Websites I Am Always Talking About

I probably don’t frequent as many websites as most people, sticking to Facebook and Google Reader for the blogs that I enjoy.  However when I am talking to people about the things I love I often mention certain websites and am not always ina position to write them down.  The goal of writing this post is for people to refer to my blog for my favourite sites!

The Book Depository – There is a UK site as well as others in other countries.  It is a place to buy lots of different books at greatly reduced prices and there are no shipping costs.  They seem to send the books as soon as they have them available so when I made my first order a few months ago I actually received three separate parcels in the mail – good fun all in itself!  As an example of the possible savings, I bought two knitting books which sell for $45 each here and by using Book Depository I paid about $22 each.

Strawberry.net – I was put on to this site quite recently by a good friend when my skin was suffering from the cold and dryness and I was finding that my products froma rather cheap direct sales company were irritating my skin and not being very effective at all.  Back in the day, before children, mortgages and financial strife I used to use Clinique products and loved them.  I had given them up because they were simply too expensive and I was finding that I used them too sparingly to do any good.  Now I am back to using Clinique, having paid very low prices to get some items and my skin is really showing the benefits and feeling fantastic.  There is no shipping coast and extremely fast service.  Just as an aside, the same friend put me onto Blinc mascara. It is seriously the best mascara ever and lasts through absolutely everything because it actaully puts little “tubes” of mascara around each lash which stay there until rubbed gently with a wet washcloth.  When you rub them off you can actually see the little tubes on the washcloth and there is no residue smudged around the eyes.  Obviously they are very fine tubes and there is no ill-effect on the lashes. To quote Molly Meldrum, if you are a mascara wearer, “do yourself a favour” and try some of this stuff because it really is wodnerful!

CafePress – I am very happy to be the owner of two knitting t-shirts and one teaching t-shirt from this fantastic site.  There are shirts, sweaters and a range of other products with slogans and graphics for almost any occupation or hobby you could dream of.  It is worth a browse just for the entertainment value of what sayings they have on offer. My knitting shirts are “I knit so I don’t kill people” and “Keep calm and carry yarn”.  My teaching shirt is “I teach, what’s your superpower?”  There is some shipping cost but the service is faultless and they are a very good quality product.

Ravelry – Whenever I am talking to someone who is beginning to knit or crochet I invariably ask them if they have been on Ravelry.  It is a networking site for knitting, crochet and spinning and has thousands of members who share patterns, yarns and finished projects.  You can sign up for free and either browse through what’s on offer or start your own Ravelry “notebook” with pictures of your projects and links to the patterns and yarns used as well as where you obtained them.  because of all these notebooks you can search for a type of project or yarn and find almost countless results.  It is very useful for when you want ideas for a particular item like beanies or tea cosies or if you are deciding on whether to use a particular yarn or pattern.  Just make sure you have a spare 4-5 hours to spend browsing if you decide to have a look.

FlyLady – As I get back on my feet quite literally I am using and will continue to use FlyLady.  It is all about organising yourself and your house to take the best possible care of yourself and your loved ones.  I could write pages about how good her system is but it would be far better to just pay the FlyLady a visit and check her out for yourself.

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52 Weeks of Organising – Recipes – Part 2

I began my great mealing/recipe project a few weeks ago and it is travelling along nicely.  Yesterday I took the next step of organising my new Recipe Binder.  It isn’t flash because there’s no spare money for flash binder and dividers around here.  I bought a lever arch file, some flouro plastic dividers with an index page at the front and a box of 100 plastic sleeves.  I LOVE plastic sleeves – just needed to say that!

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I simply wrote out my categories on the index page, slipped some recipes into plastic sleeves and I was done.  The recipes are either from Mum which means they arrived by e-mail or I’ve typed them out.  If it came by e-mail I’ve just printed the e-mail – not time to muck around!  For all the others, because I’m doing Weight Watchers, I either get them from the Weight Watchers website or I type them into the Recipe Builder in E-Tools which then works out the points for the recipe and enables the recipe to be put into my Pro Points Tracker.  This gives them some uniformity as they all have the same sort of formatting on the site.

They are all in individual plastic sleeves so they can go to kitchen and back again easily and I’m adding recipes as I do them and they are “successful”.  Two new ones are being added tonight from this weekend – Sweet and Sour Braised Steak (Slow Cooker) and Banana and  Malteaser Muffins.

I’m getting back into the good routine I used to have of planning the meals for the upcoming week on the Saturday, making a shopping list and doing the weekly shop by Sunday.  I’ve also baked today to school lunches (so I’m feeling particularly accomplished!)

Now for Laura’s questions this week:

Questions to ponder:
1.  Let’s talk stuff!  What have you tossed out this week?

I have tossed coffee cups, lots of paper and quite a few odds and ends from back deck (when I was preparing the Valentine’s Night Dinner).  This included our hermit crab gear – the last hermit crab died over 2 years ago!
2.  Have you ever regretted something you’ve gotten rid of?  Why?

The only things I regret getting rid of are the books I had as a child because I would have dearly loved to pass them on to my boys and my niece (she would probably appreciate the “Little House” series and possibly “Nancy Drew” more than the boys would!).  I’ve got one large volume of Frances Hodgson Burnett with three of her books in it that Eric has read from cover to cover and loved.  It may be time for my niece to borrow it!
3.  How tempted are you to rush out and pick up pretty organizing containers first?

I’m tempted but money is an issue so I’m forcing myself to wait.  I’ve saved the link to this bookcase type thing from Ikea which I would like to use in our entry way horizontally as part of a launch pad but I have to work out where to put the cupboard that is there presently as well as save up for it.  Simply having more clear spaces is helping me to be more organised!


Organizing the Mail

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It isn’t a very exciting are to organize but one that is very necessary – the mail.  Previously we had a very random system where dh kept the bills in a range of different places and the rest of the mail was dumped on my desk so that it didn’t get lost (ahem!).  I knew that wasn’t working when I was opening Christmas cards in late January!  And since I’ve established the new “homework zone” for the boys I wanted to keep my desk area very tidy and ready for action to facilitate “ease of homework”.  I had this metal file stand from another failed organizing attempt of years gone by so I’ve put it in the kitchen in what was formerly a common mail dumping ground so that letters, bills and messages for or concerning each member of our family can be easily located.  Dh has got on board with this one as he has all the bills in their folder arranged in the order that they need to be paid.  It is a shame that there are so many of them but that’s another issue entirely.

So I had fun with some coloured folders and my label maker and this was the result.

The Organising Junkie asks a few questions this week (or at the end of last week so I will respond here:

Number ONE reason for getting organized – so life will run more smoothly.  We will send less time looking for things and more time doing things!

Something I organized last week – the mail

Any breakthroughs? Yes!  The desk has be be tidied up every. single. day or the homework will be hindered!


Money Too Tight To Mention

Unfortunately we did have to mention it to someone who could help us out of our current financial crisis when we asked for help last week and unfortunately we got completely dragged over the coals, interrogated and thoroughly criticised for nearly all our life choices including but not limited to – choice of jobs, choice of hobbies, child care arrangements, activities in which our children are involved, the things we eat and the list goes on.  I’m the first to admit I am not perfect by any means.  My house is messy, we’re eating too much take-away and sometimes I sit down and play on the computer or knit something when perhaps I should be doing housework but is was just awful to have just about everything we do turned into a negative.

Suffice it to say, we didn’t chose to get into a financial mess and we’re sure as heck going to make sure we never do again.  This time has just been an unfortunate melding of council rates, car registration, massive tax bill, power bill and a range of medical expenses occurring all at once along with the normal end of year things like school book orders, piano lessons, chess lessons and the list goes on.  I’m ona much reduced salary compared to teaching and it just hasn’t worked for us.  It isn’t like we are going out every night or having caviar on our crackers.  We spend very little on clothes and entertainment of any description.  Now I sound like Im trying to justify our spending which I shouldn’t have to do.  We make choices – some are right and some are wrong but ultimately they are our choices.

I never want to go down the path of needing to ask for help again from the source we used last week. Never, ever.  So I’m taking baby steps to regain some control of the situation.  I’m going to to ring and try to organise some sort of payment plan for the hideous tax bill.  I’m selling my wedding dress.  I’ve started the process of frogging a garment I knitted a while back but decided that I would never wear.  The yarn is too good to wastes so I’m re-claiming it all and knitting coffee cup cosies to sell on e-bay or etsy.  I’m also looking into what I can make rather than buy for Christmas presents.

I’ve also got huge amounts of stuff that can all eventually go on e-bay – clothes, toys, baby things, furniture etc etc etc.  It will take a long time but I will do it and I’m sure I will feel better to having a less cluttered home.

I felt dreadful about this whole situation until last night when I sat down and started unravelling knitting.  Then I felt I had some tiny measure of control back.  Hopefully that feeling will grow.


Mothers Day

I think Mothers Day went well for me this year because I let go of any expectations.  We’ve been struggling money wise since I haven’t been working full time so I knew there would be no big surprises or special treats.  It turns out that most of the treats were things that cost no money at all.  I started preparing for Mother’s Day early in a sense because being a Year 1 parent I had the opportunity to help on the school Mothers Day stall.  So for the past few months, in between other projects, I’ve knitted a series of cotton face washers in moss stitch.  I managed to complete 8 and they were sold very quickly so perhaps I should aim for a few more next year.

The celebrations started on Friday with a Mass for mothers which has now become an annual event at the boys’ school.  I went along even though I knew it would feel a bit strange sitting up the back on my own instead of being with a class.  During his homily, Fr Peter told the children to go and put their hands on their Mums if they were present.  I could just imagine the teachers cringing at the chaos which ensued however my two boys found me and laid their hands on me, repeating a blessing by Father Peter so it was very special.  After Mass I spent several hours working on the Mothers Day stall mainly taking the money.  I was careful to “avert the eyes” when my boys were shopping for their presents and I really enjoyed watching the very careful shoppers making their selections.  I gave Eric money for presents and raffle tickets and he was clever enough to win me one of the raffle prizes – a large white platter decorated with raised olives.  I can see myself putting it to good use at the next Book Club gathering at my place and at the big celebration we will be having for Eric’s Confirmation and First Eucharist in a few weeks.

On Saturday night I was asked to specify the time until which I would sleep in and at the appointed hour on Sunday morning  the boys came in bearing gifts and then served breakfast in bed. Coffee and croissants – what a great start to the day!  Eric then surprised me by standing at the foot of the bed and reading out a POEM he had written in my honour. Wow!  I will publish it here but at present it is back at school for possible publication in the school newsletter.  I am very impressed!  In amongst the gifts bought by the boys there was also a voucher for a pedicure and manicure purchased by dh.  I spent a quiet Sunday pottering around and on Monday night we went out for dinner.  A pretty good celebration all round with just the right amounts of everything.


2009 – The Year That Was

I’ve borrowed this idea from the wonderful Ms Fifikins even though I haven’t forgiven her for forgetting certain house guests in her review of 2009!

I think the word for this year is different.  And I’m hoping that 2010 will be different in a bigger and better way.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?

Did a family farm stay in June, resigned from my job in July and visited Cairns for a week in November

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

It was probably something to do with losing weight in which case it hasn’t happened

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My sister Trish had Luke Robert on January 28

Lorraine gave birth to beautiful Mabel who has the best reasoning behind her name!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

I wasn’t really close but Mum’s brother Leo died in July and my cousin’s husband Fintan tragically was struck down by Swine Flu while working in Vietnam and died in September.

5. What countries/states did you visit?

Cairns, Gold Coast

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

a well balanced lifestyle

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

July – resigning

November – going to Cairns

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Learning to knit well

9. What was your biggest failure?

Weight loss and general organization

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Some ongoing anxiety and depression, high blood pressure

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Knitting stuff

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My workmates at school who were so supportive of my decision to resign even though it was heart breaking

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

The people in the news for hurting others

14. Where did most of your money go?

Bills and debt

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Knitting.  I don’t sound very exciting do I?

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Can’t think of anything right now

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:?

a) happier or sadder?
sadder

b)thinner or fatter?
fatter

c) richer or poorer?
poorer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

work – both paid and in the home

exercise

eating healthy food

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying.

Emotional Eating

Procrastinating

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With the family at SIL’s place

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?

stayed in love with my boys

22. How many one-night stands?

None! I’ve told you I’m not that exciting LOL!

23. What was your favourite TV program?

All Saints and I’m sad it is finished.  Watched lots of episodes of Cold Case and Without A Trace

24. Did you make a friend with anyone that you didn’t know this time last year?

I have knitting friends!

25. What was the best book you read?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrsen

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

The fact that Eric can play the piano

27. What did you want and get?

Time to knit and cross stitch

28. What did you want and not get?

A new job

29. What was your favourite film of this year?

Julie and Julia

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

39. Can’t remember. Already worrying about the next one!

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Getting stuff done

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

Comfortable

33. What kept you sane?

Knitting

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Obama!

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

Global warming

36. Who did you miss?

Friends who live too far away…

37. Who was the best new person you met?

MIML – except that he isn’t the “man in my life” but Fiona’s however MIML is his Internet persona

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.

Everything happens for a reason


Finishing Things

With money being a major cause for concern in our household due to the scarcity of relief work I’ve had to think a lot of the little “extras” in life and to that end I’m going to declare 2010 a “stash free year”.  I’ve got two drawers bulging with un-started projects as well as several projects that are “works in progress” or WIPs as us crafty types like to call them.  I’m really going to focus on finishing some of the WIPs especially as they are mostly destined for people who are good friends of mine.  So tonight I’ve had a good solid session of cross stitching and for a your viewing pleasure I havea WIP photo as well asa scan of that the finished work should look like.  I’m also going to be really up front and list all the WIPs I can think of.

Cross Stitch

  • at least three ornaments that are stitched but need finishing
  • Tropical Vacation Window – for Fiona
  • Train Birth Record – for Megan
  • Domestically Challenged Piece for me
  • English Rose book mark that needs finishing

Crochet

  • Crocheted cushion cover

Knitting

  • Patchwork Noro Top – still to be assembled completely
  • Jo Sharp Bath bag – needs assembling – and it is for me
  • Jo Sharp hand towel and face cloth for Fiona in the colours that match her stained glass
  • Lion Jumper for Eric

All of the above is quite enough to keep me out of mischief for quite some time.  The only exceptions to my no stash rule are going to be if I participate in the 2010 Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament challenge (and even then I’ll try very hard to at least use fabric from my stash) and if I finish all the knitting I’m going to start a jumper for Daniel.  I’m going to ask for gift vouchers to my favourite yarn supplier for Christmas, Mother’s Day and my birthday and put those towards Daniel’s jumper.  The craft shows will most likely be off the agenda as it would be too tempting and I’ve got too much stuff sitting in drawers from previous craft shows that I’ve never even touched.  One beautiful piece is a an Angel of Dreaming on beautiful hand dyed fabric with a pattern that includes beading.  That is really a project that I will enjoy sinking my teeth into so to speak.

But for now, please enjoy the pictures of tonight’s progress and I’ll share some more when I can.