Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Toy Library Lowdown

As I mentioned in my previous post, spring has started out with a rush in our house. We are juggling me in part-time work, Mr Fix It going away in the field, Turtle moving up into the toddler room at childcare, as well as (and this is probably the most painful part!) seemingly dropping her daytime nap.

This post comes to you because she finally crashed this afternoon, after much grumbling and a few major tantrums. That lead me to march her into her room determined not to leave unless she was asleep. Luckily it didn't take long to get her there.

So this is how I find myself sitting quietly at the computer in the afternoon for the first time in weeks. It is quite a luxury.

One of the best toys but I always have to put it in just the right way to fit it in the boot

I've decided a practical post on the toy library is needed to balance out the super positive one I wrote awhile ago. The timing seems right because I am noticing how many commitments I have since I've returned to work (hence the balls continuously flying through the air) and a couple of the toy library ones have, unfortunately, coincided with this time.

That is probably why I forgot I was rostered on for toy library duty at the end of August. I was so sure it was scheduled for the start of September. I checked the roster the afternoon I had missed it. Three hours too late.

The rostering officer took it pretty well. I felt (still feel) so terrible! I get the impression either no one showed up to exchange toys or no one complained because I notified the committee as soon as I realised and they didn't know. Telling myself that makes me feel slightly better anyhow.

So here are a few of the responsibilities that come with the bliss of borrowing toys every 2 weeks:
  • Our library has an annual membership of $70, which is pretty cheap when you think about how much a toy will cost brand new;
  • You can borrow toys for 2 weeks but there is a week of grace period so it's really 3 weeks (you just can't always take them for that long- aim for 2 weeks);
  • Missing items cost $2 each;
  • Searching for missing items probably costs around $20 of every members time every fortnight;
  • You have to volunteer your time for toy library duty (loaning out toys) twice a semester (or four times each year);
  • When you borrow big and clunky toys you have to get all Tetrus and squeeze them in your car;
  • Carrying toys and a baby can be quite the juggling act;
  • Puddles in the carpark can be a real problem when you have a toddler and your arms full of toys (a.k.a. Turtle sitting in one in her cloth nappy)
  • Our toy library does an annual fundraiser with a Bunnings sausage sizzle. I was unable to help out this year due to a death in the family but you are asked to do a 2 hour shift; and
  • Stocktake is coming up in the next month and I have managed to book our only weekend away on the same weekend. Luckily I can help out early and do some sorting of puzzles and costumes at home but it would be much easier if I didn't have to worry about it. I will go in for a couple of hours to help out.
So here is the lowdown on the reality of toy library membership. Overall I definitely think it is worth the effort.

Have you ever missed a rostered duty for a toy library or school event?

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

A Busy Start to Spring

It is a sign of how quickly the last month has passed that I started to write this post as a prelude to the arrival of spring, celebrating the purple flowers in our garden from the native wisteria (hardenbergia), the rosemary and the french lavender.

Native wisteria (Hardenbergia violacea) vine
I took the above photo a few weeks ago because I thought the gorgeous display of flowers would quickly be gone. It is, however, still flourishing now. As you can see the hardenbergia has done a wonderful job of covering our side fence. It was grown from 4 tube stock that cost about $2.50 each. Within a year 3-4m of fence was reasonably covered. Now it is a stunning mass of green vegetation that looks amazing with the purple flowers out too.

Photographing the rest of the plants was slowed, unfortunately, by the flourish of weeds that accompanied the purple display of flowers. I was not keen to share the weeds with you. 

We have managed to get out into the garden and tackle the weeds, as well as freshen up things, as spring has arrived.

This has been quite an achievement given that I started back at work 2 days a week a month ago and Mr Fix It was away for 10 days, returning last week. Hence the lack of recent blogging action.

I am looking forward to sharing some of the work we have been getting done in the garden with you. 

I hope your start to spring has been productive and joyful. It is so nice to have warm sunshine on my face again.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Wrapping up Plastic Free July 2015

Although July seems like a distant memory already I wanted to look back and wrap up Plastic Free July properly. We got a lot out of it in our home this year. I'm sure we are going to keep doing a lot of the changes we started too, which is a bonus!

Plastic Waste Collected

As I committed to do at the start of our plastic free journey this year, I kept the plastic wrappers we used in July to help work out where we could make improvements. I didn't keep all of the multiples of products - for example pasta packets - since I figured once we had a couple the message was there to try and find an alternative option.

Here is what we collected:

Number of items
Found a way to avoid?
Pasta packet
2 (more thrown out but not collected)
No – possibly at bulk store
Wholemeal flour
Yes – bulk store
Yes – bulk store
Green lentils
Yes - bulk store
Almond meal
Yes – bulk store or make own when buy a food processer
Ginger snap biscuits
Yes – could make our own, time permitting
Sultanas 1kg
1 (possibly more thrown out but not collected)
Yes – bulk store
Goji berries
Yes – bulk store
Rolled oats
2 (possibly more thrown out but not collected)
Yes – bulk store
Raw sugar
Yes – bulk store
Seaweed rice crackers
1 (more thrown out but not collected)
Desiccated coconut
Yes – bulk store
Bread bag
Yes – bring our own for the bakery to use
Arborio rice
No – possibly at bulk store
Frozen peas
Green split peas
No – possibly at bulk store
Puffed corn cereal
No – possibly at bulk store
Disposable nappy bag (the bag the actual nappies are packaged in)
1 (possibly more thrown out but not collected)
Dog poo bags
? None kept (thankfully!) but it would average 2 each day
Yes – use newspaper instead (have not done this yet)

Celebrating Success

The successes we have had as a result of Plastic Free July are:

Lamenting Failures

I am so happy with our achievements during Plastic Free July this year but I thought it would be good to note down things we didn't get around to doing. We can make small steps to start doing some things now or leave them until next year:
  • Shopping at the bulk store - we made it there on the 31 July at least but I need to keep looking for quite a few products (as you can see from the table) and get into a routine of shopping at these stores regularly;
  • Dog poo bags - these are a real disgrace but it is difficult to manage without them. I'm keen to try using newspaper instead to see if that works. I expect it will need to happen close to a bin.
  • Bin liners - I know we can go without and clean out the bin but we're not ready for that one as yet. I know the poor animals eating plastic are suffering from our inaction but we have to take small steps that we are comfortable with. This might be one to consider again next year.

Lessons Learnt

Plastic is used to line cans! I found this out through the Bag It movie and my Living Smart group. I'm still in a bit of shock about this one. I knew cans weren't healthy but we are pretty reliant on canned beans, particularly baked beans and chick peas, for quick meals. This information is a good motivator to try and reduce our canned food intake.

We use a lot of plastic! Even though we are conscious of the problem and try to reduce it as much as possible.

By making a reasonably small effort and doing a few different things when heading to the shops we can cut back on our plastic use quite a bit - it really is worth trying to do.

The environment is really suffering from the mass production and use of plastic products. I always knew this was a problem but I really thought about it and processed it through participating in Plastic Free July this year.

So there it is - all wrapped up for 2015. Thank you to those of you who have followed my journey and provided some thoughts or advice. I hope you have picked up an idea or two yourselves.

Linking up with EssentiallyJess for #IBOT