A Quilt for my Little Man

After making a few quilts for friends having babies over the last few years, I was excited to get stuck into a cot quilt for my own little man recently!

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I made the quilt top out of scraps I already had, and had my first attempt at patch working blocks. I love the traditional patchwork style and I’m keen to try some more like it.

I’m pleased with the end result, and I’m now looking forward to using it as inspiration when planning the new nursery.

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24 weeks along now, so only four more months until we meet the little man and I can snuggle him up in his new quilt 🙂

Abby xx

 

Money Saving Strategies: Part 2

 

This post is a Continuation of Money Saving Strategies: Part 1. Find it here.

More money saving strategies we use:

Baby Stuff

Babies are expensive creatures!

  • I buy the cheap supermarket brand disposable nappies for use during the day, and only use the more expensive brand overnight. This would save us about $20 a month.
  • We only use wipes for number 2’s, and again I buy the supermarket brand. Number 1’s are cleaned up with tissues and sorbolene cream, not only is this much much cheaper, but much kinder on little bottoms. Those wipes have a lot of nasty chemicals in them!
  • We have one of those fancy nappy disposal bins that seals off each nappy, trapping the smells inside. It’s a brilliant contraption, but each cartridge costs at least $10!! So we only use this bin for stinky number 2’s, and have a separate bin with a bin liner in it for number 1’s. The number 1 bin doesn’t seal the smell in as well, but we just make sure we empty it more frequently.
  • When we were at the puree stage, I made all of Miss E’s purees and froze them, and used jar food only when we were out and about for ease and convenience.
  • I buy formula, nappies, wipes, baby food and anything else I can in bulk, only when they’re on special.

Clothes

  • I make do with what I already have far more often than what I used to and now try to buy pieces that I know will be worn over and over again. I try to buy lots of neutral pieces that will go together with different outfits, and buy end of season clearance stock when I can. A tip I picked up recently was to choose a signature colour (in my case blue) and build your wardrobe with pieces in shades of this colour and neutrals, that way everything will go together nicely, and you can create more outfits with less pieces.
  • For Miss E and the little man joining us soon, I’ve barely paid full price for a single item of clothing they own. Again, I buy end of season stock ahead of time. Miss E is currently wearing size 1, and so when I see a clearance rack, I’m looking ahead to pieces in size 2 and 3. For the little man I’m buying 0000’s, 000’s, 00’s, 0’s and 1’s when I see them cheap at the moment. With summer drawing to a close I bought 8 separate swimsuit items off the clearance rack for Miss E and the little man for a total $22.50, with their original price totalling $82! We’ve got enough bathers to get us through the next two summers now!
  • I repair and alter what I can instead of throwing it out. Fixing a hem or sewing a button back on takes all of 15 minutes, and doesn’t cost me a cent.

Other strategies

  • I never carry more than a couple of dollars in cash. If the money isn’t sitting there in my purse, I’m not likely to spend it on a soft drink or snack here and there. This is as good for my health as it is for my pocket!
  • I don’t browse or window shop anymore. If I don’t know it exists then I won’t want it.
  • I save up the things that I ‘want’ but don’t ‘need’ for gift suggestions when it’s my birthday, Mother’s Day or Christmas, i.e. new handbag, sunglasses, books etc.
  • If we can make it ourselves for cheaper than it can be bought, then that’s exactly what we’ll do. This goes for baby items, house renovations, pasta sauces, anything within our capabilities.
  • We’ve made a conscious effort to turn off lights in the rooms we’re not in. If there’s no one in that room, there probably doesn’t need to be a light on. We also don’t have a dryer, and dry all our clothes out in the sunshine, or inside in front of a window if it’s cold and raining.
  • We watch the fuel cycle and buy when it’s cheap, using discount vouchers when we have them. I say we, but really Matt just takes care of this and I don’t have to think about it!

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I think one of the key things to remember when you’re trying to save a few dollars is to treat yourself every now and then. Have a fancy dinner every now and then, buy that killer pair of heels, just don’t do it all the time 🙂 Life gets a little boring if you only meat from the clearance section!

Take and adapt whatever works for you, ignore what doesn’t and please share any great money saving strategies you use to get by!

Abby xx

Money saving strategies: Part 1

 

I’ve been doing this Stay at Home Mum thing for just over a year now, and I’m loving spending lots of time with my little lady. The less loveable part of being a Stay at Home Mum has been the Stay at Home Mum salary – zilch.

Going from a double income couple to a single income family was quite an adjustment to make and forced us to rethink some of the ways we spend our dollars. I’m hardly the first person to encounter this, and definitely not the first to share money saving strategies, but thought I’d share just a few ideas and changes I’ve made to help keep our costs down.

Look at your bank/credit card statement, insurance policies and service providers

I regularly sit down with our statements to see where all our money’s disappearing to, and which of these expenses could be cut out, or at least made smaller and at least once a year look at our insurance policies and service providers to see whether I could be getting a better deal. Some changes I’ve made:

  • I cancelled all of our direct debited charity donations. I felt a little guilty about this initially, but reassured myself that we’d spent years donating to these causes and have made sure that I still do one off donations here and there for my favourite charities. If you’re locked in to donating $20 a month, that’s $240 a year, and though I won’t bother with the math, I’m pretty sure thats equivalent to a lot of nappies!
  • I called our health, home and contents, and car insurance providers and tweaked each policy to make them cheaper. For our health insurance this meant adding a premium and cutting out the extras that I wasn’t using, saving hundreds of dollars. For our home and contents and car insurance I rang the insurance company and asked if they could do a better deal for us, and managed to shave a few hundred dollars off, I then increased our premiums, shaving a few more dollars off. Given that we very rarely call on using any of our insurance, we decided that if we had to make a claim, we could probably afford the premium so long as we keep a little money aside ‘for a rainy day’.
  • We looked into all of our service providers and decided that the money we were spending on phones was ridiculous. Keeping two mobile phones, a home phone, and internet going, was costing a small fortune. As a result, neither of us are on Mobile Phone plans anymore, instead we both use prepaid and don’t regularly update our phones. We’re both still going strong with our iPhone 4’s, and won’t be replacing them until they die. When they do need replacing, we’ll buy the phone outright and continue with prepaid. No phone contracts for us!

Grocery shopping / Food

  • I sit down and plan our weeks meals every Sunday night, and then write out my shopping list before I hit the shops on Monday morning. When planning my meals I’m thinking about what’s already in my fridge/freezer/pantry that I need to use up, what I can make that we’ll leave leftovers for lunch the next day (or popped in the freezer for a lazy day) and how much dinner prep time I’m going to have available to me on that day. This systems works well for me because I’m not much of a cook, and so would otherwise leave dinner decision making to the last minute and opt for takeaway or vegemite on toast. It also means nothing goes to waste, because I buy exactly the amount I need of everything, throwing little out.
  • I love a good bargain! I buy non-perishables in bulk when they’re on special (toilet paper, tooth brushes, shampoo, pasta, canned tomatoes, cleaning products, dog food, nappies, etc) but only if I know I’m actually going to use them, and I have the space to store them.
  • I try to buy most of my meat when it’s only got a few days left on it’s ‘use by’ and is reduced to clear, and when I get home I divide it up into the quantities we will use it (i.e. two pieces of steak, 4 sausages) bag them up, and put them in the freezer. When I’m planning the next weeks meals, I’ll be looking in my freezer to see what meals I can create with the meat we’ve already got.
  • I try to buy the majority of fruit and veg according to what is in season and therefore cheapest.
  • We have lots of fruit trees, and a veggie garden (sometimes in operation) so get some of our fruit and veg free (we also water our fruit trees and veggie garden from our rain water tanks, saving us more dollars!)
  • Meatless monday – One night a week we would eat a dinner with no meat. It was usually much cheaper and also gives you points for being kind to the environment!
  • We eat out less often than we used to, and usually drink water with our meals.
  • We drink less pod coffee than we used to. At one stage I calculated that I alone was drinking approximately $20 worth of pod coffee a week. I placed a ‘one pod a day’ limit on myself, and either went without, or drank instant coffee the rest of the day. Now that I’m pregnant, I’m not drinking very much anyway.

Entertainment

  • We don’t watch a lot of TV, so we’re happy with free to air. We’re against illegally downloading movies and TV shows, so we check out iview regularly when we’re looking for something different to watch, or borrow DVD’s from the local video shop or library.
  • To entertain Miss E and myself during our weekdays at home, I’ve found a number of free or very cheap activities to keep us amused. We attend a playgroup once a week that only asks for a $1 donation each time we come, we go to Preschool Storytime (link here for South Aussies) at our local library once a week which is completely free, and I’m part of a mothers group who meet once a week at either a cafe, a local park or at one of our houses. When we’re not doing these things we try to visit family and friends or head to the park, rather than going out for lunch or coffee with friends.
  • I stopped buying books, and I used to buy a LOT of books. I either borrow from the library, family and friends or when I specifically want to own a book, I wait and ask for it as a gift for birthdays/Christmas etc.

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In part 2 I’ll share some more strategies for saving money on Baby stuff, clothes and much much more.

Take and adapt whatever works for you, ignore what doesn’t and please share any great money saving strategies you use to get by!

Abby xx

 

Alexander’s Outing: A book activity

 

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I’ve got a little bookworm on my hands. Which suits me just fine!

She loves Where is the Green Sheep? (see here) and brings it to me constantly during the day to read to her. With a huge selection of Children’s books in this house, I decided it was time we explored some new titles.

So we started with Alexander’s Outing by Pamela Allen

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Alexander’s Outing is the story of a duckling called Alexander who did not pay attention when walking with his mother and the other ducklings. When crossing the road, Alexander falls down a hole in the road, and the story then follows how people try to help get Alexander out. Eventually they discover that by filling the hole with water, Alexander can float to the top and out of the hole again.

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Miss E enjoyed this story, particularly because we have quite a collection of rubber ducks and she knows what a ‘ducky’ is, and that it says ‘quack quack’.

Using our collection of rubber ducks, I came up with a little water play activity to play with after reading the book.

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I gathered my supplies:

  • Baby bath with a little water in the bottom (you could use a large container, kitchen sink, bath)
  • Rubber ducks
  • Plastic cup
  • Container to fill (I used a medium sized mixing bowl)
  • Towel for catching all the spills

and stripped Miss E down to a nappy and T-shirt, because she was always going to end up soaking wet.

IMG_8230We put a duck in the bowl and slowly filled the bowl with water, making the duck rise to the top.

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We repeated this a few times with different ducks, and different levels of success at tipping the water into the bowl and not onto ourselves (Miss E, not me!).

Then we had some free play, which was mostly just a lot of splashing and tipping water everywhere, but a lot of fun on a hot day!

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I’ll repeat this activity when Miss E’s a little older, with rubber ducks, balls, leaves, rocks, toy cars etc, so that we can explore the idea of what sinks and what floats.

and now we go back to the book collection to find some more activities we can link to books!

Abby xx

 

A Love Story

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We’re not great celebrators of Valentine’s Day here, never have been. So we’ll just be celebrating our run of the mill Saturday, swimming lessons, catching up with family and avoiding the forecasted 42 degree heat!

So here’s a little love story of a different kind. The love between a little girl and her Penny dog.

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When all goes quiet in the house, this is where I find them, watching the world go by, and possibly licking the window.

The best of friends.

Abby xx

A baby girl quilt

 

A good friend of mine had a beautiful little baby girl a couple of months ago, and I whipped up a cute cot quilt for her.

I’m disappointed by the quality of the photos I took, as they really don’t do the colours justice.

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This is the quilt I mentioned way back here. The first quilt I completed with a mink backing. I was told it couldn’t be done, but I did it!

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I hope it’s new owner will get plenty of use out of it as winter rolls around 🙂

Abby xx

 

I’m Back! With big news!

Sorry about the rather long unexplained absence.

I’ve been busy baking…

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a Baby Boy!

I disappeared at first because Morning Sickness and Miss E were sapping every little bit of energy I had, and then just took my time wandering back.

But I’m here, and excited! I’ve so much to share and catch up on 🙂

I look forward to sharing more with you soon.

Abby xx

Living in the moment

I’m a bit of an obsessive planner and record keeper. I like to convince myself that it’s me being organised, but I’m not organised at all. I’m just spending too much time living in the past and the future.

So I’m taking a step back, and instead of writing about what has been and what will be, writing endless to do lists, and photographing everything, I’m going to live in the moment a little more.

Instead of posting 3 to 4 times regularly each week, I’ll be sharing things only when I feel the need to.

More time for reading, gardening, playing, creating and ‘doing’ instead of planning. After all, the past is already behind us, and the future is never guaranteed. All we have is now 🙂

I’ll see you next time I have a burning desire to share a craft project 😛

Abby xx

A Baby Boy Quilt

I was so excited to give this beautiful baby boy quilt to it’s new owner on Saturday.

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(got to love this photo with the very glamorous shed in the background, and unfinished pizza oven in the foreground!

The little man hasn’t arrived yet, but I hope he loves it!

I had so much fun making it.

baby quilt cotWe’ve a few more friends having babies soon, so the baby quilt production line continues 🙂

It’s just lucky I love making them.

Abby xx

 

A new path!

This week we (well not so much me) have been working on the path between our house and the sandpit.

This has been on the to do list for at least a year, but due to the labour intensive work, has been put off and put off time and time again.

Here’s how it all came together:

The path and sandpit border are made from recycled old red bricks, that Matt painstakingly removed old paint, mortar and concrete from, before laying them.

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IMG_5529I had the very important job of wetting the bricks and handing them to him!

The rock on the inside is also recycled. It was advertised as a giveaway by a landscaper, making over a garden.

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The process of finding the perfect placement for each rock was almost another painful process.

Once placement decisions were made, Matt tried taking some panorama shots of the layout, before removing them.

All the panorama shots were hilarious!

IMG_5561Thankfully he had a chalk reference system as well.

After a weeks work, the path is done, and I was finally able to make a garden bed.

IMG_5570Now there’s only another 23 metres of path to go on the other side of the sandpit…

Slow and steady wins the race!

Abby xx