Save the Bank Gift Idea

Free word art for every occasion

Mothers day has just been and the next occasion I have coming up is my siblings birthdays in april. Sometimes the need to spend money on gifts and going out to celebrate occasions can feel never ending especially when your on a tight budget. So instead of breaking the bank I am going to create home-made presents for the next few occasions. Hopefully more if I have any success. I want to create something unique without having to spend hours working on it. Im all for gifts from the heart which you have spent time and effort making however with three separate birthdays in the next two weeks and very little time to make anything due to working twelve hour shifts I need something simple.

Looking at gift ideas on Facebook swap sites and google I found this website where you can buy personalised word art for any occasion :https://www.facebook.com/Wordartforyou

I really liked the concept but didn’t want to spend £13 buying something I could probably make myself. So I googled it.

The first helpful website I found belonged to another blogger Maggie.  http://blog.thelovenerds.com/2013/09/free-shaped-word-art.html Her website provided instructions on how to make your own word art using a free online engine called Tagxedo. http://www.tagxedo.com/app.html

I decided to give it a go. First I headed over to the website.

5

Then I clicked on create. Next I had to install silverlight as I am now working on a new (second-hand) laptop.

This took me to the creation engine

4

Next you need to click load. On the left hand side.Then you can either type in the words you want to use, upload a file from your desktop (perhaps of your favourite poetry) or choose a web address.

3

For my first trial I chose to use a web address. In fact I chose the address for my blog.

Then I hit submit and waited.

Once you have chosen your text you can change the shape.

2

I decided to try a dinosaur as they are awesome.

din 1

If you then want to change the colour of your creation use the theme arrow down the left hand side.

If you want to change which words are which colour then clock thee circular arrow next to colour.

If you want to change your text font then you can either select the circular arrow next to font for a random selection or use the arrow to pick a specific option.

The software is nice and easy and best of all free to use. Have a play around until you find something you are happy with.

“Orientation” : allows you to choose the direction that you would like your words to face.

“Layout” shifts the words around

When your done click on the save/share button to either print or save the image to your computer.

Good luck                                            dino blog

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Apple Day

Left: sweet cider. Right: apple juice.

Left: sweet cider. Right: apple juice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today was apple day in the town where I live. As well as an assortment of stalls selling fair trade good there was also a traditional apple press.

Me and a friend collected two bags of apples and decided to have a go at making our own apple juice. Our two bags of windfalls made 1 and ½ bottles of apple juice (or about three litres). We are going to drink the half bottle this week and use the full bottle to make cider.

First we washed the apples.

Then we chopped them into quarters.

Next the apples were fed through a scratter in order to pulp them. Essentially this is a mincer.

Once the apples are pulped they are then put into a muslin bag which is put inside the press and squeezed. Our press had small enough holes that the apple couldn’t escape therefore the muslin bag was not needed.

Juice is transferred from the press via a tube and then collected in bottles and ready to drink or use as desired. We collected ours in a glass jar and then transferred it to plastic bottles due to the lack of stability plastic provides.

It was a sunny day and lots of fun. I learnt several new things.

We decided to use our full bottle of juice to make cider so we will be buying a bung and air stopper to attach to the bottle. This will allow gas to escape from the bottle without allowing air in.

I will let you know how the next process goes asap.

Other fun articles

http://quintessentialruminations.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/confessions-of-an-english-apple-scrumper/

Friday Foraging Fun (well almost)

Today we went foraging. It was a delightful sunny day and we had finished our chores so we decided to take advantage of the weather and head outdoors. We wanted to go foraging as September is a prime time for free foods. The main aim was to collect as many dandelions as possible to make a batch of dandelion liquor that would be ready for Christmas.Yarn anf foraging 005

As the weather was so nice it was just lovely to be outside and we weren’t expecting to find much.

We were pleasantly surprised. We enjoyed a good few hours in the open air and returned with dandelions (heads and leaves), clovers (the flowers are amazing and very sweet), crab apples, blackcurrants and mushrooms (which we decided to compost instead of eating to be on the safe side).Yarn anf foraging 007

Yarn anf foraging 010

Overall it was an invigorating experience that made us feel like children hunting for hidden treasure.Yarn anf foraging 008

This afternoon was spent making the base for the dandelion liquor with honey and lemon juice. As well as cleaning our prizes ready for use tomorrow.

We have found a few recipes for crab apple jelly and lemon aid that we want to test although this may involve a second trip at some point to collect more fruit now we know where it can be found. The site I will be using for my base recipes is :http://www.sallywise.com.au/blog/crabapples-the-not-so-humble-fruit/

I still have some leftover apples that I picked whilst at home and the blackcurrants picked today which will be cooked into either a preserve or a desert.

If you have any suggestions for things to do with foraged ingredients or want to share your own experiences please leave a comment.

 

I hope you are enjoying a pleasant September and reaping the benefits of what is available locally.

I hope you will come back again.

Dandelions revisited

In june I made a batch of dandelion liquer which I then proceeded to forget about and left to ferment. on getting back to uni we all decided to try it. it was a delicious very fruity liquer with a slight after taste for the alchohol.  I have been implored by my test subjects to make this again and will probably be giving away strained versions of the drink as gifts next year, a few of myfriends have suggested it had a mellow taste similiar to a sweet mead. however i have not tried mead so can’t compare the two.

I got the initial recipe from http://vallenuova.blogspot.it/2012/05/foraging-dandelion-liqueur.html

however the idea came from http://wildcraftvita.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/things-to-do-with-dandelions.html

the initial recipe You need:
100 dandelion flowers (collected when fully in bloom)
A syrup made with 250 g of water and 300 gr of sugar
2 whole lemons cut in pieces
Juice of 2 lemons
750 g of water
750 g of 95º alcohol
(you can use Vodka and reduce the amount of water accordingly)

English: Two dandelions side-by-side in some g...

English: Two dandelions side-by-side in some grass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make a syrup with 250 g of water and 300 g of sugar and let cool.

In a glass jar that you can close tightly put the flowers, lemons, lemon juice and syrup.
Close, store in a warm place and let rest for 1 week.
Add the 750g water and the alcohol and leave for about 3 months.
Filter and enjoy!

 

the adjustments i made was using honey instead of sugar and vodka instead of alcohol. only a tiny amount of vodka is needed however less than a teaspoon. the only other significant thing to note as i found with one of my earlier batches once open the mixture if not drunk within 3 or 4 days starts to go off. it would definitely be best to make this in smaller portions to avoid waste or invite friends round to help test each batch.

 

Kombucha continued

English: Mature Kombucha

English: Mature Kombucha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Hey again,

Last post I outlined the basics of Kombucha.  This time I am going to investigate  how to flavour the finished product.

 

 

Here is a video outlining the basics of how to start your own culture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z58FzJdliRE&feature=share&list=PLWzMfwDxBs_m9uVcO74d6KeRm8-eN6sGz

Once you have made your own Kombucha and got the hang of making plain batches you might want to have a go at flavouring.

Flavouring is done after the first fermentation. Once you have a batch of plain Kombucha you are happy with you can decant some of it into a separate Glass container (don’t forget to set aside some of your kombucha mix to start your next plain batch)  and then begin to experiment by adding the flavours of your choice. Bear in mind that Kombucha is a living substance so do not use chemicals to flavour it. Instead why not try adding fruit or fruit juice.

Once you have added the ingredients you are using to flavour the Kombucha then you have to re-cover it (still allowing it to breath) and leave it to re-ferment in a warmish (room temperature) place out of direct sunlight. After 5 to 14 days it will be ready to drink depending on your personal taste. Don’t forget to leave a comment on your own mixtures as it is always nice to find new flavours.

There is a fantastic video available on how to flavour Kombucha available here:

Felting a bag.

This week i went to a free felting workshop. all the materials were provided and it has given me a few ideas for what to do with my own wool.

Here is an explanation of what i did in pictures

 

Base layer of bubble wrap in tray

Base layer of bubble wrap in tray

Template for felting in tray

Template for felting in tray

Template for felting

Template for felting

A selection of wool

A selection of wool

A selection of wool

A selection of wool

My selection of wool

My selection of wool

The first layer would form the outside of the bag

The first layer would form the outside of the bag

I had to keep the wool wispy and make sure there were no gaps

I had to keep the wool wispy and make sure there were no gaps

Then I put a layer of lace over the wool to hold it in place.

Then I put a layer of lace over the wool to hold it in place.

I used a watering can to sprinkle water onto the wool.

I used a watering can to sprinkle water onto the wool.

Then presses it down to ensure it was wet.

Then presses it down to ensure it was wet.

Next i rubbed soap into the wool.

Next i rubbed soap into the wool.

After this I massaged the wool to felt all the strands together

After this I massaged the wool to felt all the strands together

I removed the lace curtain to prevent it felting to the wool. Then relayered it and continued massaging.

I removed the lace curtain to prevent it felting to the wool. Then relayered it and continued massaging.

I Flipped my felt using a spare sheet of bubble wrap.

I Flipped my felt using a spare sheet of bubble wrap.

I folded the corners neatly over the template.

I folded the corners neatly over the template.

Massaged them together.

Massaged them together.

then layered more wool over the template. This would also be an outside layer.

then layered more wool over the template. This would also be an outside layer.

I repeated the same process as before. covering the wool with a sheet of lace.

I repeated the same process as before. covering the wool with a sheet of lace.

sprinkling with water.

sprinkling with water.

massaging the soap and water into the wool.

massaging the soap and water into the wool.

Flipping the felt and turning the edges in again.

Flipping the felt and turning the edges in again.

layering more wool. this will form the inside of the bag. massaging it. then repeating the process on the final side.

layering more wool. this will form the inside of the bag. massaging it. then repeating the process on the final side.

cutting along the top edge and removing the bubble wrap template from the bag.

cutting along the top edge and removing the bubble wrap template from the bag.

messaging the felt bag then turning it the right way out and continuing to massage it with one hand inside and one out.

messaging the felt bag then turning it the right way out and continuing to massage it with one hand inside and one out.

squeeze out excess water to shrink the felt.

squeeze out excess water to shrink the felt.

when a suitable size leave to dry naturally.

when a suitable size leave to dry naturally.Fe

Legal free music

Copyright Symbols

Copyright Symbols (Photo credit: MikeBlogs)

This post relates back to my earlier article about free resources. Once something is out of copyright it is free to legally download and use as you will. In this post I concentrate on free music resources.

Of course if you are happy to listen to music online there is always YouTube and Grooveshark. However when you want music to add as a background to your own videos or would like something to download for free there are alternative choices. Here I research the possible choices for free music without infringing on copyright.

The first website I found on searching Google for free out of copyright music was http://www.openmusicarchive.org/ this is run by volunteers and anyone can use the music for their own purposes. There are some beautiful pieces on the site which you can download.

The second site : http://freemusicarchive.org/ is fantastic. It allows you to build your own playlists. Not all music is out of copyright. However it is in the creative commons, therefore is free to download and use for projects.  It is a well-built site easier to search than the first it gives you easy access to information about the artist and suggests similar songs that you might like. You can also download or save your playlists. There is easy access with the possibility of login via Facebook or Twitter for those who don’t want to fill in loads of forms. I love some of the free songs such as http://freemusicarchive.org/player?subscriber=FMAPagePlayer_1370184796548 which allow you to try out new artists and then donate or buy their album if you enjoy their work. Artist appreciation is an important part of keeping legal music free. Even if that’s just sharing with a friend.

The third and final site http://www.purple-planet.com/#/blog/4554649020/Copyright-Free-Music/849911. Of course there are more sites out there but this is just an example of how easy it is to legally get hold of music to use in your own non-commercial projects. This site lists some of the ways you can tell if it is legal to use music online.  It is free to use (as are the above two). It has fewer songs than the other two sites. Yet it is categorised into themes. You can try before downloading and there is a simple as well as more complex version of the same theme for different uses.

I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction into the world of free online music and give it a go for yourself. It is truly amazing the amount of free resources out there. It’s just a case of exploring, undertaking your own adventure and learning. Double check your source as although the music itself may be out of copyright. Depending when the version you are using was produced the artists or musicians may still be under copyright. Also like with the second website on my list, many artists offer their music without copyright for use on non-commercial projects and for personal use.

Have fun and enjoy. Don’t forget to share your own experience of free resources.

Best wishes

Rachael

Free legal resources; reading and films.

Books

Books (Photo credit: henry…)

Hello nice to be back. Sorry it has been a while since my last post I have been busy with end of term chaos. For this post I decided to write about the availability of free books on the internet.

I have just got a new tablet so have spent several hours creating a collection of books for different purposes. However you don’t need a tablet to access these books just access to the internet.

If you download the amazon kindle application there are thousands of free books available. Not just the classics. Some are specifically published free for kindle. Some are free when first made available however then the price goes up. So if its free its worth grabbing it whilst you can.  The best thing to do is type in any key word and then tell amazon kindle store to order it cheapest first. There is usually about a hundred pages of free books available at : http://www.amazon.co.uk/b/ref=amb_link_157681107_38?ie=UTF8&node=434020031&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=left-2&pf_rd_r=0VNJN4GXSQZ8ETZMSX28&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=361270347&pf_rd_i=341689031

I may have got slightly carried away and downloaded 700 free books yesterday.

For those of you who have a tablet but can’t access the kindle software I recommend Aldiko.  This allows you access to feedbooks who have a variety of books written just for them and made available for free. Their website can be found at http://www.feedbooks.com/ they are fantastic with free original and classic books. The ordering isn’t always as consistent ass amazon but its worth bearing with for some truly awesome free reads.

Then for those of you who like romance books check out https://www.allromanceebooks.com/ just read the description first as there is a selection of teenage and adult romance. Depending on your preference of graphic detail and avoidance of sex I suggest checking the category before purchase.

There is loads of websites that offer free reading; both online and available to download to your laptop so don’t miss out.  The latest sight I have found is http://www.free-ebooks.net/ which I will be testing out in the next week or so. Also don’t forget anything out of copyright is often available free online.

I use sight such as http://www.gutenberg.org/ for out of print academic texts. There is also http://archive.org/web/web.php which has a range of out of copyright resources including films. These are legal ways to pass the time. I particularly love the films found on archive.org as they are often a bit different from the mainstream genre.

If you have ideas of where to get free films and books legally why not share. It is always nice to support the websites that give something back by sharing with friends.

Until next time I wish you a fabulous week.

Best wishes

Rachael

Test subject A- a follow up TEFL: Finding Legitimate Companies.

No one want to apply for a job half way across the globe, only to be short changed and have no one to turn to.

So, I’ve spent the better part of the evening looking into different companies which claim to offer jobs all over the world.

Of course sometime you can tell from just looking at the site. However, that is not always the case, from there you need to do more searching.

As is common with most companies now a days, they have twitter and facebook account, and becoming more common, having a LinkedIn page. I consider these to be good places to check. The more likes or followers they may be more trust worthy. Of course if you click on the link and the page doesn’t exist then you get away from that site.

Another good thing to look into is partnership information. If the site has the icons and names of other companies that are backing them, go look them up and see how credible they are. Some times this can be really easy, other times you are might have to search for online Australian newspapers to get information about AustChem. Even after you have seen a photo of the Australian PM at a lunch set up by the AustChem, can’t be too careful.

It’s not just sites with jobs offers to worry about. How can you work out the trustworthiness of a site that is offering TEFL courses? In this area I didn’t really do much searching. I found i-to-i from a graduate job website, so I took it as okay and I ended up doing my course with them.

I did go looking at other courses when I decided I did want to go through the process of getting TEFL qualified. Some of them again I judged on the look of the website, while others it was based on how much they were offering the online courses for. If a 120 hour course is normally around the top end of £200s and they are offering it at £60 something not right there.

Always look into a company as far as you can before applying. With doing a TEFL course you can gauge if it’s too good to be true. Whereas with the jobs the more common benefits always seem a bit too good to be true when you first go in. To me if someone offering you free accommodation, to pay for your flights there and back AND offer to pay for one round trip home, something’s always going to feel off. However, these are some common features, so it can be hard to gauge at times.

Anyone else have any tips for doing research let me know! J

Ellie aka Test Subject A.

How to make banana cake

Today we decided to have a go at making banana cake. It is one of those deliciously moreish things that never seem to last in our house. It’s really simple and a fantastic use for those bananas that are a bit too ripe.

Here is the original recipe we were supposed to follow courtesy of test subject A’s mum.

Banana Loaf

2 ripe bananas

2oz marge

5oz sugar (I use a bit less and add extra banana)

2eggs

8oz self raising flour (sometimes I use 4oz white SRF and 4oz wholemeal SRF

Pinch of salt (I don’t bother)

1.   Mash bananas

2. Cream marge and sugar

3. Beat in eggs

4. Add flour salt and banana

5. Add any extras like choc chips/chunks cardomon seeds etc.

Line baking tin with baking paper or if you haven’t any, grease the tin well.

Bake at gas 5 , 190°c ( the recipe I have says 1hour but its never taken that long when I’ve made it. Try about 20 minutes then check.

 

Here’s what we did:

Warning we may have messed up slightly although it was still tasty. For this reason we suggest you follow the above recipe. And read directions before beginning (unlike us).

1)      We took 3 overripe bananas and mushed them using a fork in a glass bowl.

2)      Next we added the sugar and butter (soya pure) into the same bowl (this is where we went wrong).

3)      We mixed these together to get a smooth mixture.

4)      We beat the eggs in a separate cup. Then added them to the bowl.

5)      We added the flour, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of chilli and mixed well.

6)      We poured the mix into a silicon cake tray (hoping it would all fit).

7)      We turned on the oven to 190 degrees ( forgot to do this earlier)

8)      We waited for the oven to heat up. And used this time to wash up our stuff and put away the ingredients.

9)      The mix went in the oven. And we waited again.

10)   After 20 minutes we checked the cake but it was still very gooey.

11)   We kept checking on it at regular intervals until cooked. (tested by sticking a normal knife into the cake and waiting for it to come out clean)

12)   Once it had cooled it was well received.

Overripe banana's

mush banana's with a fork mush banana’s with a fork

Overripe banana’s
mix in sugar and butter

mix in sugar and butter

a nice smooth mixture

a nice smooth mixture

break two eggs into a cup

break two eggs into a cup

fun 15.5.2013 025

pour into bowl

pour into bowl

banana cake banana cake

Mix in eggs

Mix in eggs

pour mix into baking tray

pour mix into baking tray

put baking tray in oven

put baking tray in oven