Monday, July 21, 2014

We're going on a snow hunt....

Over the weekend we set off to find some snow for the children to play in.  While we do occasionally get snow in our town, it is not an annual event.  After being pestered endlessly by Ginger for weeks, we found a back route through to Corin State Forest and took the kids there.  There were way too many people on the main play slope (which you pay to go on), so we ended up taking the kids off into pockets of snow on the forest's edge.  The virgin snow there was great for building mini-snowmen and throwing snowballs.

We stopped for a picnic at one of the State Parks on the way there.

Because, you know, once you are told you are going just take off all your woolies in the snow!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Joining Brandy in recording my frugal accomplishments.

Since I have been adding to my written list of frugal accomplishments for a couple of weeks now but failed to transpose it to the blog, this list really represents about 3 weeks of frugal accomplishments.  Just saying!

Ripped an old bottom sheet into rags.  Made the equally threadbare top sheet into a protective cover for the cot mattress which is currently being stored under our bed as Tom Kitten has moved into a big bed.

Tom Kitten moved into a big bed.  I got the bed base from the charity shop for $20, the underlays were purchased when I had discount vouchers at Spotlight over recent months, the flannelette sheets were my Grandmother's, as was the red blanket and the doona covers (he now has three) were all purchased from charity shops.  These are the kind of savings that make me happy:)

We have been using up all the tiny bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel Mr Provincial has collected over the last 10 months of travel for his new job.  We officially ran out of our large bottles of shampoo and conditioner four weeks, and still have a number of small bottles to get through.

Decided to implement a Waldorf-style Winter circle time.  I ended up using only resources I could find on the internet and supplementing with songs from nursery music books I already had.

Went to the farmer's market in Canberra and bought enough apples, oranges and pears to last us the month.  The oranges were $1 a kilo (because it is winter here) and the apples and pears were the 'juicing fruit', read slightly marked, at $1.50 a kilo.

I made curtain tie-backs for the loungeroom curtains and the curtains in our bedroom.  I used four fabric placemats I bought at the charity shop ($2) to make the loungeroom ones, and a scarf ($1) which I think might be a Liberty (or faux-Liberty!) print for the bedroom ones. 

We have been trying to weather seal the house a little better as it sort of represents a cold air sieve at the moment.  I have been insulating our curtains, which has involved lining backing fabric with polar fleece and sewing it to the curtains.  I noticed a lot of the National Trust houses in England had this on their windows - though they had a proper insulating layer, not polar fleece.  But the latter is light, affordable and accessible so that is what I went with.  Mr Provincial put weather stripping on the bottom of the front door and a kind of insulating foam stripping round the other 3 sides.  Of course, until he gets round to doing something about the gaping holes between floorboards and walls these are all of limited efficacy:) 

I made a draught stopper snake for the front door out of some fabric I had on hand and the rice from the children's old rice box toy.  Since I still had rice left over in the rice box I then made some heat packs using the remains of the fabric.  The children each take two to bed at night.  As a bonus I could then reuse the tub to store Tom Kitten's 'to grow into' thrifted clothes which had been driving me nuts in the main part of his wardrobe.

I did several runs to pick up the free mushroom compost our local mushroom farm leaves outside for you to collect.  We have used some in planting our fruit trees, and the remainder will go in a garden bed I want to build up.  I will collect more in coming weeks as I can only fit two bags in our car at a time.

I shopped just the loss leaders at Woolworths.  These are the specials that are more than 50 per cent off.  The best buy was some nappies for Tom Kitten.  We only use disposables at night so these should last until the end of the year.

I borrowed Backyard Self-Sufficiency by Jackie French from the library.  After reading about how full-sized fruit trees should be positioned along fence lines, with their branches intermingling to reduce the amount of fruit the birds get; my very obliging husband relocated all our existing (small) fruit trees to that position.  Well, actually he still has the Plumcot to do but by that stage he had been outside in the cold and rain for many hours so we decided that transplant could wait until this weekend.  He also planted a stepover apple, dwarf mariposa plum, dwarf apricot and kiwi fruit plants (male and female) I had ordered.

We cancelled our existing mobile contracts and went on to an Aldi pre-paid plan.  This should save us a lot of money.  We were actually only on contract a couple of months since upgrading to a smart phone. However we realised we were barely using any credit so there was no benefit to doing that over a pre-paid plan.  Smart Phone = our worst investment ever!

We ate all our meals at home.  We are trying to use up some store cupboard staples at the moment to make way for food we use on a more regular basis.

I made bread every two days rather than buying it.

I pulled Ginger out of her ballet class.  She has not been enjoying it this year and has made a fuss every Saturday morning before going, so we asked her straight out if she wished to continue.  She said no.

I mended a coat and scarf.

I went to a garage sale at a local church.  In addition to purchasing some novels for 50c each I was also able to find some useful books in their 'free' box, and I was given some drawing stencils for the kids.

I went to the Lifeline book sale a few weeks ago and picked up some new books - a cookbook and history book which we will use for presents for my in-laws for Christmas.  And, I got a couple of cookbooks that we have had our eyes on for a few years (one of which is for Mr Provincial's birthday).

I made a discovery regards kitten food.  After purchasing the very expensive individual packet kitten food because I thought it was the only one available (though at least I bought up when it was discounted by $3 a box; but still cost over $6 a box) I discovered Woolworths does a canned own-brand kitten food...on the very bottom shelf!  These are $1.25 a can.  A much better price given the volume Tinkerbell goes through in a week.  A growing kitten is a significant understatement!

We changed our home insurance arrangements to pay our premium monthly, rather than annually.  There was no discount for an upfront payment so this makes more sense.

I borrowed DVDs from the library.  We particularly enjoyed Hyde Park on Hudson.

I cut Mr Provincial's hair.

We took delivery of a load of wood we won in a raffle being run in support of one of the children's activities (there is no weekly cost to attending). There was about a tonne of wood.  Saving about $200!

I went to a closing down sale for the discount shop in town.  There was hardly anything left by the time I got there, but I got a couple of heavily discounted tubes of hair-gel for my husband, some dryer balls which are meant to speed up the drying process and some Christmas Cards which were marked down to 9c a packet.

I picked up some school uniforms for Ginger at the charity shop....and, um, yes she has 18 months before she starts school.  Our school has no secondhand uniform shop and most pieces of the uniforms retail for over $70.  I got a size 6 winter dress for ($8 - they put higher prices on the uniforms than any other clothing in the shop!.....reading the market there!) and a wool jumper (sweater) for $4 as it had the half-price coloured tag.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Another Lifeline Book Fair

Taking it as given that because I enjoy reading other people's blog posts about books they have procured they might be similarly interested in mine.  I could, of course, be completely misquided in that belief. In which case you may wish to turn your attention elsewhere already:)

Anyway, a few weeks ago Mr Provincial very kindly took a day off work to look after the children while I trotted along to a Lifeline bookfair.  To mis-quote Dorcas from Lark Rise to Candleford, children's books are my one true weakness!  Mr Provincial had put me on a very strict budget this time owing to certain blow-outs on previous occasions.  I was pretty happy with my haul.  Even if it took me 3 hours to cull to my budget constraint.....

Edward Ardizzone is one of my favourite authors and illustrators.  I discovered one of his Tim books in the library in Darwin and have been on the hunt for copies ever since.  It turns out he was quite a prolific illustrator.  This time I found:

Tim's Last Voyage by Edward Ardizzone
Lucy Brown and Mr Grimes (the child in this looks so much like Ginger) by Edward Ardizzone
Rhyming Will by James Reeves
Sarah and Simon and No Red Paint
Titus in Trouble by James Reeves
The Little Fire Engine by Graham Greene

Greyfriars Bobby by Ruth Brown.  We love Ruth Brown around here!
Lucy and Tom's 1,2,3 and ABC by Shirley Hughes.  We enjoy all of Shirley Hughes books, but the Lucy and Tom series are Ginger's favourites; I think because Lucy reminds her of herself, and Tom of Tom Kitten.
The Old Woman who lived in a Vinegar Bottle by Rumer Godden.  Again guided in this choice by author preference.
Caterpillar Butterfly by Vivian French (love the illustrator Charlotte Voake).  Looks like good junior science book.
The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett.  I only discovered Jan Brett recently, I am now on the hunt for more of her books. 
The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola; again a recent discovery for me - but I love the faith aspect of his writing.
A couple of our pirate favourites Pugwash Aloft and Pugwash and the Ghost Ship by John Ryan.
Stormy Weather by Amanda Harvey...a great find for the current cold season!

Animals of Australia in Colour by Lyla Stevens.  This is on Jeanne's AO3 Australian Curriculum.
Our Father by Joan Gale Thomas.  My Aunt recently gave me her childhood copy of If I Were Born in Bethlehem so I knew this would be worth picking up when I saw it at the Recycling Shop (aka Dump) on my way home!
Leading Little Ones to God by Marian M Schoolland.  I am looking forward to working through this with Ginger.
The Christmas Story by Gennady Spirin.  The KJV of the Christmas story, exquisitely illustrated.
The Magic City by E Nesbit.  Anything by E Nesbit has my vote!
Once on a Time by AA Milne.  This is the second copy of this I have thrifted; the first one was missing the all important third page (LOL!)
Tell Me a Story by Eileen Colwell. We have another collection of Eileen Colwell's stories.  Great for read-alouds for preschool age.
Thursday Rides Again by Michael Bond.  Michael Bond of Paddington fame.
The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley.  Beautiful illustrations by Maud Lucy Atwell.

The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown.  I have seen this on a number of blogs.
Wake Up Mr B! by Penny Dale.  I enjoy Penny Dale's gentle plots and illustrations.
Angelina's Ballet Class by Katharine Holabird.  Ginger is in a Angelina phase at the moment.  Have to say I don't think this is one of the strongest Angelina stories.
Anatole by Eve Titus.
Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully.  Seeing this was a Caldecott Medal winner was enough for me.
Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose by Dr Seuss.  Always lots of Dr Seuss at the bookfairs but this was a particularly nice copy so it made the cut.
Paddington's London Treasury by Michael Bond.  Our Paddington Picture Book is held together with tape it has been so loved, so good to add to our collection of illustrated Paddingtons' for little people.
Benny's Visit by Linda M Jennings. After a recent visit to England (more on that soon) the kids are very into canal boats at the moment.
Wee Gillis by Munro Leaf.  I read about this in Inside Picture Books so picked it up as soon as I saw it.

I also picked up a handful of board books to add to Tom Kitten's collection; but by the time I came to take pictures they were already in circulation!