he’s still a big puppy!

Well my not so little puppy is about to turn 8 months old on Monday….and he’s as big as they come. We did think he’d be medium size but there’s nothing medium about him. But there’s just more of him to love. My littlest miss loves to lie on his tummy and there is plenty of room for that and he loves it. He really has a sense for people. He’s so gentle with her and my grandma. He just knows to tone it down with them.

We enjoy dog training once a week and are learning lots of new things. We don’t always listen, well he doesn’t always listen, I do. And I went from someone who said I will never get a bum bag for my dog treats but wouldn’t you know it…there I am each week with my doggy bum bag full of chicken and a bit of cheese which he likes.

We’re back to the groomers this week for another wash and tidy up and hopefully a clip all over. He came back to me last time smelling so beautiful and fluffed up like a big fluff ball.

We had to buy an XXL crate for him at night as the L one I bought he quickly outgrew. But to tell you the truth I didn’t use crate training but now have him in the crate overnight which is a great thing and he loves it. Nice and cosy in there and still big enough for him.

The kids love him. He obeys my hubby who is the boss. I’m just the one who does all the care and picks up the poo poos but he knows who his is master is. And you’ll notice he’s on his lead in this photo. That’s because it’s a run for freedom once he’s outside! He really is the perfect addition for our family.

 

kids cooking day

Well to celebrate the end of term we have a cooking day here today! I asked the kids what they would like to make and they settled on sushi and cake. Great for a friday night dinner. For sushi I have 2 recipes that we like to use – the first one is when I have time up my sleeve to roast the capsicum. You’ll find the recipe here.

sushi

And we have a quick sushi recipe which is our midweek – get it on the table – recipe, you’ll find it here 

And for the cake we are using one of my favourites….never lets me down…..and always so buttery.   I use white wings gluten free flour for the most perfect gluten free version. Recipe is here

apricot after

If you’re about to start school holidays then enjoy the lazy mornings and a rest from uniforms, school lunches and routine! I know we’re looking forward to some pyjama mornings around here and a break from the school run! Happy holidays……………

one term of homeschooling under our belt

Well tomorrow is the last day of term. That has gone so fast. The days and weeks have just flown by. How have we gone? Well. Pretty well I think considering I’ve had my L plates on. There have been some hard days and lots of really good days.

I started out just planning each week rather than daily but now I sit down and plan out the week and then each day. I put the day’s work on a little note card for each of the twins so they know what they need to work through.

Next term we’ll be using a set curriculum for year 3 from the US but adapt a few things like history and geography and maths. This was a big decision but I think this will reassure me that we’re getting through enough work and also provide a bit more structure for them rather than me telling them what they need to do. Fingers crossed on that one. We’re also picking up Latin which should be fun since I’ve never learnt it but I have the answer book so we can all learn together.

We’ve been to the theatre with home schoolers, done an athletics carnival, a first aid morning, attended weekday Mass twice (so much for going weekly!) and most of the time we stick to our plans.

We’ve discovered ArtVenture and art videos on youtube. We read in the car and do spelling bees as well. We have the tv off most days just to keep everyone on task, we play and we’re relaxed. One of the goals of homeschool was to take out the stress of school for one little person and we’ve succeeded. Somedays I think to myself I’m sure they would have covered more work during a school day but some days we get through so much and research things and are doing our own research projects and assignments and are working on different things. We are back to learning piano which is fun and a learning curve for me but one that they are enjoying. And we love going to the library when it’s nice and quiet and sometimes we’re the only ones there. We see our friends at parties, playdates, rugby, when we’re visiting school and making new friends at homeschool activities.

It is exhausting, I won’t lie, but it is also a great way to let your kids learn at their pace and focus on what they want to do. We don’t fight over putting on uniforms or getting out the door in the morning. Each has their own strengths and it’s great to let them work ahead of where they would be in a classroom but also take the time to sit with them and help them where they need it.

Bring on our 2nd term! Well bring on the holidays first. I’m hoping to finally get the veggie patch started.

one finished granny stripe

Well this has been my craft project for a few months now. Taking it everywhere I go – waiting for speech, watching swimming and gymnastics, kangaroo valley, the school run. You name it this blanket has been there. It’s taken me a while too even though it’s cot size. So I’m just glad it’s finished as it does feel like it’s been the never-ending blanket.

I used mostly Bendigo 8 ply with the exception of the dark grey which is from Adagio and is the softest of the yarns in the blanket. But after I did the first set of colours I realised it might be a bit too dark for the blanket so I left it out until the last repeat of colours. I did have a few trips to spotlight to match up some cream and dusty pink but apart from that everything was from the stash.

I used the pattern instructions here for a smaller size (I think someone put it on ravelry for cot size) and the edging I just love. Weaving in 50 million ends I did not love but I knew the end was in sight so I did 2 big long sessions on the couch with a needle and scissors. I haven’t blocked this yet but might just do a little bit of blocking to get the corners to sit flat.

I’m so happy with how it turned out and also happy that I can start other projects and get back to some quilt projects too. With all my good intentions this was to go to the family BEFORE the baby was born but the sweet little girl is here now and I need to get this off in the post ASAP!

If you follow me on Instagram then you’ll know I’ve been sharing progress shots and I’ve also got a video on there of how I crochet. Thanks to my girls who filmed it for me one day at swimming.

one pink frilly apron

I had to fight the girls off for this one. A pink and frilly apron that I made for myself because my favourite Cath Kidston apron is getting a bit old and stained these days. I think it’s about 12 years old so it’s gone the distance as far as aprons go.

This one is nice and easy with no pattern pieces to cut just rectangles of fabric and lots of gathering. You can find the instructions here. And if you’re in the mood for creating your own apron find out the details of the Create a Pink Apron competition for the Pink Ribbon Breakfast here. Entries close 21st September so there is still time to get cracking.

chocolate peanut butter brownies

Bakers Corner sent me a big box of chocolate recently and we had a lot of fun baking with it. OK some of it didn’t make it into baked goods because it was just too good to eat. And I’m a big chocoholic.

But I did use some in my favourite brownie recipe. Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies. These are super fudgy and delicious. I know that you can find all sorts of brownie recipes these days but this is still my failproof never let me down brownie recipe that I’ve been making before I got married and had my family.

You’ll need 200g dark chocolate. We used a bag Nestle Bakers Choice Melts and it meant no breaking up of chocolate. For quality control purposes we did eat 3 buttons from the bag before adding to the saucepan

Add in 100g cubed unsalted butter and melt together. I did this in a small saucepan over a saucepan of boiling water. You can also melt it in a microwave safe bowl for 2 1/2 minutes on medium and stir it a few times in between.

Add in 1 cup of caster sugar and mix well. Add in 2 -3 generous scoops of peanut butter (crunchy or smooth) and mix well. Add in 2 eggs and stir gently. Then add in 2/3 cup sifted self raising flour. Gently fold the flour through making sure it’s all mixed in. Pour into a lined square/lamington tin. Baking a preheated 180C degree oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Leave to cool completely in the tin. Lift out of the tray by the paper and then slice with a clean knife.

Enjoy. You can find lots of chocolate creations or create and share your own with #bakerscorner #bakeityours

another beautiful weekend in kangaroo valley

You might remember we visited Kangaroo Valley last year and thanks to the kind owner we were back there again. The week leading up to the weekend was something out of ‘Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day’ ….we had a nasty gastro bug go through most of us and I missed out on a big choir performance for my big girl, tonsilitis and antibiotics for one, last minute dog dramas on the morning we were supposed to leave (and someone’s birthday), I smashed my phone twice in the one day, dropped an iPad out the car door, behaviour went out the window, moods were tense, someone arrived with no shoes, someone else tipped a whole box of jatz and a bag of chips all over the back seat, I broke 2 glasses…it was just like what could go wrong went wrong. I lay awake on Friday thinking why is everything just going out the window this week?

But by Sunday night I was happy and relaxed and we had enjoyed a beautiful weekend. I won’t say relaxing because there is nothing relaxing about taking children away. I always find it amusing to look at other families away from home and see that we are all dealing with the same things. Fighting siblings, someone who didn’t want to leave the house, someone who is hungry/thirsty/needs a toilet/bored/wants the iPad charged and so on.

This time around we decided to explore Berrima ….well after we’d been to Target for a quick trip to pick up a pair of shoes for the boy who came away with none (he had to wear his sister’s trainers into the shop). We did a walk of the area, the Berrima District Museum was fascinating and I enjoyed getting a book which finally put some answers to where our family started life in Australia and where they actually lived. The kids loved the exhibits and it’s only $5 entry for adults and free entry for children. The kids get a fun sheet to fill in which makes them really look at the exhibits and read about them. The war exhibition has iPads and you can search through and find records if you have an ancestor who was in the area and went to war. We were able to find one of ours and his photo and original war records. And afterwards we even managed to drive past the house where most of the family who lived in the area were born and lived. That was so great for me. I go through stages where I fill in more of my family tree on ancestry and am grateful to the certain members of my family who have researched and worked so hard to complete the family trees before me. Even just in the last year or so I’ve discovered trove and have added some newspaper clippings and interesting facts.

We enjoyed a delicious pub lunch at the Surveyor Inn. My big girl ended up sitting just under a picture of Ben Hall the bushranger she had just submitted an assignment on the day before. The food was great and it was so warm and cosy when it was cold and raining outside. No time for the Berrima Patchwork store with 6 little ones in tow but I did manage to find time for the Brown Shutter store which is a treasure trove. I came home with a few little goodies and must visit again. My time was limited with a few ‘helpers’ in the store and waiting outside. So many things in the shop, so little time (and money!).

Saturday night we headed to Bistro 146 for a family night out. Everyone had their best behaviour, the kids meals were a hit, I realised I’m such a stickler for tradition and ordered the barramundi for my main and creme brulee for dessert. It’s what I always seem to order if we eat out at a restaurant. The service was so warm and friendly and the open fire and food was a big hit. It was fully booked the night we went so make sure you book.

Sunday morning we cleaned, well I cleaned and the kids sat in the one spot trying not to make a mess, move a cushion or rug.

We had to visit the fudge shop for some gifts and a lolly for the ride home. Last minute lunch stop (McDonalds at Mittagong with plenty of other travellers) and an easy drive home.

I just love the peace and quiet of kangaroo valley. The air just smells so fresh, the history is wonderful and the people so friendly. Sure it gets busy with people on the weekend but when you are staying you can really just slow down and enjoy the slower pace. I read some books, did some crochet, kept little people clean and fed and got back home with a refreshed attitude (very important) and we were the first ones at school Monday morning (a great improvement from being late at my 2nd drop off lately).

If you haven’t been make sure you get down there. Hampden House is a very special house and every little bit of it is full of history. I love all the little knick knacks and finishing touches. Karen made the most beautiful Victoria sponge and we enjoyed it with a beautiful bottle of champagne (who doesn’t love champagne and cake). And she leaves you with a box of chocolates. There is also a great DVD and VCR collection. Oh yes my kids loved watching Mary Poppins and the ‘old’ ads before the movie on the VCR. Kids these days.

The garden kept them busy (under watchful eyes) and the flowers including the magnolias are so beautiful you just want to whip your camera out

All in all a beautiful weekend despite the dramas beforehand and a very big thank you to Karen the owner for having us back. Lots of happy memories made.

 

 

Losing myself in the 1800’s

I don’t watch a lot of TV, not even the news or current affairs anymore and it’s been a long while since I’ve fallen in love with a series. I think Big Love is the last one. Anyway, I was reading this book and Sally recommends watching Lark Rise to Candleford. One episode in and I was hooked. It just draws you in with the wonderful characters and story lines. Even the bigger kids of the house were hooked and looking forward to the next episodes. I ended up buying the DVD pack and managed to get my grandma through all of season 1 in one weekend.

Then I was on instagram and someone mentioned North & South on Netflix. In the space of 2 nights I watched all 4 episodes and was crying and oh so happy at the ending. Another beautiful mini series that just draws you in. North & South is also a history lesson as it takes you to the fictional town of Milton and the cotton mills. I found myself worrying about the starving children and whether the two main characters were finally going to fall in love.

What’s your favourite period drama right now? It can be a bit hard to find them on the Apple tv and I found Lark Rise on iTunes TV shows (until I realised it would be more economical to buy the complete DVD set) and North & South on Netflix and youtube here. I think next on my list is Cranford which also looks good……………

image source and video content property of BBC

entrechat shrug

You might remember I did a review of this book as soon as it arrived. I had been wanting to make this pattern before I had the book and it’s been in my favourites on ravelry for a while. I needed to make something quick and cute for a baby and decided this was the perfect project. I made the size 1 since it will be best worn in warmer weather. The pattern is knit in 1 piece, always a winner with me. And the decorative stitches are super easy to do.

You could probably whip this up in a couple of days but it took me about 3 weeks with a few rows here and there.

I love that you finish the shrug, weave in your ends, add the button and you are done. You should block this but this is how it looks unblocked and it’s come up beautifully. I used Bendigo Luxury in 10 ply in baby blossom and the button was from the button stash (purchased at Spotlight).

The mum is a new sewer so I think a stack of some pretty fabrics to make for a little girl will finish this present off perfectly. Ravelry details are here. You can find the pattern in the book and also on ravelry here to purchase. I loved it so much I’m thinking a 3 month size will be next on the needles. Well once I’ve finished crocheting grandma’s scarf and a baby blanket that I also am doing. So many projects, so little time……….you know how it goes.

magnolias and nearly 2 weeks of homeschool done

How beautiful are the magnolias at the moment. We had a big old tree at the front of our old house that I loved so much and then was thrilled to find not one but two trees here at the new house. Mind you they aren’t as big and the one in the front yard has much smaller flowers but I still love it.

We’ve made it through nearly 2 weeks of homeschooling. Everyone has been asking or messaging to check out how we’ve been going and I’m always happy to report it’s going well. Mornings are more relaxed, we are getting through our work, someone is trying to cover a wall in her artworks and doing a wonderful job of recreating Van Gogh masterpieces. You are able to see where their strengths really lie, the twin bond is even closer and we are having fun. Sometimes I get them to make quizzes for the other person and they have a bit of fun with that trying to make the hardest questions. We use car time for reading, ipads and Q&A on countries and capital cities.  

This week we’ve been reading Mr Popper’s Penguins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (my copy from primary school which is looking a little old and yellow but I loved that book so much). In Maths we are doing lots of sums and learning to carry over the 1 into the next column, art has been focused on Van Gogh and we are researching a country each for a little geography assignment. No surprise that our rugby  mad boy picked England. No homework is a real bonus for everyone and the little kids love having kids to play with them. I definitely have one super conscientious one and one who needs a bit more encouragement to put the footy down for a while.  Our aim is to hit the year 3 work by term 4  and they are pretty excited about that. It is a learning curve trying to pick the best materials when you start out because you’re not quite sure what will work. We are actually rotating between 4 maths books and my favourite is now the american one which at first I didn’t like and had regretted buying. Go figure! 

But you definitely feel more confident once you’ve started if that reassures anyone out there who is too nervous to start homeschooling. The nerves and worry kind of go away once you get stuck in.

quilted potholder

I loved putting this little project together because I had some mini charm squares. If you haven’t used mini charm squares yet then they really are cute. What I love about this project is that you make it with right sides together and then turn out. It saves you needing binding and is still fun to quilt on your machine.

Find all the instructions and step by step photos here

and we’re registered for homeschooling

I remember a friend told me she received her registration for homeschooling last year. I was thinking to myself wow she really does things by the book. I’d just homeschool without registering. Wrong. There was quite the paperwork at my end to get my homeschooling plan written up and approved. In fact I think NSW has the most requirements when it comes to homeschooling your children. And oh the fun I had reading through the curriculum. I hadn’t picked one up since I studied towards a grad dip ed many years ago. And I can’t tell you how much fun it is to read outcome after outcome in language I wouldn’t usually use. But I did it, I might have had a block of chocolate to get me through the last bit of it on Sunday night. But we are all approved and registered to homeschool.

There are so many reasons why families homeschool and that’s certainly the case for us especially with so many personalities in our family. And it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. That’s the short answer. I just needed to convince someone in the house.  We start homeschooling our twins next week and they are excited. I’m excited and a little nervous but mostly looking forward to it.

So here we are. I’ve got lots of great resources. You could go crazy spending money here there and everywhere but I’ve managed to keep books to a fairly reasonable budget with a few other resources thrown in to get us to the end of the year. I have read some amazing books and useful websites. We have a 12 month plan of what we are hoping to get through and that is what is required in NSW to register for homeschool. Although it was time consuming it gave me a great idea of what I wanted to do and the resources I would need. We created a learning space with a dining table that we weren’t using and with a bit of furniture rearranging.

I’m quite lucky that there are quite a few homeschooling groups near me and we have quite a number of homeschool families in our school community. They are the loveliest mums and some have been such a great help to me when I needed to suss out what was going to be right for me. I decided against an all in one curriculum and decided to pick and choose a bit from here and there so that I could include australian books for history, geography, maths and english but some US books for religion and reading.

Here are some great resources that really helped me and might help you too:

Beverley Paine

Her website and books were great for confirming what we needed to do and I think this is the best resource for Australian families.

HEA

The information on registering in NSW was super helpful and gave me lots of ideas to fill out my plan. Join them and they will send out a pack

Mulberry Magazine

Great inspiring online magazine with stories from australian families. Very inspiring and informative.

Suzie’s Home Education Ideas

Suzie very clearly spells out what you are required to do for NSW and how she did it. It was very helpful seeing her examples and photos. Thank you Suzie.

Ken Robinson’s TED talks even just for the entertainment value and if you need to convince someone else

Real Learning Education in the Heart of the Home

Elizabeth Foss’ amazing book that was so hard to track down for a reasonable price but worth every cent. If you can find her living book list here then it is a wonderful resource for planning the books you will read. I did find that the year 2 level was not what my children were reading so I picked a few books from the year 2 list and focused on the year 3 list as I have big readers who love their novels.

Five Senses Education (or a good educational bookstore) 

So many great books and I could just type in year 2 english or geography and lots of books came up

Modern Teaching Aids

Hide your credit card for this one. I did buy some cuisineaire rods for one little lady who really needs some help with understanding numbers and some magna tiles for all of the kids to play with. The magna tiles are a bit of a budget buster but I researched and decided they would be very helpful and also great for the preschoolers too.

Homeschooling Downunder

Lots of great advice and PDF booklets and books to buy.

Spotlight

Yes good old spotlight. We went a bit crazy on art supplies, desk accessories (we have some pretty neat desk caddies all filled up) and a few other supplies. Big W for lots of exercise books too.

Blogs

This a huge list of aussie homeschooling blogs and you probably have your favourites from overseas. I know I have a few.

Special needs distance education NSW

I’m just putting this is in here for those of you who have someone with special needs in NSW. No one mentioned this to me. Now the twins aren’t special needs but this is something that I’m interested in for my littlest miss. I thought it might help someone out there to know about the program, your child needs an intellectual disability to be eligible and live in NSW.

And school starts next monday so let the fun begin………………….

pick any 2 charm square packs!

Thank you to everyone who has made purchases through my little shop. I had some Moda crossweave in black and it sold out in 2 days. Thank you. I’ll see how much is left and relist it. I do have white charm square packs which are wonderful to use if you love quick pinwheels or to make charm square quilts. And this week you can choose any 2 charm square packs for $36 so it’s a nice time to pick one you like and team it with another one you’d like to try or with a white charm square.

This is the youtube tutorial you want to make pinwheels. Super easy. Love Missouri Star Quilt Company’s tutorials and have you seen their new store. I need to go!

a little wallaby all finished

This is such a sweet pattern. Wallaby by tiKKi is available to knit in 4, 8 or 10 ply which gives you lots of options. I love knitting in 10 ply for the speed and also because it makes a nice warm little cardigan for a little baby.

I knit this little cardigan in Bendigo luxury 10 ply, the colour baby blossom is the most beautiful pink. Nice and soft and sweet.

You can find the patterns to buy here. It’s a top down pattern and the sleeves are knit on circulars or dpn’s once you’ve finished the body.

Buttons are from spotlight and the perfect addition.

Ravelry details are here 

how to make a cute t-shirt dress

Here is another project I made for Brother that my little girl just loves to wear. It’s so easy to pick up t-shirts like these one with a cute design or plain and then add a cute skirt and voila you have a cute t-shirt dress. You can find the full instructions here.

This little t-shirt was $5 at target, the fabric was in the stash and it was a perfect combo.

Happy sewing!