Friday, June 27, 2008

A New Backpack!

The zippers on my old backpack broke beyond repair a couple of weeks ago. The double zippers in the main compartment first gave way last year. This meant that I was unable to zip up one way and had to use the second zip to go the other way. But even that zip is no longer working now. So, after 8 long years of service, we had to look for a new one.

There are a few places on Elizabeth Street selling camping goods and we went to have a look last Saturday. I set out wanting another Caribee but didn’t find a robust one within my price range. The last store we visited was Mitchells Adventure. On their wall of backpacks, we saw two that we both seemed to like but I wasn’t sure because we had never used Black Wolf brand before. I have a tendency to be loyal to a certain brand if I find the product durable/reliable. After a few minutes of contemplation outside the store, we returned to try out the two. Help was needed to get them down because they were hung right at the top. I tried the one I liked most first but it was way too big. Besides, the high number of compartments will make it a nightmare for us when we go shopping. Imagine unzipping each compartment for shop attendants & doorkeepers to check. That will be quite a hassle. The second option fitted me perfectly. It also looked quite good on M. It is important that it fits the both of us because M helps to carry when we buy heavier items.

The feature that I like most about our new daypack is that it is made with Ripstop material. I don’t know why but I really love Ripstop. Another thing I like about it is that it is the same price as my old Caribee. Even though it is 5 cents short of $50, it has plenty of useful features that the old one never had. The sternum straps and the waist straps are all removable but the side compression straps aren’t. These straps are all kinda scary to me. Remember the kid who was run over by a tram because it clipped one of these straps on his backpack as he was riding past? (The kid survived.) I sometimes worry that these straps may get entangled with something as I try to get off a tram. Imagine getting dragged by the tram!

Two days after purchasing the daypack, I sat on my couch admiring it, getting to know it and discovered a built in raincover hidden inside a pocket right at the bottom. Even though we probably won’t ever use the raincover, it was a pleasant surprise because I never had one with such a feature before. It is good that it is removable as well. My only disappointment from this discovery is the zipper for the raincover pocket. Because it is situated right at the bottom, I fear that it may get damaged when we regularly place the daypack on the ground when we are out and about. I guess we will just have to be more careful.

Just as I hope that the shopper trolley I blogged about recently will last a long time, I hope too that this new daypack will last at least 6 years. Yes, I do have high expectations. The old Caribee lasted a little over 8 years. The shopkeeper who sold me the new daypack mentioned the waterproof zippers on the two front pockets. I instantly thought they were neat but because I never used such zippers before, I wonder if they are durable. We will find out sooner or later. Both the daypack/backpack and the shopper trolley have an important job in helping us to continue shopping efficiently on foot and/or via public transport. Since we started walking everywhere, we realised that there is no need to drive to the milk bar, local markets and supermarkets. Sure, being driven or driving around in a car look cool to many people but at my age, I am needing less and less strangers’ approval and admiration to feel good. Walking is surprisingly enjoyable. I absolutely love the opportunity to have a chinwag with M along the way. All the extra walking could also be beneficial to our health as well.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Shopper Trolley for Me

We finally bought a new shopping trolley. We got it from Big W and it was only around $15! With such an affordable price tag, I hope it will last at least 18 months. We have been eyeing this type of trolley for quite some time and nearly bought a similar one from Safeway earlier this year but was put off when one that was for sale had wheels that were already broken. Imagine if the wheels come off when I am in the middle of crossing a super busy road. That’s not only dangerous; I can imagine people laughing at the clown with the wonky trolley. Worse, such an incident might even cause road rage! LOL.

I just can’t wait to give it a road test. I will blog about it after I have given it a go. My throat is feeling a little ‘scratchy’. That means that I will have to make some homemade Chrysanthemum tea. Maybe while I enjoy a nice tall glass of the chilled tea, I will think about ways to prevent the groceries from getting crushed inside the bag. And with so many identical trolleys out and about, I think I should also make a tag for it.

We are trying to live a greener lifestyle. This trolley will help one of us to wheel our shopping home. When we go shopping, we usually walk at least one way. Now that Winter is here, we are going to walk all the way there and all the way back as much as possible.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Happy with Our Power Bill

I recently paid our electricity bill for Autumn. Despite being grief stricken at the time of receiving this bill, I was delighted to see that the amount due was lower than the previous bill. It was about $15 less! That’s the first time (in a long time) that our Autumn bill was lower than the Summer bill. M and I believe that this could be the result of turning off appliances at the wall when they are not being used. After watching a short TV segment on fire hazards of electrical appliances left on stand by in December last year, I promptly began to switch everything off at the wall when it was not being used. It was a hassle at first but now we just do it automatically. I do still wonder if doing so will shorten the life of certain appliances (e.g. computers and other entertainment equipment). We are finally going to get the old computer fixed this Friday. That may be a good time for me to ask if it is absolutely ok for me to turn the computer off at the wall every night.

A goal I set for this Winter is to severely decrease the use of the heater. Of course I will turn it on if it is absolutely needed but I would prefer to use it less than five times throughout the whole season. So far, we still haven’t turned it on for once. In previous years, I had to turn on the heater on bitterly cold days because of my little Guinea Pig but now that he is no longer with us, I think the two of us can do without. Let’s see if we can make it. I think I will faint if our electricity bill for Winter is even lower than the one for Autumn! Now, that’s a challenge!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pouch Project On Hold

I recently blogged about making a pouch from scratch but now I have decided to put it on hold until after I buy more fabric. I originally decided to use two different fabrics and had already bought them but we have now decided that the second fabric is not a good match to the first one. So, until I find a suitable contrasting fabric, this project can go no further but I definitely will blog about it once the pouch is made. We have to get the combinations right because this pouch will have an important job to do.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Slow Switch to Energy Saving Light Bulbs

Way back in 2005, we came across energy saving light bulbs that fitted into our ceiling light in the living room. That ceiling light takes 3 candle shape light bulbs but they have to be changed quite regularly because of high usage. So we bought 3 of those energy saving light bulbs right away, thinking that we won’t need to change the bulbs again for a while and that we were doing the environment a bit of good at the same time. Within minutes of installing the new light bulbs, I noticed a faint sound emitting from above my head. I was sitting on the couch right under the ceiling light and tried to dismiss it at first. After a while, even M was hearing the increasingly annoying sound from the other corner of the living room. The sound is rather similar to that emitted by mosquitoes except that it was flat. How can I better describe this? It was like 3 mosquitoes hovering precisely on the same spot making the noise they normally would. Does that make sense? Do mosquitoes make noises or am I the only one hearing it? LOL.

Anyway, we gave up after a couple of days and returned to using traditional light bulbs again. Occasionally when I feel guilty for not doing my part in saving the environment, M would be told to reinstall those noisy energy saving light bulbs but these stints never lasted long because the noise is just so annoying.

On the Sunday after my precious Guinea Pig’s passing (Mother’s Day), I went ‘hiding’ at the State Library. I just needed to get out of the apartment while M went home to his parents. There I came across a magazine called Grassroots, I think. It’s one of those tree hugging type publications. Surprisingly though, I actually enjoyed reading almost the whole issue. I have been looking to buy an issue ever since but no one seems to stock it. It might be available at McGill’s. They have a large range of magazines there. Through my search, I found another similar magazine called Renew, I think, at the City Library.

Anyway (this is the second time that I started a paragraph with this word), the reason that I am bringing up these magazines is because the articles on energy saving light bulbs renewed my interest in using them again. After M came to pick me up from the State Library, we went over to Safeway to have a look at their range of light bulbs. Our options were limited as expected because our ceiling light requires light bulbs with slim cap fittings and most energy saving light bulbs have fat cap fittings. There was really just one choice: Philips Ambiance (as pictured). The type that we bought in 2005 was no longer available and instead of buying three at once, we were a little more cautious this time. We bought only one to try out first. This was also partially because only one light bulb out of three was blown at the time.

The Verdict: We are truly happy with this little light bulb. It lights up slower than the traditional light bulbs but once it is fully on, there is little difference between it and the other two. We had our fingers crossed when we first installed it because we were worried that it might emit the same annoying noise but it hasn’t! We will eventually replace the other two light bulbs with Philips Ambience Energy Savers as well. As for the rest of the house, we planned to also gradually switch over to energy saving light bulbs. I think this will not only be a greener option but it may slash our power bill as well. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Slow Brain

I am in the process of making a simple pouch from scratch. By that I mean making it by creating the pattern myself instead of buying one from a craft shop. First I wanted a pouch that opens up to a circle but then I saw an octagonal cushion in a pattern book on Friday and thought I could easily make a pouch that opens up to an octagon. As soon as I got my chores done yesterday, I set out to create a pattern. Not long after I started, I toyed with the idea of turning the octagon into a flower shape with 8 petals. I then took a longish break to think about this but it made things worse. It was just impossible to make up my mind. I came away thinking that I might try making a flower shape with only four petals instead. My brain was just so slow. It was probably on sleep mode because of the cold weather. Worse, it might have been slow because of age! Scary! Only a quarter of an octagon was needed to create the two required pattern pieces and it took me unbelievably long to do just that. The pouch is of course not completed yet but I will definitely blog about it once it is ready.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Bit about Me: My Interest in Education

I feel like telling the world a little bit about myself. I think I will do this in bits and pieces because I don’t think I can cover everything about me in just one short post.

It is well known among those who know me that I enjoy working with young children. However, few know that I devote a large portion of my free time reading up and learning more about child development and anything related to the education of young children (ECE & Primary). Studying the designs of quality things made especially for young children is also another thing that I have liked to do since I was quite young. Because I can’t afford to buy everything I like out there, I try to make simple educational materials from home. I will show off some of these homemade materials when the other blog is up and running.

The interests I mentioned above are no secret but because I do not socialise very well, they normally don’t get a mention. I think that most people do not understand why someone like me would be so interested in education since I do not have any children of my own right now. I have already been asked if I was clucky from someone who just didn’t know when to bite her tongue. Mothers are not the only people on Earth that have daily contact with children. There are many people with work involving the education and welfare of minors, and many of these people (including myself) are not parents yet themselves. The extra skills I have learned so far enhance my professional life right now and hopefully in time to come, the growing list of skills and ideas can be applied also to the care of my own children and in our dream project. They don’t make me perfect but they certainly help me to better understand the many complex needs of little humans.

The Other Blog

I am still intending to start another blog but I am still struggling to find a suitable name for it. The reason I want to start a separate one is because I want to keep this one about me and devote the other one entirely to the topic of ‘Education’.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Blog Is Finally Up

This is not the first time I have kept a blog. After a bit of poking around in 2006, I did keep one for a short period of time but decided to delete the whole thing because I didn’t think that people were interested to read about me.

I seriously started thinking about keeping a blog again earlier this year. I wanted to blog about the educational things that I make, the books that I read and the ‘educational’ stuff that I collect. Sensitive me was put off by the comments that a few arrogant people made and decided to put it all off once again.

My Guinea Pig died exactly 4 weeks ago today. Since he passed away, I feel like a big chunk of me has died as well. In the days after his passing, I thought long and hard about what I could do to keep myself busy when I am home on my own. A blog about me could probably help, I thought. So here it is. I hope that people will read this and leave me nice comments.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Missing My Guinea Pig

This is my first entry and I am sorry that it will be a sad one. At around this time 4 weeks ago, I had just completed a little sewing project - a special birthday blankie for my Guinea Pig's cage and was putting things away. My Guinea Pig asked for my attention. He tried to squeak - his way of telling me that he wanted a 'chat'. I told him to wait as I needed to put away the iron & ironing board and to tidy up my desk. He was in a happy mood. As I walked past his cage, he followed me and waited at the corner closes to where I work. From there, he called out again for my attention. I remember thinking that his voice was coming back. Once I completed my chores, I went over to pat him. We had a little chat and then the rest was just the usual 'night-night' routine and then I was off to bed myself. I think I did a little bit of reading in bed. Little did I know then that was the last time my little Guinea Pig requested for my attention in such a lively fashion. I never imagine I can feel so sad when he died. In fact, I didn't think he was going away so soon.