Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Crochet Granny Squares - a burst of colour for my room

Some of you may remember my attempts at the "Art of Crochet" rug that I started.  I think I have made 17 squares so far.  Well I became disheartened because my squares were ending up all different sizes.  While I love learning new stitches etc I just got to the point where I wanted something I could do that would look "right" and I could make real progress rather than waiting for the next issue to come out.  So I have sidelined the "Art of Crochet" rug for the moment and have begun my own "Granny Square Blanket".

Granny Squares are quick and easy to make.  The pattern is super easy to follow even for a beginner like me.  I will continue to get the "Art of Crochet" magazines as I love the patterns that it provides.  I have so many of them flagged as potential items to make (too many in fact).  But for now, I will keep progressing with my blanket.  I find that I can get 2 squares done while watching a programme on TV with the kids each night before they go to bed.  While this will still take a long time to progress to a decent size blanket, it is progress that I can see grow a little each day.

The great part about Crochet, I am finding, is the portability of it.  I often take it in the car with me.  I went for a ride with Hubby last week up into the Adelaide Hills as he had to go and see a couple of customers.  I took along my pink wool and managed to finish 4 more squares.  Someone with more experience probably would have finished off about 10 in that time, but I felt pretty proud of myself with 4 little squares added to my pile.  Hubby is starting to call me Granny, taking my crochet everywhere but he has already stated that this blanket when finished will be his blanket......who's the Granpa now??? huh????? lol.  He has decided that my first attempt at doing things will become his, fair enough, I think, but I will wait to see his reaction when I try my hand at a lingerie bag or a scarf or beanie crocheted in pink purple and white or something like that lol.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ebay, Paypal and the fees they charge

I like online selling and buying.  I like op shops.  The whole reduce, reuse, recycle phenomenon is great and takes us all back to times when this was the "normal" way of life.  The world has come full circle with families everywhere doing it tough right now. 

My family is like most in today's world I think.  We have the gadgets like mobile phones, Xbox, Wii, Nintendo DS, LCD TV and all the paraphenalia that comes with it.  This has grown over the years.  As the kids have gotten older they have received a mobile phone to keep them safe (naturally not all of them have one yet lol).  We originally had a Playstation 2, this got swapped for a Wii.  They all received a Nintendo DS for Christmas a couple of years ago when we were planning our trip to Queensland as a means to keep them entertained on the travel there and back (worked a gem I must admit and still does on long car trips!).  Mr14 then bought himself an Xbox as that is what all his friends had.  Well that then started a trend as my 3 other boys then all saved up their pocket money and birthday money for a whole year to buy themselves one too.  So yep our house has all the trappings of this century, along with a couple of laptops and 2 desk top computers.  And you know what......I hate it all lol, I truly do.  Hubby is right into the electronic age with the kids but I yearn for the simpler life, life before computers and gaming consoles.  Don't get me wrong, I love reading blogs, I love shopping on Ebay and Quicksales and I love playing computer games occasionally, but I hate all the electronic equipment that litters the house, the tangled mess of cords everywhere which make it very hard to clean behind cupboards etc etc etc.  It goes against my "simple living" philosophies.  Makes me wish I had just put my foot down and said no to the multitude of Xbox consoles our house now contains.  Yes it has given each child a possession that they had to learn to save up for and yes they all share their games around but personally, I hate it.

This brings me to the point I am trying to make (I know this is so longwinded lol).  I think I am like most people and feeling the overwhelming need to declutter our lives.  We are a "step family" with two families becoming one due to divorce etc.  Therefore we have the two houses becoming one scenario happening which as you can imagine brings alot of clutter, along with 6 children and all their clothes they outgrow, toys they outgrow and just life in general.

I have boxes and boxes of items waiting to be sold online.  This all takes time of course.  I list a few bits and pieces on Ebay and the rest goes on Quicksales because it is so much cheaper to sell there.  I used to love Ebay but for selling I don't any more.  I will tell you why in an example.

A couple of weeks ago I listed some women's clothing which I had brought from an op shop (I know I actually paid for more clutter to bring into the house lol but I fell in love with these things).  They were nice items which I saw potential for selling on Ebay and I thought "why not".  One was a designer denim jacket, a pure linen skirt and another name brand skirt.  I listed these 3 items at 99 cents as per Ebay's free listing offer.  They got lots of lookers but sadly the two skirts sold for just 99 cents each and the jacket sold for $1.04.  Naturally, as they were sold on Ebay Paypal was used to pay for them.  Now at the end of these 3 transactions, between the Ebay and Paypal fees and the cost of the items, I am left with....wait for it......NOTHING!  I have actually ended up 47 cents out of pocket.  Yes I know I should have put a bit extra on the postage cost to help cover the fees, but at the end of the day I am an honest person and I hate postage costs as it is.  I like to give my customers a good deal.  Sadly when using Ebay a good deal comes at a price.  I don't go out here to make a fortune, I'm not trying to become the next Ebay Millionaire (although that would be nice lol), but I really don't think that there is such a thing anyway.  Think about the fees I paid to Paypal and Ebay and think if you were selling $1,000,000 worth of stock each year, think how much money you would pay to these two companies in fees, it is just down right scarey!!

I know Ebay is a company and companies make money but I truly think their pricing needs to be made fairer.  There is a point where it becomes a rip off and I think for the small time seller, it has reached that point.  Ebay has the monopoly on online selling businesses.  That along with their Paypal company makes them millions of dollars each year.  The denim jacket I mentioned may have only cost me about 10 cents in Ebay fees but it cost me 68 cents in Paypal fees.  Fees which come off the total cost of the combined sale and postage!  It is just beyond a joke.  It isn't so noticeable when you are selling things for $15-20 each but when you are selling at $1 it just isn't fair.

I truly believe that Ebay has become a place for the big boys of online selling and us little stay at home mums just trying to make a few extra dollars towards our families budgets are getting pushed out.

What do you think?

I apologise that this was so long and I probably really should go back and make it all make sense but today I am just a little disheartened with my whole "lets make a bit of money to help out the family budget".  Today I feel like just sticking all my boxes out the front with a big "FREE" sticker on them just to get rid of the clutter once and for all!!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sad Goodbyes and Birthday Surprise.....what a busy Saturday it was!

Saturday was a real whirlwind of a day in our house.  First of all we made the trek up to my brother's house which is out in the country about an hour or so drive away.  He lives in a very dry part of SA that sees very little rain.  Thankfully over the last few weeks they have received some rain and over the next few weeks it will turn into a nice lush green on the hills his house overlooks.  Sadly for us and for him he won't be here to see it as he is moving interstate next week.  He is swapping his beautiful views for some more equally beautiful views apparently.  I can't wait to go and visit him when they have settled in to their new house (not that it is actually built yet lol).  It will be a 14 hour drive for us though so it will be a very rare treat.  I sure will miss being able to go and visit his place though, it is so relaxing up there, so peaceful.

Here are some views from his house, it is perched on a small hill so overlooks the surrounding area and as you can see, there aren't many neighbours around.....

The kids will miss the dogs...

and Jimmy the Galah

and not to mention the numerous cats,,,here is one, her name is Jess and she is part Ragdoll part Birman and we are hoping she is pregnant.  The daddy is a purebred Ragdoll, also owned by my brother.  We have been promised one of the kittens if she is pregnant, yippee!!!

While we were surrounded by beautiful views, we decided to get a group photo of the kids.......anyone with kids knows how hard that can be,,,,here are our attempts with some very unwilling participants lol....

Take 1 Hubby forgot to zoom in
Take 2 looks like we have 3 separate groups of kids
Take 3 a slight improvement (honestly you would think the words "stand closer" meant touching something that would cause instant death!!)
Take 4....
Take 5....a reshuffle but now Miss12 doesn't want to get boy germs, sheesh
Take 6...the comedian comes to life lol
Take togetherness it isn't today!
Take 8...ahhhh just forget it...this went on for another 8 or so shots and the ones I have shown you are the best of the bunch.  I guess this photo will have to do for my frame on the wall lol, at least the background view is happy looking.
This photo and some individual ones we also took are to go in a huge frame I am revamping at the moment (I will show you my little art project once it is complete, I think I know what I am doing lol)
Once we came home I had two birthday cakes to create.  Getting home at almost 3pm didn't leave me feeling very inspired but it was our birthday night for the two Mr10's so I had to get the promised cakes made.  I think they turned out not too bad.  Here they are, they Thomas cake for Mr10 with Autism as he loves Thomas the Tank and the Scary House for Mr10.  Not as scary as I had originally planned but I couldn't find the original lollies I wanted to use so crocodiles, snakes and alien windows had to do lol.

The little legs sticking up in the air in the pool is meant to be a person getting eaten by a crocodile, it just didn't come out very well in the picture lol, but my son loved that bit.
All in all it was a great day.  It was sad to have to say goodbye to my brother and his wife, but they are following their dreams and you can't deny them that.  I wish them all the best and I can't wait to go and visit them in the not too distant future.

As for my birthday boys, well, I love them to bits and I can't believe they are both now 11 years old, where has that time gone?????  Today is in fact my Mr10's birthday, he actually seems older today in a mature kind of way lol, where has my little boy gone, the 2 year old that used to screw up his nose and say "that's disgusting" lol.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Geez this week has flown by!!!!

I'm not sure if it is because we had a public holiday on Monday or what it is this week, but it has simply flown by.  I can't believe it is the weekend again tomorrow.

This weekend, or at least tonight and tomorrow are going to be jam packed for me and I am feeling a little stressed about how I am going to fit things in.

Tonight is soccer night and also the night that my stepkids come over for the weekend.  Tonight also sees my eldest boy going to work and then to a work function which we will have to take him to and pick him up from, no doubt it will be a late pick up :-(  Tonight I also have to bake cakes for the birthday dinner we are having for the two Mr10's of the house.  It is our family tradition to celebrate with their "fancy" birthday cake and have a pizza/party pie etc dinner on the weekend closest to the kids birthdays when we have the entire gang here.  This weekend is the "chosen" weekend, with both of the Mr10's of the house having birthdays either last week or next week.

So tonight I will be baking the cakes ready for the decorating stage tomorrow.  Normally I would just bake them tomorrow morning and then spend the afternoon decorating but tomorrow morning we are driving up to see my brother who is moving interstate next week.  He lives about 90 minutes from here up in the Adelaide Hills.  A beautiful spot at this time of the year when all the rolling hills around are so nice and green.  It will be sad to see them go.  Although I don't see him often it is nice to know that he is there if I need him, now he won't be so convenient as it will now be a 14 hour drive to see him.  But he is following his dream so I am happy for them.

So tomorrow morning we will head off at about 9.00, go up and spend a couple of hours visiting them and then head back home, probably grabbing some take away for lunch and then home to decorate the cakes.  Normally I only decorate one cake as separate the birthday celebrations but this year due to illness we have had to celebrate both boy's birthday's together. 

I will be making a haunted house cake for my Mr10 and a Thomas the Tank cake for Mr10with Autism (he loves Thomas the Tank!).  I will share with you next week the results of my "creating" lol.

And here is a little music to kick off the weekend with....

OK I know its old but I have always had  a "thing" for John Travolta lol.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My second blog - A dedicated cooking blog

I finally gave in to the requests of my son and have created a totally separate cooking blog.  It will be slow growing as I continually make things and forget to take the much needed photos lol.  But is is alive and it has started.

I decided to keep it totally separate from this blog so as to give the kids their little place to go without having to listen to me ranting and raving and having to sort through all my other stuff to find the recipes they are wanting.

If you would like to take a peek, here is the link for it


I hope you like it.  I am having a bit of fun doing it so far and I hope I can keep it up long term.  But hey, so far it is inspiring me to get my recipes out and try out some new things and if I can broaden the kid's tastebuds in the process it can only be a good thing right????

So I probably won't post recipes here any more I will keep them just for my new blog.  This will become more of my organising, gardening, crafting, home reno, and yes, ranting and raving type of blog lol.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Some weekend music again.......Our Wedding Song - Ronan Keating - This I Promise You

It's Friday and once again I'd like to share one of my favourite songs.  I adore this song, Hubby and I had it as our wedding waltz and it is very special to me.  I think it speaks volumes.  Enjoy!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Reusing leftovers - Reducing waste in our kitchen

We have had a very bolognaise sauce type of week this week.  Now, usually I wouldn't have more than 1 bolognaise sauce type of meal in a week but this week it has just panned out this way.

Tuesday  night I finally gave in to Mr9 and made his beloved burritos/nachos meal (yes some like burritos and some like nachos lol so I find it easier to just make a bit of each!).  Then Wednesday was soccer/karate night so I decided I would just do up a quick Spaghetti Bolognaise.  It was only while I was cooking it that I realised we had two very similar meals on consecutive nights, oh well too bad lol.

Anyway today I went to the fridge and was looking to make sure there was nothing that had to be thrown out (you know the science experiments that seem to lurk in dark corners at the back of fridges!).  Science experiments there weren't, thankfully, but there was a bowl of bolognaise sauce and another of spaghetti bolognaise.  I decided I would make up a small lasagne to stick in the freezer for those nights when there are only 4 of us (namely when the boys go to Dad's house and we have my stepchildren here).

So this rather congealed looking speciment of bolognaise sauce.....

would turn into lasagne which looked like this as I built the layers.....

...a lasagne just the right size for 4 serves.

As I built layer upon layer though I realised that I had too much sauce for just one lasagne but not enough for two.  I stood there pondering my dilemma for a moment, considered deconstructing my almost finished lasagne to put it into a bigger casserole dish when I remembered the Spaghetti Bolognaise sitting in the fridge.  So, they may not look overly elegant but we now have.....

2 Spag Bog Lasagnes wrapped up in the freezer.  I wrapped them securely in alfoil and all I have to do on a cold winter day is grab them, grate some cheese on top and throw them in the oven.  I love leftovers!!!

This is great for being economical too.  I used 2kgs of beef mince all up.  Out of this I got a Burrito/Nacho meal which fed 6 people, a Spag Bog Meal which fed 9(we had 1 extra child in the house) (with 2 of them having seconds) and 2 lasagnes which will give at least 8 servings too (I allow for fairly large serves with a predominantly male household lol).  So all up 2kgs of mince created 25 servings of meals.  That is pretty good economics I'd say.

So now after that I am off to wrap presents for Mr 10(with Autism)'s birthday tomorrow.  We only have him before school in the morning so presents will be partly opened tonight along with a simple birthday cake and then when he comes back next weekend, we will have a combined party night for him and my Mr10 who's birthday is the 21st and they will each have their "big" cake which I will make earlier that day.

***  I hate labelling Mr10(with Austism) this way but it is the only way to differentiate between the two Mr10's in my house lol.  I may have to start using their nicknames instead, I will ponder this thought! ***

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Come Join the Blog Hop........this is new to me and I love it!!!

Like I need another excuse to spend time cruising blogs lol!  Only problem is I can't seem to get the little piccie part to work :-(, I shall keep trying!

I was taking a peek at  Melissa's blog  today and decided to join in on the fun. Today I needed cheering up. I have been on my second course of antibiotics to clear up an infection. The first AB's didn't have any effect so the doc prescribed a second one. The second, while doing a fantastic job at making me feel better, sadly has had very unpleasant side effects so I am going back to the doc today to see what else he can suggest because I sure can't put up with the discomfort those AB's dished out to me for another 5 days!!

Okay I am off to explore the blogging world, come join me.......

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hubby made me a birthday cake!!! It was gorgeous and pink and a PIG!!!

Now before anyone thinks that this could be taken as an insult,,,,,getting given a pig birthday cake,,,,hang on a moment.....I ADORE PIGS!!  I have always loved pigs.  If we ever get a block of land in the country you can bet your bottom dollar that it will contain a pig or two (never to be eaten either!).

My hubby declared earlier this year, that for my birthday he would bake me a cake and I should start thinking of what sort of decoration I would like.  Well the kids had the simple birthday book out a few weeks ago and I thought I would have a flick through it too.  I found this cute pig cake and asked him if he thought he could make it.  He said "yeah of course I can".  Well as time got closer I could see his confidence slipping so I gave him a couple of gentle hints on how best to approach it.

My birthday was actually May 28, but as per tradition in our house we celebrate birthdays when we have the whole family around so the traditional birthday dinner of "party food and pizza" was had this weekend and so the cake was made this weekend too.  I got out the appropriate pans for hubby and he baked his cakes.  They turned out really well, if anything they rose a little too much and he had to slice the tops off so that they were flat but that's cool, they turned out great.

He got a little stressed when it came time to cut out the piggy shaped head so I quickly drew him a template.  Off he went to cut out the head and assemble the cake, it was looking good.  He then came to the icing and followed instructions for vienna cream.  I'm not sure what happened but it turned out tasting over buttery.  So after him having a bit of stress out over that, I just said make do and add more icing sugar and  a little vanilla, it will be fine.  Okay so it didn't taste quite right in the end but hey what kid is going to argue with an iced cake???

He went about decorating it and I was suitably impressed when he even made marshmallow flowers.  He did a fantastic job and I am so proud of him.  Best of all, he did it for me!!!  You just gotta love a guy who goes way out of his comfort zone for you!!  I'm so proud of him and love him to bits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is my piggy cake!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Some weekend music......Kasey Chambers - Like a River

This is a beautiful song, another one of my favourites.  I apologise that the link was being difficult so you may have to cut and paste it.  Have a listen, it has such a relaxed feel to it, just perfect for the weekend!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lets Ban Live Exports.......please sign the petition

I admit I am an animal lover.  No I am not vegetarian.  But I think that anyone watching the video in the link below cannot, no matter their food choices or religion, remain unmoved by the plight of these poor sheep.

Now I don't begrudge anyone their religious beliefs or rituals but it is the way that these poor unsuspecting animals are treated that makes me really upset.  One man in this video clip says that the Australian sheep are crazy,,,,,,,,well yeah wouldn't you be if you were being treated like that and watching your mates get carted away by their legs, heads etc.

I recommend if you are easily upset that you don't watch the video, it had me in tears pretty fast.  But please, if you love animals or even if you aren't fond of sheep but love your pet dog/cat etc please send a letter to your MP.  It is very easy to do, you just have to fill out a couple of fields and email it straight from the page you are on.  Lets all get behind this ban and make this torture of these poor animals stop.