another flower sugar giveaway

I’ve been checking my driveway throughout the day for this delivery and wasn’t it worth the wait. The latest Flower Sugar range in some of my favourite colours (sorry green fans, I seem to have been a bit carried away with reds, pinks and blue). I’m popping packs of these into my store now but thought a giveaway was well overdue.

I’ll giveaway a fat quarter pack of these beauties – one of every one pictured – to one lucky reader. Just tell me your all time favourite colour and why. Giveaway is open to my readers all over the world, one entry per person and entries close 7th February 2015. Good luck!

I have to tell you that the pink bolt in the front middle is killing me! I had just unwrapped the plastic off all of these bolts, the kids were going crazy, clean laundry piled all over the table was gently shoved out of the way for a photo, I was trying to get a photo in good light before the sun went down and cook dinner! Multitasking and didn’t check my photos closely enough to see that the pink bolt is the wrong way around! Please excuse me…………you probably didn’t even notice but I did!  

back to school : lunchbox ideas with Aldi

brought to you by ALDI

Well you might already be back into making lunchboxes as you read this or perhaps like me you have a couple of days before you get back into making lunchboxes. I have conducted my own ‘lunchbox and drink bottle’ audit to see how we were going with everything, look at what needed replacing and organise the cupboard so that everything didn’t fall out on you when you opened it. Good news is that we have plenty of lunchboxes already.

Now I have been asked a few times for a blog post on lunchboxes so I look forward to sharing a few tips with you although I do have to admit that I’m not one to have fancy lunchbox fillings. I think some of these lunchboxes would also suit the office or a day out for busy mums as well!

Let’s start with your growing boy or girl or husband who needs 2 sandwiches in their lunchbox! We’ve got ham and cheese on a soy and linseed loaf (Bakers Life Bakehouse Soy & Linseed $2.69 a loaf), some fruit and some sultanas. When it comes to the sesame snaps ($1.49 for a 3 pack from ALDI) please check your school’s allergy policy first as they contain sesame. If not allowed then save them for an after school or after sports snack or for the adults in the family. I love them as a sweet treat with a cup of coffee or peppermint tea.

For the gluten free, vegetarian or super health conscious member of the family we’ve got some spinach and roasted sweet potato salad. You could have some feta on top too. Just peel and cube a few sweet potatoes, drizzle on some olive oil, salt and pepper and some smoked paprika and roast in a 180 degrees oven for about 1/2 hour. Delicious. Just keep them in a bowl covered in the fridge until you need them. Add some cherry tomatoes, fruit and a squeezy yoghurt (Brooklea Yogurt Squishy $1.29 for 150g) but leave out if the lunchbox needs to be dairy free). Some rice crackers or cakes would also be great in this one.

And then for the fussiest member of the family. I have one and he hasn’t hit school yet but he has mastered the art of turning up his nose at most things. But he will eat everything in this lunchbox. Take a wholemeal wrap or a tortilla, spread on some  mayo, some ham, roll up, slice and place into the lunchbox with some rice crackers. Some cherries, an apple and a cheese dip and crackers pack because that never comes home. I find hiding a packet of those in the pantry helps for those lazy or running late mornings when you need something.

MY TOP TIPS FOR LUNCHBOXES

look for lunchboxes with lots of compartments and some large enough for packets/crackers etc

check that your precious little one can open the lunchbox themselves before school starts. If not practice or find a new lunchbox

lots of fruit and some raw vegetables. If your lunchbox is looking a bit bland or beige then you haven’t got enough fruit in there

always keep an extra loaf of bread in your freezer so you never get caught short of bread 

 wraps, tortillas and turkish bread are an easy way to make something different in the lunchbox

get creative with your cookie cutters for those fussy eaters 

 the next time you’re making cookies, freeze half your dough in a roll and then slice and bake the night before for something delicious in the kids lunchboxes.

get the kids involved in baking some morning tea treats like jam drops

 grapes, blueberries, cherries and strawberries aren’t the cheapest fruits but don’t be put off buying them because compared to a packet of biscuits they are much better for you and the kids love them. 

frozen blueberries and raspberries are an easy way to add some colour to your next batch of muffins

buy an extra bag of grapes and pop them in your freezer to make them last and for a great cold snack in lunchboxes

don’t forget to always follow the school’s allergy policy especially with nuts, eggs and dairy

always keep some dried fruit and hide a packet of muesli bars or biscuits in your pantry for when you are running low on lunchbox supplies and can’t get to the shops

don’t pack too much especially for your littlest of eaters. Too much food can leave them sitting eating while their friends are playing or overwhelm a little one just starting out at school.

cans of tuna and a jar of mayo will also come in handy when you think you have nothing for lunch. Pop on a sandwich or with some crackers for a tasty lunch. 

All of the food for this post came from ALDI and mums know that they can find the best prices for groceries at ALDI. Keep an eye out for the Baker’s Loaf Bakehouse Bread which is $2.69 a loaf and comes in 5 varieties - white, wholemeal, multigrain, light rye and soy & linseed. All of which are free from artificial colours and preservatives. We are always well stocked with bread as we need it for breakfast and lunches and a sandwich is always in our lunchbox for the big kids. ALDI also have a back to school catalogue here with some great specials.

And I’m going back for these great sunscreen rolls which have a clip for the school bag! perfect for my kids who can all put their own sunscreen on and great before heading out to playtime. And I don’t think they can lose this one. Genius. How did I not know about this…………$3.99 from ALDI too. Head instore to see the limited edition back to school Special Buys range, only available while stocks last.

What’s your top lunchbox tip? Especially for our fresh faced kindy mums this year…………………….

back to school : how I deal with nits

Those of you who already have kids at school will know that it’s not just the homework that will be coming home with your kids once they are back to school. If you’re really lucky you’ll get to experience the whole range of emotions that goes with finding your child has nits. I still remember when my innocence as a new school mum was shattered when I discovered keira had nits one morning while doing her hair. I’d never seen them before and I had no idea what to do. In fact the school office had to tell me what to do. Of course I went and got some terrible smelling shampoo that was so strong and I had to read the instructions and leave it in her hair for a few hours. I’d never even see a nit comb before and now we have several throughout the house. We’ve gone through stages of no nits (as in before my eldest started school), then nits, then trying to beat the nits which kept coming home, then a new school with no nits and then nits again late last year.

My best advice? Just stay vigilant against them. Even if you think you’ve got them all and said goodby to nits, be prepared for them to come home again or for another cycle of nits in your family. It happens.

And how do I check for nits? Well we check (ideally a couple of times a week but usually once a week) with the nit comb when the kids are getting their hair washed. After conditioner has gone in and been left in for a while is a great time to quickly run a nit comb through and wipe on a wet wipe or white tissue to see if it comes out clear.

And what are you looking for? Generally anything light brown to black that could be as tiny as a little speck or fleck or a full blown big nit will come out. It’s really important to wipe the comb on a white tissue/wipe/bit of toilet paper/whatever you have that is white so you can see what is coming out. Otherwise you are just putting the comb and nits back into the hair. So wipe after the comb has been in each time and you’ll use a few wet wipes/tissues but trust me there is a great sense of satisfaction when that last nit comes out of the hair. And after each child has been de-nitted you’ll want to wash their bedding and hats.

And what is my favourite way to get rid of them? We have tried loads of different treatments over the years, trust me I keep finding them everytime we move house and I clear out bathrooms. But they really haven’t worked for us in the long term. At the moment I’m loving oil like argan oil in the hair as they slide out easily and a metal nit comb. Don’t use your good stuff from the hairdresser. I’m using this less expensive one ($8 a bottle). You might like to apply the oil to wet hair or I did dry and also did a haircut at the same time since we were sitting on a stool and dealing with holiday hair. Then wash their hair and you run the nit comb through it and then I dry it with my hot straightener. And yes you better set aside part of your day or night to deal with the nasty nits (I think that’s why mums hate them so much). But trust me if you deal with them now and get rid of them properly then you will be so much better off in the long run.

Now some of your kids will scream the house down when you get the nit comb through their hair. We have a really loud one here who almost runs a mile once she sees the nit comb. A good distraction is to have them sit and watch something on the computer or their favourite movie while we get the nits out. For my really unhappy little ones who hate the nit comb I do them while they are in the bath and work quickly and then act like I have no nit comb, as soon as they turn their head back to play I’m back in there with my comb and getting anything out. Works a treat for my little two.

And preventing nits? For my boys short hair. Keep it short and it’s so easy to get the nit comb through. My boys are never really my problem in the nit department. For my girls it’s hairspray all the way. Go crazy with it. And hair up, plaits are best. If the hair is too long to get the nit comb then they get a generous trim at my ‘salon’. And when I’m on top of the daily hairspraying we seem to avoid nits. Once a lovely friend Sonia made a beautiful all natural spray when keira was in kindy and we were really battling the nits and it worked wonders and smelled so beautiful at the same time. Must get the ingredients from her if she’s sharing her special spray.

And that’s nits! What’s your top tip? Everyone seems to have advice and yes the cheap conditioner gets a workout here too. The funniest tip I ever got was from the GP who told me to sit with the child near a naked flame like a candle and comb each one out and then strike it through the flame to really kill it. Oh for sure. Totally doable back then with 4 kids under 6. Yep. No. I never did that. It had accident waiting to happen written all over it.

a spot of sewing

Yes there has been some sewing. First up I’ve been doing some re-covering of cushions for the library. I said yes to the job and then almost had a heart attack when I actually saw some of the cushions and realised they were couch cushions. I was thinking easy job  then realised I might need zippers and side panels and put the job off until the end of the holidays. And then I turned to my old friend, Pinterest, and found this fabulous tutorial. It is so easy and straightforward and if you want removeable covers just work how how you want to close them. I did velcro and was really happy with them. Here are most of the cushions as we took them in 2 trips. The chevron fabric is from Spotlight and hoping you might know where the owl fabric came from as that was given to me by the library.

OK so with all of those cushions off my to do list I could do a quick quilt top for some charity quilts I want to make this year. I’m hoping to organise a day in march for us to get together and make baby and kids quilts for charity. I used almost 2 charm square packs of Moxi a new range into my store here which I had been hanging out for and definitely my favourite colour palette.

this is straight off the machine and hopefully won’t sit on the back of my sewing chair for the next few months waiting for me to quilt it.

and that sewing has all taken place with breaks for snacks, nappy changes, a baby waking up, overlocker rethreading and more. But it’s great to be at the machine. Hope you’ve enjoyed some craft time while the kids have been off school too……..or maybe you’re looking forward to them all going back and getting a bit more time to yourself. I know that’s been in short supply around here.

back to school: win 1 of 4 $100 BIG W gift cards

brought to you by BIG W

congratulations Susan H, Louise B, May L, Jessica O who have all won a $100 gift card. Thank you so much for entering!

I don’t know if I really want to talk about back to school shopping. I kind of would like to stay in this holiday at home little world that I’ve been living in for the past 7 weeks or so. It’s been wonderful. Not a lot of driving, no rushing out of the house or coming in with tired little people. But a little part of me is looking forward to sending everyone back to school and getting back into routine. So let’s talk back to school supplies. How are you going with the shopping? Are we done?

Please don’t tell me that you had it all done before Christmas or that you do it all in the sales. I am not one of those people. No wait. I was. Before we became a family of 8. I’m pretty sure when it was just 1 at school that I was pretty organised with shoes, uniforms and supplies. But since we’ve grown and become a family of  8 it turns out that I am definitely a late january shopper when it comes to back to school.

But that’s OK because BIG W gave me $100 and picked up the tab for our back to school supplies which was lovely and also handy because I was going to head to BIG W anyway. If you’re a regular reader then you know that I’m a fan of BIG W because it’s my one stop shop and always has been. And if you keep reading I have 4 x $100 BIG W gift cards to giveaway which will definitely help with the back to school expenses.

What’s on your list? School shoes, socks, shirts, pencils, lunchboxes, underwear, liquid paper, contact to cover books…..you name it you’ll find it at BIG W. And so with shopping list and 50 million kids piled into the car (OK, just 6 kids but it feels like more) we hit BIG W. Early. Like 9.30am after the pep talk in the car that we were only getting things on the list that related to school and that no one was to ask me for anyone else. Only the eldest 3 require the pep talk but it needs to be done.

Here was our shopping list!

1. White short sleeved shirts for my big boy. 

2. school socks for the girls because you can never have too many pairs of school socks and don’t forget socks for PE and any extra sports the kids play

3. Drink bottles and plenty of them. We decided to try some stainless steel ones that are free from BPAs and anything nasty. We got a 2 pack for $15 and I’ve got my eye on these which look great for me. We also got a Dora lunch box and drink bottle combo pack for the Dora fan in the house. 

4. underwear for my preschooler! If you’re sending someone off to childcare, preschool or kindergarten you’ll need some spare pairs in the bag for accidents. It was a tough choice between Dora and Disney Princesses and what a nice day when that’s the biggest decision of the day.

5. Colouring pencils, textas and crayons for pencil cases and homework. Make sure you get colouring and lead pencils for homework and not just what is on your school supplies list. These Staedtler Pencils are a great price at $5 for a pack of 24

6. Highlighters ($1), glue sticks ($2.88 for a 2 pack) and some smelly pens ($2) for my big girl. Those smelly pens are a girl thing. 

8. Erasers but I’m not sure how skull erasers made it in there, I must have been looking the other way when they got snuck in because I said yes to erasers but not to skull ones. $1 for a pack of 3 skull erasers.

9. $5 stationary packs for the homework table and a birthday party we were going to. 

10. And for me………….Sharpies which are perfect for labelling hats, lunchboxes, bags and whatever you need really. Always keep one in your kitchen drawer and they always have one in the uniform shop for the big business of selling sunhats because every child seems to lose a hat at some point during the year. Hot tip mums, buy more than 1 sunhat so that you have a spare one at home. Saves any early morning trips to the uniform shop to buy a hat. 4 pack of Sharpies was $10.

Oh and plastic to cover books with and not the sticky Contact  because I don’t have a Masters in book covering and am one of those mums that manages to get her own hair stuck in the plastic and loads of air bubbles. It’s just a big hot mess so I pass it on to my husband who is wonderful at book covering and took over from me with the twins books when they started kindergarten.

And look we had the store to ourselves…just kidding…we were early and in and out with everything on our list. A good idea is to check out BIG W’s online catalogue here before you leave home and the kids will enjoy helping with the lists. And something I didn’t know is that you can buy schoolwear from BIG W online here which definitely makes things easier because a trip to the shops can go pearshaped once we start trying things on. Definitely makes things easier.

And to win  1 of 4 x $100 Big W gift  cards just tell me what you will be buying if you win one of the $100 BIG W gift cards!

{Giveaway is open to Australian residents, entries close 28th January 2015 and full terms of my giveaways can be found here}

And this would be the behind the scenes photo as we got back to the car and just after all of the sushi was chucked out of the pram onto the ground and I was assured that the short ends (i.e. the rice) didn’t touch the ground. Just so you know that I did this shopping trip under normal mum conditions.

back to school : gluten free lunchboxes

Just over a week till I’m back into routine and I’ve been adding some fun things to my back to school board on pinterest if you haven’t seen it yet. Oh and I have a lunchbox board too. Trust me my lunchboxes are not and will never be as fabulous as some of the things that I pin but heh it’s fun to get ideas. But I was asked by one mum on facebook to write a post on gluten free lunchbox ideas. Yep, it’s certainly a challenge when you start out having to make gluten free lunchboxes. This year I’ll need to make it 3 days a week but I have a few ideas I thought I’d share with you. Of course you might have other things to avoid like dairy or eggs so I’ll try to offer some alternatives too.

sushi

make your own or in a pinch buy some from a shop or supermarket that morning if you really get stuck and yes I have been stuck. Tuna with a mayo that is free from gluten (and dairy), egg (if allowed) with mayo, avocado, gluten free ham and avocado are simple fillings that you can easily make at home. If your little person isn’t a fan of nori then rice balls are super easy to make and wrap in glad wrap. Pop a little filling in the middle of a ball of rice and mould into a little triangle. I loved these in japan and london for my lunch on the run. My quick and easy sushi recipe is here.

Be sure to use vinegar in your rice and something to keep it cold in the lunchbox is important too. We are lucky that at preschool we have a fridge for lunchboxes which does make my life easier.

popcorn

if your little one isn’t too little (because of the choking risk) then popcorn is a great snack for lunchboxes and I love that you can buy small bags of it now if you run out of time to make it. Of course check the packaging to ensure it’s gluten free but it makes a tasty fun snack and kids won’t feel like they are missing out

savoury muffins using gluten free flour

if you use a cup for cup substitute like white wings gluten free flour or the macro gluten free flours then you can pretty much use any muffin recipe substituting the regular flour for gluten free and anything else in the recipe that might contain gluten. These are my cheese, corn and bacon muffins and just swap  the flour for gluten free and ensure that your bacon is gluten free and you are good to go.

inside.....mmmmmm

bake your own cookies

yes you’ve probably realised that baking your own gluten free treats is really the best way to go. Not only in terms of price but also to avoid additives and things that are put into gluten free treats. I’ve got these delicious little lunchbox cookies

gluten free choc chip cookies and if you have the new thermomix just use the recipe on the recipe chip but use gluten free flour and baking powder

frittata or anything with baked eggs

some schools/preschools don’t allow eggs so you need to check first but I find frittata makes a great alternative to a sandwich. This recipe is super delicious for a bit of variety, bacon, lentil and vegetable slice

and good old fashioned zucchini slice using either rice flour or a gluten free plain or self raising flour

hot out of the oven

and my easiest frittata for kids which always gets eaten

easiest frittata

meatballs

my guys love meatballs and if you can keep a lunchbox cold enough then these are a winner because you can chuck in vegies and they are something different. Make your own tomato sauce to dip them in or a little container of tamari if you trust your child not to end up wearing it. These chicken and vegie meatballs are so easy to make and you could do it the night before and freeze a few bags of meatballs and portion them up for lunches during the week. Also great for lunch at home or dinner in a pinch.

cold chicken

We love cold chicken in this house. Roast the chickens for this recipe with the sweet potatoes on sunday night and you could have the next 2 days lunches sorted. The sweet potatoes go in for the last  half hour that the chickens are cooking and it’s a simple but really tasty way to eat chicken. The sweet potatoes are so delicious and with a bit of spinach (if it will get eaten) this is my favourite cold lunch at the moment. Delicious. I do 2 chickens at a time at the moment (organic free range if you can) and I do like a good chicken and mayo salad too. Just quietly.

make a cake and freeze it

I need to do this because I can’t trust myself around a nice warm cake at the moment (well at any moment). This is our current favourite, lemon and blueberry cake. So good. Bake it as a square, let it cool (after you’ve had a slice), cut into big squares, pop into ziplock bags and freeze. Each morning you’ve got a delicious treat to pop into the lunchbox of the most fussiest of eaters.

and this super easy tea cake made with gluten free flour is another great way to pop some fruit in

and good old banana bread, tastes so much better when you make it yourself. Just use a gluten free flour in place of regular flour in my all time favourite recipe that I make most weeks. Original recipe for my melt n mix banana bread is here and thermomix instructions are here.

gluten free macaroni with meat/veg

we are addicted to the barilla gluten free macaroni which is less expensive than the San Remo and tastes just as good, maybe better. Boil up a big pot and portion some out to freeze a few. Add in sweet corn, drained tuna or some ham strips, any favourite vegetables or meats and you could stir in a bit of grated cheese too. Everyone loves pasta and be sure to keep the lunchbox cold.

fruit and vegies

now if you have a fussy eater then you need to work with what they like. For my little miss its a banana and an apple that gets eaten. Everything else is a bit hit and miss and generally comes home. Grapes, watermelon, strawberries, dried sultanas and dried apples are also popular and of course be careful to buy fruit minus the nasty numbers that generally cause an upset tummy in a sensitive little eater. Carrot sticks and hummus are always popular, if dairy is tolerated cream cheese makes a delicious dip with little carrot or celery batons and if you really struggle with the vegies then some sweet corn and a little spoon in a little compartment of the lunchbox can be fun. Our little one loves peas and to pick them up with a fork and eat them one by one.

corn thins and rice crackers

where would we be without corn thins and rice crackers. My favourite topping on a corn thin is peanut butter but that’s not allowed in lunchboxes so pop on your child’s favourite topping. Sliced cheese that you’ve done yourself is great or if you are using mini rice crackers include their favourite dip in a little compartment of the lunchbox for them. We also love the plain mini bags of rice cakes so she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out and the big kids love them too.

organic chip chips and guacamole

truth be told that nachos are my dinner in a pinch. A bag of organic corn chips which doesn’t have the nasties other corn chips too and some mashed up avocado and diced tomato and you are done. It’s a great way to fill up a lunchbox and an easy lunch. A little squirt of lemon in your guacamole will help prevent it going too brown before lunchtime.

sausages or gluten free hot dogs

if you have a really picky eater then a cold sausage with some homemade tomato sauce or a gluten free hot dog will be a special treat in their lunchbox. You can slice it up for the little ones or have it sliced

good old sandwich on gluten free bread

I don’t like gluten free bread from the shops but my little girl doesn’t mind it if it has her vegemite on it (if you are strictly gluten free then look for an alternative like ozemite and always read labels). So keep a loaf in your freezer. Gluten free raisin bread is delicious and makes a cute little morning tea with a bit of butter on it and cut into quarters and is worth a try.

baby burgers for my baby elodie

Over to you……………..any suggestions for my lovely reader who needs help with gluten free lunchbox ideas! 

back to school : pencil rolls

My girls are off to a pool party this afternoon for two sisters and we decided that some pencil rolls would be the perfect present especially with school going back.

I opened up one of my favourite books, Last minute patchwork + quilted gifts for the pattern that I had wanted to make for such a long time but just never found the time.

Now I did cheat a little, the pattern uses strips of fabric to match the coloured pencil. It looks fabulous but with 2 to make and 1 night to do it and my littlest 3 night owls keeping me up all hours….well something had to give. And it was the coloured strips. My girls picked the fabric they wanted for their respective friend and I picked the linen….because I have it on the bolt. Always makes things easier when you have everything you need.

You can find the pattern in the book or purchase it here or jump onto pinterest for similar patterns like this one. I really loved how easy it was with linen on the exterior, a layer of flannel inside, a lining fabric and then some linen which I folded over rather than use 2 pieces for the pocket. I just used my regular foot although the pattern called for a walking foot because my machine is great at sewing through thick layers without a problem.

The pencils were $5 a pack from Big W and for lovely pencils too so might need to do a stock up because retro daddy thinks I should make a big pile of these for presents this year…..if you have anyone in the younger years of primary school then you know the party circuit…if not don’t worry you’ll soon be on it.

And because I know someone will ask – exterior fabric is Linen Mochi Dot by MoMo for Moda, lining fabric in the top picture is by Sarah Fielke which was available at Spotlight and was too fun not to buy, the pink polka dot is Colour Basics by Lecien, I used a Moda flannel in the middle and the ribbons came from Ribbons Galore. Phew.

These took me a night but my 3 littlest ones didn’t fall asleep till 11pm so that took a big chunk of my night. Definitely give these a go and I’m helping with our school fair this year and think these would be great to make too.

Have you made one before? What’s your favourite pattern? 

back to school : activities and how we choose (and limit)

Less than 2 weeks left of school holidays here I thought I’d do a series of posts on back to school just to get us in the mood and for all the new school mums out there too. I’m no expert and I know some of you have been there and done that so I”m sure we can all learn from each other.

Today I’m talking activities. Kids love to try new things and after school activities are great for health, fitness, finding out what our kids are good at and enjoy doing, they help them learn new skills, make new friends and I could go on. They also take time, money, driving and can overload a little person’s already busy life. We’ve gone from having lots of activities to hardly any to picking what we really love and I thought I’d share what we do and ask what you do at your house.

Swimming

this is the non negotiable activity because it’s a life skill and also because I can’t dive or swim 50 metres. I’m like one of those ladies you see with head and hair out of the water doing a bit of breaststroke. That’s me. Just like my own mum. So swimming is saturday afternoons for the big kids, sunday afternoon for our little miss at a special swimming club and our 2 year old is on a little break after screaming down the whole swimming pool each week. We’ve been working on him at home. If weekly lessons are too much in terms of time and money look for school holiday programs. Our kids also do a term of swimming at school which I love.

Team sports

Great for team work, physical fitness, it’s generally affordable (about $100  for us for the season), they get to train once a week and play the game, if friends are involved you can share the driving and it’s a great way to make friends. Girls do netball and boys do rugby in our house but there is lots to choose from and you don’t have to wait until school starts. You will need to put some volunteer hours in but we really enjoy going (I mean who doesn’t like a sausage sandwich on saturday morning or lunch time). Downside can be early morning starts, fitting in the training with homework and dinner, playing rain hail or shine and the cost of uniforms can add up but ask around as we were kindly given the rugby uniform when my friend’s sons switched to soccer.

Music

I grew up playing piano from the age of 4 until year 11 so piano was always going to be an option here. We do lessons through the school – note to parents – activities through the school are great and save on driving the rest of the family around with you. The downside is they can miss some class time but it is usually swapped around so they are not always missing out on the same session. Last year all 3 at school did piano but it was just too expensive and the twins in kindy just weren’t that into it and our big girl loves it so our big girl will do piano this year as well as choir which she loves. We’ll wait a year or two for the twins. Look into group keyboard lessons, choir, band and when things come up at school. Also your school might offer a music program where they get to pick an instrument to hire and learn through the school and it’s much more affordable than private lessons.

Girl Guides or Scouts

We did guides for a year and she loved it. Not expensive, great way to meet children in the area from different schools, you do need to put some volunteer hours in, great life skills and fun and we really enjoyed it. I also think it’s great to get our kids away from the tv and popular culture and learn how to light a fire, roast marshmallows and other things and for us it really helped our big girl with her confidence and overcoming being shy. Really think it’s a great one to look at.

Dancing

OK so I’m a little disappointed that my girls aren’t interested in dancing! Dancing is so great for fitness, fun, body strength and I am convinced that all the years I did of ballet until I was at uni are what have given me a really strong back and great core (ok not so great right at this moment) that have helped me get through 5 pregnancies including twins. It can be expensive for the fees, uniforms and there is the time commitment especially at concert time but it’s lots of fun. Hoping I can change the girls mind on the dancing but we did ballet for a few years.

Gymnastics

We did a few terms of gymnastics and it’s lots of fun, was very expensive but helped our little girl with some skills for PE at school that she needed some help with. You do need to put the hours in to take them there and wait and if it’s too much during term time do some school holiday activities which are a great taster to see if they enjoy it and before you dish out a terms worth of fees. Look at your school and see if they offer gymnastics after school or have a team that you could put your children in.

Art

Art classes are very popular in our house and we’ve taken a break since we moved and will look at holiday programs as our weekly schedule is quite busy during term time. This is great for creativity and really helps in the classroom especially if your school doesn’t have designated art teachers. The artwork they make is also great for presents. We had the most fabulous little art school right near home and must find one near us this year for holidays.

AND MY TOP TIPS WHEN IT COMES TO AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

be careful not to overload when they are in the early years of school! Kindergarten is a big year for little ones so keep the activities to a minimum so that they get enough play time after school and rest time.

learn to say no. It’s ok to say no when your kids ask to start another activity and you know you don’t have the funds or time to add another activity to the schedule. Look at other options like a free taster lesson or school holiday activity in what they want to do or they give up something they have on to swap to a new one.

keep dinners simple and plan ahead of time when you’re out at training/dancing or an activity after school. Nothing worse than coming home in the dark and everyone is whining about how hungry they are and you can’t think of what to cook. In a pinch we do toasted cheese sandwiches, pasta with lots of grated cheese and tuna or my old favourite the frittata.

keep a calender in the kitchen and once you know training schedules and times put all the dates in the calender for the term ahead so that you can easily see who has what, where and to help make appointments, playdates and other commitments.

don’t go crazy and think that your child needs to try everything in order to find their true talent! Kids don’t need to do 50 million activities, they need to play, eat, sleep, learn and be loved. Let them do what they love but don’t go crazy thinking they need to be in everything just because your friend/neighbour/relative has their kid in everything.

look at swimming lessons on weekends if you have a busy schedule or like me have lots of little ones. It is so hard to take the little ones to the pool because they start stripping down to get into the pool and are a handful. So we switched swimming to late on a weekend afternoon and it works well for everyone and dad gets to be involved in their progress

car pool can be your lifesaver if you have girls and boys off at different sports and training!

always pack snacks and drink bottles for everyone when you have an activity on including your littlest ones

invest in a warm puffer jacket or coat and a sun hat if you are planning on taking your kids to sport!

Over to you………..how do you pick and limit activities in your house?

5 months

I love how I had this great idea that I’d do monthly photos of my sweet little baby and I think I did birth, 1st month and now 5th month. Oh well. Life is busy, everyone is at home while we are on holidays and this little guy is teething and growing at record speed. I know I have big babies but he really is putting on the pounds. And his thighs. Cutest things ever.

I took this while he was napping on my lap one night. Just with my phone but it is really one of my favourite pics of our sweet little baby boy. And I hope you appreciate the banana bread mixture on my dress from our earlier baking session. He’ll probably be walking the next time I put an update on the blog.

first knitting project for 2015 and your kina questions answered

I know that some people don’t think that knitting and summer go together……………..but for true knitting lovers like myself who knit all year round it’s a great time to knit. In cotton. And I have all of my favourites here with my first project all cast on for 2015.

I’m doing a size 4 kina in Bendigo Spring Cotton using my knit pro karbonz needles and the cutest stitch markers you’ve ever seen from etsy here. She had one when she was 2 and we wore it to death and loved it so much that I’m doing it again. Perfect to wear all year round and the spring cotton goes through the wash beautifully.

I always receive a few questions on the kina pattern so here you go:

pattern is available to buy for EUR3 and click on the size I mention and I have linked to the pattern in ravelry for you to purchase online – it comes in baby, childrens, ladies (free pattern), doll size (free pattern) and always double check you are buying the english pattern

I use circular needles but don’t freak out because you are just knitting back and forth as if you would on 2 needles so don’t worry. It’s also easier to keep your work on circulars without losing stitches when I don’t know….your 2 or 4 year old finds your knitting and starts to play with it.

Sadly you can’t buy Bendigo Spring Cotton anymore. I have stashed up online and through the back room and yay for a trip to Melbourne via Bendigo and the mills later this year. Woohoo. You can sometimes find it in the back room at Bendigo Woollen Mills and here on ravelry when people say in their stash and will sell.  Also Harmony makes a nice substitute and has wool in it too.  I made this top in Spring cotton and now the next girl down is wearing it and loving it after lots of wash and wear. 

The pattern calls for 5 ply (like debbie bliss baby cashmerino or a sports weight yarn) but I like to do 3 things. Use Bendigo 8 ply cotton with 3.75 needles or use Bendigo Spring Cotton with 4.00mm needles or knit in 8 ply wool with 4mm needles. Without confusing you if you knit in the bendigo 8 ply cotton knit the pattern size you want and follow the pattern exactly. The cotton tends to stretch as you wear it and using the 3.75 needles helps against this and knit true to size it will turn out just right. If you’re going to do spring cotton or 8 ply wool then follow the instructions for the next size down than the size you want but follow the lengths for the size you want. So I’m knitting a size 4 by using the size 2 instructions but the size 4 lengths (like work until your knitting measures 12cm or whatever)

You can see all my kina projects on ravelry here

You will never find a sweeter or easier knitting pattern. If you can knit, cast on, purl, cast off then you can do it and learn how to increase on youtube or someone showing you. 

project life – week 1 2015

Now technically this isn’t documenting week 1 of 2015 but it is my first week of Project Life for this year. I’ve decided (well once I had started I decided) that I’d need a family album and then a separate album for 2015. I have to confess it’s very addictive and the only thing that has been stopping me going crazy and doing it every day is that I need photos and am going to organise a big bunch of photos to be printed.

BUT I have to tell you that it’s not as easy as it looks. The corner rounder from becky higgins range was pretty hopeless with the photos and so some of the photos are cornered and some aren’t. I might look at the Stampin’ Up corner rounder. And when I took photos proudly of my pages and then look at them I can see the card from the other side is sometimes showing.

Anyway, I am using my core kit from 2013 called Olive and mixing in newer mini kits that have gold, glitter and are a bit more fun and modern. And taking photos is actually good because I see that I’ve left that card on the left blank but it might be nice to write down about their first year.

So far so good. That’s week 1 done with my L plates on.

7 new products in my little store

And more coming! I hope you enjoy some of the new fabrics in my little store. It’s been fun opening boxes to see what has arrived and I’m itching to do some quilts with Best Day Ever which you can see in more detail here. And don’t forget that my prices include postage within Australia and GST. All of the new fabrics can be found in my store here.

hopes for 2015

Can you believe it’s the last day of 2014!!!!! We are just hanging out at home, jumping on the trampoline, eating sorbet, getting a bit of laundry out (oh isn’t that the story of my life this year) and we’ll take a swim later. This was the sky yesterday……..amazing!

And tomorrow is 2015….my last year in my 30′s! Every new year I think about what I’d like to do a bit differently during the year and here is today’s list…it’s not the definitive list, it’s in no order but it’s a good starting point!

Lose my 10kgs of baby weight and get back into my wardrobe

 Listen more and talk less ( have you met me? Then you know the problem we’re talking about)

Have a clean house and not just when people visit

Work less online and craft more. I love my craft and I will make more time for it next year.

Save not spend

 More fun with the kids and less nagging

Send thank you notes

 Read my bible every day and more books that are good for my soul. Get your hands on a Life Application Bible if you don’t have one. It’s the best.

Do more for my charities including some charity quilting days (so much fun and a good cause!)

 get some chickens and plant some fruit and veg

just have fun…………….

oh and no broken bones or hospital visits if possible! 

What’s top of your list?

doing Project Life in 2015

Well the supplies have been in my craft room for almost 2 years but now I’ve decided that 2015 I’ll be starting Project Life. Nothing like spending some years thinking about doing it. Maybe I just didn’t know where to start but a new year sounds like a good place for me. And I can’t tell you the relief when my crafting buddy Lorelei revealed that she too hadn’t touched her Project Life supplies that we had bought together at the craft show. Phew! And then more of you told me that you hadn’t started either. Double phew!

Just weekly for me and I thought I’d go back and do a few of the big events in our family life like each birth, baptism, keira’s sacraments so far, special birthdays. But once you start you could go crazy but thankfully I’m just going to start small and not overwhelm myself. Too much.

I was asked on facebook what you need and how much it costs! How long is a piece of string I think but thankfully doing a little bit of scrapbooking (but not being very good or taking to it that well) meant that I had some supplies here. From what I’ve read so far you’ll need an album, plastic inserts for your album, cards to go into your plastic inserts, pens for writing on cards, a paper trimmer to trim photos and paper, double sided tape, photos (of course!) and then if you want embellishments you can add them too. You can also do it all online by going digital or even just do it all on your phone with the app and I have to say that the app was lots of fun and super easy and you can then print your page if you like or share online. Too easy. You can also print your photos at home and from what I’ve read the Canon Selphy seems to be coming up as a fabulous home printer but correct me if I’m wrong?

I have to say that buying a core kit with 50 million cards in the one theme seemed like a good idea at the start but now that I’ve seen other mini card packs (with gold and glitter!) and time has moved on from when I picked that pack I wish I had more variety. So I’ll be sharing that kit with the girls who have become craft obsessed over the holidays. Like mother, like daughters.

I bought up my supplies at a craft show a few years ago, Spotlight had a small but great selection, your local scrapbooking store will be a huge help and of course you are supporting local business.

Now I am no expert but some great resources that I have found this week are listed here and I’ve also created a Project Life board on pinterest too.

Becky Higgins facebook page and website

an Aussie & NZ Facebook group

Ali Edwards

Elise Blaha Cripe

Dear Lizzy

Freckled Fawn

PaperTrenz

Amy Tangerine

Studio Calico

A bowl full of lemons (craft room TO DIE FOR!)

Give a girl a blog

One happy mama

So hit me with it…..have you done it? have you tried and failed at scrapbooking? are you a regular at project life? any tips? favourite websites? Share your store or project life blog? Go……

 

wishing you a happy and holy Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve, can you believe it. The presents are almost done, the house is not looking ready, the nativity rehearsal has been done and I still have lots to do but I’m ready. Ready for the real reason we celebrate. I do get caught up in all of the Christmas hype except for Sundays in Advent, quiet time with my bible and the book I’m reading at the moment, in prayer and those last few days before Christmas when I remind myself of why we celebrate. And I’m not a mormon but I love this video (and my mormon friends!)

And this year having a little baby at Christmas time is so beautiful. I can look at my own baby and think of the original Christmas story. Jesus came to the world as a real person and from humble beginnings so that we could relate to him. And isn’t it funny how something just reaches out to you that you somehow had missed. I’m going to share it with you.

‘When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.’

Luke 2: 15-20

How had I missed that? ‘But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart’. Just like a mother would. Of course she did. Just as I do when I’m sitting and watching my 6 or holding my baby. So my Christmas wish for you is to treasure up all the things…..your beautiful children and family…… ponder them in your heart and see the things that you have in your life that are so good and important.

And a special message for those who are lonely, sick, troubled, going through a difficult time or who miss someone they love this Christmas. You are loved. I know that life is hard right now and it all might look perfect in other people’s lives but my wish for you is hope. Don’t give up hope. Treasure the memories of happier times and know that things will get better.

And that’s it from me. I wish you a happy and holy Christmas, a special time with family and loved ones and peace in your heart and lives. And if you’re a mum a break from the dishes and your feet up for a rest after lunch.