letting go (just a little bit)

I was going to write a post about all the worry and things on my mind at the moment (which is giving me big headaches because I’m a teeth grinder from way back) and then I realised just how amazing today was and that I never knew what today would look like. When you have a baby you wonder how they will grow up. You take care of this little person, send them to preschool which is letting go of them for a while and you know that one day you’re going to send them to big school. And that is scary. When I was preparing to send my big girl off to school I said to a mum how do they not all escape during lunchtime? How do I know she won’t try to leave and come home? I got a reassuring don’t worry she won’t run away. They don’t.

When you have a little one with special needs or serious health issues, the idea of sending them off to school is something you either can’t imagine, can’t get comfortable with or maybe you can’t wait for. And it’s scary. Maybe you’ve got a child who can’t walk or has big meltdowns everywhere you go or doesn’t say a word or is in and out of hospital. You’re doing therapy and medical appointments and just hoping that it gets easier. You wonder what their future will be like. You wonder will they need a special school. You wonder what happens after school. The worry is never ending when you have a child with additional needs and you have good and bad days. And the bad days are so hard and you feel like the only person going through it. And the good days are so wonderful because the littlest things mean so much when you’re working so hard on learning new skills.

This year we are really making an effort to get out and do things that in the last 2 years were just too hard. We were at a fete and someone wanted to go to on the big swing ride. We thought oh no that  looks too big for her, what if she slips out, what if she hates it and starts screaming as soon as the ride starts. But no she wanted on that ride. We asked the attendant if she was big enough and it was ok. They said yes. She got on, smiled and waved and LOVED every minute of it. I went to rush in and get her off the ride but in the time I got myself organised the attendant had let her off and she ran to her big sisters and walked out with them. As if she’d been doing this ride thing her whole life. She didn’t need me fussing over her.

Yesterday was her first interview for big school. I was so nervous because I didn’t know how it’d go. New surroundings, new faces, would we be having a good day, had I picked the right time of day for her and so on. I really could go on. I picked out a new little outfit and she wore it all morning (ok she wore it the night before and I had to wash the top and leave it to dry overnight hoping it would dry by the next morning) and was in the best mood. When we got there her daddy was trying to get her to hold his hand but she was just so confident and strolling in on her own (leading us in!). She had no idea we had an interview beforehand but she was happy and played and didn’t want to leave. As in lie on the floor and say no and not move until a little box of lollies came out and the offer of lunch and she was up and out of there. We shared a happy meal and I just thought of how far we’ve come.

Next year I will let go and enter a new stage of our lives. We don’t know where she’ll go to school (it’s a nervous waiting game) but it will be a special school and we hope and pray that she’ll be happy, safe and learning. I’ll always worry just that little bit more for my special little girl but today made me realise that everything will be ok. That she will continue to surprise us and grow and is a true blessing in our lives. I have a very special place in my heart for all people with special needs and never could have imagined the love and compassion that I feel for them and their families.

 It was a big day……………………………

TIC TAC Minions are coming + a giveaway

brought to you by TIC TAC

Growing up I remember my nana always having a TIC TAC packet in her bag. But unlike me and the empty TIC TAC packs that you will find in my bag she always had a full pack in her handbag. And for some reason I remember that if we finished the pack it didn’t matter because she always had another new pack in there, ready to go. I wonder if she still carries at least 1 or 2 packs of them in her handbag. I’ll need to ask her.

We love TIC TAC in this house – I love them for the peace and quiet they provide at the supermarket check out when I’m doing the groceries with all the kids. It’s a major achievment to get through the shop without someone totally losing it and the checkout isn’t the finish line it’s just the last hurdle in the race. A TIC TAC packet that we shake and shake, pass over and pay for (and don’t put in with the rest of the groceries – very important) is a lifesaver if I’m going to get out of the supermarket in one piece.

And they hold their pack for dear life until we get to the car. And once we’re strapped in they open the pack and take out one and close the pack. And open the pack and take one out and close the pack……it’s peace and quiet in the car right there.

We love to line them up and count them, play with them and spell out words with them before  eating them. We also played a guessing game where you make a shape/letter/object and the rest of us had to guess it. Those TIC TAC tend to move around a little bit so it’s fun to play.

I also like them for the older kids if they’ve left the house without brushing their teeth and have morning breath before school. No one needs that. I also like one after my coffee if I’m out and about. And how did we survive all those years without knowing that we could use the lid of the TIC TAC for this purpose. Do you remember this discovery through social media?

Now we decided on a very rainy day to play TIC TAC bingo. Just take some sheets of paper, draw up a grid, put in some random numbers, get your players ready and someone with their back turned on the players calls out random numbers. So much fun.

We love orange flavour but all that is going to change once my kids discover that there will be TIC TAC Minions in the shops.

Us aussies are the first IN THE WORLD to TIC TAC Minions which is kind of nice because we always have to wait for the best movies and tv shows over here. The Minions movie is coming to cinemas from the 18th June and we’re pretty excited about the movie because we love Despicable Me and we love Minions. I know the kids won’t be the only ones laughing but I’m wondering will I laugh as hard or sing along to Underwear.

TIC TAC are bringing out TIC TAC Minions and you’ll find them at the supermarket from the month of May (which is now!!) for a limited time. And the kids are going to love this because they are banana flavour (since Minions love bananas) and you’ll be able to buy  TIC TAC packs with your favourite minion Kevin, Stuart or Bob! We love Kevin and whenever I say Kevin I think of one of the minions saying Keveeen. There are 2 sizes of packs and if you want the little minion faces on your TIC TAC then you’ll want to get the 24g packs as shown here.

I have to confess that we always buy the big packs because they never last long.

In fact I was sent 3 packs of these TIC TAC Minions and had to hide them in my sewing room over the long weekend, I photographed them and then they quickly disappeared! In a word….popular! But I already knew that before they came into our house.

AND NOW FOR A GIVEAWAY

TIC TAC and I have organised to giveaway 3 double passes and 3 family passes for some lucky people to see the Minion movie! All you need to tell is tell us your favourite Minion and why and whether you’d like a double or family pass.

Giveaway is open to Australian residents, one entry per person, full terms of my giveaways can be found here, entries close 11 May 2015.

Win a signed copy of Margaret Fulton’s Baking Classics

It’s no secret that I love to bake and I love my cookbooks. I do have my favourite books and they are the ones that have foolproof recipes that always work and always get eaten. Oh and that don’t require lots of fancy ingredients (that aren’t in my pantry when I want to bake).

Growing up we always had Margaret Fulton cooking books in our home. And over the years I’ve loved that she’s a little scottish lady just like my grandma.

The latest cookbook from Margaret Fulton is gorgeous and beautifully styled and photographed. It has a great range of classics to more modern recipes for cakes, scones, biscuits, pastry and more.  Sometimes you just want the perfect scone recipe and other times you want to go all out and make choux pastry and something to impress. You’ll have the opportunity with this book as it’s got something for everyone.

What I love is that the start of each section has a  hints and tips section. This is so helpful especially when you’re trying something new like pastry or aren’t sure of something. We all know that you can follow a recipe to the letter and then end up with a flop or you didn’t put it on the right oven shelf. The hints and tips will be great for the kids and less adventurous and those wanting a perfect finished product.

I received a copy of this lovely book myself and have  2 signed copies of the book to giveaway. All you  need to do is tell me why you want to win a copy for yourself (or maybe someone else)………….

this is not a sponsored post, I received a copy of the book , giveaway is open to  australian residents, one entry per person, terms of my giveaways here, entries close on Mother’s Day 10 May 2015. 

Share your mum hack to win!

brought to by LEGO DUPLO

For as long as I can remember we have had the DUPLO tub at our house. You just can’t beat it as a toy and we love when we receive it as a gift because we can add to our collection. You can never have too much DUPLO. Even my big kids can be found playing with the younger ones because they love it so much.

When you have your first child you play with them and teach them how to play with toys and wonder will they ever learn to play on their own. Then brothers and sisters come along (a few more than the average household in our family) and you have instant playmates. Once you have a child with special needs though you really need to get involved in the play and teach at the same time.

Now you’ve probably seen some popular hacks on social media recently. I’m always looking at the mum hacks because they save time doing things I do all the time. And when I try to think of my favourite or if I have one of my own I always come back to baby wipes. Yep baby wipes. Not just for baby bottoms. I use them for a quick wipe of the floor if there is a spill, wipe the bin down, clean up some crumbs, remove a mark from the wall, give the kids shoes a quick wipe before they jump out of the car if it’s a uniform inspection day and they haven’t been polished. Do you want me to keep going? I could…..I have baby wipes stationed all over the house because I am always using them.

Well I’m going to share some DUPLO Mum Hacks with you which are fun ways to use DUPLO that you might not have thought of.

TEACH YOUR KIDS TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR TEETH

Who knew DUPLO could help you teach your kids to take care of their teeth. Thanks to Pinterest I discovered that you could be teaching your kids to brush and floss their teeth by pretending that the DUPLO bricks are teeth. Grab a toothbrush and show the kids how to brush in a circular motion just like the dentist showed them. Let them have some fun and you could get out the toothpaste and a bit of water to make it more fun. Sit back and watch them brush their pretend teeth.

 PASS ME THE RED ONE PLEASE….

I’ve spent a lot of time in speech therapy sessions. But I’m sure that  my little miss has no idea that I’m helping her with speech when we get out the DUPLO tub because she just thinks it’s fun. But we’re expanding her vocabulary and knowledge at the same time. Meanwhile my nearly 3 year old now asks me ‘where is the….’ and looks at me waiting for an answer after I’ve grilled him on a few things in a book or game. You’ll notice I don’t have too many bricks out when I’m doing this. Just keep it simple in the early days with 2 or 3 choices and starting with the very basics. Here we are teaching some simple fruits and colours. First I test and see if you she can point out the fruit when I say the name and then I’ll muddle them up and try again and then I’ll go to colours. If you’ve ever sat through a speech therapy session with a toddler or child with special needs then you’re probably all over this one.

You can also assemble a collection of blocks in the same colours I’ve shown and have your little one group them together. This is easier for little ones to do before they can name the colours and it’s a great skill to have.

 

HAVE A BUILDING COMPETITION

One of my favourite things to do when I need a mini break or to do something around the house is to ask the kids to create their best ever big building or creation.

OK, if I’m telling you the truth I might offer them $2 and tell them to take their time, be creative and build the best they can. Then I make a coffee and come back to judge them. And meanwhile you should see them creating…..you’d think it was the world’s best DUPLO building competition.

Now just for you I’ve created a Pinterest board here with some more fun ways to use LEGO DUPLO. You can also check out some great #DUPLOMumHacks here on the Facebook page

AA

And now for the fun bit……… I will be giving away THREE prize packs valued at $90 ( each pack includes the LEGO DUPLO Airport set, the LEGO DUPLO Number Train and the LEGO DUPLO My First Construction Site) by selecting a new winner at the end of each week for the next 3 weeks.

To enter just tell me your tip to help make mum’s life easier! Upload your idea using #DUPLOMumHacks. You can leave a comment here, upload a photo or share it on social media (instagram, facebook, twitter) with  the hashtag #DUPLOMumHacks and @retromummy. Can’t wait to see your mum hacks. 

All entries shared using #DUPLOMumHacks will also be entered into the LEGO DUPLO Facebook Competition and appear on the #DUPLOMumHacks tab on the LEGO DUPLO Facebook Page. Click here  to find out more and see other entries.

Giveaway is open to Australian residents, one entry per person, for full terms and conditions of this giveaway please read  here

.

All entries uploaded using #DUPLOMumHacks will automatically go into the LEGO DUPLO Facebook Competition, please see additional T&C’s here
By submitting an entry, each participant: (a) warrants and represents that he/she owns the rights to the content submitted and that the content submitted is: (i) original to him/her and has been legally obtained and created, (ii) does not infringe the intellectual property rights, privacy or publicity rights or any other legal or moral rights of any third party; (b) grants the LEGO Group a worldwide, royalty free, perpetual license to, copy and reproduce the video or entry on the LEGO® website at www.LEGO.com, its websites and its social media channels; and (c) agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the LEGO Group against any and all claims, damages, expenses, costs and liabilities relating to trademark, copyright, or other intellectual property rights, right of publicity, right of privacy or defamation.

knitting for my bigger girls

Gone are the days when I can pick the pattern and wool colour and knit away for all of my kids. Turns out they like to have a say in what I knit………and pink was not on the cards for my big girl.

So I ordered a couple of colours for my bigger kids and am letting our soon to be 9 year old choose the colour for this pattern. The pattern below looks perfect and 10 ply means it will knit up faster. You can buy the pdf version of the pattern here or go old school and get the printed version here.

image source Bendigo Woollen Mills

I have to say it’s a tricky age to knit for but maybe that’s just because I don’t like too much knitting and love to knit baby size. I’ve chosen Bendigo Luxury in Ghost (great soft grey colour) and Slate (lovely charcoal grey colour) and then also picked up Stellar in one of the latest colours – Tanzanite. I think I’ll knit for the rest of the kids with the other colours and any leftovers are going to make a gorgeous chevron blanket.

If you need some knitting inspiration then you can’t beat searching on ravelry, I search the patterns and when I like something add it to my faves. A couple I’m loving are Livie, Kindling Season, Gretel, tiny tea leaves, a kina, featherweight,  and anything by tiKKi.

your sewing doesn’t have to be fancy

One of the great things about having a sewing machine and fabric is that you can make something so simple and easy – a cushion cover or an easy skirt – and it doesn’t have to cost you very much money or take much of your time.

My little miss just loves dresses and skirts and with the colder weather we were running out of some options. Half a yard of fabric that I picked up on etsy a few years ago, sew a side seam, hem it, do an easy waistband casing, thread in the elastic and put it on my girl. Done and dusted in 20 minutes. Here are some instructions I wrote recently. She wore it yesterday afternoon and off to preschool today and is the happiest little girl ever. I also did a little brown polka dot cord skirt at the same time but she’s loving the butterflies. And just a note I’ve used my regular cream thread on this skirt but if I was making something fancier or a dress with more effort then I would match my thread. I always keep colour 111 from gutterman in my machine as a general all purpose thread. And don’t even ask me about changing overlocker threads, I never do that.

So start simple, don’t overplan it or get complicated patterns with zippers and buttons, just do something simple and you’ll be on your way. And if you get stuck there is always youtube.

I will say that buying 100% cotton fabrics will make your handmade clothes last longer and go the distance compared to poly/cotton. Check out the quilting section of your fabric store and especially the discount bolts. If you are after a licensed fabric or particular fabric that your child loves (butterflies, princesses etc) and are struggling to find it locally then I google it first and see if any aussie online stores have it, then I hit etsy or ebay (aussie and US) and put in what I’m after. That’s your best option and same applies if you’re looking for something older.

there has been sewing…tissue covers

My sewing machine has been gathering some serious dust! Just not enough time to get in there especially with an 8 month old who crawls everywhere and puts EVERYTHING and I really mean everything in his mouth at the moment. But church needed some handmade items and I took that as a great excuse to get on my machine for a few hours. I’ve shared a tissue cover post last year and you just can’t beat it for a quick and satisfying project that you can do in bulk for a market stall, fair or for presents.

This time I used this tutorial which made them a bit bigger but really worked nicely. I raided the stash and made them up before realising I needed green because not everyone loves red, white, blue and pink.

If you like to watch a video then watch this one here which is great and I shared last year when I was whipping up some of these babies for the mothers day stall.

My top tip is make up one or two and if you are happy with the size and instructions then sew the first side seams on all of the fabrics, take them to the iron and press all together then do the other ends and pop your tissue packs in. Now if you are doing a really big production line and have set yourself an ambitious target then I skipped the pressing the seams for quite a few and just did the good old finger press.

I did see mention of slitting the plastic tissue pack down the centre but I had plastic peeping out so I decide to remove the tissues. You could just put the tissue pack in unopen and leave it up to the person receiving it. Up to you.

Anyway, this was one afternoon and one night in my craft room. I had a few helpers who couldn’t get to sleep put the tissues in and I really need to get them sewing soon so they can help. I put them by the front door late last night and then as we were rushing out the door remembered I didn’t photograph them. Ducked into dining room, took a few photos, then out the door to church. Definitely give these a go as they are a great beginner project or fast project for any level of sewer. There are also loads more tutorials if you pop ’tissue cover’ into your search in pinterest or youtube.

 

what I’m knitting and how to fix your knitting mistakes.

It’s autumn and one of my favourite times of year because I love to knit in this weather. I make grand plans for all of the things I’m going to make and then we see how I go. Life is always busy and the past few nights I’ve been doing all of my receipts and paperwork and had hardly any knitting time. Hate that. This was actually supposed to be a post on what I’m knitting at the moment but then turned into me sharing a few youtube videos to explain how I was going to fix my knitting. So there you go. Today’s blog post is sorted for the day and I hope you find it helpful.

I’m currently knitting the Wallaby in 10 ply. It’s a new pattern from tiKKi and I was hanging out for the pattern from the first time I saw her knitting it last year. It has a simple top down design and will make a great little project for a baby boy or girl AND you can knit in 4, 8 or 10 ply (if you buy the ebook of 3 patterns for $10 you’ll have all 3 otherwise buy them individually). How many times do you find a pattern you love and then discover it’s not the right ply you want or you don’t have the wool to make it. Well that’s what I love about this one. I’m using Bendigo Luxury 10 ply in Brick which is a great solid red. It looks a bit lighter in these photos as the sun is on it. Now the 10 ply in brick is not available on the website anymore as they’ve discontinued the colour but you can still find some in 8 ply and it’s worth it if you’re looking for a nice solid red.

Now the reason I started the wallaby before I finished my last baby knit is because I’m 40 stitches out on the little hoodie I was making. When a pattern has the stitch count at the end of increasing you really should keep track of your stitches. I was a bit complacent and somehow was up late knitting one night. Put the knitting away for a few weeks. Came back to it and knit some more, thought I was where I should be and then what would you know. When I went to put the sleeve stitches on some spare yarn I’m way out with my stitch count. Missing 40 stitches.

So I’ve put in the WIP pile to come back when I’m calm and can think through patiently ripping it out without losing stitches. Basically when you’ve made a boo boo you have a few choices. Rip it all off the needles and start again which is a good option when you’re not happy in the first few rows or you’ve made a really big boo boo. You won’t be happy if you’ve done a lot of work though. Another option if it’s just a row or a missed stitch is leave your work on the needles and one by one go back and undo each stitch, slipping the stitch from one needles to the other. This little video shows you how to do it. But please note that she has a lot less stitches on her needles than you’ll usually have when you’ve made a mistake.

You can also pick up a dropped stitch with a crochet hook by following these instructions.

And then another option when you’re more confident is take your work off the needles and rip it back (this is called frogging) and pull your yarn out row by row. I am ok with doing this because do this at a table and when you’re up to where you want to restart you’re going to get a smaller needle and pick up the loops of each stitch so you can pick up and go again. This option means you don’t lose all of your work. But it does have the risk that you lose a few stitches so beginners might get stuck with this and rip it all back.

And that is why knitting is a wonderful test of patience. And perseverence.

What are you knitting?

learning to knit

Well it is most definitely knitting weather here as we have the worst weather we’ve had in a very long time! I’m re-sharing this post I wrote last year to help you learn to knit!

First place and wish it was around when I started knitting is youtube. There are so many great tutorials on there….and some not so great ones. I really love the videos from GoodKnitKisses because she takes it nice and slow and close up. There are loads and loads of videos on youtube now if you put in beginner knitting or how to knit and let me tell you that they have certainly improved since I first started using youtube and there were some scary finger nails and cats walking by. Another online option is Craftsy which has some great online classes.

A next great place to start is your nearest knitting store. Almost all knitting stores will have some classes and a beginner class and seeing it all in real life might be the ticket for you. If you’re in Sydney then Morris & Sons run loads of classes and lots of great times so check them out. Just google to find your nearest store and call them up. And if someone in your family is a knitter then why not ask/bribe/be nice and get a lesson too.

Now some people prefer books and I admit that I retaught myself with debbie bliss books when I discovered the knitting section of John Lewis in London many years ago. If knitting for little ones is your goal then a couple of my favourites are Baby Knits for BeginnersEssential Kids and Junior Knits which have the kids covered. If you have no interest in knitting for kids then she has a great book you might be able to get called Knitting Workbook which is a bit of an oldie but a goodie and I also love Stitch n Bitch The Knitters Handbook which covers everything and also has great patterns and stories too. If you’re an op shopper or ebay lover then check out Patons Woolcraft – I have 2 editions and it’s great for basic stitches and how to.

You’ll need some yarn and needles. You can find your nearest knitting store and get some advice and what you need and shopping in person is so lovely because you get to pat the wool and check out all of the colours and patterns for yourself. I think 8 ply wool and 4mm needles or 10 ply wool and 5mm needles are a great way to start. Spotlight, Lincraft, Big W also will have what you need but be prepared for more acrylic than wool at big w but when you’re starting out a ball of yarn and needles is all you need. If you’re going to start with a big scarf or blanket then don’t forget Bendigo Woollen Mills and their 200g balls of wool which represent excellent value and have a big range of colours. Other online shops I love are Suzy Hausfrau, Tangled YarnsThe Wool Shack, WoolBaa and yarn over is where I buy all my amercian cotton for facewashers and so on.

Now when you’re starting out you don’t need anything fancy but I was asked last week on instagram what I thought of interchangeable needles. I love them. I have 2 sets of knit pro (previously called knit picks) and love them both but do prefer my nickel set over my karbonz. I use both but still love my nickel plated most. It’s an initial investment but you’re rarely stuck for needles when you find a pattern and it says you need a 3.25mm 40 cm circular or whatever it says. By getting a set and a few more cords you’ve got everything at your house to get started on a project and they are nicer to use than cheapies. But when starting out it’s good to start with the cheapies in case knitting is not your thing.

Next you’ll want to join Ravelry where you can set up your profile, enter the details of your first knitting project, find groups to join for your interests and there are so many groups to join. And spend hours searching for patterns too. You’ll see a button at the top of the screen for patterns and just type in what you’re after like beginner baby cardigan or toddler jumper etc etc. Lots of inspiration, ideas and patterns you’ll want to make and I can’t imagine knitting without ravelry.

A couple of my other knitting posts you might like are How I substitute yarn into my knitting projectsmy favourite how to knit bookswhat I knit with and how I care for itsome of my favourite baby knitsknitting for babies in winter and I love knitting for newborns.

Got a question or something else to ask just ask away……………………….it’s a great time to get those needles out and start knitting!

how to create the ultimate My Little Pony Party + giveaway

brought to you by My Little Pony

Pinterest has a lot to answer for. All of those amazing parties and there is just so much inspiration. And it can be easy to look at the parties and think that you’d need to be an expert cake decorator, party planner, stylist, chef and have no children in the background to pull them off. All of those craft ideas, the games, the candy buffet, the cake, the cookies. I could go on.

In our house we love a home party. I recently set myself the challenge of creating the ultimate My Little Pony party at home. I would do the cake, the games, the food (ok the sausage rolls I did not make) and decorate the room. And I must have done a good job because the kids almost had a heart attack when they came down the stairs the next morning to see what I’d done. Apparently and this is what they said….better than pinterest. Yep. that’s what they think.

I’m going to talk you through everything I’ve created so that you can create an amazing My Little Pony party at your house…………..and just so you know I did this in the school holidays, 6 little people under 9, no babysitter…just me. Kids were put to work but we got there and I’m pretty proud.

So let’s start …………

pick your colour theme

Before you even put pen to paper or hit the party store or supermarket you need to pick your colour theme. We love Rainbow Dash and decided that a rainbow colour theme was what we wanted. You could also choose your favourite My Little Pony character and use that colour scheme. We also loved polka dots so incorporated that in to our theme. You could go pink, purple or pick two colours that you love.

plan the menu

Kids love sausage rolls, fairy bread, jelly, fruit and lemonade. You can go as fancy as you want with the food but I’m just telling you what always gets eaten at our parties.

The rainbow jelly cups were lots of fun. You’ll need 4 or 5 different coloured jelly sachets and work out the order you want in the cup. Grab some plastic cups (don’t go too big), do a layer  of jelly at a time leaving them in the fridge to almost set before the next coloured jelly goes on. It’s best to do this the day before when you’ve got a bit of time. It’s really important that the jelly layer underneath is almost set before you put the next one on top. Lots of fun and very popular. All gone now. The My Little Pony cutlery was less than $5 at the party store and keeps it all in theme.

For fairy bread with a difference take a slice of bread, spread some spreadable cream cheese out to the sides, cut the crusts off, sprinkle on 100′s and 1000′s then roll up the bread and cut into 4 pieces like sushi. Fun and easy for little fingers to eat.

Rainbow fruit salad cups are so easy. We took some cupcake wrappers and filled them with banana, kiwi, grapes and strawberries. The little toothpicks come from the party store and line them up on your table in neat rows or put them on a serving platter. So quick and easy and something healthy too.

rocky road is also fun, I used my freckle sundae rocky road recipe which you’ll find here. This is a great one to serve to the adults at your party as well.

the cake

Making the cake can sometimes stress me out. I can bake a cake at any other time of year but somehow the pressure of the birthday cake can make me nervous.

Because I wanted to show off the tiny Neon Bright My Little Pony toys (and because I’m not that fantastic with very fancy large cakes) I made cupcakes using this recipe and a simple cream cheese frosting. Hundreds and thousands and rainbow sprinkles were sprinkled on top and a cute My Little Pony on top. You can also find my simple party cakes recipe here which has less ingredients and is super quick and easy to make too.

The cupcake stand came from the supermarket a few years ago and comes out everytime we have a party. They are inexpensive and a great little investment for your parties and entertaining at home. Cupcakes really do take the pressure off and take less 20 minutes in the oven to bake. And note to self, don’t put the cakes out on the table too early or the littlest members of the family will take to rearranging the ponies themselves.

decorate your table

You’ve probably seen that having a party table with the food all laid out, jars full of lollies (aka the candy buffet) are all the rage in parties at the moment. And they are so much fun and don’t need to be over the top or an expensive exercise. I raided my glassware which has been picked up from my mother in law and garage sales and a few nice jars that were to be used for jams. Fill them with some lollies and voila you’ve added something very special to your table and instantly made it look like you’re a party planner in your spare time. No really. We decorated with some Rainbow Dash My Little Pony toys. I also found a straw dispenser in my craft room which was a fun way to display the polka dot straws.

Isn’t this the cutest idea that I found on pinterest. Take a jar and fill with sprinkles and pop a tiny My Little Pony toy on top. So cute and fun.

The labels were a couple of dollars for a pack and I’ve packed them away for another party. They came with sticks and little stands so you can use them in a variety of ways. Buy some of the lollies in bulk at your nearest party store to save money or if you have a big case to fill. This was my Mother in law’s vase and I just love it for parties and decorating a table.

I know that people like to have a blank wall behind the table but I just love the window and line up your my little pony collection along the windowsill. This was so much fun and you can make your own with ribbon and some crepe paper. There are so many inexpensive ways to decorate walls and windows.

I love our dining table and it’s also just that bit too big for tablecloths so for $5 I picked up a My Little Pony pack of confetti to decorate the table. So much fun and you’ll be picking it up off the floor and finding it in odd places for months to come. You could also grab a hole punch and cut out bits of brightly coloured paper to decorate your table.

We also had this gorgeous My Little Pony carriage to decorate our table. This was so much fun to play with as well.

craft, games and activities

Now you’ll need a few tricks up your sleeve to keep everyone entertained. One of the things I love to do is have a craft activity for when our little guests arrive. You don’t want to start doing anything before eveyrone arrives so some rainbow crayons and big A3 sheets of copy paper will have everyone drawing. This is my little miss when I asked her to draw a pony (well technically I had to say horse because that’s what she calls ponies).

Ask your guests to bring their My Little Pony toys with them and have some fun letting the ponies get to know each other.

And why not have a My Little Pony salon where the ponies can get their hair brushed, pop a clip in and you could paint the little ones fingernails with some fun rainbow coloured nail polishes or glitter too. Inexpensive and lots of fun.

We also picked up a sheet of 16 My Little Pony tattoos for less than $5 and cut them up. They are lots of fun of hands and can finish off the whole Pony Salon experience. Pop a helper or grab a mum to help out at the Pony salon. My sister is always great at being put to work at our parties.

Another fun activity is to make up a batch of cupcakes, set aside the icing and some sprinkles and other toppings and let the party guests ice and decorate their own cupcakes. My girls love doing putting the frosting on and it’s a fun activity for everyone.

And you can’t beat pass the parcel at a party. We just love it. Why not put a special My Little Pony toy in there as the main prize. This one comes with stickers and can be decorated. I’ve kept it in the box but all my girls are dying for me to open it up.

And to get the kids outside and for a bit of fun you can’t beat a pinata! You can use a donkey one, a number for the birthday or we were lucky to take the last rainbow pinata at the store. Fill with wrapped sweets and some My Little Pony toys would be cute too. My kids love a pinata.

the goody bags

Have I told you about when my kids went to their grandma’s 90th birthday party. All of them asked where the lolly bags were. Yep, you can’t go to a party and leave without your lolly bag. We found this fun bags for a couple of dollars. Pop in a fun straw, plastic necklace, some rainbow jelly beans or wrapped lollies, a little tattoo, a Neon Bright My Little Pony, some of the confetti and we also had rainbow bubble packs (not in the photo) to complete our bags. Some people like to keep lollies out of the lolly bag but you’ve got lots of fun ideas to make a goody bag for your guests.

 My last words of advice for hosting a fabulous kids party at home

make lists

use the time before the party to set the table and have all of your plates out

do a time plan for the day and include when you’ll do food, games, cake etc

get the kids helping with the party preparations

don’t serve too much food and try to limit the hot food so you aren’t in the kitchen the whole time

don’t go to the party store or supermarket without a list

look online

raid your house, toy tubs, linen cupboards and craft supplies to see what you have

create a pinterest board for parties and save all of your favourite ideas in the one place

I hope you enjoy these ideas and are all inspired to host your own ultimate My Little Pony party. I’ve created a pinterest board here with lots more ideas for My Little Pony parties. I’m actually now going to host Elodie’s 5th birthday party later in the year as a My Little Pony one that I’ve got everything here and we haven’t taken the table down because the kids love it so much and are still playing with the toys.

And to share the love I’ve got a fun giveaway and wait to see you the prize list!!!! To win some  wonderful packs of My Little Pony for your little ones just answer this simple question

 Which My Little Pony Character would you use to theme your pony party, and why?

PRIZE DETAILS:
1 Major Prize

1 X Ultimate Rarity RRP $29.99
1 X MLP Carriage RRP $24.99
15 X MLP Blind Bag RRP $4.99
10 X Cutie mark pony friends RRP $6.99
4 X Deluxe Winged Pony RRP $12.99
 
3 Runners Up, each will get:
1 X Ultimate Rarity RRP $29.99
1 X Deluxe Winged Pony RRP $12.99
6 X MLP Blind Bag RRP $4.99

Giveaway is open to Australian residents, entries close 28 April 2015, one entry per person, full terms of my giveaways can be found here. 

anzac biscuits with whatever you have

Well I can’t believe the school holidays are almost over. I need another week. We have just settled into them and stopped the kids fighting with each other (it took me a week before I realised that the dynamics change when the big kids are home which explained the fighting and tears). Our days go best when I  send everyone outside a couple of times a day, give them some jobs to do, put on a movie in the late afternoon (thank you foxtel box office) and get them cooking in the kitchen. Our littlest miss comes in and does a big mixing action with her hands and says cooking when it’s time to make something.

But this is the story of my life when it comes to baking. Decide I’m going to bake. Check recipe. Check pantry. Realise I’m out of brown sugar or coconut or something else I need for the recipe. Taking all of the kids to the supermarket is not top of my fun things to do list so I’ve come to love substituting. We love anzac biscuits and I’m loving the recipe on the thermomix recipe chip. And here is the recipe how I make it with a few options so that you can make them with whatever you have in the pantry. I actually prefer honey or maple syrup in mine. They won’t come out as dark or crispy but taste beautiful.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
anzac biscuits with whatever you have
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 20
What you'll need
  • 120g butter (or margarine)
  • 100g golden syrup (or maple syrup or honey)
  • 1tsp bicarb (or baking powder)
  • 100g rolled oats (or quick oats)
  • 150g plain flour (gluten free or self raising)
  • 90g brown sugar (or caster sugar/raw/white)
  • 50g desiccated coconut (or shredded or omit from recipe)*
  • *if you leave out the coconut add a dash more oats and flour
Instructions
  1. Place butter and syrup into thermomix bowl and melt for 2 minutes, speed 2, 60 degrees
  2. Add in bicard and mix 5 seconds, speed 3
  3. add in oats, flour, sugar and coconut and mix for 10 seconds, reverse, speed 4. Scrape down sides and mix another 10 seconds reverse speed 4.
  4. **Roll into small balls and flatten. But I love to do this with a fork but it's up to you
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes in a 160 degrees oven until lightly golden. Cool on tray then on rack. Enjoy. They won't last long.
  6. If you don't a thermomix then melt your butter and golden syrup and add in the bicarb once melted. Remove from heat and add in remaining ingredients, mix well and then follow from **
  7. if you find your recipe is a bit too wet then just pop in the fridge for half an hour, always works wonders then make into cookies and bake.

 

and if you’re after a vegan/healthier version then check out quirky cooking’s anzac biscuits here and there are about 50 million recipes on pinterest here 

I love weddings

I love a good wedding. I’ve probably said it before here on the blog and I’ve been lucky the past few years that my cousins have been getting married so I get my wedding fix. My sister in law gets married later in the year so that’ll be two this year. A good year. Yesterday was the wedding of my cousin to her lovely new husband and it was a gorgeous day.

These photos are from my phone and my little camera. It’s a bit hard taking photos and juggling the baby and a few lenses so I just stuck to my 45mm lens and it did a lovely job of the photos.

There was so much to love about this special day. Everything was so elegant and perfectly planned out. I especially loved the speeches where you really see how beautiful families are and that weddings bring families even closer together. Big tears rolling down my cheeks during speeches.

After the ceremony we had some time to kill before the reception so paid a visit to the cathedral in the city, said a few prayers, had my little guy throw up some milk on my dress, walk through Hyde Park where there must have been at least 4 or more bridal parties having their photos taken, ate a few pork dumplings since we’d missed lunch and then arrived at the reception in the botanical gardens.

And Aida was on so we could hear a little bit of music, got some fireworks in the background and had a beautiful time.

And the cutting of the cake included  the family wedding knife which was used by our great great great great grandfather at his wedding I think (I had to check that it is 4 greats!) and is used at all of the family weddings and is such a special thing to include.

Somehow our little guy lasted the whole night even with the really loud music, the greek dancing and people everywhere! I came home, got into my jammies, made a peppermint tea and looked at all the photos.

 

how to earn more Qantas Frequent Flyer points

brought to you by Qantas Frequent Flyer

Hands up if you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer Member? Keep your hand up if you’re collecting Qantas Points so that you can take the family on a holiday? Keep your hand up if you’re doing lots of flying these days and earning points? My hand is down at this point…no flying going on. Now keep your hand up if you know that you could be earning frequent flyer points by shopping online at some of your favourite brands: Big W, David Jones, Pottery Barn, Apple, eBay, The Iconic, Marks & Spencers, Samsung, Seafolly and more? Does anyone still have their hands up? Anyone? I didn’t think so…..

I can’t believe Pottery Barn Kids is now a way to earn Qantas Points. If only I knew BEFORE I did all of the kids bedding from their online store. I could have been earning 4 points for every $1 spent. And it’s just so easy. You simply visit qantaspoints.com/onlinemall.  Login using your Frequent Flyer details, select the retailer you want and go straight to their website to shop. So you’re shopping on the website of your favourite store and earning Qantas Frequent Flyer points at the same time. It’s too easy. For more ways to earn Qantas Points just go here. This is the bedding I chose for my big girl’s bed……if only it looked this neat every day. We’re working on it.

We love collecting Qantas Points in this house but I have to confess that I haven’t been collecting many and transferred all my points to my lovely hubby who does all the flying. The balance on my frequent flyer account? Nil. Zero. Nothing. We did fly. Once. In fact I think I joined the Frequent Flyer program way back in 2001 when I went to live and work (and shop) in the UK. Here I am someone in Europe doing what I do best. Shop.

We loved travelling. England, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, New York (the only place I’ve been in the states) and a few places in Asia including my favourite…Japan.

We haven’t been travelling in a while unless you count driving somewhere in our big bus. But we do have a goal of flying all 8 of us to Europe next year for our 40th birthdays. We would love to visit Italy and France. On a budget. And we have been saving our points for the last few years to get us over there. And I have to tell you a funny story. There is currently a competition run by Qantas here to win a share of 1 million Qantas points and hubby came home and told me that he’d entered and that Paris was our dream destination. I then told him oh I know I’m doing a post on it. Silence….I guess we can’t enter and be promoting the competition. So now that we’re out of the competition with our winning entry (just joking!) you can all enter. And you don’t need to enter an overseas destination like we did, perhaps your goal is just to fly the family somewhere to visit family or to bring a relative to come and visit you.

There are lots of ways to earn points and not just shopping – credit cards, banking, grocery shopping, eating out, car hire and hotels and more. For a full list just go here.  So now I’d like you all to go and dig up your frequent flyer details or maybe you need to join here, set your points destination for where you are dreaming of and start earning points. You can also track your progress (which I aim to do now that I know I can be earning more points).

Where is your dream destination? Somewhere exotic or somewhere local?

 

another in threes

Just 2 weeks from start to finish on this little knit. Not bad with end of term, easter celebrations, all of the kids at home and everything else that goes on around here. The background for this little project is that hubby came home from work asking whether I had made something for a lady at work who was going on maternity leave. Like really soon. The intention was there but I’d been knitting a few other things.

In the end I missed the deadline by just by a week but this definitely was a quick pattern. All in one knit from the top down and I just love the little cardigan now that it’s done.

The pattern is In Threes by Kelly Herdrich and you can find it here for US$6 to download. The yarn was a one off buy from Spotlight a few years ago. It’s called Full o’Sheep by Debbie Stoller, and it’s 100% wool and super squishy and soft. I really enjoyed knitting with it especially since I only bought it for the colour. I just love pink and it was the brightest pink I’d seen in a long while.

Buttons were also from Spotlight picked up last week and made in Italy which is a nice change. I couldn’t get a colour to match but thought these were pretty and in a shade of pink.

Now I’ve knit this pattern before but in an 8 ply and I mucked up the sides of that one. This one I did the garter stitch under the arms and love the look of it.

And here’s the back

And some ‘super cute I love to buy clothes for baby girls’ outfits from Target that were just too cute not to buy. I love giving a hand knit with a little something else to wear

Ravelry details are here. This would be a lovely project for a beginner who can cast on, cast off, increase and do knit and purl. Definitely going to make this again when I need a quick project.

school holiday mode

Well it’s official. We are on school holidays and have officially switched into school holiday mode. That means sleep ins, staying in our pjs, fighting with your brothers and sisters, tipping out the lego tub, using pocket money to buy more lego, making a big mess and not having to be out the door by 8am. And we’re loving it.

Over the rainy weekend there was some knitting and today I’m going to finish this off and have all the details on the blog later today. It’s a gorgeous pattern (In Threes) and was a pretty quick knit.

It’s not all fun and games during the holidays, we visited the dentist yesterday and we’re back again next monday. Hairdresser visits usually make an appearance. I also set goals like going through the wardrobes to move clothes between growing children, see who needs what, lots of decluttering, cleaning my craft room, the playroom and giving the house a good clean. We also have a few movies planned and top of our list is Cinderella which I can’t wait to see.

If you’re on school holidays then enjoy them! It’s a great time to just rest and recharge before the next school term starts……………………….I love school holidays so much but there is a teeny tiny part of me that is happy to wave them off to school again and get back to routine.