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!