super easy girls skirt to sew

Summer is coming, Christmas, parties, presents, places to go and things to do. So I’m cutting into my stash and whipping up a few pretty skirts for my girls AND doing a quick tutorial of how I do my skirts. I certainly don’t own this technique and won’t be the first person to share how I do them but they are so quick and easy and you’ll be making them in no time. They are also great for budding sewers and absolute beginners.

you’ll need about 1/2 yard – 1/2 metre cotton fabric (we used just under 1/2 yard for this skirt pictured which is about a size 5-6)

elastic for the waistband at least 1/2 inch wide

thread, pins, scissors or rotary cutter and ruler

1. measure out your fabric. To make a size 3-4 skirt I did 15 inches (about 38 cm) of fabric by the width (about 44 inches/112cm wide). For the skirt photographed which is size 5-6 I did 17  inches (43cm) fabric by the width.  We are keeping the fold in the fabric so it’s 15 or 17 inches  x 44 inches. For longer skirts you can just add 2 or more inches to the 17 inches or find your daughter’s favourite skirt and add 2 inches to cover the waistband and hem.

2. remove selvages from fabric with a rotary cutter or scissors

3. with right sides together you are going to sew the short sides together. I use the needle left position on my machine and with the foot of the machine on the edge of the fabric off I go.

4. overlock or zig zag your edges to prevent fraying once it goes in the wash

5. take your skirt to the ironing board with the wrong side of the fabric facing out. Press over your seam to one side. Now we’re going to create our waistband casing. With your fingers, press over a small amount of fabric at the top of the skirt and press with the iron, continue around the top edge of your skirt until you’ve come back to the starting position.

6. Now press over again by an amount wider than your elastic. You don’t want it too much bigger (in fact it’s probably a bit too wide in this pic) but I like to do a row of stitches at the top of the skirt to make a neater waistband and also prevent the elastic twisting. Press with a hot iron to keep the fold in place. You could pin it down to help you with sewing if you’re a beginner/new sewer.

7. Now we’re going to do the hem in a very similar way. At the bottom of the skirt press over a small amount and go around the bottom of the skirt until you are back at your starting point. Fold over again by about  1/2 – 3/4  inch and press with the iron right the way around the skirt.

8. This is what your skirt will look like. At one end we’ve got a bigger folded over edge for our waistband and at the other we’ve got our hem. Now we are ready to sew.

9. OK let’s get sewing, with our needle in the needle left position we are going to do our waistband and we are going to start an inch out from our side seam and finish an inch out, that space will leave us enough room to thread in our elastic. I like to sew on the wrong side of my fabric so I can see that I’m catching the folded over edge with my stitches.

10. Now before I thread the elastic for my waistband I like to do the hem while I’m in that frame of mind. Now I like to sew my hem with the right side of my fabric facing up. Go right around from start to finish and don’t race it because you want a nice even edge. I do needle left position and edge of the foot on the edge of the fabric if I can. If you’re nervous that you might not catch the folded over edge underneath then you could do what you did for the waistband with the wrong side of the fabric facing up.

11. To measure my elastic I actually grabbed one of the kid’s shorts and measured it against that plus a cm or two. As a rough guide this was 16-18 inches but we are a bit slim on the waist here (sorry I mean my kids not me! I have the opposite problem). So use a skirt/shorts you have that fit well or measure the child’s waist and cut your elastic to that size and then you can take an inch or two off to make it sit nicely.

12. Put a pin in one end of the elastic and a safety pin in the other. The pin will prevent you losing the elastic at the end and the safety pin is to push the elastic through.

13. thread that elastic through by pushing the safety pin into the space you left open in the waistband and the end of the elastic with the pin won’t go into the waistband but will be there waiting for you when you’ve come out the other end of the waistband.

14.  pin the ends of the elastic together and don’t twist!!!!! nothing worse than closing up your waistband and twisting the elastic.

15. Now I just like to do a little zig zag back and forth to secure the elastic ends together and trim any excess elastic.

16. Now we’re going to stitch between those 2 inches we left to thread our elastic through and I just line up my stitches with where I left off. Don’t sew through the elastic and you have one finished waistband and skirt! You can see I’ve done a top row of stitches on the skirt so if you feel your waistband casing is too wide, unthread the elastic and sew a top line of stitches, I think it makes for a cute waistband.

17. Give it a press and you are done. Admire your work.

18. Grab a model to make sure it fits and take a photo!

We like to team our skirts with plain t-shirts. You can also applique some of the fabric from the skirt on to your tee……but I’m loving this white tee and skirt combo and in fact it’s out and ready for church tomorrow morning.

If you’ve got a question or anything isn’t clear just ask! I hope you find this helpful and I promise you won’t stop at one.

charm square giveaway time

My lovely friend and helper Lisa is getting me up to date with my giveaway winners today so why not start a new one…..especially as two of these fabric ranges just arrived this week. I’ve got 5 charm square packs for one lucky person and I’m imagining some lovely things with these pretty florals.

To enter just tell me what you’d make or who you’d give them to and we’ll pick a winner next Friday. You can enter wherever you live in the world and I know it’s great timing for some Christmas craft………..

the baptism

Well where do I start. Baptisms and celebrating special milestones never gets old. Whether it’s your first or your 6th. In the car on the way to the church keira said to me, mum you really love this stuff don’t you……. and you take your food very seriously………she had me laughing. But it’s more than the food and the party, it’s a special day to mark Lawson as a child of God and welcome him into the Church. It’s the first of many sacraments that he will receive and it’s such a special day.  It’s what our parents did for us and their grandparents for them and before that too.

I love that we continue the tradition and bring up our children as Catholics. We don’t just talk the talk here. Before we got married we made a commitment to do what our parents did. To go to church every Sunday and bring up our children with a strong faith in the hope that they will continue it with their own families. We wanted the same values that we were raised with to be passed on to them. And as my children get older and as I welcome more babies into our family I realise that the world needs this more than anything.

And I love the little traditions that we’ve created in our own little family . I have the candle made at Jamberoo Abbey, if you ever need a candle the nuns make them and hand paint them and they are just perfect. The dress has been worn by everyone except the twins (who were teeny tiny at baptism). It’s a little petit bateau linen and cotton dress that I picked up in France on sale before I even got married but thought would come in handy and it certainly has. Not that I ever could have imagined we’d baptise 6 babies!! The blanket was handmade and purchased on…………….wait for it………..ebay. Yes that’s right. A lovely lady in queensland makes and sells these beautiful blankets and it was perfect. And the beautiful bracelet which I shared before was from here.

When planning the big day for my little man I didn’t predict a 38 degree hot day in October. So it was a sweaty day from the time we left home until our last visitors left. And looks like that we’ll need to get the air con fixed after all. And all of those lindt balls were as soft as anything by the end of the day and I had to pop them in the fridge to recover.

And the day just went in a blur.  An absolute blur. I had my time plan all written up and ready to go from 5am but I ended up waking up at 7.30am and was just chasing my tail. Thankfully we had visitors so aunty christine was put on the hair straightener and vacuum, uncle andrew was outside putting up chairs, using the blower vac and tidying up. I was in the kitchen cleaning, feeding the baby, getting kids dressed and just putting the finishing touches on everything. I have to thank Flossy Flamingos for this fun tassel which she whipped up for me and express posted. It was perfect. And thank you to Jane for lawson’s beautiful name sign.

Thankfully with all hands on deck we caught up to my time plan and left on time, got to the church and I had read in the newsletter that 9 babies were to be baptised that weekend and I had a little panic. We walked in and my friend as well as retro daddy’s brother and wife were the first ones there so we had our pick of the seats. It was very warm in there so everyone was fanning themselves and the priest was sweating, two of my little ones acted up the whole time and you would think had never been in a church before but somehow we got them through it. And it was just a lovely little service. The highlight was Lawson just smiling and laughing as the water was poured on his head….that’s why we are all smiling in the photo because he was just smiling and enjoying it. No tears here.

The candle was lit and then the little ones were busting to blow out the candle like on a birthday cake. I really thought of one of them might say hooray and throw their arms up as candles mean birthdays in our house. And I think my face is saying oh no you are not blowing it out.

we took more family photos and then it was a race home to beat the guests to the front door. That’s the thing about baptisms and celebrations, you don’t have the luxury of having been at the house just before your guests arrive. Lunch was simple and delicious and I put a few of the ladies to work in the kitchen.  And then at about 10.30 that night I remembered that I hadn’t put any of the delicious fruit out. In fact I almost forgot to put the macarons out until after the cake was cut. Now the cake was something else. I had moved away from my usual cake lady and so my friend, lawson’s godmother ordered this beautiful 10 inch continental cake with layers of soaked sponge and layers of custard and chocolate inside. It was perfect and some gold leaf sprinkled on the top for a little something special.

My dad was the official photographer of the day so I’m sure I’ll share some more photos when he sends more through but while we’re all still thinking about the day I wanted to share a few of them. It really was a special day and although it went by so quickly I have some very beautiful memories of Lawson’s baptism. Thank you to my family and friends who shared it with us, especially the lovely Godparents and those who couldn’t be with us but were in our thoughts on the day.

large family logistics- the book

Whenever I’d put ‘large family’ into the search bar on Pinterest it would always bring up this book, Large Family Logistics. It had lots of reviews but was sadly out of print and very expensive to track down a copy. One weekend I found a copy on amazon for a reasonable price and grabbed it. Am I glad I did? Absolutely. Is this book for everyone? Absolutely not. Do you need a large family to read this book? No way. In fact it’s for families of all sizes.

I love this book but it’s definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. You’ll want to be a Christian lady as it’s heavy on the bible references in some parts of the book which I enjoyed but won’t be for everyone. Also you’ll need to take a few things with a grain of salt especially a couple of references to the relationship between husband and wife that aren’t how our marriage is. There are a couple of little things that made us have a laugh and that I didn’t agree with. For example let’s sit down and listen to our husband’s goals and work towards them because he is the head of the household (not your own goals though, you are working towards his). Also if you want to run the family meeting then you need to ask your husband first and then let the kids know that you have his authority and will be running the meeting as his 2nd in charge. That sort of thing.

So you might need to get past a few little things and I did. For me there was more in the book that I enjoyed and learnt from than what I didn’t agree with. And I want to lend this book out to a few mums but I’m not ready yet, I wanted to read a few chapters again, have marked a few things I want to try and have really enjoyed it in the past week or two. And the reason I needed this book is because my system of doing things – whenever it gets really bad or someone is coming over is not a good system. I really struggle to keep the house clean and on top of the laundry. The rest of my jobs I can do just fine but housework and the never ending laundry kill me.

The book adopts more of a traditional system to managing your home, whereby you assign a day to laundry, a day to the kitchen, a day for your errands (called town day), a day for the office (bills, paperwork, banking etc),  a day of rest on Sunday and so on.

There were some great tips I picked up that I’d love to share with you

4 loads by 4 – could you commit to 4 loads of laundry by 4pm each day?  Or what about setting a goal of having all of your laundry out on the line by noon. That would be nice.

Cleaning your bathrooms in 5 minute intervals, where to start and how to clean it.

Limiting your computer time, bookmark your favourite sites but make sure you are getting on to do the things you are supposed to be doing not spending forever burping a baby just as an excuse to sit on the computer.

Quiet time everyday for everyone in the house.

Using my slowcooker more especially when you’ve been out for the day

Household management binder – just put that into pinterest and you’ll see what I’m talking about

Hospitality! How often would we like to have people over but we think cleaning and having the house ready or having people over is too much work. We should enjoy having people over. In fact she works backwards and sets goals for each month so that you have a month of hosting people in december and throughout the year you do little things with different people at your house and it prepares you for your big month of hospitality in December. Something to think about as I love having people over but do put it off until special occasions. And then think I need to do it more often as  it’s always lovely to have some adult conversation in the house and play buddies for the kids.

The author also really promotes healthy eating, looking after yourself and your family which I think is great advice too. And if you have a new baby there is some great advice on doing things with a new baby in tow and looking after the baby and it’s a gentle approach adjusted for each little person’s personality which I liked and could relate to especially at this point in time with a new baby at our house.

So my advice would be that if you can track down a copy then grab it and tell me what you think. Don’t pay through the nose for it though (I’m not kidding you when I tell you that some copies go for over $100), my copy was $37 and I’m thrilled with it as it’s text book size.  And the  book is supposed to be reprinted in 2015 (correct me if I’m wrong). So don’t go into it thinking you’re going to love it all and totally change your parenting style or your marriage but have an open mind, look at what isn’t working at your house at the moment and be willing to try new things, be more organised, get on top of that laundry (it’s taken over my home) and enjoy a clean home which gives you more time to do the things you want to do.

And I think what I really took away from the book is that I shouldn’t neglect the housework or think that I’m above doing housework or too busy for it. It needs to be done and there is no point me leaving it and hoping someone else in the house is going to realise that I’m behind and suddenly clean it all for me. I’m home, I should be on top of it and I should be having some systems in place because I’ll be at home for a while and I’ll be raising little ones for a while so I might as well work out how best to keep on top of it

busy, busy

I know I’ve been really quiet on here but there has been so much going on. I’ve been making some fabulous lists before the baptism on Sunday. I love lists and ticking things off. I also love time plans, oh I love to do a time plan for the night before and big day and divide up what needs to be done and put down essential things like have shower, get ready, start sandwiches. Do you do time plans? I mean why not write down everything that has to be done around the house……….and then leave it until the day before. That sort of thing. But I think we are on track. I did the costco shop this morning for a few things….

Got out some glass bowls and crystal for the lolly buffet….first time I’m doing one but excited and also grateful that when my mother in law downsized that we got some crystal and glassware that I didn’t think I’d use but is now absolutely perfect. Also glad for those blue mason jars that I had absolutely had to have and have been living in  my pantry since easter.

Done the party store for a few blue and white decorations and plates and things.

The candle arrived in time despite my last minute order and also a sweet little bracelet that I had made up for lawson with a little medal of Saints Peter and Paul on it. What an etsy find to find a lovely lady in Australia making these gorgeous bracelets and rosary beads. Just because you’re the 6th doesn’t mean you can’t have a few little new things.

everyone’s outfits are out,  the dress is out and last minute sandals and shorts were purchased for children who keep growing on me.

Tonight I’ll be getting stuck into the housework so I can tick them off the list and get ready for Sunday. And I promise to be back with a few happy snaps of little lawson’s big day………

Share your funniest pest story to win!

Brought to you by Rentokil

If you’ve ever bought or sold a home then you know what’s involved and right now it’s the busiest time of year for buying and selling. You have to get your house looking nice and clean, maybe a fresh coat of paint, get the clutter out to make your home look spacious and that no kids live there. Just kidding. No, but you know what I’m talking about. The show home look lasts about 10 minutes and selling houses for us has been stressful because of the cleaning that is involved before each inspection. It’s a whole new level of clean.

And when you buy a house it looks good, everything looks nice on the surface, you do your pest and building inspection and expect a few things but nothing major and you really hope for no termite damage.  You might have a few jobs that need doing but you buy the property, move in and if you’re like us you don’t get the jobs done until they really need to be done.

When we moved in here it had been years since the property had been treated for pests and termites. Living on a few acres surrounded by bush and with lots of wooden fencing everywhere means that this really should have been a priority for us.

And it’s probably something you need to do now too especially since summer is prime time for termites. And if you’re like me and have no idea what to look for then read this list of signs that termites could be at your house. I didn’t know this but we should all be having our house inspected for termites once a year. So the opportunity to have my house treated for termites and other household pests as well as the home of one of my readers for a year was too good to pass up. And if you’re like me and worried about chemicals (we don’t even keep fly spray at our house!) then don’t worry, Rentokil’s new termite solution is free from harmful chemicals so it’s safe to use with children and pets.

So up for grabs I have a one Year Round Protection Plan (valued at $695) from Rentokil for your home which means you can have an inspection, have your house treated for 35 common household pests (which thankfully include cockroaches and mice which are house guests at our place right now) and have 12 months protection. They will also offer advice on prevention too and you can call and have other service visits if necessary which is all included in the plan.

All you need to do to enter is share your funniest/creepiest/scariest pest story.

Mine happened just a month ago. We thought that we inherited cockroaches with this house and a few cute bunny rabbits. I had just come home from the hospital and planned on sleeping on the couch for a few weeks till baby settled in. So I’m feeding the baby, watching a bit of TV and it’s after midnight. I hear a little rustle and noise behind the toy tubs. Mmm too big for a cockroach. Hear it again. Then I see a small furry creature scuttle across the floor. It was a mouse! I raced upstairs to wake retro daddy and hid out there for a while.

image source

{Full terms and conditions of my giveaways can be found here, one entry per person, entries close  30 October 2014, winner must live in a metro location within Australia, prize is valued at $695}

 

against all grain meals made simple

Long time no book review but there have been a few new books arriving on my doorstep thanks to feeding a baby on the couch and ordering from the comfort of the couch. If only I could do everything while feeding. But I’d been hanging out for this book to be released because I love the first book which I reviewed here. And we love her cobb salad so much. I actually bought the first book before realising that there was a blog and anyone who follows the blog will know the sadness that was recently experienced by the loss of her baby daughter. I’ve cried many tears when I’ve read the updates and opening this book to read the very simple dedication ‘ for my precious Aila’ had me in tears again.

I think why I love Danielle’s blog and her books so much is that the recipes really are simple but delicious. She’s a mum and the food is family style food. Nothing too spicy, foods that we like to eat and she must have a sweet tooth as a great selection of sweet treats and desserts. All of the recipes are gluten and dairy free as well as being paleo. We aren’t paleo but try to be gluten free and the dairy free is the challenge. I have to say that when I’m eating gluten free I feel great and I’m working towards getting back on the wagon because now that pregnancy is over I’m not feeling so crash hot and we’ve slipped into bad habits.

But back to the book. This book starts with an introduction to her eating, a paleo cheat sheet and then 8 weeks of meal planning using recipes from the book. Love that. Not that I’m a dedicated meal planner but I do like to shop knowing what we are eating for the week so if you’re going to try going gluten free or paleo or somewhere in between then the meal planning and the shopping lists could help.

the recipes are divided into Breakfast, Soups and salads, poultry, beef, pork and lamb, seafood, sides, basics and simple sweets. And then there is more information at the back which including  shopping resources and tear out meal plans (so the 8 week meal plans are repeated at the back of the book) and shopping lists. I’m not sure whether I’ll tear mine out as the book is so lovely but I’ll get back to you on that.

I love this book because it takes the guess work out of trying the recipes and making changes to your family diet and I know for those of you with children with special needs or finding out someone has an intolerance it can be hard work trying to think what to cook for dinner that everyone will eat. I think that’s where these recipes really work because everyone loves chicken (well they do in this house!) and things like taco salad, choc chip cookies, hawaiian chicken burgers, enchilada stuffed peppers, chicken tikka masala, bbq beef short ribs – well that is food that will keep most families happy.

Now I know someone is going to ask which book is my favourite – the first book or this one, Meals Made Simple. The first book is great because it has a section of kids recipes which my kids love and is great if you’re going to be cooking and adapting the family diet for a little person in the house. It also has more baking and dessert recipes.  This book is more geared towards lunches and dinners and great for everyone who is busy, plans the weeks meals, needs some new dinner inspiration, wants the guesswork taken out, loves meat (there are a lot of meat recipes) and likes fresh food that isn’t too out there. I know I’ve seen some paleo dishes and I’m like what is that ingredient or that one. With these recipes you might need a few new ingredients like coconut oil and sugar but there are plenty of foods that you are used to buying.

I’m so glad I ordered this book for myself. The recipes and especially the salads look so fresh and delicious for summer and I’m looking forward to getting healthier again and these recipes will definitely help me get there.

making skirts and going to parties

Once upon a time you couldn’t keep me away from my sewing machine and my sewing room. I was a regular down at Spotlight and I made time for doing something I loved. More little people have come along and finding that sewing time is hard and it’s been easier to knit on the couch. But a birthday party invite and a costume that didn’t arrive in time meant that I was on pinterest and looking for something that could be made quickly and easily with an under sea theme. I kind of did things in reverse too heading down to the shops to buy supplies and still not quite sure what I was going to make but just hoping for the best. Kind of like a project runway task or something like that.

I said to retro daddy on Friday night, don’t let me fall asleep before I make the costume……….and of course I did. I then woke up Saturday in a panic that I had no costume or skirt. Fed the baby thinking and sipped my coffee all the while thinking about how I could whip something up. Popped baby in his little swing at the door of my sewing room, and with a mixture of ideas and I had something finished. It won’t win any awards and the edges are left raw but I made something.

I will share some detailed instructions but basically I took 12 inch strips of fabric (by the width of the fabric), gathered the tops with a long running stitch, pulled them to make gathers, joined the strips end to end, folded them back on each other by a width bigger than her waist measurement (I basically did about 19 inches), stitched them together at the top with a zig zag stitch. At this point I realised I’m not cut out for costumes and fine materials. Then I drew on my quilting skills and did a bias binding strip to enclose the top of the skirt and all of those stitches, the ends of the binding tie up the skirt in a bow at the back and I stitched on a little ribbon at the front. Phew. I’ll share some pics and steps as my other girls want a skirt each now.

And then I decided since I also had some mermaid fabric to make a little cotton skirt to go underneath because costumes never last long on her so better to have something to wear. Honestly I think this was 15 minutes from start to finish. Super easy to make just take the width of the fabric (112cm for this one), measure a nice skirt you have or on the kneed of your model, add an inch for the hem and an inch or so for waistband, cut your fabric, sew up the sides, hem the bottom, fold over the top a little and press the whole way around.

Fold over the top again over the width of your elastic. Now sew around the top of the skirt where you have the folded down edge to create the waistband opening and leave about 2 inches at the seam for you to thread elastic through. I measured elastic to one of her favourite skirts, pin on one end and safety pin on the other, thread in the elastic, sew the ends together, sew up the waistband where you left space to thread elastic in and you are done. Done.

We had a white ruffle tee in our wardrobe. And picked up a mermaid little costume pack at Spotlight which had a wand, slippers, jewellery, purse and head piece and teamed up a few of the things with a pretty gymboree hair clip that she got for her birthday. And ta da now the outfit had really come together.

So with the outfit sorted we headed to the party. Parties can be hard work work for kids at the best of times and especially my little miss – new surroundings, new faces, lots of noise, not quite sure what the fuss is all about and just a lot of overload. And we were so excited before the party and then we arrive at the house and she doesn’t want to go in and starts walking back to the car. At these times you need to keep your sense of humour and a smile on your face and look like you have your act together (while juggling the baby and nappy bag and any other little ones you have with you).  And once she’s settled she has a great time, we didn’t join in any games this time but had found other things to play with, she sat and ate with the other little party guests and waved to me across the room, and after she had been in the face painting queue and had her little hands painted,  she pointed to the front door and said go and it was time to leave.

I treasure every invite we get to a party for this little girl. She has a helper with her at preschool just to do things that the other kids do on their own, she doesn’t have a lot of words but I do know that she always has friends to play with who tell their parents how much they love playing with her. And that melts my heart like you wouldn’t believe. So we lasted 2 hours of the 3 hour party and had a great time and it was a fabulous excuse to get back into my sewing

I’ll share a few pictures and step by step instructions of how I made both of the skirts once we’ve had little man’s baptism next weekend……..as I was making it I was thinking I should take some photos but then I wasn’t sure how (or if!)  it was going to turn out but I wish I had…………………..this week is all about preparing for the baptism and getting the house presentable. Wish me luck……

trick or treat and win a $250 Spotlight voucher

Brought to you by the Allen’s team

Halloween, love it or hate it, is coming soon. I grew up only knowing about Halloween from american movies and no one ever trick or treated in our street. But over the years as my little ones have grown bigger (and begged to go out) we’ve taken part and seen it grow in popularity. Mind you we don’t go trick or treating but are happy to dish out the lollies from our front door.

here are a few tips for a happy halloween if you want to take part

- go together in groups and ALWAYS have an adult or two with the children

- if the house isn’t decorated don’t go a knockin’

- get the kids to decorate a bucket,basket or gift bag to collect their lollies. We’ve seen a few last minute grey shopping bags from the supermarket but you know you can do better and it’s a great activity for the kids.

- if you just want to do your own street pop a little note with a balloon attached and let neighbours know they can participate by putting the balloon out on their letterbox and if the balloon isn’t out then we won’t bother you. When we ran out of lollies we just bought the balloon in and it was so easy for kids to find the right house to go to.

- dress up!!!!!!!!!! raid the dress up tub or hit the $2 shop or make your own!!!!! There are lots of ideas on Pinterest just by typing in halloween costumes. You can even find costumes for little ones in prams and wheelchairs.

- remember your manners….we always give out extra lollies for the super polite trick or treaters

- have plenty of lollies (I always do a last minute lolly run) and wrapped lollies are the way to go. Allen’s mini bags of jelly beans are perfect with 9 delicious jelly beans in each mini bag.

You can find Allen’s mini bags of jelly beans at your nearest Coles and independent supermarket. So keep an eye out for them as they are our favourite jelly beans.

And as a special giveaway I have a $250 Spotlight gift card for one lucky reader. You could go crazy on halloween decorations or costumes or make your own or just shop up a storm for craft at your house. The lucky winner will also receive some delicious Allen’s mini bags of jelly beans! To enter just tell me what you’ll be buying from Spotlight if you win…………..

One entry per person, full terms of my giveaways are here, entries close 5pm Thursday 23rd October 2014.

things to do while breastfeeding

Well my little guy is 2 months old and I’m still breastfeeding which is a bit different to the last few babies and I’m enjoying it. I think that taking things a bit easier on the home front has played a part. So what to do while breastfeeding or bottle feeding your little baby………and obviously it’s a given that you are looking lovingly at your baby but when you spend this much time on the couch you need a bit of entertainment too so here goes.

1. Pinterest

I’ve managed to pin a lot of things to my pinterest boards with the app on my phone over the last few weeks. I love that one of my friends has just joined pinterest and said to me ‘is that on twitter?’. If you’re not yet on pinterest then sign up and start pinning. I find searching for things I love like family dinners, white kitchens, knitting, sewing, quilts or putting in search terms like ‘girls dress patterns’ or ‘easy finger food’ will help you find a whole lot of new ideas. Rename your boards to make them something personal and remember you can always add new boards, change the names of your boards later on and just have fun. When you are starting out find your favourite websites, magazines and blogs on pinterest and follow them. A few of my favourite people to follow are A Beach Cottage, Six Sisters Stuffbee loriHalf Baked Harvest, SF girl by bay, Decor 8Nova, Hostess with the Mostess, blossom and bright, emily henderson, wee birdy, babyspace and red pepper quilts and that’s just off the top of my head. I honestly buy less magazines thanks to pinterest as I can find so much on there.

2. Read a book

I’ve got a few on the go at the moment as it depends on my mood but reading is something I can struggle to find time for. My favourite book at the moment is Large Family Logistics which I managed to track down on amazon for a great price. Just having the book on my kitchen counter has made me organised….no really it has. I’ve read a bit and more motivated to get housework done.

I prop some pillows under the arm feeding the baby and prop the book to the other side of me on a pillow and read away. Sometimes I’ll grab a pile of cookbooks or knitting books and make a list of things I want to make. Whether I get around to it is another thing. Also great to read to the other little members of your family and supervise reading of the readers for the big kids at school. It’s always a great joy when we’ve moved on from readers to their own choice of books and novels that are more interesting.

3. watch your favourite shows and movies

Now might be the time to get stuck into my Big Love DVD collection. I also love to pre-record all of my favourite tv shows and watch them late at night when everyone is in bed. It’s a great escape from Frozen and Toy Story which we’ve watched to death.

4. craft

I’ve been working away on a cardigan for my big girl and love to do some knitting while feeding. Prop baby on some pillows or your breastfeeding cushion with another pillow underneath and then circular needles out in front of you and off you go. It does hurt my arms a bit more and obviously keep the needles away from baby but if you love to craft then it’s a great time to be productive while on the couch.

5. eat and drink

I pretty much grab something to eat and something to drink before I plonk myself down on the couch. I also can sit at the dining room table and have something to eat or drink but it’s not too comfy after a while.

6. call someone

I sit down with my phone and love to text or call someone and get through a few things on my to do list.

7. online shopping

I’ve nabbed some great buys on eBay lately, bought baptism outfits, ordered things all from the comfort of the couch. Hot tip if you’re like me and gaining weight while breastfeeding or struggling to find something nice to wear or just struggling to get to the shops you’ll find some fabulous things on eBay and I’ve paid no more than $10 or $20 for some great skirts and simple dresses. I can’t bear to pay full price when I’m not my regular size so discovered buying and selling clothes on eBay when I had keira and have been a fan since.

8. play 

in the morning I usually do a feed on the playroom floor with my little ones. We might get stuck into the lego or do some drawing and the kids feel happier if they are next to me. We are obsessed with drawing stick figures in our house and it’s a great way to work on pencil grip for those little people who are spending maybe a bit too much time scrolling through phones and ipads. Afternoons when the weather is nice I like to sit outside and watch the kids play and some of my happiest moments of our school holidays were just being outside in the warm sun and watching the kids play….happily and nicely. My favourite type of play is without fighting, of course:)

9. go to the park, stand up, unpack groceries, make dinner, be at a party…..

Yes since having lawson we’ve been to the park for playdates or a party and I’ve had no problem standing and feeding with a muslin wrap to cover up. It’s amazing what you can do when you have to and probably the best thing about breastfeeding this time around is how easy it’s been to do our usual things with little man on me. Or maybe it’s been out of necessity………………….

Is the new Thermomix TM5 worth it?

Well I’ve had my new Thermomix TM5 for a week now and thought I’d let you all know what I think. Here is the last time I wrote up a review on my Thermomix – Is a Thermomix worth it. I’ve been a thermomix owner for over 3 years and had wanted one since I was pregnant with my twins (now 6 years ago!) but it was just too big an expense. Once I had a thermomix I realised that it would have really saved us from months of frozen fish and chips with steamed vegetables on the side in those early twin days. Anyway, as soon as I saw that a new Thermomix was released I knew I wanted it and messaged my demonstrator. She told me I could order the next day and I did. She asked was I sure and did I want a demo first but I knew I’d love it and ordered it and just like my first one I did it on a payment plan to lessen the blow.

So here we go…..

WHAT’S NEW

Bigger bowl, varoma and thermoserver

We’re not talking hugely bigger but an extra 200mls in the bowl and an extra 500mls in the thermoserver and the varoma is bigger. I did a kilo of chicken thighs and vegies without a problem. I like that it’s bigger but it wasn’t the one reason that I bought the TM5.

Recipe chip and touch screen

The recipe chip is fab and the kids are loving it. It takes you step by step through the recipes in the cookbook that comes with your machine and tells you everything from turning on the oven to each step of the way. You weigh in the ingredients at each step and turn the speed dial and it won’t go past the speed for the recipe. Great when your kids are making it for you. And this is the biggest plus for me. The kids are loving it. There are also a few automated recipes like custard and rice where you just put it all in and it does it in one step.

My kids weren’t really interested in using the thermomix before and I was probably a bit too precious about them using it. Now they are busting to make a recipe as they just follow the steps. Kids get touch screens and scrolling through so they are loving the recipe chip and I’m also watching them make dinner which is great. Now of course kids can make dinner without the thermomix, I know that (I’m saying this because I’ll always get one person to criticise this post) but they certainly have a new enthuisiasm for getting into the kitchen and are loving it. They’ve done custard, smoothies, cookies, cake and pasta so far.

The weight and temperature are all touch screen and you turn the dial to select the speed. If you’re using the recipe chip then you just turn the dial a bit and it will select the function  like kneading function, stirring , speed 4 etc.

Quieter

Ummmm just at low speeds. Of course the first thing retro daddy heard was me making a smoothie and crushing frozen fruit and he wasn’t convinced it was quieter. It doesn’t sound quieter to me at the high speeds but at the lower speeds it’s quieter and the finished sound – it plays a little song for you – is quieter than the beeping on the TM31. So jury is out on how much quieter but don’t buy it thinking you will no longer deafen the family everytime you put nuts or sugar on speed 9. If you have a thermomix then you know what I’m talking about. Usually the TV goes up or I need to give some warning before I crank up the speed.

Speed, weight and temperature increases

Now a demonstrator can correct me if I’m wrong but the speed now goes up in half increments instead of just whole numbers, the temperature goes up to 120 instead of a 100 degrees maximum (on the TM31) and weight goes up by smaller increments as well. Remember I’m not a demonstrator so this is just what I’ve worked out since getting it. The higher temperature will be great for caramelising and sweets. The weight is great for more accuracy and measuring smaller ingredients. I love the built in scales in the thermomix, really do. Just makes life so easy and recipes accurate.

New improved butterfly

Confession time. I actually misplaced the butterfly at my last house so never used it. Not for egg whites or cakes or risotto. The butterfly is new and improved and apparently does perfect egg whites. Not that I’ve tried it yet but that’s the word. Come and tell me what you think.

Closing the lid

I wasn’t quite sure how to word that, but as you can see the top of the TM5 is different to the TM31. I kind of think of these as arms and the lid just sits straight on top and is pressed down and then once the speed is selected the arms close over the lid and off it goes to work. If the lid isn’t placed on properly (which I’ve done a couple of times) you’ll get an error message and you just need to press the lid on correctly. You do also need to wait for the lid to be released before you can remove it. I notice a few people said this takes time but it hasn’t really bothered me too much as I’m not a speed racer with taking off the lid and putting it on again. If you are you might find it takes some getting used to because instead of clicking the lid into position you are waiting for the ‘arms’ to do it for you.

Measuring cup

The measuring cup is new. Not much else to say about that really but it’s new. My 3 year old one is getting a bit old around the edges but not bad considering it has been in the dishwasher and used well for 3 years.

What’s not to love/worrying me?

I don’t really have any negatives because I love the new thermomix BUT something is worrying me and it’s the whole new technology and relying on the recipe chip/touch screen. Retro daddy said it’s not really a negative and I guess we live in a high tech age with all touch screens etc.  I think dials and buttons will last longer than the touch screen and I’m just a bit nervous about the error codes and me doing something wrong and then having to send back my machine. Technology is moving fast and who knows maybe thermomix of the future will have voice control or something like that but I guess the touch screen and recipe chip will be replaced later on but for now it’s great. What I am saying is that if you love the TM31 and the dial and temperature buttons then stay with that. I love the touch screen but am just a bit nervous but that’s me. At least the kids can’t drop it like my phone or tablets.

And I should point out that actually my TM31 had to be sent back for a service (under warranty, great customer service and it’s door to door so you don’t have to do anything) because on Christmas Eve (I know, of all days) the temperature stopped working and it had a problem. So in saying that faults and problems can happen whichever machine you are using. And that was the only issue I had that was fixed in 3 years of constant, 365 day a year usage.

Hot Tips

For the love of everything good in the world please watch your fingers while removing and washing the blade. It’s super sharp and I cut myself with blood going everywhere so be careful. I only did it once and you’d probably only do it once and then never again but lesson learned.

Do not switch off at the wall before you shut down the machine! I was holding the baby while my demonstrator was telling me how to use the machine and so I didn’t pay attention to switching it off. Then when I was pressing the dial and it wasn’t turning off I just had to switch it off on the wall. WRONG. Tenina told me that if you do that at least 3 times you have to send the machine back to get it reset. Don’t. If you want to turn off the machine just press the dial until the shut down message comes on and then the machine will shut down. Phew. I did it twice.

Verdict

I love it. I’ve been churning out cookies, cake and dinners every day this week and just falling in love with my thermomix all over again. For me a thermomix does more than just make my caster sugar or cakes in a flash, it’s about cooking dinner while I am doing other things. It cooks safely and stirs for me and also has me trying new things. Just in one week I made Quirky Cooking’s Spicy BBQ chicken with vegies and rice and on another night I did creamy spaghetti with salami and the kids loved it. Now of course you don’t need a new thermomix to do it but I knew I’d want to upgrade and with 2 of my hotplates not working in the kitchen I really use my thermomix for our dinners. I knew the price was going to go up and that there was an introductory price so I wanted to take advantage of that and I’m glad I did.

If you have always wanted a thermomix then now is the time to get it. If the cost is just too much (and for many years it was for us) then now is the time to grab a second hand one. There are so many for sale. I think ideally buy from someone you know. That is why I sold to someone I knew because she knows where I live and if anything goes wrong she can call me up. So find out if anyone is selling one because the TM31 is still fabulous and it’s a great time now to snap one up or start saving for one.

If you love touch screen or new technology or want to get your kids in the kitchen or you hate cooking and making dinner then the TM5 will certainly make things easier for you. I love cooking and I love my thermomix because it makes thing easy for me, helps me make things from scratch, does two things at once like cook my rice and steam meat and vegies up top and it gets dinner on the table most nights of the week.

At the end of the day the cooking process is pretty much exactly the same as the TM31 but the recipe chip and touch screen makes things a bit easier and a bit more fun for the kids. The TM5 gets the big thumbs up for me. I’m glad I’ve upgraded, I’ll always love the TM31 but I did have to sell it to justify buying the new thermomix and I don’t really have a need for 2 on my kitchen bench. One is perfect.

Over to you…….do you have the new TM5, are you happy with your TM31, are you hoping to snap up a TM31 on the 2nd hand market, do you have a question? Fire away……………….

and if you like dramatic music and a little movie here you go…..

And just a note that I’m just a happy customer. Always have been and always will. I have a lovely demonstrator who always stays in touch with me but I don’t sell them, I don’t get any commission or benefits from Thermomix. And I bought the Thermomix myself. I also just wanted to add that I have friends (including one of my dearest friend’s) who bought a Thermomix just before the change and I really feel for them. I do think that perhaps there should have been a better introduction of the new model and I would feel the same way. 

life is busy but I’m baking and knitting…….

Well school went back this week as did 3 of my best helpers and the house is oh so quiet. And without big brother and sisters the little ones have been making their own fun like lock mummy out of the house!  It gave me a heart attack and a realisation that I need to keep a spare key somewhere. Thankfully they laughed and then let me back in. But it’s back to the school run, finding school shoes, someone came home with nits on day 1, someone got conjunctivitis and yes we’ve already been to the uniform shop to buy another hat. Hot tip – start the school year with 2 sunhats. I bought 2 hats for my big boy and didn’t for the girls and sure enough I’ve ended up having to buy another hat for each girl. And so I’m expecting that next week the missing sunhat will turn up because I bought a new hat. That’s the way it usually works.

We’ve still been having fun with the new Thermomix….I’m writing up a full review and hope to have it up tomorrow. I wanted to use it for a good week and see what I liked and if I didn’t like anything and I think I’m ready to share it all tomorrow. We’ve certainly been putting it through its paces. There are a few new recipes in the recipe chip that comes with your TM5 and this is the apple tea cake, clearly minus the apples, with fresh blueberries on top. Absolutely delicious and nothing left an hour after it came out of the oven. But blueberry did get on pjs and a quilt in the loungeroom so I might rethink the blueberries and little people. We’ve also done some pizza dough and the kids made their own pizzas last night for dinner which we hadn’t done in a while. Anyway come back tomorrow for the full debrief on the TM5……….anyone who has visited my house in the last week has had a mini demo as I’m certainly in love with it. I know some of you are waiting for yours to arrive and I promise the wait will be worth it.

And there has been some knitting. Slow knitting but some knitting. I’m knitting a size 8 kina for my big girl Keira. It’s the 10th kina I’ll have made. Addicted? Me? Never! OK a bit. Without confusing you I’m knitting the pattern in 8 ply so I’m technically knitting the size 6 pattern but to the length of the size 8 and on 4mm needles. There are 296 stitches. It’s a lot of back and forth but will be worth it. I’m using Bendigo Luxury 8 ply in aquarium and the needles (because I was asked a few times yesterday) are knit pro karbonz which I purchased from Suzy Hausfrau last year. They are fabulous and well worth the investment as you pretty much have all the needles you’ll need for any project and they are lovely and light to use.

Last year I knit a kina for keira and it has been worn and washed so often and still in perfect condition for my next little miss to wear it. That’s the beauty of making it yourself and I do think the Bendigo cotton is great for washability.

So it’s just been a week of school going back, baking and knitting. Oh and looking after my now 2 month old baby! Time flies……………

bringing a new baby home (and surviving!) when you have other little ones

I received a wonderful message via facebook from a lovely reader last week and wanted to answer it in a blog post. And this lovely lady has just had her 3rd baby and has two other little ones at home. She’s wondering how to deal with the tiredness and the breastfeeding and entertaining the crew while you also look after a newborn. I can certainly answer this one because it’s the story of my life right now. Keeping lots of little people happy while a lot of my attention is focused on the littlest member of our family.

So let’s talk feeding the baby. So the first thing I do is make sure that the snacks are out.  At the moment it’s rice crackers, tiny teddy bags, bananas, mini bags of rice cakes, and my homemade choc chip cookies that are working a treat. Then check the nappies of the other kids BEFORE we sit down to feed the baby. And my biggest trick is the toy tubs. We have a playroom but I do most of my breastfeeding in the loungeroom so I bring in a different toy tub each day. Be prepared for some mess but the kids think it’s like Christmas. When I’m really desperate I get a big quilt and tip out our big lego tub and let them go crazy. This is because most of the time we don’t tip out the whole tub so if I really am struggling then tipping out the toy tub is fabulous and keeps them happy. I’ve been a bit lucky having my big kids home as they are built in entertainment for the younger kids. Lots of white paper and crayons and pencils are also a big hit and a great activity. And in case you missed it on facebook I shared our new favourite of cheerios and cotton yarn and making necklaces. Fabulous fun.

Get some new dvds or record some of their favourite shows on the foxtel that you only play while feeding. At the moment it’s Frozen. Let it goooooooooooooooooooo………..If we’re inside and I’m feeding then frozen comes on, my littlest miss is learning a few of the songs which just kills me with cuteness and her little brother just loves watching it. The trick is keeping it only for times when you’re in the loungeroom and feeding so that it keeps them entertained and you all in the same room. I also find if you can get down on the floor and feed while sitting next to them or have them come up next to you on the couch. I put my littlest miss and my little guy emerson on either side of me and we might watch a movie or they are playing with a toy next to me and we’re close by. They need lots of attention and might be feeling a bit left out so being near you always makes things easier.

I also have my netball chair – well I call it that but it’s basically one of those big outdoor chairs that I kind of sink into (and would take to each netball game) and it’s set up on the back balcony where the kids play in front of me on the grass. A few times a day we head outside for playtime. I make a hot drink and a snack and we go outside. I’m sitting and feeding, they are getting fresh air, sunshine and playing and everyone is happy. If you really tire them out in the morning then you’re going to get them napping in the afternoon and you might get a few things done.

Now let’s talk tiredness. Each of my babies has been different and the newest member of our family is proving to be the biggest upchucker/most vomity of all of our babies. This means he likes to be upright and on my shoulder for most of the day. All of the other babies have been much better in the sleeping and napping during the day department than this little guy. And he’s not loving the hug a bub as he wants to move his head around everywhere so I think I’ve used it 3 times all up since we got home from hospital.

So it’s hard work at the moment. And probably the hardest thing about having a newborn is that you are surviving on a lot less sleep than you are used to. Patience will be tested and you dream of a few hours sleep in a row. That would be heaven right now. So what do I do? Well nothing tastes as good as my first coffee of the day. I tend to have the coffee while I feed the baby (safely because remember this isn’t my first so I’ve kind of mastered it) or just after a feed. I also eat throughout the day which isn’t helping the weight loss but does keep my energy levels up. I go and sit in the sun and get the kids outside as sunshine peps me up a little and it gets the kids outside. I also hang out for a hot shower each day even if it means dragging the bassinette outside the bathroom so I can have a nice hot shower. Other times daddy might hold the baby before work or before he goes to bed so I can jump in and I feel so much better after a shower. And in the first few weeks if baby is down at say 8.30pm then I ask hubby to watch him while I get an hour or two of sleep on the couch.

Now the other thing is the housework – how to find time for everything that needs to be done like laundry, meals, dishes, floors and so on. Now with my little guy at 8 weeks I’ve actually had some time to empty a few boxes and get lots of laundry out on the line (not put away in wardrobes promptly but washed and dried). So a few tips are get the bigger kids working if they can do simple jobs like sweep floors, dustpan and broom, rubbish to the outside bins, empty dishwasher, bring in laundry, take clothes up to their room etc. Prioritise what has to be done. Usually vacuuming the stairs and upstairs comes last but keeping a clean kitchen and sweeping floors is something we can do everyday. And when I looked for a photo of sweeping I came across this one – my twinnies 4 years ago! Wow, now they are 6 and such independent little people! But back to the housework. If you can get a cleaner in each fortnight for a month or two while you have a newborn then it’s money well spent. I haven’t this time around but we’re doing ok and my lovely hubby has been helping out and school holidays were a welcome break from the school run and activities.

Keep dinner simple. A few favourites to keep when you’ve had a crazy day and need to get something on the table are ravioli in the fridge, a tomato based sauce and a cup of grated cheese melted in. My kids think this is a real treat as I hardly buy ravioli! Keep pizza bases in the freezer and whip up quick pizzas. Fish fingers and wedges, a quick frittata with 6 eggs, cheese, ham and some vegies with some buttered bread is another one. And when all else fails no one has ever starved from having a toasted sandwich for dinner. I always have extra bread in the freezer and loads of ham and cheese in the fridge so it’s quick and easy and some fresh fruit and yoghurt for dessert and everyone is full. Get the kids baking some sweet treats too as it serves two purposes – keeps them busy with an activity and gives them a snack. Win win.

Last advice is just don’t feel pressured. Let phone calls go to the answering machine. Don’t worry too much about what is going on in the outside world or what you’re missing out on or that you’re always at home or the state of the house. Just keep it all simple and focus on feeding the baby, keeping on top of what needs to be done within your own little house and keeping everyone happy. If you’ve got some jealousy issues going on or someone is feeling left out a little one on one time with daddy or mummy at the shops, movies, park, going for an ice cream works a treat. Nothing fancy, even a simple book or small toy and time away from the baby makes any little person feel special. And remember that this time goes quickly and before you know it you’ll be chasing your little baby around as they slide and crawl around the floor and that it gets easier.

Any top tips you’d like to add for my lovely reader……………………………

haimi by kids tricots

I love the satisfaction of finishing a project and there is a special sense of satisfaction that I’ve finished this project with an 8 week old baby in the house. Yes he’s 8 weeks today!!!! And it’s all thanks to mastering feeding and knitting at the same time.

Now I have to admit that I still need to add a button to this project but I was so excited to have it finished that I grabbed a safety pin and pinned it up and put it on my model. And I really love this pattern. As you know I’m addicted to the kina and this is by the same pattern designer but was a lovely alternative.

And if you’ve never knitted a cable before then don’t worry. It’s just holding a stitch, knitting the next then knitting the held stitch and that’s it! But it’s pretty impressive when it’s done.

The pattern is Haimi by Kids Tricots and is a EUR3 download here. I used Bendigo Luxury 10 ply in Lotus (322) and I’m wondering why I haven’t used this colour before because it is just perfect!

Ravelry details are here.  And you know me, I’ve already cast on my next project and looks like my goal of knitting each of my little girls a cardigan for summer is on target. I’ve cast on a kina in size 6 for my big girl and hope to have it knocked out in a couple of weeks.

Happy knitting………………………………………..

knitting is in my genes

Well daylight saving has totally thrown us here. We missed 8.30am mass since everyone was still sleeping, well everyone except for me and our little guy and I thought we’d get to 10am but were still getting little people dressed and trying to find a hairbrush so we got to 10.30 in the end and just snuck in. We don’t fit into the big family van anymore (not so big it turns out) so have to take 2 cars if we go anywhere together but I have to admit that so far it’s only church on sunday when we all go out together in the early days with a baby.

Anyway, once I was home and had a good coffee I managed to cast off this little cardigan for my littlest miss who is having her birthday soon. I’m hoping she’ll model it sweetly for me sometime this afternoon once I get the ends in. I mastered knitting and breastfeeding last week which is a great way to use all that time you spend feeding. My little guy likes to be fed, held upright and doesn’t really like to be put down. So you have to do something during that feeding and sitting time. And I’ve found it. It’s all in the pillows and how you place them.

And I’m well overdue sharing some little knits that I received after lawson was born. I’ve probably mentioned before that knitting is in my blood. My nana, grandma and aunty are all big knitters (grandma doesn’t knit any more but I’d love her to teach me fair isle which I haven’t got at all. I’m lucky if I can knit 2 colours together). Anyway these gorgeous knits are just a few of the things that were made for our little guy. The reason I didn’t share them earlier is that he is always wearing one of the cardies from his nana. Always. One for every day of the week and a hat to match! Yes nana was working overtime. I kept saying once they are all washed I’ll take a nice photo of them for the blog but one or two are always in the wash.

and one of my favourite little knits from nana is this little hug me tight. A reader asked last week what it was. It’s a little cardigan that keeps a little bub warm and perfect for those days when you don’t want to rug them up in a big thick cardy but just need a little something to go on. Tricky to photograph but knit in one piece.

I put hug me tight into the search bar on ravelry and got more adult than baby projects but a quick google and I found a free pattern here.

And while my nana was busy with the hand knitting my aunty debbie had her knitting machine going. One night. One night to knit up a blanket on her Brother knitting machine. And the edging was done by hand. Tell me you want a knitting machine that can do a baby blanket in a night!!!!

and here it is being modelled

So there you have it! I’m a firm believer that I inherited my knitting gene from such talented ladies in my family and I hope my girls (and boys, boys can knit too) will keep it all in the family.