The adventure of trying to make a house a home that we built for our family of six plus some craft, home décor, recipes & any family fun we might have.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Pet Rocks

A few weeks ago I was on Facebook when someone posted a picture of a family of Pet Rocks and I thought that it would be fun to have the kids make their own. I was lucky enough to already have all the supplies so it was as simple as sitting down and watching what the kids created. As you will know Quinlan is only two so he needed a lot of help but he did enjoy putting the glitter on his rock and he helped pass the googly eyes to me so that I could glue them on.
I'm sure that you all know what's needed to make a pet rock however, the kids used the following items to create their pet rock's:
  • good size rocks (not too big and not too small)
  • PVA glue
  • glitter
  • googly eyes
  • felt pens

As you can see you really don't need much in order to create these cute little pet's. However, there is one additional item I would use and that's hair spray or spray adhesive just so the glitter is protected. Once the PVA glue has dried (I'd leave it a few days) use the hair spray or spray adhesive and spray the entire rock lightly (I'd also leave the rocks to dry again so that they aren't tacky to touch). It was good to see the kids doing this mini craft project and it was a good way to fill in thirty minutes on a Saturday afternoon.
The children were going to name their rocks but they decided not too because they started fighting over who had the better name. I've come up this a neat idea of how we can preserve their pet rocks for years to come. This will also allow me to display them without been worried about the googly eyes or glitter been ruined by little people touching them, moving them and playing with them.
I'll share with you the project I create with the children's pet rocks in the coming weeks. Our calendar is really busy for the next few weeks what with Christmas approaching and school coming to an end for the year so I hope it doesn't take me too long to organise. So have you or your kids ever made pet rocks? We might just have to make a few more of these for our garden as it needs a little bit of happiness out there.
I have a heap of pictures to share with you in the coming day's and a post about what I got up to last weekend. First though I might catch up on some sleep first.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Teaching children to pack for a trip.

If you've been visiting for a while you'd know that I have four children, my eldest been an eight year old. At school this year part of the curriculum involves all year three students participating in an over night camp in order to prepare him for future camps in the coming years. Last week during school drop off I saw the year five students all standing around waiting for there bus to arrive. We attend a small school so there's about forty children going away on camp. However, if you'd driven pass you would have thought that each child was going away for an entire week.
Now I know what you're thinking 'how hard can it be to pack for an overnight trip'. For the majority of the children in my son's class it also appeared that many of them were going away for a week. As this is my son's first camp we worked with him to help him understand what he needed to pack while also getting his input about were to place his things in the suitcase.
1. Choose a suitcase, bag or backpack. We started by choosing the correct case to take, we all decided that an overnight case would work perfectly for him.
2. Collect all the items needed.  Find an clean area that will allow you to collect all the items you need. Once you have all the clothing, shoes, toiletries, towels and bedding start ticking them off your list.
3. Add small items into pockets. If your case has pockets make sure you take advantage of them, put your socks, swimmers, underpants and or toiletries in these pockets. This will free up the space inside the case allowing you to add more important things.
4. Roll, roll and roll some more. This is important especially if you have a few different things to pack. Once you have all your t-shirts together its important to roll them up and then placing them together inside the case. Continue working through all the clothing and place each group inside the case.
5. Place larger items inside the case. This is a good time to place your shoes and toiletries inside the case. If you're shoes are a bit dirty place them inside a plastic shopping bag and this will protect your clothes.
6. Use your zippers. If you have a zip on your case that allows you to expand the depth of the case take advantage of this option. I was able to fold my sons pillow in half, place it on top of the clothes and then close it just by using the expanding zipper.
The picture above is the bag that my son took on camp with him and he held everything he needs except his sleeping bag. He has an extra set of clothes which he decided he would need in case he got wet or dirty. As we didn't have a raincoat we left that out of the bag, Caelan wasn't happy about this but as the shops had closed there was nothing we could do about it.
I am please to say that we didn't have any issues packing the bag, Caelan was really good at picking the clothing he would need and the entire process took us about twenty minutes. If you have any good packing tips I'd love to hear them. I'll leave you with a picture of my happy little camper just moments before he walked out to the bus.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Pantry Storage Containers

As many of you know I'm in desperate need of some sort of pantry storage containers that are going to help create the illusion that my Tupperware, plastics and lunchboxes are all organised. To be completely honest I need help organising the entire house, with a good dose of de-cluttering thrown in. So sometime this weekend I've decided that I'm going to tackle both pantries and if time permits I'm going to work on the rest of the kitchen. Two weeks ago I shared with you the woven baskets I'd purchased and sprayed pink. I decided that these baskets would make the perfect pantry storage containers.
After working on a to-do list I quickly realised that it would be a good idea to get some of the more decorative items finished before I tackled the pantry. I can't be the only person who does this? When I start cleaning and organising I come up with these great crafty ideas and then off I go to work on them. Days later, the area isn't clean, the crafty idea hasn't been started and I've got more mess than I started with. Not this time, I've made changes and fingers crossed it's going to work this time.

As these containers are going to be place up high in my pantry, at a glance I'm going to need to know what's inside. So I got to thinking about how I was going to label my baskets and that's when I remembered the tin of blackboard paint I purchased six months ago. I remembered a friend had earlier purchased some chalkboards and after contacting her I knew what I needed and where to get them from. So I made a quick trip to Bunnings to purchase some small MDF shapes from their craft section (thanks Mel from Mellywood's Mansion for that tip) which I then painted with the blackboard paint. I painted both sides just in case the MDF shape got damaged while I was using it. I was really happy with my first attempt using blackboard paint.
The last thing I did was to attach the MDF boards to the basket. Originally I was going to get a piece of string and tie each MDF board off from the top of the basket.  I then remembered I had some black bakers twine, so I searched around for that to use. However, the string would either move or come undone which wouldn't be too functional in the long run. So after a discussion with my very knowledgeable eight year old son we came up with the idea of tying them off on the inside. To achieve the finished look I had to use a darners needle and I worked with the wiring system within the basket.
I'm really happy with my little DIY Pantry Storage Containers so much so that I'm thinking of making a few more for the other pantry so that I can store light globes and any chemicals that I don't want the children to touch. Who knows I might just spray them bright orange. So do you think my baskets will add a pop of colour to the pantry? I know that they will hold a lot of my Tupperware and plastics but I may need to make up more especially with three children needing lunch boxes next year.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Time flies when you're having FUN

Today I've been reminded of the old saying 'Time flies when you're having fun' and I have to say although we weren't always having fun the time has flown by. Last Friday was Quinlan's second birthday and I have to say I don't really know were the times gone. I know we've moved three times, built a house, dealt with a couple of trips to the hospital and we've taken a trip away for the weekend but it seems to have flown by.  I must admit that we've packed a heap into the last twenty four months, however I just didn't seem to really notice that my baby was growing up and before I knew it he's two years old.

Quinlan has bought a heap of laughter, joy and happiness into our family and I thank God every day for having him in our lives. My favourite moments with Quinlan are when I make him giggle just by simply placing my hand up under his t-shirt and putting a finger near his armpit. The sound of him giggling fills the house and the smile on his face is priceless. Of all the children Quinlan has a very close and special bond with his daddy. He's more of a daddy's boy and to see the excitement when Mr Opoes walks through the door after work is enough to melt any ones heart. In saying all that I don't have a heap of photo's of Quinlan on his own or of Quinlan and his daddy together. So in the coming months I'm going to try and take more individual pictures of the children instead of group pictures.

I thought today I'd share a few of my favourite pictures with you to celebrate my baby turning two because before I know it he'll be standing in front of me getting ready for his first day of school. I sometimes wish that if I had a super power I'd slow time down as the years seem to be flying by and before you know it another year has gone by.
We had a fun weekend celebrating Quinlan's birthday and I would have to say that the highlight had to be watching all four of the children Ten Pin Bowling. Unfortunately, I didn't get the greatest photo's because I forgot to turn the flash on. I really need to enrol in a photography course and then I'd be brilliant.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Raised Garden Bed

Early in September at the beginning of Spring I decided I wanted to try growing our own vegetables in a raised garden bed. I spent hours doing research into the different types of garden beds, what soil we'd need and what vegetables would grow best during the spring and up coming summer months.
So it's been nearly a month since Mr Opoes and I put the garden beds together, building them took us a couple of hours and then finding a spot for them took us even longer. By the time we'd finished we'd run out of time to get to the hardware store to buy all the soil and sugar cane mulch. So early the following day we rushed off to our local hardware store to purchase one bag of sugar cane mulch, seven bags of soil, one bag of manure and two bags of tomato and vegetable food. This was only half of the stuff we needed but as Mr Opoes had an event to get too we didn't have time to purchase it all. So our little gardening project had to be delayed another week.
As a few weeks had past since we'd put the garden beds together I made it my mission to get stuck in to having both garden beds planted out by the following weekend. Another trip to the hardware store was made, supplies were purchased, loaded into the car and bought home to be unloaded into the backyard. We were able to get both garden bed filled with soil and I then went about planting out one of the beds with my packet seeds and my tomato plant. I quickly came to the realisation that my little tomato plant would need some kind of support in order to grow better so I rushed back to buy a trellis from the hardware store.
The long story short is that my first garden bed had been planted out for three weeks and I was still to plant out the second on. I really wanted my second garden bed to look like the other bed which had germinated really well even though I wasn't looking after it as well as I should have. So on Saturday I went off to another hardware store and purchased a plastic pot, strawberry plant, carrot seedlings, celery seedlings and a capsicum plant. When I got home I realised that my plastic pot didn't have any drainage holes in it so I set about drilling four holes in the bottom so that the water can drain into the saucer that I also picked up. I got to work planting my strawberry in the pot because I'd seen on Better Homes and Gardens that you can plant them in pots.
So I am now proud to say that we have both garden bed planted out and all the vegetables are doing OK. With the hot temperatures we've been experiencing lately I'm going to have water the vegetables regularly so that they don't die. I wish that I'd taken the time and the correct steps the first time to get organised so that my veggie garden was done in a weekend, the best thing that's come from the whole experience would be I've had time to gain some more knowledge and understanding about every process involved.
The kids are super excited about our garden so I'm going to watch them when they're outside just to make sure I don't have things picked from the veggie patch. I'm also looking forward to continuing this next year and I'm hoping that Quinlan and I will be able to work on it together when it's just the two of us at home. So tell what are you growing in your veggie patch this season?

Friday, 11 October 2013

DIY Heaven

I've been thinking about creating a chalkboard menu planner for a few months now and after visiting Pinterest I knew it was something I wanted to in stall in our kitchen. Originally I fell in love with these two chalkboards and they were the inspiration behind wanting to have a chalkboard in the kitchen.
both projects can be found here and here
Originally my plan was to purchase 7 MDF clipboards, plaint them up with blackboard paint, label them with days of the week and then hang them on the wall beside the pantry. Once hung I'd be able to write down what we'd be eating each week. After searching on-line I discovered that I couldn't get a clipboard under $3 a piece so I went around town trying to find a cheap clipboard. I found some good ones at Officeworks but at $3.48 each it was going to cost me just over $24 and that was before I purchased anything else to finish off the project.

I really liked the clip on these boards but I didn't like them enough to pay what they were asking. So after weeks of looking and finding clipboards that were more expensive I'd started to give up on my dream. Then last weekend we went off to Bunnings to look for a garden fence as we need to place a few on the sides of the house to keep the children in the backyard. About an hour later I walked out of Bunnings with a few vegetable seedlings, some decorative trim, liquid nails and a 1200 by 900 piece of MDF. I'd gotten the idea of creating my own framed blackboard and that's all it took.
Later that afternoon I sent Mr Opoes off to his fathers place so that he could cut the trim with 45° angles. The only power tool we currently own is an electric drill so I was happy that my father in-law was able to help us out with this project. I'm now looking forward to getting this project underway this weekend as I'd love to have it hanging on my wall by the end of the month. My to-do list is growing everyday as I'm getting some really interesting ideas BUT they might have to wait a while as I have to save the money first to fund the project.
So what are your plans for the weekend? I'm hoping to get a few projects started, do a bit of cooking and to spend time playing with the children. Fingers crossed I get something crossed off my list this weekend :)

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Banana and Strawberry Muffins

Over the last few months I've realised that I haven't baked any special treats for the kid's lunches, so yesterday I jumped into the kitchen to make some yummy muffins for the kid's lunch boxes. I like my time in the kitchen as it's relaxing and I get to escape what's going on in the house. However, as I made the muffins before the kid's morning nap I had three eager and willing helpers standing on their chairs watching me like hawks. I allowed them to help get some of the ingredients out of the pantry, throw the egg shells and carton in the rubbish bin and lastly I let them do the hardest job lick the beaters and spoon. They licked them so clean that it didn't even look like I'd used them to do any cooking.

Banana and Strawberry Muffins
150g softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
¾ cup castor sugar
2 banana's peeled
100g strawberries, cut into quarters
2 eggs
1½ cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 180°C and prepare muffin tin with patty liners.
2. Cream butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Add banana's and strawberries, mix well.
5. Sift flour and baking powder together. Fold into creamed mixture.
6. Add sufficient milk to give a soft dropping consistency (you want to be able to spoon the mixture into your pan easily).
7. Spoon enough mixture into your liners so that they are three quarters filled.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes making sure that they are cooked in the centre. Leave in tray for 10 minutes before placing them on a wire rack.
9. When cool decorate with icing.

I iced a few of these for Mr Opoes but I left the muffins plain for the children because when packing them into lunch boxes the plastic wrap tends to remove the icing making it messy to eat. I prefer mine plain with a little butter however I don't get many opportunities to eat them because the other hungry monkey's eat them before I get a chance. The kids love these so much I might get into the kitchen over the weekend and do more baking.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Handmade Birthday Cards

Yesterday was the last day of the school holiday's and I'm happy to say that I haven't heard I'm bored once during the two weeks that they've been off school and kindy. Last week the kids and I took a trip to Bribie Island for a few hours of fun, playing in the sun, relaxation, shopping and eating fish and chips. Having visited the area previously I wanted to call into the local craft store as they have a huge range of paper and accessories that makes it idea to find craft supplies that are ideal for the kid's to use and the price is good. After talking it over with the children they decided they wanted to make some birthday cards.
As soon as they'd gone to bed I got onto Pinterest and I started pinning cards that I thought would be easy to do with the kids. The following day I asked each of the kids to choose two designs they liked, I then set about collecting all the materials needed and I went about taping all the pieces so that the kids could just stick them down. This method worked well with the girls due to their ages, they're five and three BUT I think that I could have just given Caelan pieces of information and he could have worked on it himself. He worked well and he got both his cards done relatively quick due to the simplicity of the cards he chose.
So with the younger two down for their daytime sleep I set to work getting the older two working on their cards.  It was fairly simple giving each of them directions and it also helped having the laptop set up so that they could see were they wanted to place their papers.

Unfortunately, Caelan and I fell that the cards he's made a more suitable for younger boys and won't really be good to give out next year to his mates. This won't be too much of an issue as it just means that we can work on making more masculine cards over the Christmas holidays. Caelan's already put in a request to make a few Christmas cards for his friends, teacher and family members so I'm looking forward to working on that project with him in the coming weeks.
Viveca and I worked really well together on her card as she was good at following my directions and this made it quiet simple to put her card together. I got Viveca to choose the paper she wanted to use for the star and circle because her card was really colourful and having her pick the colours turned into an educational opportunity. Although she isn't good at saying her colours she did a really good job with the ones she picked and this is her card. The other thing she did well at was pressing down on the stamp, hers was clear and I was impressed especially as I didn't think I'd inked the stamp too well.
So after putting a bit of effort into the cards over the course of two days the children have created six birthday cards. When I added the cost of all the supplies minus some of the embellishments because I already had them each card ended up costing $0.96. I can't buy a handmade card anywhere for that price and I still have six cards left to decorate which will reduce the overall price again. So for about seven hours work I am happy with the cards the kids have made.
Best of all the kids will have a card to take to the next birthday party they get invited to and there won't be another card like theirs which is always a winner. I will definitely be doing this again with the kids next school holidays, maybe next time they can design their own cards and I'll just help with the taping side of things.
Here are the finished cards that the kids made.
Viveca's Cards
Mackenna's Cards

Caelan's Cards
So tell me do you make your own cards or do you buy a card from the shop when you're purchasing the present. Mummy is hoping that the kids all make me a birthday card next year because I'd love to have one of these given to me on my special day.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Pantry Organisation

When we decided to build our home I was really excited that I'd be able to make changes throughout the original house plan thus making it OUR design and our family home. One of the areas I spent a lot time on was the kitchen and the adjoining butlers pantry. Our previous house had a five shelf pantry that was about the same height as a refrigerator and I was forever getting frustrated as I never seemed to have enough room to store things other than food. So I really wanted a pantry space in this house that would allow me to store food, containers, special items and things that I don't want my nearly two year old to get to.
During one of our many visits to the house during construction my brother's girlfriend asked me what the small room at the other end of the kitchen was. I told her that it was a linen cupboard that I could use to store things that didn't fit in other area's of the house, she suggested that I use it as another pantry as that would allow me to store more food and possibly reduce the number of times I had to shop during the year. The reason for having this space was because I've always believed Australian homes don't have enough storage within the house for families. Nowadays builders seem to be providing us with even less storage options than what they provided twenty-five years ago when my parents were building their home.
After listening to her idea, Mr Opoes and I went back to our rental house and spoke about what she had suggested. Having decided to use it as a linen cupboard was OK but technically it was in the wrong position and as we already have a large area in the laundry to store our linen it just made sense. If I'd been honest with her I would have told her that I'd always had a problem with the cupboard been off the kitchen and it wasn't possible to change the position of door due to the nearby rooms. So with a few months left of the build I got to thinking which space would be to store my food and which would be used to store my Tupperware, special items, containers etc.
Recently I watch Quinlan playing with all my plastic containers and that's when I got to thinking that I needed to create a storage solution to look after the growing collection of plastics and Tupperware that I've accumulated over the years. So with this in mind I got to thinking about what I could create and where I'd like to position my plastic and Tupperware collection. I purchased a few weaved baskets from my local Kmart store and a can of PlastiKote spray paint from the hardware store.

I wanted a hot pink colour and I fell in love with the colour of the lid so I was really surprised to find out that the colour I'd chosen was called Heather Violet but I must admit it's a really nice colour if done in moderation.
So this is what I came up with. I undercoated a small section of each basket, left it to dry for the required time and then I sprayed it pink. I had to spray it twice with the pink so that I could get into all the uneven spaces that each basket has. I then left it to dry for 48 hours just to make sure it was really, really dry. Lastly I stuck four one inch felt pads on the bottom of the basket so that it wouldn't mark the bottom of my pantry shelves. I haven't completely finished the baskets yet as I'm still waiting for Mr Opoes to drill holes into my chalkboard labels so that I can use the large tin of chalkboard paint I have.

I'm going to say that these new storage containers will save my plastics from disappearing, I'll be able to match them up when I use them and they'll be up high enough that my four lovely children won't be reaching up to steal them time and time again. It'll also help heaps next year when I have three children attending various educational locations so that means I should have more room for lunch boxes and drink bottles. So do you have a special storage trick that you use to keep all your plastic container under control. I'd love to hear about it as I'm desperate to get our house de-cluttered and organised before the year's finished.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

How to design a furniture layout that's perfect for any space.

Over the years I've learnt that it can be very costly and frustrating choosing furniture. You get it home only to discover that it's too big or small for the space that you're working within. Our previous house was a great starter home but with a growing family the room sizes were on the small size, thus making it easy to clutter up a room with the wrong pieces of furniture.

I learnt very quickly with our first home that it was important to get it right the first time because it could be a long and difficult process if you got it wrong. We had a neighbour across the street who's house was a mirror image of ours and when I visited her I'd always look at how she'd arranged her furniture so that I could try it out at our place. I remember that she never had a lounge suite in the front formal room which we were using as a living and craft room. It was all because she couldn't find the right lounge suite to fit into the long narrow space. It took her five attempts before she got something that worked but she never really loved how it looked in the space and I think that was because she just settled. It had become too tiring bringing lounges in and out of her house only to discover that they were so wrong in that space. With this in mind that's why I use my method when needing to purchase furniture for any room in our house.

I've been looking to purchase some new furniture for our dining room and living room ever since we moved into our house sixteen months ago. During this time I've been putting money aside, especially as I've wanted to purchase good quality items due to the short life of our previous items. There are a number of steps I use during the process to choose furniture for a particular room. I've found that they work really well for me and I hope they might help you next time you're looking to purchase furniture for a particular room. These are the steps I followed when I recently purchased our new lounge and dining table. You can also use this process when purchasing rugs or art.

1. When I'm interested in purchasing furniture I like to spend time looking at the furniture, sitting on it, touching it, watching how the children use it and generally making sure that it was something we'd need and use. I also make sure I get the measurements for each piece either from the store or online.

2. I take lots of photographs of each piece when I'm in store so that I can show them to Mr Opoes to get his thoughts and opinions. If the items are online I'll show them to Mr Opoes and again we'll talk. This process allows me to get a feel for what he wants and I'll even take him to the store so that he gets a feel for each piece and he can eliminate something because it's wrong for his frame, height etc.

3. When we get home I take out my painters tape and I start measuring up the space it'll occupy. This is particularly helpful if I'm purchasing a dining table, 2 seater lounge, 3 seater lounge, king single bed, single bed and the list goes on. The best part about taping out the size of the furniture is it stops you from making a big mistake when you're in the store. If you're interested in two different sized dining tables its best to tape them out with different coloured painters tape.

4. If other pieces of furniture need to move then move them to get a feel for how the pieces will work within the room. We're a family of six so originally I wanted to purchase two 3 seaters but with each measuring 2.52 metre (8 feet 3732 inches) long I just couldn't make it work within the space. During the process of placing the tape on the floor you can step back and see what will fit and what doesn't fit.

5. Then it's back to the furniture store or online to place your order. This whole process would have usually taken me two days to complete but with it being school holidays I had to work around the kid's activities and their pain threshold for furniture shopping. 

As you can see from my photographs I chose the one day that it was overcast and wet to take my money shots. It's a pity I didn't hear the weather forecast the night before as it would have helped with the photos I took. Now to delete the sixty photos I still want people to think I'm a professional photographer ha ha. Now we should receive our new furniture by the first week of November so I'm hoping that all this preparation pays off especially as the lounge is getting made in the fabric I chose.

When it arrives I'll share progress photos minus the overcast weather so you can see how the room looked before and after. I'd love to hear how you go about choosing furniture for rooms that you're decorating. Tomorrow I'm going to share with you how I'm thinking of organising my Tupperware and other plastics in my pantry as the children are stealing it and hiding playing with it.