy to follow and have great pictures, which I need!! (no, the sites not mine and no I am not making money from raving about it!!) Seriously, check it out!














Saturday, July 4, 2009

Cleaning supplies and stain removal

So I thought I would share with you all what I use to do my cleaning. As you can see in the above picture I don't have 5 different things for the bathroom, something else for the kitchen benches and more products for the floors etc...

My basic kit contains :

Dishwashing liquid
Vinegar
Bi-Carb soda
Laundry powder
Sard soap
Napi-san
Disinfectant
Bleach
Toothbrush
Scrubbing brush
Cloth

I find I don't have a need for all the fancy packaged cleaning products. I'll post later what I use everything for, but I'll start with stain removal.

I hardly use the napisan I have pictured. It is still over 3/4 full and we've had it for 6 months.
But since I heard about using it as a paste to remove stains, I thought I'd give it a go. It isn't my favourite, but it is effective.

In the above picture is my daughters all in one suit, can you guess what that stain is? That's right, not all nappies hold it all!! (I was testing some disposables that have been revamped and will definately NOT be buying them!)
For this stain I would usually just use Sard, but have been advised you can use Napisan mixed with a bit of water to make a paste. Simply apply it and wash as normal. I decided to try it, because I had it there.
As you can see in the above picture, it worked well, but I think I prefer my usual method.


My usual method is rubbing a bar of Sard Wonder Soap on teh stain, then wet a toothbrush and scrub the affected area.




Yes, it takes a little time to find all the stains, and scrub them, but I am so happy with the results (and the price) that I will continue to remove stains this way.




As you can see here, it works a treat. For some reason, every single time my daughter wears
this jacket it gets covered in dirt and stains, more than anything else she owns. But with Sard, I get the stains out everytime.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Getting craft projects organised


Recently I was given this storage container, normally used for shoes or tops in the wardrobe.
Immediately I thought of my craft projects. They are stashed all over the house, and I can never find the one thing I am looking for, which causes me great frustration.
So what I have done is sorted my projects into those that need to be finished soon and those that can wait. The ones that are being finished soon have been placed into their own little spot, hanging here in my wardrobe.
An added bonus to this sort of storage, is since I have to get dressed every day, I am staring my projects in the face. Meaning, I am constantly reminded I need to find time finish them.
The projects in here are a strawberry patterned apron for my niece, some cloth nappies in the plastic bag, a watermelon quilt/playmet for my daughters room, a dress for each of my daughters and a sleeping bag for my nephew (that one is just crammed in there and not visible.)
It has also taken the projects off the floor of my wardrobe, making the whole room look neater.
Also today I got something that is going to make my crafting easier and quicker. I will post once I have used it, and let you know where you can get one too!!