Thursday, 31 January 2008

Sincerest apologies

I must beg an extra 2 days to finish my January Mini-Challenge.

Life has gotten in the way, and some procrastination on an urgent craft project has taken all my spare moments. And my parents and in-laws are visiting tomorrow which will see me in stress-land for the day (not to mention the awards Andrew and I are receiving in the evening, which is currently only adding to the stress in my head).

I will post the results of my Mini-Challenge on Saturday, all things being equal.

Please be assured that the wait will be worth it!

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Update, questions, and chocolate

I have finished the linen cupboard, and have started on the study. I have cleaned the study numerous times, but it will never stay clean until I get rid of enormous amounts of 'stuff'. So, I have decluttered my yarn, fabric, and sewing things. Probably got rid of about 35%.

Currently I am working on my Scouting stuff. I have stepped aside from my role as Andrew's assistant so now it's time to clear out all the stuff I no longer need. Lots of stuff can go to the Scout Hall or go to Andrew or be chucked. There will be very little which I will want or need to keep. Hooray!

After that I'll be starting on my light table. It's such a handy piece of furniture, but I keep using it to dump boxes of 'stuff' on.

And at some stage I may have the courage to tackle the desk.

I have 'before' shots, but lack the courage to post them just yet.

Consumption Challenge:
We are coming to the realisation that we will need to set a small budget for household-repair-type-spending. It simply isn't possible to purchase a second-hand plastic light fitting thingy, or a very specific lock gadget which we need to keep Elliot off the back steps. With a 30 year old house, repairs are inevitable and unavoidable.

Currently our bank balance is looking extraordinarily healthy which is such an encouragement. I think we may have our credit card paid off in record time at this rate.

I am discouraged by a number of things I was previously unaware of or able to ignore:
Like sour cream, which I buy lots of, has a recycle number '5'. In our area we can only do 1, 2
and 3. :( I hate it every time I chuck a container in the bin. I'll have to find some glass sour cream containers.
Like the amount of junk mail we get which is urging us to buy. I am not tempted by the catalogues, but it saddens me to think of all the spending we used to do just because. I will be putting up a 'no junk mail' sign on our letterbox.
Like advertising in general. It makes me sad to think of people buying stuff because they are told to. I left graphic design out as a career option because the same issue made me sad.
Like hearing that Chadstone (bl%*&y enormous shopping centre) just broke the record as being the first shopping centre in AUSTRALIA to top $1,000,000 (yes, that's one million dollars!!!) in sales in one year!!!!!! They're already talking about how to top it this year.

I am able to find many sewing supplies (velcro/zippers/bias tape) in op shops, but what should I do about things I can't find and aren't reusable? Eg: fusible webbing/interfacing.

Where do things like toilet brushes and toothbrushes fit into the grand scheme of the Challenge? I can easily crochet up some dish cloths when we need more, but my skills are limited when it comes to making brushes. Buying new ones seems to go against the Challenge since they are poor quality, not recyclable, and have a very short lifespan. Any ideas?

Have I mentioned that I'm doing the slave-free chocolate thing too? I can't justify my own pleasure causing children in another country hurt, lack of freedom, and worse. I am usually addicted to choc, but after reading some of
Eilleen's posts I seem to have lost my infatuation with it. Still trying to find a fair trade choc which I like. I'm sure there's one out there.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Linen make-over

The highly anticipated results of my 50% off challenge on my linen cupboard are in...

Drum roll, please...

I reckon I got to about 45%. Not bad, eh?

Now for the before and after pics...

This is the lower two shelves of my linen cupboard before my 50% challenge.

Fairly representative of the entire cupboard, but I didn't think to take pics until I had already started. D'oh!

Ta-da! Labels below each item. All neatly folded. All have a home. I've even got the sheets sorted according to bed-size! Wonders will never cease.
Lots of spare room for op-shop bargains!!! (And I now know what I need/don't need which is very handy).
Finally a home for the vacuum cleaner and its accessories. (It's been living in the laundry/study/middle of the hall...)
And there's even enough room for all of Elliot's sheets/blankets/towels. Now Elliot's shelves are full of cloth nappies and toys and books. Just like they should be.
A few items have been transferred to my sewing pile (fun 70's prints), a few are getting sent to the rag bin in Watsonia, but most is going right on to the op-shop. Hooray!

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Not exactly reconstructed...

...but made from scratch and costing exactly - nothing.

I made these shoes for Elliot on Friday night. I got the leather from our Cub Leader ages ago. The inside of the sole is made from cotton fleece (yk, like tracksuit material) which is scraps from a dragon hat I made for Andrew some 8 years ago. The elastic is actually cut up buttonhole elastic which I had left over from some longies I made a few months ago now. And the thick quilter's thread is left over from the days when I used to make heaps of teddy bears. So nothing was new, nothing cost anything, and it was all scraps put to a good use.

I was really surprised at how quick they were to sew up. The most time consuming parts were preparing the leather (hot wash and hot dryer to ensure they don't shrink after sewing) and looking frantically for the elastic (really do have to clean the study, LOL!) but the rest was done in a matter of minutes. I used my own pattern, but I drew inspiration from
Stardust Shoes and the numerous sites which give instructions and free patterns on making cloth/leather shoes. Oh, and the $44 shoes I bought him for his 1st birthday.

Very happy. :)

NB: my walking foot is my new best friend, and the sole is the leather turned wrong way out to give grip.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

January's mini-challenge - 50% off!

In honour of the post-Christmas sales which I am not partaking in, and thanks to the inspiration provided by ColdCloth, I am doing a monthly mini-challenge in addition to the Consumption Challenge - "50% off". (I love Eilleen's idea of signing up to Refashionista, but that will need to wait just a little while).

I am calling this mini-challenge "50% off" because it is about culling our "stuff" by 50%. I am needing to declutter and just get rid of lots of stuff, so as I go through boxes, cupboards and drawers my goal is to donate/throw out a minimum of 50% of their contents.

I have already started: when Andrew brought me a suitcase and huge bag full of fabric he found in the shed, at least 60% of that went either to the op-shop pile or to the fabric recyclers.* The bonus was re-discovering some fabulous vintage linen prints and lots of fabric for fun clothes for Elliot.

* We discovered a place to recycle clothing/fabric which is beyond any useful life. I think they turn them into rags and things for industry such as polishing wheels.

Then I started on the linen cupboard where I have already decluttered 2 of 5 shelves. The towel shelf only sacrificed one item, but that will be balanced out by the 70% of things permanently removed from the next shelf I did, and the same is predicted for the other three shelves. Before/after photos to follow in a day or two.

The thing I am really not looking forward to in this mini-challenge is the study. I detest cleaning the study. YUK! I'll put it off until January 31, shall I?

As a side-note, I am hopping back on the FLYwagon with a sensible evening routine:
Put nappies on to wash, rinse out nappy buckets and return them to their spots.
15 minutes of dishes/cleaning kitchen.
Put out clothes for tomorrow.
Check tomorrow's calendar.
Hang out nappies.
Quick tidy of living room.
Brush teeth, go to bed at a decent hour.

Truth be told, that last one's gonna be the killer. We've been going to bed at 11 and 12 and I have earned the nickname of "Dinosaur Grumpy" as a result.

And tonight I am signing up for the Australian timezone emails. About time.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Op Shopping just got easier...

... thanks to this blog.

How cool! A blog all about the op shops of Melbourne, and they even have a list you can download. The list is now a permanent feature of my handbag. We've already used the list a few times and found some treasures.

I wonder where the list will take us today?

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Oh, the irony!

Picture this...

Hot water installer: Hello, can I help you?
Me: Yes, my water-saving shower head doesn't seem to be drawing enough water to trigger our brand new instant hot water service to turn on. This morning I had to fill a bucket in the bath at the same time as having my shower just to get hot water in the shower.
HWI: Yes, that is a common issue. You will need to buy a non-water-saving shower head.
Me: Isn't that ironic, that in order to use an energy efficient hot water system we cannot use a water-saving shower head.
HWI: Fortunately the hot water system is already designed to save water.
Me: (to myself) Not sure how they figure that one.

So we will be taking the non-water-saving head from our ensuite which is currently under renovations (read: all the tiles fell in on me while I was having a shower) and I will be able to have a shower without wasting water in the bathtub. Hooray.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Last of the big spenders!

Why is this the only pic I have of the op-shopping spree we went on? We also bought a vinyl of Phantom of the Opera, a lovely blue 100% wool vest for me, a zipper for a purse I'm making, some... well, I'm not sure what it is. It's either bookcloth (for repairing book spines) or, well I don't know.

And we bought this funky little basket. Elliot loves carting it around, but it's actually for me to take to the greengrocer, which I did yesterday.

I bought this lace at the new antique shop in town. The lady who runs it is super nice. Of course Andrew bought a wood plane. Of course.

This lace looks to be bobbin-lace, but machine made, not hand made. I have about 30+ cms of it, and I'm now on the lookout for the perfect vintage complimentary fabric to make a handbag with this as the trimming. I have a thing for paisley, if you didn't know.

My mum gave me all this fabric to sew up a storm. I'm loving it all, but I'm just not sure what to do with it. Most of it is corduroy. The big white bit is actually cream flannel, so that will undoubtedly go to making nappies.

She also gave me a huge amount of some mystery fabric and some towels to turn into wipes for Elliot.

Speaking of nappies - this is the last purchase I made last year before starting on the Consumption Challenge. They told me it would be posted today, but it arrived today. Speedy AP! It's too much cotton velour. Apple green, powder blue (purple tinge), and candy pink. Yum yum! The first project to be made with this is an apple green fitted nappy. Too cute. :)

Then I'll be working on some pads for me and a dolly for Elliot. My NC summer swap nappy got me excited about velour as a nappy fabric, and now I'm addicted.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

The good, the bad, and the expensive.

So far:
- spent $2000 on a new hot water system. :O
- modified Elliot's hat with hat elastic and bias binding I had in my sewing stash.
- started downsizing and reshaping my summer skirt.
- Andrew fixed my doc sandals!!!
- bought a fantastic haul of stuff from 6 op shops in one day - for $13! Pics to come soon.
- Andrew has been restoring his old wood planes. He wants me to write that if anyone's DH has planes they no longer need or want, get in touch for a swap, ok?
- I'm still fretting over not being able to buy MK wool this year. They have such pretty yarns previewing.
So far, so good.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

The beginning.

Today is the day I put my money where my mouth is, and begin this new adventure. I wrote about this once before, here.

So, beginnning something similar to
Eileen's Consumption Rebellion, I ... I should really start using the plural here, because Andrew has stepped on board with trepidation... we, begin a year of not purchasing anything new (with exceptions). There is much more to it, (keep reading) but that is the crux of the matter.

I have been scouring Eileen's website and have come across this
marvellous quote. It is so important to remember to do something rather than nothing, in so many areas of life.

The Plan:
- To purchase nothing new except food, and a few essentials (such as loo paper).Instead:- To use existing resources.
- To modify existing resources, including repairing it.
- To create the item from existing resources using our creative skills.
- To borrow for short-term use.
- To swap (my unnecessary item could be just what another person needs).

When a purchase is necessary: this list must be fully explored (no particular order, just all of it) before a purchase.
- To buy ethically (purchase of items made in Oz generally would include known minimum wages and conditions for the workers; purchase of items made o/s would require research into fairtrade practices, etc).
- To buy good quality (which leads to less waste as fewer replacements are needed).
- To buy eco-friendly and considerate of packaging waste (no, I'm not becoming a greenie, but it does make sense to recycle AND to purchase post-consumer recycled products such as SAFE loo paper).
- To buy reusable/multi-use items (in place of single-use/disposable/consumable items, eg good quality container can be often used instead of cling wrap or zip lock bags).
- To buy pre-loved (a second-hand item (op shop, freecycle, friend) creates no new waste).
- To buy because it is genuinely needed.

Other ideas:
- I've been pondering the idea of having our own chickens. Could be a plan. Rather educational for the E-man, and a guarantee of eggs laid by happy chooks.
- We need to continue giving away as much "stuff" as possible. This is for our own sanity, and to ensure others will also be able to have what they need without creating more waste.

My main hesitation so far is the knowledge that for the whole of 2008 I will have to forego the pleasure of purchasing wool from my favourite wool stores, mainly Monster Knits. I may have to stay away from Ozebaby and the Yarn Cafe entirely, and maybe even unsubscribe from their newsletters for the year to avoid the serious sadness of not even being able to consider purchasing their delicious yarns. :(

And so it begins. What do you think? Any other ideas?

Because this has been lifted from my other blog, here are the comments this post has received so far:

kiwwidane wrote:
Jan. 2nd, 2008 08:23 am (local)
We'll help - am more than happy to help gobble up some of your chickens' freshly laid eggs. I used to get some from a playgroup mum and am missing the bright yellow yolks and intnse flavour dearly!Your plan is both ambitious and inspiring - good luck!

I wrote:
Jan. 2nd, 2008 10:44 am (local)
Thanks. Yes, I'm looking forward to both the taste of yummy home-grown eggs, and to not having to pay those really high prices for free-range eggs. You'll be first on our 'oversupply' list. :) And there always does seem to be an oversupply where home-grown eggs are concerned, yeah?

(Anonymous) wrote:
Jan. 2nd, 2008 11:47 am (local)
A great plan!!
That is a great plan T!Actually you're criteria for buying is a plan for life.I have to say, the hardest part of this challenge is your mindset. The fact that both you and your husband has decided to do it will be a great bonus. You can support each other and be strong.That quote is great, isn't it?! All the best!


And I would like to say:
Thanks Eilleen. You've really started something here, eh?

New Blog.

I felt my other blog was getting way too OT. It was set up for showing off DS, Elliot, to the relatives. This is for me to natter about craft, cloth nappies, and the 'consumption challenge'.