Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Green With Envy

I saw this quote on Pinterest over the Christmas break and I fell in love with it for so many reasons.

As I've mentioned in the past as a renter it is a requirement to keep the grass at our property green. It is probably the most difficult clause of our rental contract.
We live in Perth where summer runs from December to May and winters are dry. We get maybe two months of the year where we get a fair bit of rain but it's right before summer hits. So you get your grass looking lush only to have it scorched by the summer heat by Christmas Day.

We have to abide by water restrictions as we pay the fine if we don't, and because it's the right thing to do of course, but to be honest it is just not enough.

So I spend a lot of time truly admiring the greener grass in our street. There are few homes with grass that is just asking to be played on, blades of soft green buffalo ready for you to lie on with a good book. I often think of the term 'The grass is greener on the other side' because it literally is.

However one house just down the street very recently ripped up, not too soft looking but definitely green, grass. The entire front yard was pulled up and disposed of. It was replaced with a lovely landscaped garden, limestone retaining walls and fresh rolls of heavenly looking grass.

Now three weeks later the entire yard is dead!

So I'm finding myself thinking of the monetary meaning behind the saying that this quote is inspired by.

The house with the now dead lawn is lived in by its owners, I cannot know for sure but given statistics I'm fairly certain the landscaping they had done was bought with a fair amount of credit.

When I look at that dead grass I smile. I feel bad for its owners because it would not have been cheap but I smile because the grass is now actually greener on OUR side, literally and figuratively.

We are tending to our grass, which incase you missed my possibly not so subtle hint is actually our finances, and we are feeding it the right stuff to get it the greenest it can be for the future.

To make things a little less about grass...

We are not going crazy with credit - in fact we don't use credit at all anymore - we are being smart about what we spend money on, we are having fun as a family without blowing the budget, and we are all very happy.

Give your grass a good look, if it's not as green as you'd like or if you find yourself longingly looking at the lawn two houses down take a moment to stop and think about how you can better care for your own grass, it needs your help as it won't stay green on its own.

Oh and if anyone has any budget friendly suggestions for actual lawn care I'd love to hear them.

Hears to green grass for everyone in 2015


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Location:Green With Envy

Friday, November 28, 2014

Break Free From The Herd

In case you missed it we are a month away from Christmas. People are going crazy trying to fit gifts into the budget - not me because I start my Christmas shopping in January but most other people - and then they're freaking out at the size of the list of people they have to buy for.

I should re phrase that it's not 'have to buy for' it's 'feel they should buy for to keep up appearances or to fit in with the Jones'.

Newsflash people "The Jones' are broke, you do not want to be like them"

I've had a handful of friends over the past couple of weeks talking to me about how many gifts they need to buy for their children's school teachers and I'm completely blown away by this.

I'm grateful yes that my child's teacher is doing her job and, no hang on there is no 'and' they are doing their job, end of story.

My work history is early childhood education so I've been there caring for twenty plus kids day after day. It was what I CHOSE to do. I'll admit too that I loved that at the end of the year they would shower myself and the other teachers with gifts but I NEVER expected it. Not for simply doing my job. I got a thank you each day, I saw the kids with huge smiles as they learnt a new skill I taught them so yes I loved the gifts - who doesn't love getting presents? - but if one child didn't hand out presents I didn't treat them or their parents any differently because I wasn't in it for the gifts.

To be honest if you're a teacher who expects to be handed presents at the end of the year then I think perhaps you're in teaching for the wrong reasons and the children would be better off without you.

My children will hand out a Christmas card to their teacher thanking them for helping them grow and learn over the year but that's where it ends.

I'd really like to know where everyone is getting their money from to be buying all these extra gifts too. I know not everyone is on the same finance journey that The Husband and I are on but I do know that a lot of people these days are strapped for cash. How do you justify a possible $100 on two to five acquaintances? And why do you push the budget to do it?

There is always going to be one mum that is actually better off than the rest of the class and that mum is nearly always going to lavish teachers with expensive gifts. Maybe she does it because she's lonely and depressed for reasons we'll never know and shopping makes her feel better. The fact is she is not you. Don't make her way your way. You are a great mum (or dad), stick to the budget, thank your children's teachers because YES they do an amazing job and deal with a lot of crap but don't break the bank just to fit in. We are not sheep, be your own person.

I am in no way feeling guilty at all about not buying gifts for Miss fours teachers - she has four this year - I see no reason why I should be. I won't blush from embarrassment when 'that' mum - yep I have one in my class - arrives with a big gift bag over flowing and I have cards.

I'm here to help you understand that you don't need to do it. I am not intentionally bashing those who do feel they need to buy gifts but my blog is to show you how to work with in your budget and that means eliminating guilty buys.

If you can fit it in your budget, comfortably so that you don't actually notice the extra expense, then go for it. Thank the teachers with a gift. If however it will be a struggle, if you'll need the credit card to pay for it, if you'll have to cut out something for your family then stick to a thank you card.

I can guarantee you that a card filled with a heartfelt thank you will be remembered long after the chocolates are eaten, the bubble baths been re gifted and the gift vouchers been spent.


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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Christmas Activity List...

That's Aussie Christmas Friendly

Image courtesy of Flikr Creative Commons, by Carlos Silvestre

Go Ice Skating - in fact I highly recommend putting aside the cash to do this and plan it for a day that the weatherman says is going to be one of the Hottest. It'll be a Free 'air con, family fun, christmas adventure' all in one ticket price.

Write a Christmas light scavenger hunt list and go once a week. If you want to save money walk it. Go in a different direction each time so you see a different part of your neighbourhood. If you're open to taking the car visit suburbs you wouldn't normally see.

Sing and dance to Christmas songs. Even if you don't have kids. Put on the Christmas music, turn up the volume and sing like your on TV. Don't forget to dance around like a leprechaun.

Make Christmas cards. Pretty self explanatory. Your $2 type stores have heaps of craft supplies to do this. It makes the card giving process more personal.

Decorate your windows with paper snowflakes. Honestly, please do this and make extra for me! This is one of those crafts I just cannot get right. Which is totally depressing given how much I love snow. String them up with cotton or fishing wire and try and convince yourself it's not 40 degrees outside.

Bake Christmas cookies. I'll share some links soon for Christmas themed cookies that don't need icing - you know that yummy stuff that melts on hot days? - batch them up and hand out as a teacher thank you, or to neighbours, church friends, work colleagues. If gifted the day after baking cookies make great gifts, or you could just eat them all yourself but whatever you do with them save two or three for Santa when he stops by on Christmas Eve.

Go to a carol service or Christmas parade. Most towns will hold a carol service you just have to look for details. I've noticed locally no one really advertises them well but if you check your local councils webpage they should have details for everything Christmassy that's happening in your area. Also check notice boards at shops and ask your child's school.

String gumnuts to hang around your tree. Now it pains me to write this because well gumnuts are not a Christmas thing but stringing cranberries or popcorn is just inviting the ants to come visit for the holidays. So gumnuts it is. If you love your Aussie summer this can become a new family tradition. Make a day of hunting for them at local parks and nature reserves.

Make your own wrapping paper. A roll of brown paper - from Kmart - some red and green paint. Throw in some silver, gold and white if you like and decorate however you wish. You can create stamps out of potatoes in most shapes, paint a sweet christmas image, let the kids loose or all of the above.

Go through your house and find donations for charity. Get the kids to pick three toys each (at least), clean out the pantry and collect canned goods still in date, give your wardrobe a clean through.

Put your Christmas tree up on December 1st.

Discover Kmarts range of SOLAR POWERED Christmas lights. I always wanted to decorate our house with lights but never wanted to pay the electricity bill it would create. This year we've been buying a box of lights every two weeks and now we have a small light display going on. Next year it'll get bigger - especially if the lights are in the Boxing Day sales :) - and I may add some to the roof.

Challenge yourself with a 'sandman' building contest. No I don't mean the man who carries the sleep dust - though it's your sand creation so if that's what you want - I mean a snowman figure out of sand. Head to the beach and see how tall you can get your 'not so frosty' to stand.

Head to your local San Churro for a seasonal 'Jingle Berry' milkshake.

Drop by Gloria Jeans for their attempt at Christmas, a Caramel popcorn latte.

If you're lucky enough to live near a Starbucks stop by and try out their christmas range, three icy frapuccino flavours: Christmas Cookies, Gingerbread and Peppermint Mocha.

Get creative and design your own cold christmas inspired beverage.

Enjoy yourself, don't be a Scrooge, remember it is NOT about the presents or how much money you spend. 

Amazing memories can be made anywhere at any time!


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Confession Time!

Did you notice the title of today's post? Before I get into my confession I'll start by saying I'm not quitting the gift guide, I'm prematurely ending it due to personal beliefs.

Are you confused yet? Read on and I'll at least try to explain.

So one of the main goals for me in writing this blog is to help you all live well but with in budget. While other goals have changed this has always been at the core. Basically living with a tight wallet, well that's how The Husband would describe it anyhow.

My intention with the DIY gift guide was to show you gift ideas that wouldn't cost a lot and you could put your heart and soul in to. The thing is though my own heart and soul wasn't in it.

Stay with me here as I may ramble from one point to another to try and explain this.

I think I'll start here: just because something is cheap does not mean it's 'cheap'. Monetarily speaking an item may not have cut into your budget but it is highly likely that it was well thought out. A gift chosen with someone's interest in mind is not cheap it's from the heart whether it cost $2 or $200.
I have a varied range of interests. I'd be just as happy with an $8 antique looking reindeer from Kmart as I would with the $80 gingerbread house candle holder from Dusk. Both items are of interest to me and if someone gave me either I know it would be because they knew this, they knew me.

This is what handmade is about. Customising products for the intended.
Let's face it. Long gone are the days when it was, monetarily speaking, cheaper to hand make all your gifts. Even buying handmade is not budget friendly now.
I completely understand why, before you jump down my throat about handmaidens needing to earn a wage too, a lot of time and effort is put into hand made items. But handmade is turning a corner in my opinion from being for the stay at home mum to save a few bucks, to an online boutique store with prices to rival Myer.

I got to thinking while I was posting my last entry about covered journals. Kmart sell funky journals for $5! So if you don't have the mod podge or fabric it's financially cheaper to head to the store and pick a book that the intended recipient would enjoy. I know this because I saw a flamingo and a pineapple the last time I was there and they nearly made it in my cart for my sister.
The only reason they didn't is because I gave myself a per person budget for Christmas gifts and I had spent it already. I'm happy with her gift, as I hope she will be, it's half Hand made and half store bought. The hand made items could have been store bought but it was a rare item that's actually cheaper to make than buy. This doesn't mean that I don't love her because I chose to save money on her gift. She is getting the same item but her little sister won't break the budget over it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is don't let the peer pressure - and by peer I actually mean media, family, and friends - get you down. Don't let this odd guilt we all carry around make you break budget this christmas.

Take this as an example:
Miss Four has been invited to two birthday parties this week. We legitimately can't make one the other we can however I honestly don't feel like taking money from my budget this week to spend on another piece of plastic to join the twenty other prettily wrapped pieces of plastic that this child will receive. It's not that I don't wish this girl the most awesome of birthdays, I do, but I have a tight budget and my family comes first...ALWAYS!
Therefore here's what I'm doing:
I'm going to Kmart - yes I know I really love that store. If you're reading from the U.S. think Walmart, from the UK think Primark - I'm going to Kmart and I'm going to go to the stationary/crafty aisles and I'm going to pick up a handful of items to make a gift basket. Coloured pencils, sketch books, stickers...the list goes on, they have SO much. But with just a few dollars she will receive a well thought out gift that will entertain her when mum and dad take away the noisy toys, or that she can take in the car, or out to tea.

The point I've been working my way to is while I thought I'd be helping by giving my readers a DIY gift guide I realised that I'd be helping more by telling you that it's ok to buy a gift that doesn't cost a lot of money or even time because at the end of the day it is the thought that counts and my love for my family and friends is like a MasterCard ad...

Homemade sugar scrub in favourite scent: $4
Board Game I know they'll love: $20
Gift wrap: handmade by children or possibly recycled from last year

Lifetime of memories: priceless

Remember it's great to create your own priceless MasterCard Christmas but remember your financial goals and try and steer clear from using the credit card for purchases.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Gift Guide Day 10

I have a slight addiction to journals. I have a small stack on my dresser just for show....

and a stack that sits in my drawer....

Then there's two or three lying around the lounge room and study as well.

The issue with having an addiction to journals is that journals are not cheap. They usually average $15 each.

Journals make great gifts for teens and teachers or anyone you know who loves to write or needs to write for their job.

All you need is:
An exercise book - I picked mine up at kmart for $1 but if you like you can shop around for a hard cover journal.
A piece of fabric in a fancy print
Mod Podge

If you've ever covered an exercise book with contact then you'll be able to do this. You follow the same steps except you're adding the glue to make the fabric sticky. It's actually better as its easier to eliminate air bubbles.

Brush glue over one cover and lay on top of fabric.
Snip corners on an angle and straight down at the spine.
Brush glue along edges of book and fold fabric in.

You can trim up any stray fabric pieces at this point, once the glue dries it will stop the fabric from fraying any further.

As you're using mod podge allow this side to dry for two hours before finishing the other cover.

Once your two hours have passed repeat on the remaining side.

Leave book to dry then snip the remaining hanging fabric at each end of the spine.

I will add here that I recommend darker prints. The pink fabric I used was picked by Miss Four but is see through, I can read all the text on the cover of the exercise book.

Add a packet of fancy pens or pencils and you've got a great stocking stuffer for under 18 year olds or 31 year olds with a journal addiction.


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Monday, November 17, 2014

Gift Guide Day 9

Today's gift makes it onto the 'Man Friendly Handmade Present' list. As with most of the projects in this DIY Gift guide it's completely customisable, which is why I made mine for the holidays - you can never have too many Christmas decorations - and it's why you can make them for any football fan, music nut, beer lover or automobile addict.

You can also make them for grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, neighbours.....

I never used to be a coaster person. I've never had a coffee table I was worried about getting moisture rings on and until recently I'd never really come across any coasters I liked the look of. That was until I started searching Etsy for homewares and discovered a whole world out there of customised coasters.

The biggest issue I had was deciding what theme to go with. We have plenty of family photos around the house so I didn't want photo coasters. It was a toss up between Christmas and Moose - I have an odd love of Moose - given the time of year and the fact that I was watching Home Alone I decided on using quotes from some of my favourite Christmas films.

For these coasters you will need

Mod Podge - this is more than just a glue it's a sealant as well. Try not to let the price put you off. The small bottle is around $10 however it will last you several projects so is worth the expense. You can pick it up at Spotlight, Bunnings or craft stores.

Coaster bases - .69cents each at Bunnings. My mouth dropped open I'll admit, that price is just insane. You could make coasters for everyone on your Gift list at that price.

Printed images - you can use photos, images printed on paper, magazine cut outs.

The how to is simple:

Read the instructions on your mod podge. Brush the back of your image with the glue and stick to the coaster base. Leave to dry for two hours then apply your first coat of sealant. Simply brush lightly over the top of your image.
Leave to dry for 15 minutes and apply a second coat.

And now you're done. One more DIY Budget Friendly Gift.


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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gift Guide Day 8

Like my own family I know a lot of people have fur babies who are just as much a part of their family as the humans who grace their gift list therefore I had to add a gift for our furry friends to the DIY Budget Friendly Gift guide.

Basic Dog Biscuits.

They may be basic but my kelpie was licking her chops waiting for these.

You'll need the following:
1 cup of self raising flour
1/4 cup of oats
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2cup of peanut butter
1/2 cup of milk
1 tbsp oil - I used coconut oil
1 tbsp applesauce - I put in two.

Simply mix all the ingredients together then turn out on to a lightly floured surface. Roll out and cut out shapes of your choice.

I had no bone shape cookie cutter so I made circles and stars and with the last little bit of dough I attempted to make a big kind of worked.

Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown at 150c.

Store them in an airtight container. Add a ribbon and gift to your favourite furry friend.

Mine didn't last long enough to be prettied up with ribbon but they were very well received. You can see my kelpie Kate licking her lips in anticipation waiting for me to take her photo.

All up this gift probably came in under $4 with plenty of ingredients left to make more batches. Don't forget that although the gifts in this series are budget friendly they are not cheap. They are made with love and warm wishes.

Enjoy your baking

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Gift Guide Day 7

I have fallen in love with today's gift. I didn't make it to give I actually made it for myself and it just looks amazing sitting on my dresser and I'm really impressed with how well it came out.

Perfect for any woman on your gift list from 6 to 60 and yet another customisable project.

It's a photo frame jewellery holder.

Mine is basically an earring stand as I don't wear any other jewellery but if you make it bigger it would hold necklaces and bangles too with the addition of a few small tacs to use as hangers.

This will not cost a lot at all. We already know from Wednesday's post, gift guide day 6, that Kmart have huge frames for $9, so the smaller ones are even cheaper. The one I used I picked up at the Reject shop about twelve months ago for $2. It's the perfect size for my earring collection.

Besides the frame you will need a piece of fabric, some ribbon, and a hot glue gun.

I know it looks like I made mine Christmassy, well ok I did, but as I love christmas and snow this will not get old throughout the year. In fact I have a feeling it will help me through the 11 months immediately following December.

For your recipient pick a neutral fabric unless you really know their personality.

For the ribbon I've used ricrac, I'd recommend something strong so nothing satin, it has to be strong enough to support the weight of earrings and other jewellery.

Remove the glass, you won't be needing it for this project, and cut your fabric to the right size for your frame. You need about an inch on each side to stick down.

Then do just that. Wrap the board like a present sticking each side as you go.

Once the glue has dried, it takes only a minute or so to be cool enough to work with, lay your ribbon strips across the frame and place the board in place.

You don't want the ribbon pulled tight but you don't want it too loose either. Have a play around with it before you stick the ends down. I needed mine loose enough to get an earring backing behind as I only wear studs. Hooks from dangly earrings will not need it as loose.

Once you're happy with the length use the hot glue gun to stick the ends to the back of the board.

If you're not happy with the back looking as it does you can neaten it up by placing a strip of fabric around each edge to cover the ribbon ends.

That's it you're done, easy as pie.

With this budget friendly gift you could even add a pair of earrings as part of the present.

I used to keep my earrings in a pile in a basket, now they're all out where I can see them and I love it.

NB: you can see a tiny sample of my Joap collection to the right there as well

Have fun but be careful as glue from a hot glue gun lives up to its name, trust me.


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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Drum Roll Please....

The lucky winner of the Joap competition is....

Denise Hickam Dixon.

Congratulations Denise you now have to choose between the Rainbow Sugar Collection or the Christmas Treats Collection.
Please PM Jo through the Joap facebook page to discuss your choice.

Thank you to everyone who entered and thank you for continuing to show Jo loads of support as she follows her passion.

Don't forget the Epic Christmas stocking is on tonight from 9pm NSW time, 6pm WA time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Gift Guide Day 6

So far we've had two gifts that could easily be gifted to men. I'm bringing attention to this because it truly is quite hard to find handmade gifts geared towards the rougher sex.

Today's gift brings the number up to three though like the gum drops and send a hug it transcends gender and age.

In a way it's not completely handmade either but it is Budget Friendly so it made the cut.

Framed Prints.

The great thing about framed prints is that it's a completely customisable gift that can be created to meet any personality.

They are super simple, I know I've been saying that a fair bit but well it's true.

First you need to pick a saying that fits the person you'll be gifting it too. The Batman saying will be sent as part of my Brother-in-laws present. If I were to send it to a friend I might choose something like 'don't let anyone dull your sparkle' or if I were to make one for Miss Four I might choose something magical and dreamy like this....

Once you've chosen your saying hop on the computer and type it up. Now I am not talented when it comes to designing with technology but you don't need to be. Add a little colour and a simple image and you're all set. You can google search for any image, border, decorative aspect. For a more personal touch you can add a photo of you and the recipient.

When you're happy with how your print looks print it. If you've got a colour printer save money and do it at home, it will be behind glass in a frame so you don't need a glossy photo finish. If however you don't have a printer shops like Kmart and Big W have photo labs with single prints from very reasonable prices.

I picked up a frame from Kmart. An 8x10 - which is the image size, the actual frame is huge - for $9.

If you make a smaller print the frame will be cheaper, it all depends on your personal preference.

Have fun creating your prints, they're sure to be a hit.


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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gift Guide Day 5

I have the best in laws!

There is a point to this so bare with me while I boast about getting lucky in the in law department.

My Mother-in-law is fantastic. I love her to bits and before you say " I'd love my Mother-in-law too if she lived half a world away" just let me say I'd love her just as much if she lived next door. This woman is strong, beautiful inside and out and the epitome of the type of mum I want to be. Her kids love her and respect her and love spending time with her.
My Father-in-law is pretty awesome too. He's a bit rough around the edges but old age has mellowed him and he's fantastic with all his grandkids and great for a debate as he has harsh opinions on everything.

One of the many reasons why I love them is because they light up at the cheesiest of sentiments from my kids. They don't need material possessions but give them a drawing Miss Four spent all morning working on and they're over the moon.

As soon as I saw today's gift I just knew it was perfect for Nana and Grandad in England.

The most expensive part of this gift is postage but if you fold it up small and send it as a letter you're looking at another gift for under $4 but one that has so much heart in it.

Send a hug.

It's quite common here in Australia to have loved ones who are too far away for daily hugs. We either live on opposite sides of the country, or even if we are in the same state it's possible family and friends are still an eight hour drive away, or we have family deployed serving our country or as we've migrated we have family in all corners of the world.

Tell me not one of those situations applies to you....

This seemingly simple gift can send all the love you hold for your near and dear and bring a smile to their face.

We'll be sending it to a few people in the UK and I'm expecting photos of hugs being had :)

Now don't just think this is for kids as adults too can create their own hug. Instead of drawing you can fill the space with words. Song lyrics, poems, jokes...anything your recipient will appreciate.

It's super easy to do.

Get yourself a roll of paper, or a large sheet of cardboard, I picked up my roll of brown paper from Kmart for $3. It's a twenty meter roll - that's a lot of hugs you can send!

Have your child, or whoever this hug is from, lay down on the paper with their arms out stretched. Try and get them to stay still.

Miss Four moved the first time and it resulted in a super large head.

Decorate your hug however you wish. My kids drew on theirs but as I mentioned above you can fill it with words or if you want to get extra creative you could fill it with a photo collage.

Cut it out and you've got yourself one hug ready to send.

Keep in mind the saying 'it's the thought that counts'. Sending a hug to someone far away is overwhelmingly thoughtful. Letting them know that even though you're apart you still think of them, love them and wish them well - all that is conveyed via a hug - is the best gift you could give.


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Monday, November 10, 2014

Gift Guide Day 4

Today's gift idea comes in tied for first place on my list of favourite body products (hint: the other one is Joap but I'm guessing you all knew that - don't forget her epic Christmas stocking is this Thursday).

I fell in love with Sugar scrubs when a close friend made some for me a few years ago. I was over the moon with how smooth my skin was after using it and as soon as I finished off the batch from my friend I ordered supplies to make more going so far as to buy a 5 litre tub of coconut oil.

It is such a simple product yet shops will charge you an arm and a leg for it. Containing only three ingredients it makes much more sense to make your own.

Despite its simplicity it is guaranteed to be a hit with any woman you gift it too. It's one of those luxury items that you don't usually buy for yourself if you're on a budget.

Part of what makes sugar scrubs amazing is the many different 'scents' you can create and not all of them require essential or fragrance oils.

Gingerbread sugar scrub uses spices from the kitchen, coffee sugar scrub is exactly as it says just coffee grounds, vanilla is vanilla extract - not essence - the options go on....lime, lemon, all citrus really. All invigorating and all found in your grocery store. And all can be found in a quick Google or Pinterest search!

If you do wish to choose a scent not food related essential oils and fragrance oils are what you need. I know a few of my local $2 type stores stock essential oils but there are a tonne of sites where you can browse through fragrance oils to cover almost anything. Honestly I've seen fresh cut grass, bacon and dirt. Though they have much nicer and sugar scrub friendly scents as well for example you can get nearly any name brand perfume scent my favourites being Angel by Thierry Mugler and Island Kiss by Escada.

Once you have your scent picked out all you need to finish the scrub is coconut oil and white sugar...simple.

Today's photos will be of the coffee scrub I made.

Take 1 cup of white sugar
Half a cup of coffee
And three tablespoons of coconut oil

Mix together.

That's it, SO easy!

You can stick with mixing with a fork or spoon but I just got right in their with my hands. It ensured all the ingredients were thoroughly mixed together AND I got nice smooth hands for my effort.

If you're using an essential or fragrance oil start with two drops and work up. You can always add more but if you start out too strong there is nothing to do to fix it.

Be sure to add a list of ingredients to your sugar scrub container so your lucky recipient knows what's in it. I added a date made and a shelf life. Coconut oil has a shelf life of 12 months though I can guarantee the scrub won't last that long.
If using oils list all essential oils or just list 'fragrance oil' if it's not an essential.

I bought my tubs at the reject shop for $1.50 each, attempted to design my own labels but decided to go with a free printable I found at cincyshopper and printed them at home. The coconut oil was $8 for a jar. You could probably get five batches of sugar scrub, possibly more depending on how heaped your tablespoons are, from a jar of oil. The coffee I stole from the pantry - I'm positive The Husband hasn't noticed yet - but I think it was $6 and a bag of white sugar is $2.50 if I recall correctly.
So when you breakdown the cost this gift cost approximately $4 with enough ingredients left over to make four more.

At that price you can treat yourself as well.


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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Constants and Competitions

It's that time of year again when everyone starts saying "wow, another year's almost over". For my family this past year has been a roller coaster and I'm one of those people saying "wow, how fast has this year gone?"

There have been some constants that I've come to depend upon during our roller coaster year. My incredibly supportive husband who is always able to make me smile, Sunday phone calls from my dad and a relaxing shower at the end of each day.

When you wake up each morning not knowing if it will be a good day or an "I just want to sail away to a deserted island" kind of day having some constants in your life are grounding.

I know my husband will always be there for me, I know dad is going to text every Sunday after lunch saying "is it ok to call?" And I know that the soap in my shower is of the best quality.

It's been hand made by someone who is completely passionate about what they do. The recipe was tried and tested for 12 months before it was used by anyone outside of the creators family and close friends. Each batch is tested to ensure it is of 100% quality, if it's not it's re made. Ingredients are sourced from only the best of suppliers. Late nights, early mornings and skipping lunches is how some days are run to get us the quality we know as Joap.

As a stay at home mum I see at least once a week a new mum start up a new business. A friend saying "check out my friends new business and show some support". Now I'm all for people following their dreams, but only if they are truly dreams and not a random light bulb moment from which they wish to make a fortune and the one way to tell is in how passionate they are about what they are doing.

You can not be passionate about making - and then selling - children's clothes if you only started sewing less than six months ago. Passion equates to quality and even the best of us need more than a few months to ensure we provide the finest quality product we can.

You can not be passionate about bath and body products if you have not spent months on end testing and re testing every batch you make before sending those products out into the community.

Passion is intense, compelling enthusiasm about something and I know that Jo from Joap is passionate about her products because she started out wanting to help others. She didn't go into it for herself to make a quick buck, she discovered her passion through the desire to help family. She continued with it for herself, her enthusiasm won her over and only then did she decide to start selling.

When you look for a new product from a work at home mum, look at all they've done, how long they've been doing it.

Look for the passion.

You always want the best quality from store bought items, don't lower your standards for hand made. Find the creator, the artist behind the business and see if their passion shows through. Once you've found that passion you know you've found a quality product.

Now on that note I have some exciting news. Jo has recently created a supremely fantastic 'Rainbow Sugar' collection and is giving you the chance to be the lucky Joap addict who gets to purchase it for only $1 (plus postage)

That's $35 off the RRP.

But don't fret if Rainbows aren't really your thing because if you're chosen as the lucky buyer you can choose between the Rainbow collection OR a fantastic Christmas Treats collection!

All you need to do is complete the tasks in the rafflecopter entry form below and stay on the edge of your seat till Thursday lunch time when we will let the app randomly choose the lucky buyer.

I have to say I'm completely jealous as I can't enter but I wish you all luck, opportunities like this don't come along often.

Here is a quick word from the lovely Jo herself :
Thank you all for your support, to new and old customers. It's been a crazy year for Joap, and we've made it through. I appreciate all of your support, thank you!

This random draw opportunity is open to Australian Residents. International entrants are welcome but please be aware of postage costs. The lucky buyer will be announced on the blog on Thursday afternoon. Please remember I am in Perth therefore three hours behind eastern states - unless you're in Queensland in which case it's two - there will still be plenty of time between the notification and the opening of the Epic Christmas Stocking. The winner is to choose between the two packs on offer at a cost of $1 including postage of $13 Australia wide. The winner will be randomly selected via the Rafflecopter app. The winner has till midday Saturday 15.11.14 to claim their prize before it is redrawn. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administrated by, or associated with Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Friday, November 7, 2014

Gift Guide Day 3

It's a known fact that if a woman buys a ten pack of hair ties with in 24 hours there will be only one left.
No one really knows what happens to them though I've heard rumors of the hair tie monster who creeps into your room while you sleep to devour your new stash. He leaves you one lonesome hair tie because deep down he's completely evil and likes to lurk in the shadows and watch your reaction as you realise you have, in just one day, lost a whole pack of hair ties.

This anomaly doesn't only effect hair ties, no, bobby pins and clips are effected as well.
On our family trip to the UK in May I purchased a pack of 40 black hair clips to use in Miss Fours hair. I opened it on our first day in London and then when we got to our cottage a short three days later I had only four remaining. Apparently the hair tie monster felt like a holiday too and stowed away in our suitcase snacking on hair clips.

It also happened again just this past week. Miss Four requested a hair cut and after we left the salon we stopped to buy a new stash of clips, pins and ties. The monster must have been watching his weight as it took a week for us to lose all but two clips and one tie.

It's for that reason that I'm very happy I stumbled across today's DIY gift idea.

Firecracker hair ties.

In 20 minutes I had made four new and funky hair ties for Miss Four and I'm fairly confident that because they do not truly resemble your typical hair tie the monster won't find them. I'm up to the 24 hour mark but I'll keep you informed of their status.

They are simple to make, can be made with school colours, sport team colours, Gryffindor colours (shhhh, I am so making some for me) or just in fun and colourful prints and they will make a great stocking stuffer for girls of any age.

You will need:
Skinny elastic. I used 25cm for each tie. I made them a little long so I had plenty of room to make a knot.
Fabric of your choice. I raided my stash but if you don't have a fabric stash you can find fabric at op shops, Big W and of course Spotlight and Lincraft. I used half a fat quarter for each tie. 45cm x 25cm approx.
Old t-shirts would also do the trick especially if you're making them for school. Last year's uniform they no longer fit into can find a new home here.

They are really easy to make. Simply tie a knot in your 24cm piece of elastic creating a loop.

Take your piece of fabric and make snips at one centimetre increments then tear each strip off. If you prefer a neater finish you can cut each strip using scissors. I made both styles but I prefer the messy torn look.

Take each strip and tie it to your elastic loop. I only did a single knot. Miss Four has worn one to school today so I'll let you know if a double knot may be better but the single knot seemed to hold them in place.

Each tie has about 30 strips. The whole elastic loop wasn't covered but due to the style you won't see naked elastic once you tie it into your hair all you'll see is funky fabric swimming in your pony tail.

Other options for these ties include using shorter pieces of fabric if you'd like a neater look when sitting in the hair. Halve the length of the strips and they'll sit closer to the head. They'll still be funky just not so messy which may be better if being used for school and sports activities.
If you have pinking shears you can use them to cut your fabric strips. I don't mind the messy look but I know it's not for everyone. Cutting your fabric with pinking shears will take away the frayed edges and give them a nice finish.

Have fun creating some funky new hair ties for all the girls on your gift list.


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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Gift Guide Day 2

I saw this cute little mobile one day while perusing Pinterest, something I've been known to do every so often, and I immediately wanted to make one. I didn't even have a baby to give it too once made but I just really wanted to make it. Turns out I needn't have worried about having no recipient as once it was made my Miss Four took one look and in her over the top cutesy voice exclaimed "oh it's so cute, can I have it?" How could I deny her when she was so enraptured with something I had made?

That is why it made it into the DIY Budget Friendly Gift Guide, it's completely customisable and can be created for a child of any age not just precious little newborns.

I chose hearts and clouds as it was the original image I saw and I lack imagination when it comes to arts and craft but you can change it up to suit any interest, any nursey theme, any sports team, video game or well you get my point right?

Butterflies and hearts, planes and clouds, basket balls and raindrops. Silhouettes for any image imaginable can be found in a quick google search but for this basic version you will need:

2 sheets of grey, white and pink felt. I got mine at spotlight for .99c each.
1 -2 packets of white embroidery thread. I chose embroidery thread as its thicker and that was the look I wanted. They cost $2 each at spotlight. You could use normal white sewing cotton or white wool also.
1 Stick. I seriously went out to my back yard and picked up one of the sticks the kids bought home from our last trip to the park. Brushed it off, made sure it was dry.
White paint.
Sewing needle.
Stencil of your chosen image. I drew mine. I drew mine about three times until I had a heart and cloud shape I was happy with.

Alright first up you are going to paint your stick white. My stick took three coats of paint and waiting for it to dry was probably the longest part of this project.

Next pin your stencil to your felt and cut out your shapes. I pinned the stencil to both sheets of the same colour at the same time so there was less cutting involved.

- I'll apologise here for the photos. Each time I remembered I needed to take a photo of that step I was on to the White felt, white on white is really hard to photograph :/ -

Once you have each shape cut out you are going to start sewing them together. Open up your shape and start your first stitch on the inside so that your knot is hidden.

You can use a blanket stitch if you know how, I do not, but a basic stitch gets the job done nicely. Be sure to stop with about an inch to two inches remaining so you have room to put the stuffing in.

I used the remaining felt scraps to stuff each shape, not too much just enough to give it a little puff, though you could use other material scraps or if you have stuffing that will work too.

Once stuffed sew it closed and continue on with the rest of your shapes.
I found the hand sewing really relaxing. I actually didn't want to stop to do my daily run but I also didn't want to explain that injury to the the ER nurse so I took a break. All up though it probably took two hours from start to finish.

Once your stick is dry you will need to attach your shapes to the stick. I started with one shape, made a knot at the felt and hung it from the stick and then hung each shape from the bottom of the previous one. I winged it and it came out ok so just go with what feels right, if you need some help you know where to find me. I'm happy to explain my round about method in more detail.

Lastly I made a little hanger by attaching a piece of thread to both ends of the stick.

And there you have it! A 'much cheaper than store bought but equally adorable' baby mobile. (or Four year old mobile).


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