Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Electricity Challenge - In the Laundry

Today I have ventured into my laundry to see what I can learn about our electricity consumption there.


Well, obviously I'm trying to minimise our usage of the tumble dryer. They're known to be high energy users.

According to the energy rating label on my 5kg Tumble Dryer it uses approximately 4.5kWh's per load. At a rate of 18c per kWh that adds up to around 80c a load.

I've always worked on a rule of thumb figure of $1 a load because that figure is going to be very approximate and well, saving $1 each time I hang a load on the line *sounds* so much better than 80c. :-)

I decided to do a small amount of research using to see whether tumble dryers have improved in technology (in terms of electricity efficiency) since ours was bought (about 10 years ago now) and was surprised to find that there hasn't been much change at all in this area. The *most* energy efficient 5kg load dryer I could find used around 3.9kWh and the equivalent to ours (by brand) uses 4.4kWh's.

I then did some playing around with figures to see if different sized dryers made a difference by calculating how many kWh's it would take me to dry 10kg of clothing. I used only vented dryers and used the calculations for the most energy efficient dryer so these results are approximate and would vary from brand to brand.

Here's what I came up with:

3.5 kg 8.08kWh
4kg 6.8kWh
5kg 7.8kWh
6kg 7.9kWh
6.5kg 7.1kWh
8kg 8.15kWh
9kg 9.24kWh
10kg 8.52kWh

My conclusions? When my dryer needs replacing I'm going to look into purchasing a 4kg dryer rather than a 5kg dryer. Of course, the figures may have all changed by the time I'm in the market for a dryer but it's interesting to consider that not all SIZES come out evenly when it comes to overall electricity consumption. And when it comes to tumble dryers, bigger isn't necessarily better.

Not having a tumble dryer at all is possibly a better option again but I prefer for now to concentrate on making changes that don't create too large an inconvenience for our family. There are times when it just seems to be "necessary" or at the very least "very helpful" to own a tumble dryer.


When we made the decision to move to this farm, we also made the decision to go out and purchase a front loader washing machine. Thankfully these days they actually work out cheaper than top loading machines. When we originally bought our top loading machine they were still MUCH more expensive. We didn't have the luxury in those days of purchasing for "later savings" (ie. we were broke) and really weren't as aware of environmental factors as a factor in purchasing decisions at that point in our lives.

Like I said in my Blog Action Day post, "when we know better, we do better".

Now the BIG advantage of front loading washing machines is their lower use of water. Here in Australia that is an even MORE important consideration than electricity consumption. If you need more convincing, you might like to read an article written by Snoskred called Humans Let Us All Waste Water .

They also use less detergent, don't wear out clothes as quickly and strangely enough tend to use less electricity. I say "strangely enough" because their wash times are longer. I did a bit of investigating and I *think* the energy savings come in when you wash in warm water. I guess because you use less warm water so less costs involved in heating a larger quantity of water.

Regardless, I am really pleased that we have a front loading washing machine. Ours costs us around 11c per load (0.63kWh) in electricity. Only a small savings if we can reduce the number of loads we wash but small savings can add up to become bigger savings.


Using the iron costs around 11.9c per hour to run (based on 15c per kWh so more for me as we pay a little over 18c per kWh here). A simple way to solve this energy usage would be to not iron. LOL. I still can't get my head around the fact that some people *really* don't iron.

Apparently it's most energy efficient to do the ironing all in one hit as the iron then only has to heat up once. In all honesty, my iron seems to take about 1 minute to heat up and I often start ironing with something that doesn't require quite as much heat so I think the difference would be negligable and I do prefer to iron in smaller stints of 15 minutes (sound familiar? LOL). I guess that is still preferable to ironing each garment individually.

Running the iron on steam setting is supposed to use more electricity but then you have to weigh that up against possible taking longer to iron garments. I have to admit I do like my steam.

So, have we learnt anything from all of this? I just did a quick calculation and at 7 loads of washing per week and about 3/4 hour of ironing, my laundry is responsible for about 5kWh's of electricity per week. Not as big a draw on our power as I was expecting it to be really.

If you were to add just 1 load of tumble dryer in per week you'd double that usage to around 10kWh's per week. If I dried all 7 loads of washing in the tumble dryer (that would be almost 50kg of clothing so 10 dryer loads) we're talking around 50kWh's per week (with only 5kWh's of those being NON DRYER appliances).

It's certainly very easy to spot the culprit in the laundry when it comes to electricity consumption!!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Memo to My Children

From: Mum
To: My Children
Date: Tuesday 30th October 2007

Re: Taking Sick Days on a Tuesday

This memo is a request to my school aged children that you pleeeeaaaassseee do not choose Tuesdays as a sick day.

My reasons are as follows:

* If you are sick on a Tuesday (this applies only if you are BOTH sick) then my little baby has to take the bus to kindy all on his own. :-( And 3 is MUCH too young to be going on a school bus on your own. I know he's almost 4 BUT that's still too young!!!! Okay, I know he had a huge smile on his face and didn't seem the least bit perturbed at the idea..... BUT HE'S MY BABY!!!!!! Waaaaahhhhhh........

* Tuesday is my "home alone" day. I figure if I have to suffer through the torment of waving goodbye to my BABY then I should at least have a nice quiet morning to look forward to. You know I love having you around but well, the thing is, the point of being home alone is to be, well....home. ALONE.

* I've paid good money for those music lessons and if you miss them well.... I still have to PAY. For NOTHING.... And well, no one likes paying for something they don't get.

* You miss library day and the library will send me nasty notices about those books you found under your bed that you borrowed last TERM...... plus we'll get to tomorrow and you'll be saying "we need to BUY more books mum cos there's nothing to read".

If you really *have* to fall sick on a Tuesday, could you please:

* Choose a Tuesday when your father isn't about to disappear into the vortex of harvest, leaving me as a single mother for who knows how many weeks.

* Choose a Tuesday on which your mother has actually had some SLEEP on the Monday night prior to.

* Co-ordinate with one another so that there is only 1 of you home at a time. At least that way there'll be half the whining and zero fighting (unless you've actually figured out a way to fight with yourselves - which is entirely probable).

* Learn to drive so that you can make yourselves useful by picking your father up from the paddock. At least that way I wouldn't have to do it!!!

* Make sure you're sick enough to lie on the couch SLEEPING.

* Not knock 65 times on the bathroom door while I'm trying to shower in PEACE. Sheesh.... how much can really go wrong in a teeny, tiny few minutes?????

* Not ask me every 5 minutes when the computer will be free. There is only room for 1 internet addict in this family and the position has been TAKEN!!!!!

Failure to adhere to the guidelines set out in this memo may result in wages pocket money being docked. Yes I know that half the time I forget to even give you pocket money but you do realise that only makes it EASIER to remember not to pay you?????? That doesn't make sense? It doesn't HAVE to make sense! Why? Cos I'm the MUM, that's why!!!!

Love you heaps,

Love Mum xxxxxxxxxxoooooooooo (yes, you really do have to give me that many kisses and hugs. After all, I am your MOTHER!!!!!)

Picture Me Meme

Thank you Lisa for tagging me for the "Picture Me" Meme.

According to Kate at Our Red House.....the Picture Me Meme rules are thus: post a picture of yourself on your blog. Post the picture, tell us the story behind it, copy the logo, and tag three others (without forgetting to tell them that they have been tagged!).

So, here goes. This is a photo of me on my wedding day. I apologise for the quality of the photo. It's a scanned photo and I can't seem to get the quality any higher. It's not one of our "official" photo's (unfortunately) as they're all glued into an album. So this is a snapshot of me on the day, taken at my parents home before the wedding.

What I mostly want to talk about is my wedding dress. Trying on wedding dresses was a LOT of fun but it quickly became apparent that we weren't going to find a ready-made dress that would suit my shape. I am short-waisted (have long legs for my height) and with a slightly swayed back, ready-made dresses hung off me in ways they weren't designed to do.

So my mum decided perhaps she would MAKE my wedding dress. Now my mum is the kind of person who can do ANYTHING she puts her mind to. Problem is, she is also notorious for not quite finishing things. So it kind of disturbed me a little that she wanted to make my wedding dress. I had images of the night before the wedding and a dress that was half finished. Thankfully that didn't happen. :-)

Aside from the issue of finding a dress that fitted my shape, I had another problem with finding a wedding dress. When I was 18 I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and at this stage I was still struggling with lack of energy as well as struggling with a lack of strength in my muscles from not being able to use them as much. So the sheer weight of a wedding dress with all that fabric was too much for me to bear.

At the time my Aunty was head designer for a lingerie firm and she suggested we make the dress with lingerie satin which is a whole light lighter than regular satin. She was also able to source this for us at Wholesale prices - gotta love a bargain!

I also desperately wanted to have a train but again, the weight issue (of all the extra fabric) was a problem. So mum made me a long veil instead of a train. We decorated it with several pieces of lace (which I hand beaded myself, as well as the piece of lace on the front of my dress). The beauty of this was that we removed the veil before the reception and I wasn't encumbered by all that length of fabric for the whole day.

My wedding day still stands out to me as the best day of my life. I'm the kind of person who stresses out easily and yet somehow I managed to make the decision to relax and enjoy the day "come what may" and I really did. Even when a few spots of rain fell just as I was entering the church (knowing that we had an outdoor reception).

All of my life I had wanted to have an "Anne of Green Gables" style wedding. When her friend Diana (I think that was the name - it's been a while) got married they had the most beautiful reception outdoors with white tablecloths, fingerfoods etc. That's the kind of wedding reception I wanted. Casual yet elegant. Kind of an English "high tea" type finger foods. Because of the casual setting, we didn't have place names. We just set out tables and chairs for people to use and had a number of food tables dotted around. Like most brides, I didn't get to eat much though which was a pity because I was STARVING. LOL.

We got a lot of comments about what a nice atmosphere it was on the day. There were still speeches and all the usual formalities. It just wasn't a sit-down meal. Interestingly, according to our caterers, it was a more expensive option than having a sit-down meal because of the types of food you serve with finger foods as opposed to having say a roast with meat and vegies. Not that that mattered as it wasn't a cost consideration that made me choose that style of reception (not that my parents had a lot of money either).

So there you have it. Me in my wedding dress on my wedding day. I have no idea of the hours of love that were poured into that dress. I know it took me literally hundreds of hours to do all the beadwork.

Ooh, I couldn't stop at just 1 photo. Had to add this one that shows some of the lace and beadwork on the back of my veil. Not sure how clear it will be but it gives you an idea of what I'm talking about. Oh, and of course, this one has my very handsome hubby too! He looks like he's just left school doesn't he? LOL.

It's funny isn't it, how 21 can seem so OLD when you're there but over a decade later it seems so young. :-)

And now I need to *tag* 3 others to take part in this meme. I always find this the hardest part because well, who do you pick? Nevertheless, this time I'm going to tag:

1. Susan at Simply Living . Do you think this will encourage her to get back to blogging again? And no, this doesn't mean you have to post the pic I sent to you!

2. Kelley at magnetoboldtoo cos we all want to see pics of her SHOES!!!! And not just the desktop pic (which reminds me, I haven't forgotten that desktop thingy Kelley, I just need to revisit when I think I can follow the instructions - sooooo technical for me lol). P.S. You don't *have* to post pics of your shoes. You get to choose for this meme. Perhaps I should start a "my favourite shoes" meme. LOL.

3. Rachelle at Seek First His Kingdom . Rachelle I have only recently had the pleasure of meeting through the Nablopomo pages. It's nice to meet new bloggers from around the world isn't it? :-)

Have fun everyone!!! :-)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

I didn't write up a menu plan for October simply because I knew it was going to be a messy month and I wasn't sure when we would be home and when we wouldn't. I have to admit that as much as I dislike menu planning, I dislike NOT having a menu plan even more. I find it soooo much harder to decide on the actual day what we're going to have. And it's so much easier to grab take away or eat a meal that is less than ideal nutritionally.

So, today I decided enough is enough, I'm going to at least menu plan for this week. I decided to have a bit of fun with it, just to create a more interesting menu plan.

Monday: Lightly crumbed portions of fish fillet served with crunchy potato wedges and steamed in season vegetables.

Tuesday: Melt in your mouth Roast Lamb gently cooked in the slow cooker and seasoned with fresh organic chives, parsley and garlic. Served with roast potatoes, carrots and sweet potato as well as freshly picked silverbeet and broccoli

Wednesday: Light chunks of lamb gently warmed in a rich brown gravy and served with creamy mashed potatoes and lightly steamed vegetables.

Thursday: Tasty grains of brown rice gently stir fried with an assortment of vegetables, tiny morsels of bacon and scrambled egg pieces.

Friday: Homemade Pizzas on pita bread topped with tasty tomato paste, bacon, vegetables and a sprinkling of cheese.

Saturday: Homemade Turkey Rissoles served with creamy mashed potato and steamed vegetables.

Sunday: Homemade vegetable soup served with freshly made crumpets topped with a dollop of butter.

I can't take credit for this idea. It was first suggested to me by Mrs Catherine one time when we were discussing ideas for getting out of my "menu planning funk". I still don't rate menu planning up there as one of my favourite activities but it makes for a nice change to occasionally get a bit more creative with my descriptions.

And for a change I thought I'd try participating in Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm An Organizing Junkie. You can find a list of participants with LOTS of menu planning ideas if you visit her blog. You can also find details there of how to participate yourself, should you wish too.

Thanks also to kin as I got the idea for participating in this from her blog. She participates regularly in "menu plan Monday".

** I promise I won't make a regular habit of posting 3 times in the one day. LOL. I seem to have a LOT to say today. :-)

Electricity Challenge - Update 8

I think I may have *made it* when it comes to being a TRUE farming woman. This morning I went out to read the electricity meter wearing my flannel jammies (which my SIL's inform me are "passion killers" LOL), socks and thongs. :-) DH told me I look like the shearers when they rock up. Apparently it's quite common for them to turn up wearing socks with thongs (they have moccasin's they change into once inside the shed). So I've got the "country" look happenin'. LOL. No, the shearer's don't rock up in their jammies! I would have taken a photo to show you but I hadn't done my hair yet. LOL. I still have to maintain *some* sense of dignity.

Yeah, we do live out in the middle of nowhere BUT we also live on a main highway so it was a bit of a *risk*. Not enough to get me changing before I went out to read the meter though.

So, now I've scared you all away with that ghastly image, I should get down to the business of the day.

We did okay this week. Our average daily usage came out at 16.01.

I need to figure out how to do one of those snazzy little graph thingy's so I can show you our overall progress throughout the challenge (not that it's over yet).

I'm particularly happy with that figure as:

1. We've been home ALL week (well the kids have had school but we haven't been away at all).
2. I've had some extra loads of washing due to being away last weekend.
3. We had a couple of days of shearing which means electricity use in the shed PLUS extra cooking PLUS the fridge in the shearing shed being opened numerous times.

So, all in all a good week. Depsite inclement weather we haven't yet had to resort to using the tumble dryer. They're forecasting a cool, wet week this week as well so we'll see how we go with that this week.

Hot water usage was 0.68 average for the week. Up a little on last week's 0.0 average due to the inclement weather (had to use electricity boost).

I want to delve into the laundry for my electricity audit this week. That should be interesting.

Frugal Aussies

Every now and then I mention the group "Frugal Aussies" when I'm talking about my journey toward a more frugal lifestyle. They were a HUGE influence in helping me work our finances so that we could buy a home WITHOUT me having to go back to work. In saying that, I'm not advocating that all women NEED to be stay at home mums. The thing is, that's what I REALLY wanted to be able to do and they helped me to achieve that.

We're just about sharing ideas with each other and supporting one another along the road to getting more value for our $$$. It's a yahoo group and so FREE to join. :-) None of us are "experts". We're just a group of friends with a common goal. Our ideas vary a lot so you can at times get some interesting discussion happening. ;-)

If you're interested in joining us, you can find this group here:

Frugal Aussies

I know some of my readers are also on that group. You might want to add a little "hi" or make a comment about how you find the group to give other readers an idea of what it is like. I do allow anonymous comments (although it is nice if you place your name or initials or a nickname at the end of your comment) so you don't have to be a member of blogger in order to leave a comment here. Just click on "post a comment" and another window should pop up where you can do that.

I will be back soon (ish) to post about this week's electricity challenge results. :-)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Love Is.....

I received this in an email yesterday. I must admit that I'm not one to generally forward on these kinds of emails. Simply because I'm too lazy. But you do find some interesting and heart-warming things circulating the world-wide web. I have no idea if it's fiction or non-fiction but it does make for a nice read regardless. My apologies to the author. Since I don't know who you are I can't give proper credit. Thanks to Jodie F who forwarded this to my inbox. Hope you don't mind me posting it here. :-)

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love."
Rebecca- age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth."
Billy - age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other."
Karl - age 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs."
Chrissy - age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."
Terri - age 4

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK."
Danny - age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss"
Emily - age 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,"

Nikka - age 6
(we need a few million more Nikka's on this planet)

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday."
Noelle - age 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well."
Tommy - age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore."
Cindy - age 8

"My mommy loves me more than anybody . You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night."
Clare - age 6

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken."
Elaine-age 5

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Brad Pitt."
Chris - age 7

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day."
Mary Ann - age 4

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones."
Lauren - age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." (what an image)
Karen - age 7

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget."
Jessica - age 8

And the final one -- Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said,
"Nothing, I just helped him cry"

I have cut out the "forward this on to X friends......" but the rest is as I received it.

Not what I had originally planned on blogging about today but that'll keep for another day (or later today depending on my mood.....) :-) Hope it made you smile. I sure do love seeing the world through a child's eyes.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Christmas Stockings

I am one of those people who have 2 feet firmly planted in the "I LOVE CHRISTMAS" camp. To me it really is "the most magical time of the year". :-) I know it's still a little way off yet but well, with November set to be a very BUSY month, it will be here before I know it. So it's nice to get a few *little* preparations out of the way early.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a HUGE fan of Christmas stockings. I wonder if it has anything to do with my primary love language being gifts? All those little bits and pieces.....very exciting!!!! :-) In fact, I seem to remember my love of Christmas stockings causing my mum a certain amount of grief. All those little bits and pieces can sure add up when you're on a tight budget.

Not that I find filling our kids Christmas stockings too bad. I often add things that I would have bought anyway like sunscreen, lipbalm, toothbrush, toothpaste, hair ties etc. Somehow getting all these things in a stocking makes them more exciting. Not that my kids are all that old yet (eldest being not quite 10). Sometimes I have freebies that I've collected through the year that go in there. Calendars and stationery passed on to us from various local businesses (although these things seem to be getting less and less each year). Last year DS got a calculator that had been sent as a freebie with a catalogue order I had placed.

What works for me is collecting bits and pieces through the year and then topping them up with a few practical things and some edible things. Can't have a Christmas Stocking without chocolate coins now can you? :-) My biggest problem seems to be collecting too many things and they don't all fit in the stocking. LOL. DH likes to tease me about this.

During my "spendaholic" years I solved this problem by buying BIGGER stockings. DH likes to tease me about that as well. :-) At that time we only had 2 children though so I ended up with 2 large stockings and my youngest used one we already had which was considerably smaller. Not a problem when they're a baby. But this year I think he's old enough to notice the difference in size.

Our stocking stash consisted of 2 stockings my mum gave DH and I just before we got married, one smaller stocking that I think we bought when our first DS was born, then the 2 larger stockings I bought for our older 2. After looking around the past few years for a 3rd "large" stocking for my youngest and not finding one the same, I decided that this year was the time for 3 new stockings.

Before our firstborn was even thought of, I remember seeing those kits you can buy where you cross-stitch a personalised stocking. I liked the idea of something that I had actually *made* for our children as well as the idea of having their names on the stocking. Great idea in theory but seriously lacking a "roundtoit" in practise. They're not cheap either at $60+ per stocking. I'm sure my children will have left home by the time I managed to actually cross-stitch 3 of them!!!

Then I saw some lovely ones in an identity direct catalogue and wondered if they would be the way to go. Personalised and all, and not relying on my "roundtoit" in order to be completed. Still at $40 each they still seemed like a hefty investment for something that is pulled out only once a year.

I then began to wonder if I could find a stocking to buy and then add the kids names myself. I'm not sure why I hadn't thought of it before but I guess making those felted bags with names on them for my nieces gave me the idea and confidence to give it a go. In Coles a few weeks ago I found some stockings I liked for just $2.98 each. Nice and blank on the top cuff just waiting for a name to be added.

I'm really happy with how they have come up. They still give the kids the "mum made this especially for me" factor without being either a high time outlay or a high cost outlay. And of course, it'll make it much easier for "Santa" to remember which stocking belongs to which child. With the only difference in the past being silver decorations or gold decorations, poor old Santa was left scratching his head a few times. LOL.

My "mathematically minded, extremely frugal" 9 year old was very quick to calculate the savings on buying personalised ones from the identity direct catalogue he'd recently been browsing (because there is a chance to *win* $10,000 so he wants to know if I'm planning on ordering anything....which I am but NOT to win $10,000 LOL. Just cos there's something in there I want to get for my nephew for Christmas). I spent $9 on 3 stockings plus $4 on gold glitter fabric paint. So $13 all up (is it bad that I just had to use my fingers to add that up???? *blush*). 3 personalised stockings would have cost around $120 (that's $40 x 3 isn't it???). Forget the cents.....that's just too complicated for me!!!! So I SAVED a grand total of $107!!!!

I didn't get into the fact that I didn't *really* save $107 because I NEVER would have spent $120 on Christmas stockings. Did I say never? Well....maybe I *might* have once upon a time but not anymore. No, I didn't get into all that. I was too busy enjoying the fact that I was a hero in my 9 year olds eyes. It doesn't happen very often so you have to enjoy it while you can. :-) I wonder how much longer NOT spending money will make me a hero in his eyes? Do they stay like that or does adolescence kind of *ruin* them?

And if you're still groaning about the fact that she's talking about CHRISTMAS already..... I guess you don't want me to mention that there is LESS than 2 months to go????? And 2 months isn't really all that long when you consider how frantic December tends to be. And of course with all the writing that will be happening during November.... well, some of you just RAN out of time. LOLOL. Why am I laughing? Some of you includes ME!!!!!

Oh well, I still LOVE Christmas. :-)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Reducing the Grocery Budget - Part One

Throughout my grocery challenge, many of you have made comments such as "I don't know how you do it". So, I thought I'd do a series of posts outlining the "hows" of how I got to where I am with our grocery spending.

So, where do we start? I think the very first step is to believe that you CAN do this. One thing I really struggle with is people saying they desperately *need* to reduce their grocery spending but they've done ALL they can to do so. It's as low as it will go. I am yet to meet someone who actually *has* gone as low as they *could* go. I'm not talking here about people who are content with their level of grocery spending. That's fine. I *could* make ours lower. I'm well aware of that. Right now I am happy with our level of spending. For $100 a week we eat well with a wide variety of healthy foods as well as a few treats.

I have learnt a LOT in the past 3 years. Sure, finding new ways to reduce our grocery spending has slowed down a lot in recent times in comparison to when I first started. But, I am still learning new things. I don't actively seek new ideas quite the same anymore. But, I am open to the fact that there are ideas out there that I don't know about yet. There is *always* more to learn. If you have it in your mind that you've "arrived" as far as grocery budgets go - you're less likely to find those new ideas and miss opportunities to make the $$ stretch further.

So, your mind is now open to new ideas. Good. You believe you CAN do this. Excellent. LOL. What's the next step? Do you know how much you currently spend on groceries? I'm not talking "oh yeah, we budget around $200 a week" type knowledge here. I'm talking, last week I spent $123.62 at Woolworths, $25.00 at the Fruit and Veg shop, $6.35 at the corner store and $2.50 at the Petrol station. That kind of knowledge. (Those figures are completely made up by the way.)

Some people think that they are better off not knowing. Well, knowledge is a VERY powerful thing. When I first started on this "frugality" journey, we budgetted $140 a week for groceries. That was a GREAT budget. In fact, that was already lower than what most of our friends budgetted (those that budgetted). But I have NO IDEA what we were actually spending. The budget was completely useless. It didn't *tell* me anything. It wasn't really great at all. :-)

According to the above figures, "I" have spent $157.47 for the week on groceries. Some people would get to the end of the week and say "I spent about $120 on groceries this week". Going only on the approximate figure they spent at Woolworths. Already they've *lost* $37.47 of their money. That alone is $1948.44 a year!!!! Can you see what I'm getting at here?

If you have the time, I'd encourage you to take this one step further. Sit down with all your receipts for the week and break things down into categories.

Here are the categories that I started with:

* Treats - very important. You need to know how much of your money is going on "non nutritious" food. I think it's *very* important (unless you do want to get down to a bare bones level of spending) to allocate at least a small portion of money to treats. It helps with the whole deprivation/poverty mentality issue that often makes you spend more money rather than less. What do you include as treat items? Well, that's up to you. I tend to include cordial, ice cream, chips, lollies/chocolate, desserts (that are non fruit) and sweet biscuits in mine.

* Fruit and Veg - When you start trying to cut your grocery budget, it can be tempting to skimp on fresh fruit and veg. I find it helpful to keep a separate category so that I can keep an eye on this. I've also heard it said a LOT of times that it's more expensive to eat healthily. I guess that all depends on what you were buying before but so far I haven't found this to be the case myself. Having it there in front of you what you actually *do* spend on fruit and veg is a good way to see what is happening. I also include frozen vegetables and tinned fruit and veg in this category (so things like tinned peaches, beetroot and so on).

* Meat - I no longer keep my meat spending separate from my general grocery spending. But when I was first starting out I did. Mainly because meat is one area where most people *can* cut back on their grocery spending. I know we were consuming way too much meat for what is considered a "healthy portion". Because I was working hard in this area, it was good to be able to see the results of my efforts in dollars and cents.

* General Grocery - In this category I include all food items that aren't covered by the above 3 categories.

* Non Food - These are all the bits and pieces like toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, deodorant, cleaning products, cleaning cloths etc. It's up to you what you do and don't include here. Things that I DON'T include are make up, larger household items like mops, toilet brushes, batteries, socks, toys, stationery etc that can be bought at the supermarket. Those things have their own separate categories.

One of the benefits of breaking down your grocery receipts is that if you have bigger items like those above, it can really upset the balance of your grocery budget. I subtract them from my total and enter them elsewhere in my budget book. If you don't have a "budget book" (see Tracking Spending for more info on this), that's fine. Just subtract these items from your total spend (unless you *want* to cover these within your grocery budget).

What categories you use is completely up to you. I also have a category for "hospitality" where I allow extra money to accumulate and be spent when we have friends coming over.

What about TAKE AWAY? Do you include that in your grocery budget? Some people don't have a separate category for their take away spending. They work on the principal of "if there's anything left in the grocery cash at the end of the week, we'll use it for take away". Like I said, we're all different and you have to do what works best for you.

Here's why I DON'T do that. I find that the best way to get the *most* out of my grocery $$ is by NOT spending the same amount each week. Some weeks I'll spend $25 and other weeks I might spend $200. Part of that is because of my location and the way I shop. BUT, I do tend to find that some weeks a LOT of what we eat is on special when other weeks very little is on special. Particularly when it comes to meat. If on the weeks I only spent $25 on groceries, we then spent the remainder of our budget on take away, that extra money wouldn't be there to stock up in the weeks when LOTS of stuff is on special. Does that make sense?

We nearly always eat out of the cupboard and freezer and my shopping then replaces those items. It would be really easy to *blow* money on take away that we really *couldn't* afford and then I'd be left with an empty pantry and be *forced* to pay a higher price for things. That can be a very nasty spiral. You get less for your money. Then you get frustrated and depressed and buy take away as a bit of an "escape"..... and so the spiral continues.

I am NOT advocating buying no take away. I just personally prefer to have a separate budget for our take away and to keep this cash separate. No cash=no take away.

Well, if you've made it this far you can probably see why I've decided to do this series in parts. Here's a bit of a summary:

BE OPEN - to new ideas and the fact that you CAN reduce your grocery budget if you want to.

BE HONEST - you don't have to show anyone else your spending figures. But be prepared to face up to them yourself.

BE REAL - if you only spend $25 this week on groceries, you *know* that it hasn't *really* cost you that little. You're eating off reserves you've paid for in the past. Great idea, just make allowances for the need to replace that food at some point in the future.

BE DISCIPLINED - yeah, I know it's *almost* a swear word. LOL. We're not born with discipline (just ask my high school maths teachers lol). It comes with practise. Believe me, a few minutes here and there of keeping track of what you spend could add up to hours of work you don't have to do in order to earn the money being wasted (or could add up to that holiday you've always wanted to take....or new shoes.....or *add your passion here*........)

STAY TUNED - I'll post my next instalment on reducing the grocery budget next Friday.

In the meantime, keep a record of what you spend on groceries over the next week and break it down into categories. Just try it for 1 week.... For me? LOL. (I need a little puppy dog face emoticon to go here lol). :-)

Note from Lightening: Since writing this post, I have continued with this series. You can find more posts from this series at the following links.

Reducing the Grocery Budget - Part One
Reducing the Grocery Budget - Part Two
Reducing the Grocery Budget - Part Three
Reducing the Grocery Budget - Part Four
Reducing the Grocery Budget - Meat

Australian Money Saving Tips

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Do NOT Try This at Home.....

Here lies the sad attempts of my slow cooker cake experiment. :-( LOLOL. It actually tastes quite nice (other than being a little burnt around the edges). BUT, it stuck (even though I did spray oil in there first). Me thinks some greaseproof paper or alfoil lining the pot might be a good idea.

The good news is that I did indeed bake a cake in the slow cooker. :-) I need to do some experimenting and fine tuning with the high and low settings to see if I can in fact bake it without burning the outsides. Otherwise, we can just trim those bits off.

I do have a reason for attempting this *other* than electricity cost (and being able to bake in summer without heating up the house). When we do our 3 month trip in the caravan, we are not likely to have an oven (oven's aren't common in caravans these days and we'd prefer the cupboard space). I would like to take my slow cooker with me anyway (since it provides such easy, fuss free meals) so this would be a bonus if I could bake in it.

Funnily enough, this reminds of some of my disasters when I was a new bride. My DH had a single mate who would drop in from time to time and I'm sure every time he came I would have some kind of disaster in the kitchen. One time I attempted an apple cake in the microwave (my 1 and only attempt to bake a cake in the microwave) and it was sitting on the bench looking a little like the photo above (only not brown) when he dropped in one afternoon. It's a bit of a joke between us. I can cook....honest!!!! Just not everything I make turns out quite how I'd planned.

As for the above disaster. DH turned it into a masterpiece by making some chocolate sauce, heating it up and serving with chocolate sauce and cream. Waaaayyyyyy too yummy for my waistline! :-) The kids don't seem to mind eating up the rest of the *bits* either. So, not too much will go to waste (only to waist).

To tie this back in with my kitchen electricity usage audit posted earlier today - total cooking time in the slow cooker was around 2 hours so cost approximately 4c. To bake a cake in my oven would have cost around 30c (plus heating up the house).

IF I do better with my next attempt, I'll be sure to proudly show off my efforts. If not, you may never hear me say another word about baking a cake in a slow cooker. :-)

Insanity Gone Crazy!!!!

Is that even possible???? Anyone else find it hard thinking up interesting titles for their blog posts? Maybe it's just me. No, I haven't really gone crazy but I have signed up for Nablopomo which I *think* is a spin off from Nanowrimo. I'd not heard of it until I saw the little icon thingy's popping up on blogs all over the place.

So, what is it? Basically you make a commitment to make a blog post every day in November. No crazy minimum words or anything like that. Just a commitment to continuous posting. Well, if you haven't already noticed, I tend to post *nearly* every day. So I'm thinking I *should* be able to pull this off without too much hardship.

Why did I decide to sign up? Well, I wanted to make a commitment to myself and to you (my readers) that I would continue to blog throughout Nanowrimo. My biggest reservation about participating in Nanowrimo was that my blog would suffer. Now I have as much incentive to blog as I do to write my novel. :-) That makes sense, right? So maybe I'm not insane OR crazy afterall. I might be by the end of November though. :-)

As an interesting and somewhat unexpected bonus, I have had a few visits from other Nablopomo participants. A big WAVE to anyone dropping by. Please feel free to give a little hello in the comments section, even if this blog isn't to your taste and you don't expect to come back again. It's nice to know you were here. :-)

Oh, and if you haven't signed up yet but would like to - click on the little thingy that says Nablopomo in my sidebar and it *should* take you there (I think). Yes, technical as always.... lol. Don't forget to mention in my comments if you're a part of it.... other readers might want to drop by your blog too (if they don't already). :-)

Electricity Challenge - In the Kitchen

I figured the most logical place to continue my electricity audit would be the kitchen. After all, the kitchen is the central hub of the home...appliances. Nearly everything in the kitchen uses electricity!!!! Have you ever noticed that?

Here's a list of the things in my kitchen that use electricity:

* fridge
* freezer
* microwave
* oven
* grill
* hot plates
* fish tank.... which has *nothing * to do with eating I assure you
* breadmaker
* kettle
* rangehood
* dishwasher

Those are just the things that are on or plugged into power all the time!!!!

Then you have:

* toaster
* electric frypan
* foodprocessor
* popcorn maker
* donut maker
* sandwich maker
* pie maker
* hot dog maker..... mmm.... think we have too many "makers"?
* slow cooker 3 lt
* slow cooker 6 lt
* kenwood mixer
* juicer
* George Foreman grill
* egg poacher

Scarily enough, there is probably 1 or 2 items I've forgotten we even own. So it's not surprising that the kitchen is responsible for a reasonable chunk of the electricity that we use.

Eating really has a LOT to answer for doesn't it? How often have you heard people say we'd have plenty of money and time if we didn't have to eat? Of course, life would be a lot less fun too!

I have been doing some research into what certain appliances are costing us (approximately) to run.

A 600L fridge costs somewhere around $0.06c per hour to run. A 450L freezer costs around $0.03c. This isn't something I can change but keeping them full is supposed to help with their efficiency.

We're also *trying* to train our children NOT to stand in front of the fridge for half an hour while they decide what they'd like to eat. Perhaps I need to keep a list on the front of what is in there that they can have so that they don't do this. Hmmmm.....there's an idea. Note to self: make a laminated A4 sheet for the front of the fridge.

Come summer, I also plan to keep cold water in one of those esky coolers with a tap so that everyone isn't going to the fridge for cold drinks all the time.

Boiling Water:

I did a little *test* this morning with boiling enough water for 2 cuppas which is around 4 metric cups.

Kettle took almost 2.5 minutes to boil. @ 0.45c per minute (27c per hr) that cost 1.12c.

Microwave took 5 minutes. @ 20c per hour that cost 1.67c

Stovetop took 8 minutes. @ 18c per hour that cost 2.4c

Obviously the kettle is the way to go (which we all knew anyway). I also timed the kettle boiling with double the amount of water and it took just over 4 minutes. So you don't double the time to boil double the quantity of water.

Something else I noticed with the kettle was that I could hear it boiling for almost a minute before the automatic cut-out cut in. So I could save myself around half a cent by manually turning off the kettle each time when I hear it boiling.

One thing I could be doing is boiling water in the kettle for things like pasta and rice rather than simply putting cold water into the saucepan. It's one more step for me but would be quicker as well as use less electricity.


To cook a 2kg roast:

Oven takes around 2 hours + (well, mine does anyway) so @ 36c per hour that is 72c

Microwave on convection only takes 2 hours so @ 24c per hour that is 48c

Electric Frypan takes around 2 hours so @ 20c per hour that is 40c

Microwave on combination (part microwave and part convection) takes 1 hour so @ 24c per hour that is 24c

Slow Cooker takes around 4-6 hours so @ 2c per hour that is 8-10c

The slow cooker beats everything else by miles in terms of cost of cooking. Which is great as I much prefer most of our roasts done in there anyway. It's so much easier and my oven is painfully slow for some reason.

My next project is to attempt to bake a cake in the slow cooker. Has anyone already tried that? I wonder if I need a special recipe or whether my usual recipes would work the same?

I do have another plan for summer cooking though. DH is going to help me make a solar cooker! You can find some examples of solar cookers here . When it comes to cooking, well you can't really beat *free* can you? :-)

Washing Up:

Here's one I'd rather not know about. A dishwasher costs around 36c per hour to run (on average). Our cycle is around 90 minutes so that's around 54c a day (we run it once a day). Generally all our cooking dishes are washed by hand so the dishwasher takes all the cups, plates and cutlery for the day. I'm not quite ready to give up the convenience of the dishwasher though.

* Figures based on Country Energy: Energy Wise Guide. All are approximate and will vary depending on the actual cost per kWh from your energy provider as well as the number of watts the individual appliance actually draws.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Community Blogger Award

Thankyou kin for passing this award on to me.

This award was created by Cellobella who states:

The Community Blog Award celebrates people who reach out and makes the blogger community a better one.

For those of you who have a blog, you'll understand how wonderful it is to interact with readers and build up friendships with them. I feel so thankful for those I have had the opportunity to know through my blog and other blogs.

I would like to pass this award on to Rhonda Jean. I really love the way that even though she is busy and gets lots of comments, she takes the time to respond to those comments. The whole discussion within the comments section of her blog really contributes to the atmosphere of community created by her blog. :-)

Free Rice

If you're like me and desperately *NEED* another internet distraction, you might like to visit free rice . Somebody from the Simple Savings forums was sharing this the other day so some of you may have already seen it.

Basically, you have to guess the meanings of words and for each answer you get correct they donate 10 grains of rice through the United Nations to help end world hunger.

The website does come with it's own warning though.....

"WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance..." LOL.

And for those of you who are competitive (unlike me lol), I had a play for about half an hour the other night and reached level 41 (can't remember how many grains of rice it ended up being). Naturally I have to have another go and see if I can better that!

So if you'd like some help with procrastinating.... that will help someone else at the same time..... AND help improve your own vocabulary, give it a go.

Oh, and don't forget to let us know in the comments section how you did (and how many grains of rice you donate).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen

That's kind of a silly post title because I'm certainly not someone you'd describe as being "mighty". And I'm certainly not one to describe myself as "mighty". But I can't help but feel like I'm falling.......into the great abyss of words! 50,000 words to be exact!

Oh yes, it's almost time for nanowrimo . For those of you not familiar with the word. Nanowrimo is short for National Novel Writing Month (even though I'm pretty sure it's an INTERnational event - ?????). A month during which many "wannabee" writers make a pledge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. What I love about it is that there is NO expectation to actually write a "good" novel. You just go ahead and write with reckess abandon - a "wannabee" writers dream. For 30 whole days you get to pretend you've fulfilled that lifetime dream to *be* a writer. :-)

I did participate (and succeed) in Nanowrimo in 2005 and 2006. Sadly, both novels have disappeared into the great wide abyss of dead computer land. Actually, I'm not so sure it is sad. It's probably for the best. LOL.

As November drew nearer, I was kind of "aware" that nanowrimo was coming closer. BUT, I figured this year I would give it a miss. After all, I have the blog now. There's another "wannabee" writer's dream. AND, to my surprise, a few people actually READ my blog. That's kind of like being a writer isn't it? I don't have to write another novel now, right? I can be satisfied with blog writing attempts.

So, I "pretended" that I didn't know about nanowrimo. I even changed my email address so they couldn't send me those "are you going to do nanowrimo 2007?" I thought I was SAFE! Until I read THIS ! Okay, so someone who's blog I enjoy reading is doing Nano. So what right? I can do this. I can say no. I have my reasons (the blog.....etc). Just cos he's doing it doesn't mean I have to right? Of course not.

Then I read THIS and I'm thinking "oh no, maybe I should just stop reading blogs until November is over". LOL. I'm no sheep. Just cos they're going to do it, doesn't mean I have to right? Besides, by this time last year I already had an idea for what I was going to write. How can I attempt something like this without an idea????

Well, while we were away, a bit of an idea started forming in my mind. BUT, just because I have an IDEA doesn't mean I HAVE to do this, does it? LOL. Of course not. I don't HAVE to do anything. Problem is that part of me WANTS to do this.....

I'm still toying with the idea, trying to convince myself that perhaps I could just give it a go. After all, it wouldn't matter if I signed up and didn't make it would it? It's not like I'm a PERFECTIONIST or anything!!!!! It's not like I'd be totally devastated if I FAILED.......

.....okay, I would be totally devastated if I failed. :-( Failure just cannot exist in my world. Failure is not an option. I subscribe to the theory that it's better off to never try than to try and then FAIL!!!! *Gasp* After all, it is a 4-letter word starting with "F".

But today when people on the Simple Living Network forums were talking about the fact that they had signed up and how excited they were......

...... I COULDN'T TAKE IT ANY LONGER!!!! I folded and signed up for the 2007 Nanowrimo.

I know..... I have NO willpower!!! LOL. But really, what's the worst that could happen?

1. I'll turn into a crazed lunatic! Oh yeah, that already happened so I guess no-one will notice.

2. The kids will have to go to school wearing dirty uniforms because no washing will get done. But hey, literacy..... school..... that's okay isn't it?

3. My blog will get severely neglected and all my readers will abandon me. Sob, sob! Yeah, that really would be awful.

4. I'll f..... f..... f-fail.................. and not meet the 50,000 words in 30 days.

5. I'll breeze through it all with all the housework kept up to date, the blog posted to daily AND the word limit reached with days to spare. LOL. Oh yeah, and it'll be so fantastic the publishers will be banging down my door to publish me. ROFLOL. Yeah, a girl can dream can't she?

So, what's done is done. I have made the COMMITMENT. Let's hope it doesn't lead to a commitment of another kind. :-)

I guess this won't be the last you'll hear from me about Nanowrimo. Alright, hands up - who's with me? Who thinks I'm a lunatic? No, don't answer that one. LOL.

Food, Glorious Food

I find one of the most satisfying feelings in the world is knowing we have a fridge full of fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables. That can prove to be a challenge out here where fresh anything is hard to come by. Of course, the vegies in our garden rarely make it to the fridge. I prefer to harvest them right before cooking or eating. So I hope the time will come when a fridge full of fresh vegies is less of a satisfaction than a garden full of fresh vegies. But for now I'm very much a novice gardener so I have to settle for the next best thing - being able to actually buy fruit and veg that is reasonably fresh.

While we were away we were near some market gardens and I've found a little shop that seems to hold lovely fresh produce at reasonable prices. So I did quite a big spend up. Even bigger than last time when I spent almost $50 there. This time the total was closer to $60 but I did buy a few "treat" items so that would easily account for the extra $10 spent.

"Treat" items were:

* punnet of strawberries for $1.99
* a whole pineapple - this is the first time I've ever bought a whole fresh pineapple. I hope it is nice - it sure smells nice!
* seedless red grapes (price wasn't cheap but was okay and the kids really love them)

My biggest bargains were:

20kg carrots for $3.80 - I usually pay nearly $2 per kg. These are "juicing" carrots but we often find they taste nicer (sweeter) and I don't mind having the less "nice" looking carrots when they're so much cheaper. Now to find ways to use up 20kg of carrots! LOL. I'm thinking I'll grate a heap and freeze to add to spaghetti bolognese sauce etc.

Bananas for $2.20 per kg. Cheapest I've paid for bananas in years!

Apples - bought 8kg and they ranged from $1.50 for 2kg to $1.90 for 2kg. Here I pay $5-$6 for 2kg usually.

What else did I buy:

* 20kg desire potatoes. The lady at the shop tells me that these last longer than white potatoes
* 2 large sweet potatoes
* whole cauliflower
* 2 large zucchini
* 2 head broccoli
* 1kg bag tomatoes
* half a dozen lebanese cucumbers
* 4 lemons (at DS's request - he eats them like they are!)
* 2 cobs sweetcorn

Think that is all. Anyway, it seemed like quite a lot of food for just under $60. Thankfully we had the camper trailer with us - couldn't have fitted those large bags of carrots and potatoes in any other way!

Now I just need to make sure I use it so that it isn't money wasted.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Electricity Challenge - Update 7

I'm happy to say that this week we had a MUCH better week with our electricity usage. With the kids back at school, no coughers and splutterers requiring night-time heating and being away over the weekend, it certainly SHOULD be. :-)

Soooooo........drum roll please (just kidding).

Our average daily usage this week worked out to 13.37kWh per day!!!! :-) I'm pretty happy with that.

BUT, there is even BETTER news!!!!

Our hot water electricity for the week...... 0.0kWh for the WHOLE week, giving us an average daily usage of ZERO for hot water. I thought that was pretty awesome. Until DH told me that of course it would be that as the electricity boost for our solar hot water system is currently turned OFF! LOL.

Still, I do like my "hot water free from the sun". :-)

All in all, I think we're doing okay.

Travelling home today my DD (who is not quite 7) made the comment that they shouldn't use their gameboys too much as it will use up the batteries and then they'd have to use electricity to charge them. :-) I thought that was quite sweet. We explained to her that it is okay to *use* electricity. What we're trying to achieve with our electricity challenge is to make sure we're not *wasting* electricity. And of course, looking for ways in which we can reduce our usage (without feeling deprived). Often overuse of electricity (at least in our case) is more about habits than anything else.


My head is still spinning with changing plans. Sick kids meant we had to postpone a planned trip away during the second week of the school holidays (hence me posting a gazillion posts when I said I wasn't going to post many). Then hot weather has brought our harvest forward so our postponed trip also got brought forward a week (postponed for 2 weeks then brought forward a week netting a postponement of 1 week - LOL. See, I can do maths!!!!). Did you follow all that? :-)

We've just been away for a very last minute 4 days away. Bit of shopping, catching up with rellies and so on. Thankfully, years ago we decided to buy a camping trailer for the very reason that farming can be so unpredicatable. It enables us to chop and change our plans without having to worry *too* much about finding somewhere to stay.

So, I'm back. And this post is really one of those "nothing of substance" posts. LOL. Just wanted to let you know I haven't disappeared completely and I'll be posting another electricity challenge update soon-ish.

Better go unpack and feed the hungry hoards. :-) Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Well I've been reading a few of these on other blogs and have always wanted to do one. So when snoskred posted one to her site and invited any of her readers to partake, I decided to go ahead and do just that. She has a great blog. If you haven't already visited, go and have a look. I love her "thoughts for the day". And reading her posts about blogging and HTML has gotten me trying things I never thought I would try.

The word "meme" is an interesting word. For starters, how do you pronounce it?

Is it "me-me"?

Or "may-me"?

Or what about "me (e as in egg) - me"?

I always pronounce it the third way, using a hard "e" in the first syllable and an "ee" sound in the second syllable.

So I decided to look up the word in wikipedia , the online authority in all things unusual. If you're keen, go ahead and follow the link. I didn't read it all - too over my head and not quite what I was looking for.

So I followed a link from Wikipedia to wiktionary . That even gives a pronunciation - if you can understand it! I *think* they're saying it is pronounced "meem". I think I like my own pronunciation better! LOL. How do you pronounce it?

Here is one of the definitions that Wiktionary offers:

"Any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. Examples include thoughts, ideas, theories, practices, habits, songs, dances and moods and terms such as race, culture, and ethnicity."

Are you any the wiser now? No, me either. I'm guessing it has something to do with being passed from one blogger to another and therefore becomes a "repeated action". I don't know. Anyone, feel free to enlighten me here.

Alright, enough with the boring research. Let's get on with the actual Meme.

The Actors Studio 10 Questions Meme -

1. What is your favorite word?

"No worries". I know, that's 2 words. And it's not actually my "favourite" word. It's my "most used" word (okay, phrase). Which is really stupid because most of the time that I use it, it's not even true!!!! Maybe I say it to convince myself?

I also like using the word "absolutely". It has such a strong feel to it.

2. What is your least favorite word?

"Whatever!" My kids use it all the time when they want to dismiss what I'm saying to them. Funny thing is, it's catching and now I use it on them as well. Which *really* annoys them. I don't use it to annoy them. I just catch things really easily.

3. What turns you on [creatively, spiritually or emotionally]?

Worship music

4. What turns you off?

People who are constantly absorbed in their own problems. I'm not talking people who are "sometimes" absorbed by their own problems. I'm talking people who never seem to notice that they're not the only ones doing it tough.

5. What sound or noise do you love?

The sound of the ocean. I could sit and listen to it for hours.

6. What sound or noise do you hate?

My kids fighting with each other.

7. What is your favorite curse word?

Bugger. It always makes me laugh because of the ads. And I guess I view it as a *soft* curse word (if there is any such thing). The funniest thing is that I *caught* it from my DH who hardly EVER uses curse words. He went through a brief phase of using it. I *caught* it and he stopped using it and I not only started, I haven't been able to stop.

When I was a teenager we used to use the names of fruits to *swear*. Because you go to say the "f" word and instead say "fruit". So then we started using apples, bananas and oranges as our own "curse language". Meant we could swear without getting into trouble.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Counselling. I've always liked the idea but one of my year 12 teachers told me that it would completely destroy me. He was right. But now that I'm going through the process myself, I think I'm becoming stronger and it's something I'd really like to try. I really like the idea of helping people.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Secondary Teaching. I always wanted to be a Primary Teacher (I'm not) but the thought of all those teenagers and the stuff we used to put our teachers through..... especially the poor student teachers! I doubt I'd even make it through the student teaching placements to actually become a secondary teacher. I do admire those who do it though.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Heaven does exist! I think it's going to be so awesome that I'll be so happy to be there, words won't matter. :-)

Now I *think* the idea is that I now "tag" people to do this Meme on their own blog.

So I pick








Kin - except that she has already done this so I won't make her do it again. :-)

There must be an easier way to do this than having to visit all of these blogs to copy and paste all the links. HELP snoskred ! If you haven't already done a blogpost on that - I might need you to. LOL.

If I haven't tagged you, it's not because I don't love you (you know I do), it's just taking me forever to copy and paste links. LOL. Plus, I thought I'd better leave a few people to be tagged by someone else. :-)

So, copy and paste the questions below. Answer them on your own blog and then you can tag others (if you want to).

The Actors Studio 10 Questions Meme -
1. What is your favorite word?
2. What is your least favorite word?
3. What turns you on [creatively, spiritually or emotionally]?
4. What turns you off?
5. What sound or noise do you love?
6. What sound or noise do you hate?
7. What is your favorite curse word? *
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
9. What profession would you not like to do?
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

*If you do not wish to use the curse word on your site that’s ok and understandable - try and find one not so offensive instead, if you can, or alternatively star out some of the letters.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Electricity Challenge - Update 6

With all the excitement of Blog Action Day on Monday, I didn't get around to posting this weeks results for our electricity challenge. Okay, it wasn't so much that I didn't get "around" to it as I was putting it off. I didn't want this post coming *too* close to my blog action day post.

Why? Ummm...... well, we didn't do so well this week. :-(

I was expecting our usage to be a bit higher this week. After all, with school holidays we were ALL home ALL day for the WHOLE week. That has to make a difference right? Plus we had oil column heaters running in both bedrooms for a couple of nights when 1 child had croup and 1 had asthma.

BUT, things were even WORSE than I expected. *sob* *sob*

Our average daily usage for the week ended up being 22.9kWh!!!! I was kind of hoping for 20 or lower. Our goal is 15 but we only seem to achieve that if we're not home!!!!

On a brighter note, we only used 3.8kWh's of hot water this week - for the WHOLE week!!! Which works out to 0.54kWh's per day. Obviously we're getting a bit more solar power from the sun as the days get longer. And perhaps the shorter shower times are slowly getting there. Oh, that's right, we didn't bath our kids for the whole week. LOL. Just kidding! :-)

So, I've been doing a bit of research into how much electricity certain appliances use. I found an excellent resource online by clicking on one of my google adsense links. Um ah.... you're not supposed to do that (click on your own links). It's okay, they don't pay you if you click on them but you're still not supposed to click on them which is a pain in the you know where because there have been several I wanted to click on. Apparently you can get some kind of preview mode for checking out the links yourself but it was all a bit technical for me. *sigh*

Anyway, back onto what I learnt in my research.

Our oil filled column heaters are costing us around 23c per hour to run. So for a 12 hour night it's costing us $2.76 per night (per room) to keep warm!!!! Interestingly enough, our small fan heater costs the same amount to run. I wouldn't leave that going in the kids rooms but I had always thought the oil heaters were cheaper to run than fan heaters. It would appear not.

Obviously these figures are only a rough guide and the heater clicks on and off through the night so it's unlikely it is costing us quite that much per night. Still food for thought. Something we really need to do before next winter is purchase Econo-Heat wall panels for the kids bedrooms. In contrast they cost around 8c per hour or around 96c for a 12 hour night to run. I think they would be safer as well as they don't get quite as hot to touch.

I also found out that a single electric blanket costs around 1c per hour to run. How's that for economical? Now I have the perfect excuse to spend the day in bed during winter - I'm being "economical". LOL.


I'm off in another world watching the beauty of a waltz on "Dancing with the Stars" last night when my 9 year old calls out to me from the other end of the house. "Mum, can you tell Pip to stop barking?" Pip's barking? OH NO!!! THE FOX IS BACK!!!

"Honey!" I call out to my DH. "Pip's barking, I think the fox is back". Naturally the MOTH (Man of The House) is where all men tend to be when there is a crisis - the throne room! Galantly he finishes "early" and charges outside to see if my babies are safe.

So much for the "mark your territory" theory!!! The fox is at the chook enclosure RIGHT where DH marked his territory just hours before!

Close inspection of the enclosure shows dig marks all along one side. Right where my darling had added concrete. Hah!!! We've outfoxed the fox. He can no longer find his way in *that* way - he keeps hitting a brick concrete "wall".

In this day and age of tight gun laws, it's not so easy for our "hero" to simply *deal* with the dratted fox. But the fox is persistent. It's not going to be scared away easily. There he sits in the headlights of the ute, unperterbed by bright lights, a dog barking and a human interfering with his efforts to get to those chooks. He WANTS those babies. He NEEDS those babies. You can almost see the drool dripping out of his mouth as he stares at those young, tender, chickies.

The MOTH decides he's going to go through the rigaramole of fetching his gun, even though he suspects the fox will be long gone on his return. Off to the shed. Find the secret hiding place for the key to the gun cupboard. In the dark of course. Get the gun. Find the secret hiding place for the key to the ammo cupboard (keys, cupboards, guns and ammo all have to be kept separately). Unlock the cupboard, get the ammo and load the gun. Yeah, it only takes about 25 minutes to grab the gun and do away with a pest on a farm these days. That's assuming you don't accidentally drop the key in the dirt in the pitch black and have to scrounge around on the ground looking for it. LOL.

"KABOOM!" (Yeah, the 22 doesn't really make that sound but I used it for "dramatic" effect LOL). The fox is still there and the MOTH gets off a single shot before the fox darts away. There's a slight "thud" so he knows he's hit his mark. Unfortunately not enough to stop the fox running away, but likely enough of a hit that he won't survive to return again. Maybe he'll survive long enough to tell all his mates not to mess with the chookies cos they have one *mean papa*. HERO!!!! Daddy has saved the day! :-)

Note: I do support the gun laws. I'm not a big fan of guns myself, even though they are a necessity out here in the *wild*. But I'd rather protect people above all else. And we do prefer not to leave an animal in misery. Even a blasted sly fox. But when it comes down to 8 chooks vs 1 fox, well, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Whatever he can to protect his babies!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Onwards and Upwards...

Well DS had a very good first day at kindy. When he got home, he peeked his little head around the corner and gave me this cute little smile. I got up and held my arms out and he just ran into them. So we had a HUGE cuddle which was really nice.

Apparently now that he's been to kindy, he can go to school "tomorrow". LOL. I think we might have told him he has to go to kindy before he can start school so he's figuring now he's been to kindy, it's time for school. :-) At this rate he'll be finished year 12 by Christmas!!!

He couldn't stop talking about the day and all the things he'd been doing with his friends (a stark contrast to my firstborn son who'd always answer "nothing" or "I don't know").

And he tells me that going on the bus was "really fun". :-)

Biggest laugh of the day though was when I asked him whether he'd used the kindy toilets. Naturally mum's worried about him not knowing where the toilet is or not getting there in time. He quite matter of factly shakes his head and tells me he just went "outside on the grass". ROFLOL. Oh dear. Yes, mum was also worried that he might do that too! :-)

Last thing before he went to sleep tonight, he informs us that he will be going to kindy on the school bus "tomorrow". It's going to be a loooonnnnggg week until kindy day rolls around again. :-)

My Girls Have Arrived

It's a very exciting day!!!! :-) We did get 8 chickens but I couldn't get them all in the one photo. LOL. They don't pose quite like my children do.

I was a bit unsure how I would feel having lost our old chooks just the other day. I haven't even been up to the chook enclosure since that happened. And I was a bit reluctant to get too attached to the new girls. That lasted all of about, my first glance. LOL.

They're very easy to fall in love with!!! Especially when they're still at that "cute stage". These are about 9 weeks old I think.

Here they are pecking at a few of our scraps. I could sit and watch them for hours. That's not very productive though is it? LOL.

DH has put some more concrete around the edge of the enclosure so we're hoping no more foxes will get in.

I was also told (I think it was by someone on the Aussies Living Simply forum) that male urine will help deter foxes. So I told DH he had to do his "civic duty". LOL. Not sure if it *has* to be male but you sure won't get me squatting out there!!!! LOLOL. DH seems to think it might be a bit of a "mark your territory" type thing. Not sure if he's planning on obliging me or not.

So, not sure how long until these little babies will be old enough to lay. I'm guessing at least a month. We'll have to wait and see. In the meantime they can get themselves nice and settled in to their new home. :-)

My Baby's Go-one.........

....and I'm all a-lo-one.........oooh. I've got the "my baby started kindy today and insisted on going on the school bus even though it's his first day bloo-oos".

Ya don't have to be able to sing in tune with the blues do you? No? Oh good! :-)

Actually, I'm not feeling all that sad. Does that make me a bad mummy? I should feel sad shouldn't I?

Okay, well he only goes half a day a week this term (it's kind of a transition term to kindy and kindy is the year they do pre-school here for those not familiar with our system - which is most of you since Australia doesn't have a common system across the states). So maybe that's part of the reason I'm not feeling sadder.

And it has been almost 10 years of having kids at home. I think I'm ready for a change. I'd better not get too used to it though. He'll be home at lunch time! LOL. And I imagine all I'll get for the next week is "is it kindy day yet?"

The house is kinda quiet though. It's almost a "first day of term" here day today. Even though school went back yesterday, we had to take DD to an appointment out of town so only DS went to school yesterday. Now, all of sudden, they're all gone!!!! After having them ALL home for the past 2 weeks.

Today I need to start searching for my house underneath all our stuff!!!! :-o

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mindless Consumerism

Well, the day has finally arrived. Blog Action Day!!! And I've remembered. LOL. Okay, it was easy once I'd posted a reminder to myself on my own blog. :-)

I have to admit that I haven’t long been an advocate for environmentalism. Hey, are you impressed with my use of big words there? That's me just trying to distract you from my admission. :-P It’s not that I didn’t really *care* about the environment….. actually maybe it is that I didn’t really *care*. :-(

I like to think that it was more I didn’t really understand the impact my mindless consumerism was having on our environment -rather than I didn't really care. At the end of the day though, the results were the same.

What’s that saying? When you know better, you do better. I hope now that I *know* better, I’m doing better.

Rather than looking at things from a global perspective, I want to blog today about my own journey into understanding more of my impact on the earth. I'm sure someone else can and will cover things from a political and a global perspective.

I think my awareness of our impact on the environment really increased when it started to become *our* problem rather than someone else’s problem. One of the things we really noticed when we moved from the town to the farm was a lack of rubbish collection. Apart from the fact that it would accumulate in my laundry until DH had a chance to remove it (which wasn’t often enough for my liking), it wasn't simply a matter of putting our rubbish out on the kerb and forgetting about it. It remained our problem to deal with from start to finish.

Now I’m the first to admit that back in those days I was a consumer extraordinaire. I wasn’t considerate of the amount of landfill being created. In fact, I LOVED Christmas Day because it meant that all the packaging on the new toys could be removed from my home and annoy me no more. The fact that that packaging had to go *somewhere* didn't even enter my mind.

The biggest impact for me came one day when I went with DH for a drive to our other farm. The farm where he had dug a hole to bury our rubbish. There, staring me in the face was around 12 months of our own rubbish. Believe me, there is NOTHING like coming face to face with your own waste to make you really THINK about the impact you’re making on the earth. One garbage bag doesn't seem like all *that* much but when you add garbage bag upon garbage bag to a pile (or a hole in the ground in our case) plus a few major clean outs - you get quite a LOT of garbage. I began to wonder how long it would take us to run out of room in the scrub.

To multiply that amount of waste by the number of people living in Australia alone was mind boggling. I couldn't even begin to fathom multiplying it by the number of people in the world (not that all cultures are quite as bad as us). Would there be enough acres to house it all? The simple answer is NO. It was at that moment that I realized I couldn’t continue on with my “consumer extraordinaire” lifestyle.

We had a similar experience when it came to water consumption. The farm we are now living on (which isn’t the same one we originally moved to) has no piped water. All of our water has to be caught and stored in rainwater tanks or carted in a truck. When you have a FINITE supply of water it really makes you aware of what you’re using.

The fact of the matter is that we all have a FINITE supply of water. We all have a FINITE amount of land in which to store our waste. But by outsourcing these problems, I wonder if we’ve made them too “out of sight, out of mind” for people. They’re not MY problem – someone else can deal with that.

I wonder if it would make a difference if we were all brought face to face with the effects that our choices make? If it were made *OUR* problem once again (like it would have been in Pioneering days). Do you think maybe we'd all wake up to ourselves and change some of the choices we make? I wonder if it would help us to switch from "mindless consumerism" to "mindful consumerism"?

Well, one thing I do know. I have a long way to go before I can even begin to consider myself “green”. I only hope that as I learn more and know better I can do better.

It's so easy (and I'm as guilty of this as anyone) to stick our heads in the sand and hope the problem will go away. To think that it's too large a problem for "little óle me" to deal with. But just like those small parcels of rubbish can add up to a very LARGE pile of landfill, so can our small babysteps toward "doing better" add up to a big difference when it comes to minimising the damage we're making to our environment.

It's a topic that we could debate for days - the whys, hows and whats. I just want to leave you all with 1 challenge. What tiny baby step are you going to take this week to lessen your impact on the environment? If you have time - put your baby step into my comments section. That way we can all get some "babystep" ideas from one another. :-)

Here's one from me. We had to go to a regional centre for an appointment today and I resisted the urge to "browse" the shops and just stuck to my list. I'm a terrible one for purchasing items that I didn't even know I needed (or wanted) just moments before. And I didn't set 1 foot inside Toyworld even though I know they're having a 25% off sale. Believe me, kids toys are my biggest weakness so that was quite a feat for me! :-)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Results for My First EVER blog Competition!!!!

Alrighty, it's time for the big REVEAL!!!!! The answers to my "How Well Do You Know Me Quiz"....... I can say they've been checked and double checked as I had some trouble with this post (did anyone get a sneak peek of the answers when I accidentally posted this half way through writing? Tis okay, no more entries were received after that time so everything is all above board! :-) ). So I had to delete this post and start again. Then along the way questions and answers kept accidentally deleting on me. LOL. DH came in to see if he could help (I was abusing the poor computer).

BUT, you don't want to know about my afternoon dramas. So let's get to the BIG *REVEAL*.....

1. How many children do I have?

a)3 - We have boy(9), girl(6) and boy(3 - who is still eating broccoli in an attempt to grow bigger so he can do stunts on a motorbike lol).

b)4 - I always thought I'd like 4 but DH told me back before we were even officially engaged that he wouldn't want more than 3 as he didn't want to have a car with a bench seat in the front. LOL. Great reason darling. However, we now own a Pajero which is 7 seats (without a bench seat in the front) but I'd have to choose between another child and shopping...... Tough one. LOL.

c)2 - When we had a boy and then a girl we briefly considered stopping at 2. That idea didn't last very long though.


2. Which state of Australia do I live in?

a)Victoria - Well I did live in Melbourne for 6 wonderful years. With the rivalry between SA & Vic I find myself torn at times. I love both states!!!!

b)New South Wales

c)South Australia - I was born here and lived here until I was 12 before spending my 6 years in Melbourne and returning when I was 18.

d)Western Australia - I've never even BEEN to WA. Looking forward to visiting one day.

3. I was born in
b)1974 - Not much else to say really. I was born when I was. Except to say thank you Kelley for such kind comments about my appearance vs age. LOL.

4. How many $ per week do I spend on groceries?
a)$100 - So far so good. Even though my challenge is over, I can't help but want to keep under the $100 mark for as long as possible. Not sure how much longer we'll succeed - we'll see.

5. My favourite part of the school day was

a)recess - yeah, I made this one a tough one. Recess won out as I was very much a "the gangs all here" kind of person and the most common time for us all to be together was at Recess.

b)lunch - lunch did come a close second to recess but had a number of things going against it. Firstly, I often didn't have any lunch to eat. Secondly, our group was often split with meetings, seeing teachers yada, yada, yada. Then thirdly, there's those lunch time maths detentions that we won't mention. LOL.

c)end of the day - I actually enjoyed school (for the social aspect mostly) so heading home at the end of the day wasn't always all that great. Especially during year 12 when I had to catch 2 trains and then a tram just to get home.

d)maths - LOL. Alright, fess up. Who said maths? I had a maths teacher once (for 2 years running - poor guy) who said I would end up being a maths teacher. *shudder* I wonder if he was hoping for some kind of "karma" to return upon me. But really, if you're going to tell my parents the reason I don't understand the work is because I don't get your attention when I need help, you can only expect me to climb up on the table in order to get your attention. And I did say a-ttention not d-tention.

6. My favourite chocolate is

a) white
b) milk
c) dark
d) all of the above - What can I say? Chocolate is chocolate is chocolate. And don't go telling me that white chocolate isn't *really* chocolate. If it says "chocolate" on the packaging, it's good enough for me. :-) Unless of course someone ruins it by *gasp* adding coffee!!!! Blergh!!! Which chocolate I prefer at any given time does depend on my mood (and what I can find stashed in the cupboard).

7. My favourite TV show is

a)Australian Idol - Well I have been watching some of it. This is the first series I've seen. What the.....?????

b)All Saints - I don't mind watching it but really, there's already enough *real* drama in my life. Plus I'm jealous cos they have HEAPS of doctors and we have NONE. *sob*

c)It Takes Two - Yah!!!!! My biggest issue with this show is that it isn't on often enough!!!!

d)Home and Away - This used to be my favourite show. I can remember the very first episode. Awwww....cute little Sally. Any yes, I was totally in LOVE with Alex Papps (hope I've spelt that right). LOL. Can't say that I've never missed an episode though as we didn't always have an available TV set. A number of people tried to convince me it was bad when I was in my later teen years. So of course, I kept on watching it!!!! They watch X-files and try to tell me Home and Away is bad????? X-files was just too creepy for me. Now watching Home and Away through a parents eyes, I decided to stop watching it because my kids were watching too (and the story lines do just cycle around and around and there are only so many "Summer Bay disasters" you need to see in a lifetime). So, it's no longer my favourite show.

8. I moved out of home when I was:

a)18 - Moving out of home was a TOP decision. I moved into this little house that resembled a tin shed (I must see if I can dig out a photo or 2 for you). All my furniture and furnishings were second hand. I even had bright orange chairs (handed down from my parents). But I sooooo LOVED my little house. Me and my 65 soft toys had a blissful existence in that little pad. I was totally BROKE! And I mean TOTALLY (I don't know HOW they expect you to live "away from home" on the Austudy living away from home allowance). But I didn't care. I didn't even mind spending most of my money on rent and bills. Cos it was MY money and MY bills for MY home.


9.I prefer my egg yolks to be

a)hard - YUK!!!

b)runny - Mmmmmm..... I love it when we go camping and DH makes me a bacon and egg sanger with yolks so runny you have to lean over the ground so you don't get egg yolk all over your PJ's (who gets dressed before breakfast when you're on holidays?). Licking egg yolk off your fingers -mmmmm.

c)somewhere in between - I *will* eat them like this if I HAVE to. After all, I wouldn't want to offend anyone. BUT, only if it's in a hamburger or something like that. Couldn't eat egg like that on its own.

d)I hate eggs - eggs are one of the foods DH has convinced me I like. I used to *hate* eggs, especially on their own. BUT, farm fresh, free-range eggs are a WHOLE different experience. I still *hate* eggs on their own if I have to buy supermarket eggs. *sob* I miss my chookies. :-(

10. When I get excited I

a)laugh too loud - you *might* get me to laugh loudly IF I'm feeling very relaxed and somewhat tired AND I actually *get* the joke. :-) Most of the time though I prefer not to draw attention to myself (which is why I put my thoughts and feelings on the internet for ANYONE to read ?????).

b)bounce up and down - Apparently this is what I do. So they told me on my wedding day (along with all the wedding guests etc). DH now points it out to me occasionally so it *must* be true. In reality, well, I'm too excited to notice how I behave. :-)

c)dance - It's best for all concerned if I don't dance.....ever......

d)cry - I cry when I'm happy, I cry when I'm sad. I cry when I'm frightened and I cry when I'm mad. But I do NOT cry when I'm excited. At least, I don't *think* I do......

So, there you have it. The answers for my first ever blog quiz. How did you go? Do you feel like you know me just a little better now? Anything in particular surprise you?

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for.......*insert drum roll here*...........

The winners of my first ever quiz AND my first ever competition on this blog are.......


Congratulations!!!! Could you lovely ladies please email me with your full names and addresses so I can send you your prize. You may have to be patient with me as my 3rd Christmas dishcloth is still on the needles!!! :-)

Thanks to everyone who had a go and a special thanks to those who posted their answers in the comments section. :-) I hope you all had as much fun as I did.