Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shopping Bags And Fair Wages

We are certainly getting near the end of the year now, I can see it just there. Last week I had the first Christmas lunch for the season with some amazing women, they are artists and crafters and writers and have incredible imagination, talent, compassion and love, and they all have a wonderful laugh. I am so thankful they are in my life :)

Our number one and only son finishes school this week and next year is in Year 10, can't believe it, he is still a skinny thing, though is now getting taller and starting to broaden in the shoulders. So eight weeks off school and we have to have a plan. There will be painting and drawing, building and mowing and he will also once a week go off to work with my partner in crime and life.

This silly season always gets me thinking about a lot of different things and the one I am thinking about at the moment is sewing. I have made these shopping bags, which are reversable depending on what colour you are feeling on the day,(because I have an unnatural obsession with shopping bags but not shopping) and I love them and plan to make a few more.

However, with everyone so obsessed with getting a bargain when shopping, it makes me think about the real value of things. Now these bags that I have made I would think they would be worth about $1000. Yes that is right. Do you know why? The time and effort put in to making these seemingly simple bags, for me anyway as a non sewer, was a fair bit, despite the materials only being about $15 for one and the other about $2, as it is made from op shop sheets (like my clothes).

I also expect these bags to last for at least 200 years for the time, effort, broken needle, bent pins and the physiological trauma. Yet we expect to buy things, new, for $5 and $10 with no thought for the person who made it, and if it breaks tomorrow well, they are only cheap so we will go buy another. Is there an eight year old child out there making our goods for just enough money to survive on and don’t’ tell me they should be thankful for a job that only pays them just enough to survive on and not being able to go to school, instead of having no job, because that is not good enough.

Parents who barely have enough money to feed their kids, and they are probably still hungry anyway, or can just put a roof over their heads, don’t tell me they should be thankful for only JUST being able to do these things. Have you seen the documentaries that show the conditions that some of these people live in? I know it isn’t always like this but it is like this a lot.

So when I make these very simple things (and get frustrated as it takes me about twenty times the amount of time I think it should) I think of people around the world making products to earn just enough to buy food for that day just so we can pay a pittance for something because we don’t want to spend a few dollars more so that people can be paid a fair wage and so that children can be children and get an education.

So while you are out spending all that money for presents for family and friends, just think about who has made the product and how do you think they will spend Christmas. If they only earn enough to survive day to day, I don’t’ think they will be having Christmas, and yet we really didn’t want to pay more than $5 for that top or pair of shorts or $2 for that toy.

We should pay a fair price for our products, we should value our things more and we should not take more than our share. So while out shopping with the crazy people, while pushing past people and small children in your rush to buy that thing that is on special and you only have to pay $12 for it rather than say $20, just stop and think. Has someone been paid a fair wage for the work they put in to this thing you are about to buy? Because I can tell you, that if you had to make this thing yourself, you would demand a hell of a lot more than just enough to eat for the day.

Take a look at these articles if you don't believe me and think about some ethical gifts this Christmas, or even just making sure you know about the product you are buying. The amount of articles are endless and I dare you not to cry.

Look here
Workers exploited in Melbourne sweat shops
Living in a garbage tip
Nestle 'to act over child labour in cocoa industry'
Look at this.
Child sweatshop shame threatens Gap's ethical image
Nike Shoes and Child Labor in Pakistan
Sweat shops in Australia

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas Card Basket, Fisherman Pants and Shopping Bags

Talk about time flying. Where does it go, I need to get moving on Christmas, have my first Christmas lunch this week and need to make some cards to go with the small presents I have made, oh, and finish the presents.

I need to see if I have any Christmas cards, I don't send out many at all and the list gets shorter each year. I only send to people that we don't speak to very often and they are people who we are often only in touch with at Christmas time, otherwise I think it is a waste of resources and time. Christmas cards only get thrown out after Christmas anyway and are not given a second thought, like a lot of gifts really, put away in the cupboard and forgotten. We really live in a throw away society.

So, here is a link to instructions to use up all those Christmas cards we will get. I have made one of these before and really like it, however I will only make them for people who will appreciate the effort put in it.

So while I have been making some small handmade gifts, I have also been doing some other sewing. I have been making myself fisherman pants and skirts, a couple of which can be worn in public and a couple of which can only be worn around the property.

Here is one of the fisherman pant I made, I love them, I only wear comfortable clothing, no point in wearing anything less.

I have made them out of bed sheets and doona covers that I bought from op shops. Material is sooooo expensive and so this is my solution, and I get some unique patterned clothing. There is also plenty left over to make some shopping bags, I just made a pattern from those green bags we all have, and now I will have some unique shopping bags too.

I had originally made a pair of fisherman pants out of this lovely material I had bought and it cost me about $40, it has skeletons on it and is a dark blue and I love them but not the price. Also I am scared I will stuff it up and so I now I can get a pair of pants, a skirt and a shopping bag for about $10, depending on how much I pay and how big the material is, but you get the idea.

So, today, I had best finish weeding the garden and sewing up the shopping bag which I have half done, after a cuppa tea I think though :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Barramundi and Eels

We have finally put some Barramundi fingerlings in the dam. We have tilapia in there at the moment and as they are a pest fish we need to get rid of them, especially as our dam overflows into a creek.

So we went off to the fish farm, a place a bit out of the way, went a bit further than we should down the road. Lots of shacks and keep out signs and cars that have not moved for a very long time, the indication being that the bush is reclaiming them. We decided that we had gone too far and needed to turn around and go back. Found the place we needed to be, no signs just rather large gates.

So we went and paid our $220 for two hundred 50mm barra, from a place with a long driveway and more than a few dogs. He said just come down the driveway, you know how people say you can’t miss it, (yeah right) well there was a shack not far in so we were still unsure but we just kept driving and got there to the right place.

So when we got home we placed the bag in to the water in the dam so the temperature could adjust and then we released them, not that they seemed to want to go but they did eventually.

The unfortunate thing is that a day and a half later I was walking around the edges of the dam and in the shallows in the gully I saw a massive eel. Oops. Just what we don’t’ want so we are now desperately trying to catch all the eels so they don’t’ ea all our barra. And they are ugly, sorry, but they are, ugly and slimy. And we now really hope we haven't blown our money.

So far we have caught two eels, a fair size too and hope to get them all out, we only want barra in there so they can grow and then we can eat them. Oh, and we are going to eat the eels, they are in the freezer now and we just have to do some research on cooking them as we haven’t cooked eel before.


Here is an article called The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents, I actually have this bookmarked in my favourites and go to it from time to time. It is a good read with good points, so check it out.

On the Simple Savings forum there is a thread that has come back about Banning Plastic. We try not to use plastic for lots of things but we fail miserably, though we seem to be better than some people I know, so I am now back on the wagon to ban more plastic from the house. Here is a link to a blog that has some tips and alternatives to using plastic.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cyclone Season

We are zooming through the year and are now in full Christmas mode, well, the retailers are anyway, I am still in denial and resisting. I already have to plan, and let others know, when things are finishing up for the year and starting back next year and I haven’t decided what is for dinner tonight.

I think today must be the official start of the cyclone season as they have been discussing it on the radio and reminding people to get ready. So I guess we had better work on our list. They say (as they do every year) that we will get a few cyclones and a couple crossing the coast, hope not but it happens.

We are quite prepared and always are every year, however there is always more to be done, and really, when you are without electricity you want to be as comfortable as you can and make sure you have enough chocolate biscuits.

Seriously though, we actually have enough food and water and I am always stockpiling more and I am not one of the many, many people who every time a cyclone is coming rushes to the stupidmarket to stock up on baked beans and cartons of coke, I am serious, I have seen it, it is crazy.

Everyone knows at the beginning of every season that we could a cyclone or two and they go on and on about it on the radio and also the TV and people are still unprepared. Honestly, if you don’t have at least a few days worth of food and water (minimum) and a small camp cooker (only about $15 at just about anywhere and about $5 for about four canisters to go with the cooker) you are stupid. I don’t normally go around calling people stupid, it is actually a pretty horrible word, but you are stupid if you aren’t ready.

Here is our little camp cooker which you put a butane canister in, so cheap.

We have about four ways to cook, lots of food to cook and lots of other food that doesn’t need cooking. We have a generator, the silence that comes with no electricity is deafening, so we can have lights and fans and the water pump going. We have a couple of radios and rechargeable batteries, we have torches and lamps and tarps. We have fuel drums for the generator, ropes and tape, dog food and chook food. However there is always more you can do to prepare.

I never feel like we have completed our preps and so this year we are going to get more fuel drums, star pickets, rope and tarps. We did get tarps last year but want at least one more good one and we got a star picket puller outer thingy (very handy) but we need to replace our star picket dolly as we broke it putting up our fence.

Here is just some of the basics we have on hand. Don't forget the coffee for all you coffee addicts out there, no point in only buying a small jar, it is not like they aren't going to drink it.

Don't forget the Billy and pan, can cook nearly anything with these two things.

We don’t need any food but I will stock up on some more snack food and easy to make food like Mac N Cheese. Not actually a fan of these, and we don’t eat them under normal circumstances (except when they are about to run out of date and our number one and only son gets to eat them for afternoon tea) however they are easy to make up and you can add other things into them to make them a bit healthier. And when you are getting ready for a cyclone to hit you don’t have time or the inclination to cook a full on meal, so these are fast and easy and filling.

As you can see, the container needs fixing, camping gear around the place, boxes, bikes, kyaks, but this is our shelter during a cyclone and we want it to be comfortable.

What I also need to do is check out the container with all our gear and go through it and check that everything is where I think it is and maybe do some rearranging to improve things. Things have been moved around out there through the year and some things not put back where they should, don’t want to be doing this at the last minute.

This was the best thing that happened to me for my 40th birthday. A good friend gave me this tool box with BBQ gear in it, including dish washing liquid and a tea towel. It has everything needed in it and you just pick up the tool box knowing it is all kitted out.

So the things that I want to buy are on the list, if we don’t get them it will be OK. It all costs money and what we do have has been gotten over time, however everyone should have the basics and not have to panic at the last minute as always seems to happen. We live here, the wet season comes around every year, we all know about cyclones, and they talk about it in the media to make sure we all remember, there are no excuses. It still amazes me that people ignore the warnings.

One last thing I just thought of to have on hand is some cash. If the power goes out there are no ATMs so no money. I remember after Cyclone Yasi earlier this year and a girl on the news only had $5 and no way to get her money out of the bank and no food, all I could think was what was she thinking? We all knew that the cyclone was coming and she didn’t’ get ready even then, I didn’t feel sorry for her, I just thought she was stupid. That sounds harsh even to me, but we have to help ourselves as much as we can and use some sense.

So it is out there now, we all know what our seasons do, every year there is a wet season, cyclone season, a winter with snow storms, whatever it is wherever you are. You know it happens every year, you know there is a chance you will be without power or won’t be able to get out of the house for a few days, so get ready people.

Here is the BOM site that tells you about cyclones.

This BOM site tells you how to get prepared for the cyclone season.

This is an article from our ABC site tellig us to get ready for the season, just in case someone doesn't believe me.

And a link from the ABC article to the Queensland Government about cyclone preparation.