Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Matters of Monetary Maternity

When we found out that we were going to have a baby I, like most people, needed to mentally prepare for a huge dip in our discretionary income and thought we'd be living on toast and porridge. This was actually something the hubby and I have been through while trying to survive university. And as fun as those times were, we agreed never to go there again. 

One of the benefits of living through times of monetary leanness is that one gets a teensy bit fanatical about budget (spreadsheets, savings graphs, etc), and I've found that the arrival of our Little Man has not really broken the budget. 

We've done this just by being conscious of a few things:

Monday, 13 July 2015

Lemons Lemons LEMONS! and Radishes too


As my husband rightly points out... I have a gardening problem. And that problem is that I never have just enough produce. As evidenced by the great tomato glut of February 2015 I always end up with
way too much of the vegetable I plant.

The reason for this is that I cannot believe that every plant I seed will actually grow (lingering trauma from failed gardening attempts in childhood). As a result I tend to over plant and cannot bear to thin out my crop either (they're my babies!!!). 

Fortunately with some good old fashioned know how (aided by the internet), I have managed to find a way to store, use and make use of every single excess veggie that has sprouted from the garden. And thus I present to you

What to do when you have over 20 lemons to use in a week!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Tuesday tip: New veggies from scraps

Growing veggies from scraps is nothing new. Pinterest and Eco sites overflow with tips on what to do with your veggie scraps. But if, like me you've tried placing that onion or celery end in water, you would know that after a couple of days the bottom of the vegetable goes all yucky. Also you're told to change the water every day. Ain't no mummy got time for dat 😉

The solution is to soak up your solution (the water that is) and there are simple practical ways to do this like placing the scraps on an wet old sponge. However since there is nothing aestically pleasing about a manky old sponge, how about resting your scraps on some water beads. 

If you haven't heard about these pretty little things then here's a bit of background.

Water beads or Crystal Soil is a water absorbent polymer, which is able to absorb and hold 100-200 times its volume of water for a long time. 

Each 10 grams Crystal Soil will absorb at least 1 litre of water and can fill up about 1 litre vase. Each bead will expand to approximately 1.0 cm in size. They are also

  • Odor Free and Insect Free.
  • Biodegradable & Environmental Safe.
  • No poisonous ingredients, No pollution , & No fading.
So you don't really need much of the stuff to get started. 


At the moment I've got a leek and some bok choy growing on my window sil. And I've only used about half a pack for all of them. Best bit is that they are reusable so once these little guys go into the soil you can use the beads again for the next lot of kitchen scraps. Best part is that I haven't touched these guys since putting them on to grow. No water changing no refilling. 

And if there comes a day when you no longer need them just let them dry out back into their original size (about the size of a course grain of sand) or if they break and don't look as attractive anymore just pop them into the garden. They are fantastic for keeping your soil hydrated and plants healthy. 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Tuesday tip: Economical activities

Sometimes, it actually works out better to outsource some of your activities. Yes that's right, it sometimes is more economical to pay someone else to do your jobs!

Let me explain. If you can find someone to do your ironing for say, $15 an hour and you need two hours worth of ironing done, isn't it worth it for your time and sanity (not to mention time that you could spend with the family) to outsource this task? Would you get more than $30 worth of happiness, sanity and down time from it? I know I would!!

Things to consider:

  • What is your hourly rate of pay? Could you earn more in two hours doing your own job vs doing the outsourcing task? If you could, it is better economy to outsource it!
  • Will you save time and sanity? Why do something you dislike intensely if you can outsource it and save the effort?
  • Does it free up some time that you could put to better use? Spending time with the kids/other half/pets or having some valuable personal time?
Jobs that you might consider outsourcing:
  • Cleaning
  • Ironing
  • Shopping
  • Gardening
  • Childcare
Head over to With a Fork to read about outsourcing food shopping with a food box delivery service. If it sounds like your kind of thing and you want to try it, there is a discount code for your first box!

Do you outsource tasks? What works for your household?

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Product Review: Closer to nature Breast Pump

Over the last 2 weeks I've had the opportunity to test out the Closer to nature electric breast pump. This neat little package contains:

  • The electric pump 
  • a 150ml bottle with a level 1 flow teat
  • a milk storage lid
  • 6 disposable breast pads
  • a breast pump steriliser box (which is like a big tupperware container which you can use to store or clean your pump parts)





I've actually had my eye on this pump for a while for several reasons:

  1. The only bottle the Little Man would use (if he condescended to use one at all) was the closer to nature bottles. Therefore they are the bottles we decided to have on hand when Missy May came along. 
  2. I was getting very tired of using my manual Philips Avent pump which I used for 2 years while breastfeeding Little Man and returned to using when I started back at work 7 months after having Missy May. Take it from me, you can get some serious carpel tunnel from using a manual pump especially when at work when you've already spent half the day clicking away on a computer. 
  3. Expressing from a Philips Avent and having to empty into a closer to nature bottle for storage just gave me more things to wash and I was looking forward to being able to express and store straight into the Closer To Nature bottles so that Missy May could have them all ready for daycare the next day. 

Assembly

Putting the pump together was very straight forward. The controls for the electric pump can either take batteries or be connected to power from the wall making it very convenient to port around cordless. 

Like most other pumps there are a lot of parts that go into putting it all together however the instructions are quite straight forward and after one or two runs it's pretty easy to remember what goes where. 

Usage

The first time I saw this pump in action was at a blogger's event which wasn't the quietest of locations. The hum of the pump mechanism seemed pretty discrete. So when I received my own pump I confidently assembled it and packed it up to bring to work for that day's expressing. 

However after I had shut all the blinds in my office and started this little baby up I had to shut it down straight away because in the quiet of an office full of male engineers working to the clicky click of the keyboard and mouse, the Closer to Nature pump mechanism was roaring loud. And it wasn't just a continuous hum either which could have been attributed to the air conditioner or a overclocking server. It was obviously a pumping sound. I gingerly tried it out a couple more times, even burying the pump part in my thermal lunch bag to muffle the sound. 

Unfortunately I was too self conscious about the sound to continue to express properly and since I didn't bring my Avent manual pump along, I had to give my boss a quick explanation that I had to dash home for a bit and would be back in an hour, and went home to finish expressing. I gave the Closer To Nature pump another try and in the solitude of home I was able to get it to work for me. 

The pump action is very gentle and comfortable. If I had one critique it would be that the focus is too much on the nipple and there is not enough distributed massage which I found to be much more helpful for expressing a greater quantity of milk. 

The previous day I had conducted a control test with my Philips Avent in order to compare how much milk the Closer To nature pump would be able to do in comparison. Unfortunately, even though the Closer To Nature Pump was expressing, it wasn't going nearly as fast as I needed it to, in order to get back to work within the hour and I had to switch back to the Avent Manual Pump to finish the job quickly.

On the weekend when I had more leisure I gave the Closer To Nature pump another go and although slow, it did manage to fill up a 120ml bottle (I can usually get about 200-250ml with the Avent)

Compliments

  • Great portable little unit. 
  • Attaches straight to a closer to nature bottles for storage and delivery
  • Variable pump power for personal comfort
  • One of the most affordable electric pumps on the market

Critiques

  • Really Loud Pump Mechanism.
Since I only ever express at work or when the baby is asleep. This is a pretty big issue for me because in both situations being discrete and quiet is always preferred. 

  • No lock on the pump 
I was puzzled several times to find my bag humming and vibrating because the pump had activated when I had set down my bag in the car, and again at my desk. With batteries in the pump there is no way to prevent this except being VERY VERY gentle in carrying it around. A light tap would set it off. 
 
  • Lack of distributed suction
As described above, the suction was very much concentrated at the top which I found to be a little uncomfortable after a while. Also I reckon this might have led to reduced supply. 

Conclusion

The Closer To Nature Pump might be a good idea for someone who would be using it only occasionally in the privacy of their own home and wants something other than a manual pump. However, I personally found it very slow to get a good flow going even at the highest setting. 

The volume of the pump and the sensitivity of the controls is almost unforgivable. And I won't be taking this pump back to work. Even in a private office with 4 walls that go all the way from ground to ceiling (office walls aren't exactly thick) I'm sure the pump could clearly be heard by the junior engineers on the other side of the wall. 


Have you tried out the Closer To Nature Pump? Please share your experiences and is there any way to make it quieter? Or do you know a good quiet electric pump to recommend I try next? 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Tuesday Tip: Take time out

Have you ever heard the saying, often in a derogatory manner, "happy wife, happy life"? It's true of anyone though - the happier you are, the happier and easier life seems to be.

So today, the tip is, make sure you look after yourself. Take a few minutes out of each day to practice some self love (not like that, minds out of the gutter please... although, it's totally ok if that's your thing too!). If you are happier, the house will be happier, the kids will sense it and they'll be easier to wrangle manage too.

Here are some ideas of things you could do, they only take a few minutes:

  • Have a cup of tea. Sit down and drink it while it's hot!
  • Go for a walk outside. Get some sunshine while the weather is still nice
  • Primp. Nothing like locking the bathroom door and spending a couple minutes primping - whether that's plucking eyebrows, moisturising your hands or just plain sitting down and relishing having no other people touching you for a moment
  • Do nothing. Leave the clutter and mess for a few minutes and put your feet up
  • Read a magazine article or a few pages of a book

How do you take time out for yourself?

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Tuesday Tip: How to differentiated between the folded sheets

We have 3 sizes of beds in our house. A king single (for the little man), a Queen (for the guest room) and a King (because more often than not every single person and dog in the house is sleeping on mum and dad's bed)

We didn't plan it this way it just evolved as our family grew. So we never really planned a good way to tell the sheets apart as well (i.e. All the king single sheets will be blue ish. Queen Green and King will be red). Also I have moods and would never be able to stick to a colour scheme anyway. 

All our sheets also go together in the linen closet stored in their set pillow case (a very handy tip I picked up from lifehacker) But besides the little man's stand out truck sheets, a lot of our other sheets are somewhat similar in colour (including a set of aquamarine sheets we seem to have for every single size bed) Once folded, these are impossible to tell apart. This is especially so when we have to change sheets in the middle of the night while we were nighttime potty training. 

So I came up with a plan. King Single Sheets were folded and slotted into a pillow case which was laid flat. Sheets for the little man were folded again on the diagonal so that they could be immediately identified by the triangle shape. Queen sized sheets were also folded again but on the vertical so that it formed a small square. Now when we go grab a new set of sheets to make the bed we don't have to undo the whole sheet and have to refold it if we didn't get the right size. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Tuesday Tip: How to use up excess produce

If you have a home garden, you know all too well that there are times when you have a glut of tomatoes or eggplants or something. Sure, you can eat them until the cows come home. There are many different ways to prepare vegetables, you can also preserve them and freeze them for later consumption.

But sometimes, there is just too much and you can't face the thought of another eggplant based dish. Or, you need just a little of something else, and you know it's in season right now, but don't want to pay supermarket prices for food that comes from who knows how far away.

Enter this awesome site: www.ripenear.me

Founded by two passionate foodies from Adelaide, I'll let them tell you how they came up with the idea and what the site is all about:

In winter of 2012 they noticed so many citrus trees scattered about the suburbs full of fruit that nobody was eating. And yet local stores were selling plenty of them - even some that were imported! It just didn't make sense. So, an idea was born: Why not have a site that allows foodies to connect with growers? Wouldn't it be cool if we could get all our fresh food from the local neighbourhood?... And so we started on our quest.
What a great idea! Around me, there are growers of chilli and basil, mangoes, figs and amaranth and even some eggs. I've got some of my own chilli and eggplants listed as growing, and I may even be able to offer some sweet potato if the harvest is as bountiful as I think it'll be.

You're welcome :)

* Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with this site although I am a member. I just think it's awesome sauce!!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Tuesday Tip: How to cut tomatoes without crushing them

In our house we have one good knife. The one knife we spent a stupid amount of money on and is never allowed in the dishwasher. Its the only kitchen item that gets washed and placed in its own drying space every single time it's used. It is kept sharp and well cared for so its an excellent kitchen knife and cuts nearly everything very well.
NEARLY everything. 

However, it is a straight edged knife so unless you're a chef with great knife skills, it's rubbish at cutting is tomatoes. And as you can see from previous posts I've been cutting a LOT of tomatoes. In fact cutting tomatoes with our nice sharp knife is almost dangerous since the smooth skin of tomatoes makes it so easy for the blade to slip and catch an unwary finger. Then if you manage to put enough pressure to pierce the tomato skin you're faced with the soft squishy insides which crush so easily. 

The solution, the least used knife in the house, The serrated bread knife (because our bread already comes sliced its rarely out of the knife block) The serrated edges are perfect for dicing soft tomatoes without crushing them. even if you're a complete knife knovice like me.  Perfect for making a nice chunky tomato sauce or perfectly forkable pieces in a salad. 

On a related note I've still got about 2 kg of tomatoes and more on the plant. I'm running out of ideas! HELP!


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Recipe: Berry Blast Ice Pops

Fantastic to keep in the fridge during the hot summer days. My Little man would come home from daycare on hot days and would do anything for a berry ice pop. They also look so cool in their bands of yellow and red. Get creative and layer the colours for more interesting effects.


Ingredients (serves 5 | makes 5 ice pops)

  • 1/2 cup Full Cream milk
  • 1/4 cup Yogurt
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 handful mixed berries (blueberries/ raspberries/ black berries)

Method

  1. Mix Milk and Yogurt and split in 2 cups
  2. Add banana to one cup, Add Berries to the other cup and whip till smooth
  3. Fill in Ice Pop mould half full with Banana and milk mixture, freeze for above an hour.
  4. Fill the rest of the ice pop mould with berries and milk mixture, freeze overnight and enjoy whenever the kids want a nice healthy snack.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Product Review: Cocobella Kids

In our family hubby is the sugar nazi when it comes to what we can give the kids to eat and drink (he gives me the evil eye when I pop a jar of nutella in the shopping cart). He conscientiously reads nutrition labels and compares sugar content from everything from fruit juice to yogurt. So when I told him that I was going to get some samples of Cocobella kids coconut water to review, his first question was "How much sugar is in it?"

Turns out, there is very little sugar in these little packs. 6grams per 100ml compared to 10.8g from the "Nothing but apples" juice currently in our fridge.  So it passes Hubby's strict restrictions on sugar content. The benefits of coconut water/oil/pulp/essence is all the rage right now with health advocates recommending it for use in everything from eating to rubbing into face/hair/nails. I'm no nutritionist so I'll let them tell you all about the health benefits.

Personally I love coconut water simply for the refreshing taste and partially because the kids don't usually end up hijacking my drink after taking an initial sip. So I was a little dubious about how a coconut water drink would go down with little kids. This reluctance of little people to try straight up coconut water must have also occurred to the makers of Cocobella kids because they've mixed up their coconut water with fruit juice, Apple & Berry or Mango and Pineapple.

So when the samples arrived I gathered up my focus group. 4 kids aged between 3 to 4. Friends of my little man who had come over for a playdate. They were each allowed to pick which flavour they wanted (which they did based on their favorite colour rather than the actual ingredients). By coincidence 2 picked the red (Apple berry) and 2 picked the yellow (Mango Pineapple).  My little man who picked the yellow decided after 2 sips that he wanted the red one and some exchanges had to be negotiated after that he decided that the Apple & Berry flavour was the only way to go.  In fact all the kids eventually swapped to the Apple and Berry after taste testing each others packs.

It looks like Cocobella has surprisingly managed to work their coconut water to fit a kids palate with the addition of tried and true fruity flavours to produce a refreshing low sugar option for snack times and lunch boxes. My little man refers to these little boxes as coconut juice boxes and raids the fridge for them just like he does for straight up juice or yakult he still prefers the Apple and Berry flavour but will just as easily have a Mango and Pineapple one if it's all he can find in the fridge.

I'll be perfectly honest and say that two or more of these juice boxes have found their way into mummy and daddy's work lunch boxes as well to er... keep the sandwiches cool... yeah thats the reason... ok so maybe we find them pretty yummy as well. Why should the kids have all the fun! In our house at least the adults prefer the Mango Pineapple flavour, which works out well with the kids' preferences of Apple Berry.

The ecomum in me automatically raged at the use of single serve juice boxes (we never buy these usually), However it has been somewhat satiated by reading on the box that the package was fully recyclable. And that the juice were packed at the source which reduced the amount of transportation of materials.

In summary, the kids enjoyed them (especially chilled on a hot day) and maybe for once mum and dad can hijack the kids drinks instead of the other way around.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Tuesday tip - don't cook occasionally

That's right, you heard me - don't cook. It's a terrible thing, but people need to eat ALL the time. Especially small children; mine are particularly fond of declaring "I'm hungry" approximately 3.141592653 seconds after I've cleared away the last meal.

In our household we have a veg*n, a die hard carnivore, a picky toddler and a nursling, as well as two hounds. That makes for a lot of meals. Although we try to eat in themes - for example, on Mexican night there is a mince option and a bean option, it still makes for a lot of leftovers.

Now I'm frugal and I hate waste. So once a week or so, we schedule a hunt and gather night.

What that means is that we don't cook anything new, and instead we scavenge around the fridge and the freezer for leftovers and make up a meal. First in gets first dibs (unless one of you is pregnant or PMSing, that's always trumps!).

By not cooking and scheduling in a night where you forage in a modern manner, those leftovers get eaten and there is much less waste come bin day. Wins all around (except for the hounds who then have to eat proper dog food because there isn't any human food for them to beg for). Ha!

Read more about how I meal plan here.


Monday, 23 February 2015

How does your Garden Grow: HELP my tomatoes are taking over!






Inspired by this gardening series from Withafork.blogspot.com I've decided to provide my own little sneak peek into my adventures into veggie growing.


Remember my Egg Shell seedlings? That seems like such a long time ago but since then the combination of bright sunny days inter-spaced with heavy rain has resulted in the tomatoes totally taking over my little veggie patch.

It has even swallowed up a healthy brown onion plant which survives only because it's leaves are tall enough to grow above the tomato plants. All other seedlings (carrots and zucchini) planted in that garden bed were completely consumed.

At least we're have a bounty of Tomatoes!

I wonder if Ms Fork will swap me some eggplants. Since I can't seem to get those to grow no matter how hard I try.


What should I do with all of them? Any ideas?


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Tuesday Tip: Save our knees

Today's tip comes from very extensive experience. Many many sleepless nights of experience. Forget saving our sleep.... that is an impossible dream... but at least we can save our knees.

Getting a baby to sleep is exercise. Serious exercise. It works out your arms, core, thighs and legs. Hours of bouncing and swaying and rocking it can be hard on the joints. Personally I found that my knees fared the worst (those are the days I feel way too old to be a mum). However put my in a situation where the baby is almost asleep and my legs are burning and shivering from the effort and I'd rather my legs fall off than stop bouncing.

I also have 2 little ones who don't seem to like rocking motions and prefer to be bounced up and down so the rocking chair we got doesn't do the trick of getting them to sleep.

But we can save our knees.... with an EXERCISE BALL! Yep. This handy little air filled ball is great for bouncing on and getting the little one off to dream land. And you can also get some incidental core exercise in at the same time without serious overexertion. Just remember to keep your back straight and and use the ball to do your bouncing for ya. Far less energy and probably better for your back and knees than the awful posture carrying a wriggling baby naturally puts you in.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Recipe: Apple, Bacon and Maple Muffins

In our house we love bacon. I think the kids get it especially strongly from their American Daddy.

One day while being stuck under 2 sleeping kids I had the inspiration for trying out Bacon and Apples together in a muffin. My testers really loved the result but a couple of days after, my husband comes up to me and says... you know those apple and bacon muffins you made.... would it still work if you added maple syrup into it. I just had to try it and after a few measurement trials I think the recipe below perfectly balances the salty sweet and crisp flavours that is Apple Bacon and Maple Muffins,

Give it a try and let me know what you think.



Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Tuesday tip - take a rain check

Did you know, that if a supermarket is out of an advertised special, you can ask for a rain check? No? Neither did I, but you can! And this little tip is a gem!

Ask for rain checks on specials

If something you want is out of stock and an advertised special, you're entitled to a rain check. You can have up to four that you can use anytime within the next TWELVE months! Genius!

Quinoa reduced to $3 from $15 (example may be exaggerated) but none left on the shelf? No worries, just ask at the checkout / service desk and you will get your rain check - four of them if you ask actually. And you can then buy that item at the reduced price any time within the next 12 months by presenting your rain check.

Winner, winner, quinoa dinner!

Have you gotten any bargains lately?

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Tuesday Tip: The no scrub method of removing mould stains

I don't know about you but I hate cleaning wet mess. Give me a messy library to sort through and I'm happy. However things like dishes, handwashing clothes and cleaning the shower and toilet are like yuck. So I'm always on the look out for short cuts to getting these unpleasant jobs done fast and with the least amount of physical contact (from me).

Since moving in to our current house I've had a huge problem with our shower. The previous shower leaked and left a yucky mould patch on the shower floor. I spent an eternity scrubbing all the mould off with alternate applications of vinegar, gumption, sweat and tears. I was pretty sure I got all the mould off but it left stains which looked like they had actually seeped into the plastic and grout itself. I consulted professional cleaners (who suggested bleach), holy men (who suggested exorcism) and soothsayers (who suggested burning various herbs). I tried the bleach and went back to scrubbing but to no avail. The stains would not budge.

Then I met Mr W, a professional cleaner whose services I was very fortunate to win in a fathers day photo contest. He suggested that instead of scrubbing with the bleach, I should lay sheets of paper towels on the shower floor and splash it with bleach and just leave it for a an hour or so. I was dubious given the amount of elbow grease I'd already put in that a simple leave and soak would work. So I tried it and OMG... it worked! And I didn't even have to scrub a thing!

Bleach Soaked Paper Towels. Corners have been left to show contrast. 

And the Difference! The bottom half is nice and white while the top corners still need a treatment. 


Caution: I used gloves for all parts of this process because bleach on hands is yuck and possibly dangerous. Also make sure the area is well ventilated. I did this all on a nice windy day when the kids were out of the house.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Tuesday tip - Making a dent in clutter

If your house is anything like mine, things just migrate constantly. Before children, everything had a home and I knew exactly where to find everything. These days, it's anyone's guess. My kids like to look at things and move them around, and my mind isn't what it used to be prior to pregnancies either! Heck, just the other day, I spent more time than I'd like to admit looking for my glasses (they were on my head).

Anyway, todays tip is all about chipping away at the endless clutter.

Never leave a room empty handed

Sure, sounds simple, but think about it. If I'm doing something in the kitchen and find something that doesn't belong, I pick it up and move to to wear it should be. I'm constantly running after the toddler so I'm in and out of rooms all day. It's surprising what turns up when I look for the out of place items too!

How do you deal with clutter?

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Product Review: The New Dyson Cool - Not just a pretty face

Ever since Dyson first came out with their first generation of Blade-less fans, I've wanted one. Even without knowing anything about the features and performance, I coveted it because of its gorgeous design, sleek lines and futuristic contours. However at that time we were just starting a family and practicality seemed to dictate that shouldn't spend big money on a luxury item no matter how sexy it looked when you could get something which did the same thing for much less money.

If only I could go back in time and tell myself how wrong I was. I could have been enjoying this gorgeous machine in my life much sooner. And it turns out it's fantastically practical as well for parents with small kids as well. 

As you probably already guessed, we have one of these little beauties thanks to the good people at Dyson and Kidsbusiness (for bringing us together). Here are some details of the model we've been testing and the Testers. 

The Product

Description: Dyson's fan (Desk Fan size) draws in surrounding air - amplifying it to create a jet of powerful smooth airflow with no blades.  
Whats New: More powerful airflow. 75% quieter and uses 40% less energy. 


The Testers

3 year old Little Man - Rambunctious, Loud, Always keen to figure things out for himself. 

7 month old Little Missy - Needs to touch (and chew) on everything. Has an attraction to anything moving. Loves to pull things on top of herself (Toys, Mats, Chairs, the dog....). Mum's blood pressure has been high since she started crawling. 



Assembly

I feel sorry for the poor guy who had to write the instruction manual for this machine because it was so unnecessary that he or she must feel like it was a complete waste of time. The unit came in 3 parts. The top the base and the remote control. handy stickers indicated where the top and the base fitted and slid into place. The Little Man practically setting it up by himself while proudly pointing to the sticker and saying "Number 1 Mummy, it's the number 1" There are only 2 steps to assembly. 

What they thought

The Good

The Little Man immediately claimed that the fan was his and wanted to know why it wasn't in his room. So far we've been quite particular about the fan in his room. The previous fan was a solid (and heavy) metal desk fan with very tight fan guard since we know that our Little Man tends to like to stick his fingers into everything. 

No such worry with the Dyson Cool and his little fingers are safe. Also since it's so lightweight, I don't worry about it being pulled over the kids so it doesn't have to be a solid heavy base. The Little Miss tried several times to tug it over her while it was on the ground while it was on and didn't seem to be fussed when it fell on her. That is not to say it's completely safe to be put around kids. Since Dyson haven't figured out how to make their unit electrically wireless, the electric wires are still within reach and have the exact same hazards that all plugs do.

Mum and Dad's favorite function is the remote control when not in use it magnetically attaches to the top of the unit so it doesn't get loss. The remote has controls Power, Oscillation and Sleep timer.

The controls are very easy to use and very intuitive that the last few days when it was hot I'd often find Little man would quietly disappear into his room to turn on the fan and sit in front of it by himself (if only he'd learn to switch it off before leaving the room)

The Bad

Dyson products sit firmly in the "I want" part of my brain and for one reason only cannot shift into the "I need" section. This reason is the price. I'm not saying that the Dyson Cool AM06 is not worth it's $450 price tag but with that money you could get a decent portable air-conditioner. It's not going to look as sexy, operate as quiet or make you the envy of all your friends like the Dyson Cool will but it'll do the job just as well.

Conclusion

The Dyson Cool only goes to show that you don't have to give up sexy looking appliances with small kids in the house because practical can also look pretty darn hot cool.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Tuesday Tip: Call your Electricity/Cable/Telephone/Credit Card Provider

Everyone is always looking for a good deal but not everyone has the time to go comparing electricity plans or telephone plans. I'm convinced that with the advent of comparing companies like iSelect and Compare the meerkat market that there is some conspiracy where these companies take turns to be the lowest cost... then up their prices so that another becomes cheaper which spreads out the customer base while maintaining a steady income. But then I'm always paranoid that someone is trying to cheat me out of my hard earned buck.

But here are some quick and easy tips for saving some money WITHOUT changing providers:
  • Sometimes its not a bad idea to listen to what a competitor is selling and take notes. Usually this comes in the form of those poor souls who go door to door. I feel so sorry for them at the same time I am annoyed that they come to the house ESPECIALLY if they wake the baby.
  • Call your existing provider and ask them what deals are currently on and whether they can do something better for ya (helps to say that a competitor was at your door and that they were offering a better deal but don't tell them the specifics yet)
  • Being super nice to the person on the phone also helps. Friendly but firm... remember these people are still trying to take your money.
  • I find that saying that you've been very happy with their service and it would be such an utter wretch to have to leave them because someone is offering a better deal. 
Some additional tips: 
  • Even if you are on an existing plan the good people behind the computer can find something to sweeten the deal. 
  • If you're on a plan and the company changes rates on you or changes the terms of the contract, you have (in most instances) up to 30 days in order to call them and call foul and exit the plan with no exit fees. 
  • Set reminders for yourself to call these guys every 6 months of so to check if there is a better deal (I've been told 3-6 months by the guy at my electricity company but who has that time)
  • For credit cards, call before your annual fees are about to be charged and tell them you're considering dropping the card because you have others. Sometimes this results in a reduction or refund of some fees. This only really works if there is no balance outstanding on the card. 
So far I've had success from doing this with my electricity and telephone provider with some marginal success with cable because you have to call after your plan runs out and then bug them to change you to the one they are offering to new customers, so far this has been hit and miss. 

Just recently I got my electricity company to change my discount from a 18% to 40% discount. Saves me a couple of hundred a year. It was a 5 min call and didn't require any additional paperwork or fees. It may not be the absolute best deal out there but it saves me money and I didn't have to go do any research or through the hassle of changing providers or dealing with contracts and paperwork. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tuesday tip - Make your own buttermilk

In an effort to blog more regularly, we are introducing a weekly post segment, where we will share a life hack style tip every Tuesday. It could be about anything - eco tips, financial tips, cooking tips, something crafty, or maybe even a crazy good sale we've come across. The point is, it will be something fantastic that we think needs sharing.

Feel free to add your own tips in the comments or even let us know suggestions for future Tuesday tips!

Without further ado, the first tip for 2015:

Making your own buttermilk

Buttermilk is one of those ingredients that I use rarely, and don't tend to have on hand for the rare recipe that requires it. No problem though! You can make your own buttermilk from regular milk - just add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and let it stand for 5 minutes or so.  The neat thing is that this tip works in other milk types as well, so you can make soy buttermilk!

Note that the milk will curdle a little. That's part of the process, and you use the curds in your cooking as well. No need to skim them off at all.

Do you use buttermilk? What are your favourite buttermilk recipes?

Monday, 5 January 2015

Crafty Mum: To avoid the death of a salesman

I created this little beauty. Because NOBODY should come face to face with me after being the cause of waking the baby!


Its for their sake not mine I assure you!