A Tale of Two Washing Machines

two washing machinesI have two washing machines. Is that weird?!

I never really thought about it, but it came up in an ice breaker activity this week at my Cert 4 course.

An aside: Don’t you love how I just casually threw that in there?! Yes, as if I am not busy enough, I have enrolled in a Cert 4 in Small Business Management. The opportunity came along, the fees are heavily subsidised by the government, and it’s being held in my suburb. All going well I will have completed it by Christmas. Although I am super busy, I figure in the long run it will be worth it as it will help me to streamline and run my business more efficiently. Besides, after nearly 2 years in business I thought it was about time I figured out what I was actually doing, LOL!

Turns out having two washing machines is a bit of a novelty!

When we needed a new washing machine a few years ago, we found a front loader at a bargain price – and at the time the government was offering incentives on them, in a bid to help save water in the midst of the drought.

Now, front loaders as a general rule don’t have as big a capacity as top loaders. And, the wash cycle can take an hour or more. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

What can I say – it was cheap and we had the room – so hubster insisted we buy a second one, to help make my life easier (as the chief laundress in our household).

We’ve never looked back.

What does your Washing say about YOU?!

wet washing hanging on the line ....According to our trainer at the course, our laundry habits reveal a LOT about us!

For example, my tale of two washing machines, and the fact that pretty much everything that can be, goes straight onto hangers – meaning once dry, the clean clothes go straight in the wardrobe without any ironing – probably reveals the fact that I am generally an organised and efficient person. I really hate wasting time!

Or take people who are anal particular about hanging their laundry with matching pegs. They are likely to be more detail-oriented (or OCD, I’m not sure which!).

So what does your washing say about YOU?!

Making the Most of Spring

NB This is a sponsored post.

Spring is in the air. Butterflies are flitting, birds are singing and the bees are going about their business under blue skies and a warm sun. It’s no secret: I love this time of year!

But despite all the beauty outside the front door, what do you think most of us (myself included!) are doing this spring? You guessed it; sitting inside, playing on our smart phone or computer, sending pictures of cats to our friends, and looking at photos of spectacular views of the great outdoors.

That’s no way to enjoy the great spring weather! It’s time to turn off the computer, put away the phones, get outside and make the most of the beautiful spring days before it gets too hot.

Become a beach bum and enjoy the Spring weather!1. A Lunchtime Walk

Yeah, I know. There’s this boring thing called “work” that chains most of us inside during the daylight hours. However most of us get a lunch break, so do what I just did – sit outside and enjoy the sunshine, breezes and fragrance of Spring! Even better, take a quick turn around the block and enjoy the scenery. Not only will you get the benefit of some Vitamin D, you’ll be doing your waistline a favour.

2. Drag out the barbecue

Have a BBQOne of the best ways to enjoy a spring day is to combine two of mankind’s favourite pastimes – getting a bit of sun and eating. A springtime barbecue is the perfect way to bring families and friends together for fun and relaxation. If you don’t own a barbecue already, check out the great range of Ziegler & Brown grills currently in stock at BBQs Galore for something that suits your needs.

3. Why Don’t You Go Fly a Kite?!

My Mother used to say it as a nasty retort, but it’s actually a lot of fun! And who says it’s just for the kids? You can pick one up from the toy section of one of the cheap shops, or check out last week’s episode of Better Homes and Gardens and make your own! Then you and your hubster (and kids if they are still small enough) can take your new kite out for a test run at the nearest beach or park.

4. Become a Beach Bum

crab at the beachUnless you’re a hardy soul, it’s still not quite warm enough to go for a swim. But you can still enjoy the water!

There is nothing the hubster and I love more than to while away a couple of hours, exploring rock pools, looking for shells or interesting pieces of sea glass or driftwood, seeing if we can find any crabs or other wildlife. And if you get too hot, you can dip your feet – or more – into the water. It’s a great way to feel at one with nature.

5. Ferries are Fun!

Another great way to enjoy the great outdoors and feel the breeze in your hair is on a boat. Not everybody owns a boat, but that doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying this simple pleasure – take a ferry trip! Where I live, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to taking a ferry. From the Redlands, there are ferries departing regularly for North Stradbroke Island, Coochiemudlo Island, and the southern Moreton Bay Islands. Or you can head into Southbank, and instead of just catching a ferry across the Brisbane River, why not take a round trip up and down the river?

There really is no end to the suggestions of how you can make the most of these fabulous Spring days. The key is to put away the gadgets, get outside and do something, anything, you really enjoy :-) .

What is your favourite way to enjoy this gorgeous time of year?

iStockphoto Price Rise

istockphoto image of a woman gazing out to sea

I used to purchase gorgeous images (like this one) from iStockphoto, but the rising costs have forced me to seek out alternatives …

I’ve had an account with iStockphoto for a while now – in addition to buying the occasional image for a blog post here at Middle Aged Mama, I also use their images on webpages I manage for other clients.

Which is why I noticed yesterday: iStockphotos have had a price rise.

Of course they haven’t announced it like that. They’ve packaged it as being a “positive” – how all image sizes are now just one price, how convenient, blah blah blah. Which means diddly-squat if you are using their images for websites – because you only want a compressed, low resolution image anyway.

Just last week I quoted to create a WordPress website for a new client. I researched the cost of 5 images to add to the site, and worked out that would account for roughly $25; so I included this cost in my quote.

New Prices at iStockphoto

Under the new system, even though image prices start from just one credit (previously two credits minimum) – each photo will now set me back anywhere from $11 to $18. EACH.

That figure depends on how much money I want to put down up front. I don’t have a huge need for images, so I’ve always purchased the smallest amount of credits I can, knowing that it will easily last me for a year (when the credits expire).

Of course iStockphoto offers monthly subscriptions, but they are way out of my league as a small business owner and small trader. Too, too much in terms of price, and what they supply.

Browsing Budget Images

Oh, and just to make things a little more difficult – I’ve always sourced images based on price, and iStock used to have a handy menu on the side where you could eliminate any expensive images and only browse the ones in your price range.

That little benefit is gone, meaning I have to click through on each individual image to find a price – something I just don’t have time for.

So I did a bit of investigating into the alternatives for stock photos – and there are certainly plenty to choose from. Some of the most well-known are Dreamstime; Fotolia; 123RF; Can Stock Photo; and ShutterStock.

Choosing a new Stock Photo Provider

ShutterStock is subscription only; ruling that option out for me, anyway.

I’ve ended up purchasing some credits at Fotolia, as not only do they seem to have a comprehensive library of images, but they also allow me to view images based on price, just like iStockphoto used to.

Or, you could always use your own photos …

Forget iStockphoto - take your own pics - here's one I prepared earlier!

You could always just use your own pictures instead of purchasing stock photos. Here’s one I prepared earlier!

Do you use stock photos? Which provider do you recommend?