The good, bad & downright useless

Posted September 8th, 2006 by Penny Wise

Talk about coming down to earth with a bump this morning! There I was, the picture of domesticity at 8am. I had just rustled up a batch of Crunchy Lemon Muffins and popped one, still warm into the boys' lunch boxes. (Yesterday afternoon Ali and I made three litres of Lemon Cordial - I'm determined not to let any lemons go to waste!) The house was relatively tidy, the washing was all done and it looked as though I was in for a pleasant and productive day. Then Liam started complaining again about the finger he hurt playing rugby at school yesterday. 'It hurts ALL the time Mum' he moaned. On taking a closer look I did concede that his finger did look a little odd, so decided I had better take him to the medical centre after dropping Ali off at school. Not a problem, I was all organised after all. Then I heard the sound of rushing water and, realising I hadn't put the washing machine on this morning, went to investigate.

I was aghast to see water gushing out of the toilet at an alarming rate – not the bowl, thank heavens, but out of the top where you flush it. The whole downstairs bathroom, toilet and laundry was ankle deep in water by the time I got there. I managed to stop the torrent and had to use pretty much every towel in the place to try and soak up at least a bit of the water before I could set to work with the mop. So much for not having to do any washing today either. It was also around this time that I realised that Ali was paying rather a lot of visits to the upstairs toilet (thank goodness we have two!) and clutching his tummy in obvious discomfort. I decided he might as well come to the medical centre with Liam and I and hopefully by the time we were done, he might be feeling well enough to go to school. I prayed inwardly that he wouldn't be 'caught short' during the 40 minute journey to the clinic and after mopping up as best as I could, we set off, with half the house still smelling strongly of wee.

To cut a long story short, Liam's finger turned out to be sprained, not broken and was duly taped up and Ali's tummy also mercifully settled down, so I was eventually able to take them both to school after lunch. Shame it took a two hour wait and a $30 fee to achieve this though! I was more fed up about that – the fee – than anything else when I have been trying so exceptionally hard to save money lately. As mentioned, I have been doing my best to be resourceful with what we have and I'm sure everyone will be sick of lemon flavoured anything before too long. The Canteen Price list is working brilliantly, the boys are eating extremely well, much more healthily and taking a lot more food choices into consideration. I have to admit to some sneaky savings too, that the family don't even know about! Thanks to a hint I spotted in the Vault, I have got our family milk budget down to $1.25 per two litres! Goodness why I never spotted it before but I found a tip called 'Milk for 45c per litre' from a lady who waters down her full cream milk to make trim milk. I don't touch milk as a rule but we always buy trim milk because Noel has high cholesterol. Liam recently moved up from his daily pint of Milo to two pints and I found I was constantly running out and having to buy more milk. I didn't begrudge my big strong boy his milk, but I found it a bit annoying that I could buy two litres of full cream milk for $2.50 when I had to pay $3.30 for trim milk. So after reading this hint, I decided to give it a go. I poured half my new two litre bottle of milk into another clean and empty bottle and then topped them both up with water. I put one bottle in the fridge and the other in the freezer. This was over a week ago and while I keep waiting for someone to spot the difference, nobody has! As the hint says, it tastes exactly the same if you are used to trim milk, and it does. This little trick will save me $305 a year just on milk! Another good buy I recently decided to get was a carpet sweeper. Growing up, my Mum always had one and I even had one myself when the kids were babies. I had been thinking about getting one for some time and then a thread on the Discussion Forum jogged my memory. I figured I didn't need anything too flash, just something that would pick up crumbs and so on, so I found one at the Warehouse for $24.95. It's great, just what I needed! I was so sick of constantly having to drag the vacuum cleaner out, but with so many pets it was kind of necessary. Not any more! I can whiz through the house in next to no time, it even does the wooden floors. No pesky power leads, no batteries, just a bit of healthy exercise! It's a shame not all my purchases are so practical, although to be honest I can really only think of one real 'blooper buy' so far this year, which was a couple of months ago. Ali has always wanted to be a rock star and would love to play the guitar. We have offered him lessons in the past, but he wasn't happy with the idea of starting on a hum-drum classical wooden guitar – he fancied himself as a member of Metallica from the start. Seeing as there are no heavy metal guitar tutors for eight year olds in our neck of the woods, this dream remained unfulfilled. Until I spotted 'Guitar Hero' around the time of his birthday. Similar to our much loved Singstar karaoke games, this was a Playstation game that came with its own guitar and would rate your playing prowess as you progressed. Finally, a way for Ali to play along with his favourite rock songs! It sounded perfect but I thought I would just check with the lady behind the Warehouse counter. 'Oh yes, he'll have a ball with it!' she enthused and at $80 I figured it was a cheaper solution than guitar lessons.

I couldn't wait for him to open it on his birthday and as hoped, he thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Until he tried to play it. I kid you not, the level of sheer coordination needed to master that thing is more than most adults can handle. Noel and I had a guitar duel with it and had tears of laughter rolling down our cheeks as our Playstation 'audience' booed loudly every time we hit a bum note. While we thought it was hilarious, getting bagged by your listeners is not the best thing for a mini guitar virtuoso's confidence and in typical showbiz style Ali threw his guitar on the floor, never to take it up again. Not one of my better purchases I must admit, and these days the only one who plays it is me – or I did until a few days ago when Tui chewed through the Playstation controller. Probably for the best really...

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