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

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Last minutes Valentine's Gifts

I've never made a Valentine's Day gift before because it's just something that we don't do. So the other night while I was grocery shopping I found a bag of chocolate heart's and I thought that I could give them to the kids to give to their friends on Friday. Later that night I said something to Mr Opoes about how Valentine's Day was only seven days away, he looked confused and then he said 'oh I didn't even know it was happening again'. After that little statement I've made it my mission to make something cute for the kids to hand out to their friends on Friday.

Valentine's Day
As I have a 10 year old son I need his 'hearts' to be suitable for both sexes without being too lovely dovey as he'd die of utter embarrassment, the girls on the other hand would be happy with anything PINK. So with this in mind I set about organising some tags that I could print off to go with the chocolate heart. As I had NO idea what I was doing I used Abby's tutorial 'How to Make Pretty Labels in Microsoft Word' to help me place the pretty pictures I'd created in PicMonkey onto a piece of A4 paper. As our printer has run out of ink I took my creation down to Officeworks to get them printed off. In my hast I'd set my margins incorrectly so with a little help from the staff member I was able to print off my tags.
Valentine's Day
I then cut the tags down to size, placed them on some cardstock and cut them out with a little boarder around the paper tag.
Valentine's Day 
Valentine's Day
Lastly, I attached the chocolate in place using glue dots so that the chocolate stays in place. If you can't get your hands on glue dots, double sided tape, sticky tape or washi tape could also be used. Your child could also personalise it by putting the name of the person receiving the chocolate tag and their name on the tag. The other option is to leave it blank and surprise their friends with a lovely chocolate gift first thing in the morning.
Valentine's Day

And there you have it a quick and easy last minute Valentine's Day Gift.

Valentine's Day
So are you making something for your loved one or are you just treating Valentine's Day like any other Saturday? We've got so many activities on this Saturday that we're just going to enjoy spending time with the kids and giving them extra hugs and kisses. So I hope you have a great Valentine's Day and that you get to give something special to those you LOVE.


Friday, 6 February 2015

Stress Free Lunch Box Planning

Last week I dropped three of my four children off to start of the new school year. To say that I have to be better organised this year than I was last year is an understatement. Each one of them has sports, library, music and swimming on different days so keeping on top of their timetables is essential for a stress free morning. Now knowing who's doing what each day has helped but organising their lunches everyday is time consuming and somewhat difficult at times. My younger sister told me about a great Lunch Box Planner that she had being using and she'd found it saved her time and stress in the morning getting ready.

While she explained the concept to me I realised that she was using a 'menu plan' which is a concept the two of us have been using for years. As of yet I haven't had the time to organise myself but starting Monday I plan on having a very similar set up so that our mornings are less stressful, better organised and this should then allow me to eat my breakfast at the table instead of on the way to the car.

The first thing she did was purchase a PDF file from The Organised Housewife and she then got it printed. To save time on printing it out each week my sister put it inside a picture frame and this allows her to write on the glass using a fine non permanent white board marker, once the week is over she wipes it off with a tissue and then starts again. It's that easy and the best part is that when she bakes she know how many muffins, biscuits etc she needs to make and it saves her time as these items can be frozen to allow them to be fresh when the kids eat them.

Pictures provided to me for use in this post
Now according to my sister, her children are going to have Mini Hot Dogs and a peach for lunch tomorrow at school. The best thing about her plan is that she can make her own bread rolls the day before so that they're fresh for the children. The planner allows my sister to cater to her children's eating requirements (also great for children with allergies). If she gets sick, her husband can see what the kids are having for the day and the planner also allows her to have everything on hand when she needs it.

Stress free lunches
Pictures provided to me for use in this post
The PDF file also provides other templates that you can choose from. There's one that has the fruit up before the morning tea picture and this plan would help me plan out the fruit that the kids would take to school each day. That PDF file would come in handy for me as two of my children have fruit snacks at the beginning of the day and I know that taking an apple everyday becomes boring after a while.

So this weekend I plan on sitting down and planning out what we're all eating for the week and what the children will be taking to school. I'll also know what biscuits I need to make and I can have these frozen ahead of time. The other great thing about doing this all together is if I'm doing sandwiches I'll be able to prepare them over the weekend, freeze them and pull them out on the morning they're needed.

Now I'm off to get new lunch box idea's from Pinterest, no one is going to want to have sandwiches 5 days a week like we've been doing. So do you plan what your kids are eating for the week or do you just wing it? I know that this is going to save me money when it comes to planning my grocery list for the week and it'll allow me to get into the kitchen some more instead of buying packet biscuits.


Monday, 15 September 2014

Cooking with Kids

A tradition I'm trying to encourage at the moment is having a special family breakfast every Sunday morning. I'm not wanting to do it every weekend but I'm hoping that this time in the morning will allow me to teach the children so cooking skills. At the moment my son and two daughters aged 9, 6 and 4 really want to help me when I'm cooking. Unfortunately this is normal at night when I'm at my most busiest with the evening routine. So I decided that last weekend I'd make something yummy and talk to them about taking turns to cook with me.

On Saturday after a visit to the local library my 4 year old borrowed a cookbook and when we got home she ran through all the things she wanted to cook then and there. I promised her that she could try something out the following morning and that I'd help her make it. The recipe was something that I didn't need a cookbook for but as she's starting school next year I knew using the cookbook would be a great teaching tool. I had enough eggs to make breakfast for just the kids as I'd forgotten to buy more when I'd done the weekly grocery shop. She was more interested in making breakfast just for herself but I was able to talk her into making a bit more.

So for our first cooking experience together we made Eggs and Ham from the cookbook which is a basic scrambled eggs with ham mixed through it. Although the entire cooking experience was less than 10 minutes she was able to see results quickly and this kept her engaged in the experience. I've included the recipe and a picture of the finished product. She was really happy with the outcome and she's looking forward to cooking with me again.

Scrambled Eggs

Eggs and Ham (Scrambled eggs with Ham) Serves 1
small knob of butter
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
30 grams (1 oz) chopped ham, chopped
pinch of salt and pepper
1 piece of buttered toast

1. In a small bowl, using a fork whisk together the egg and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Chop the ham into small pieces. If doing this with your child make sure you help them when using a knife.
3. Place the toast in the toaster and toast until brown. Once toasted spread butter over warm toast.
4. Melt butter in the pan, over medium heat. Add the egg mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir continuously until the eggs are just set and still creamy. Depending on the child's age you might need to assist with this step.
5. Mix the chopped ham through the egg. Serve on top of your buttered toast.

Scrambled eggs

I'm about to start negotiations with my six year old as she's desperate to make everyone 'stripey ice lollies' (they're frozen fruit blocks) for breakfast. I'm thinking that we could make these on Saturday for Sunday's afternoon tea. I know that the kids will love to have fruit ice blocks especially after they've been running around all morning. So tell me do you make your own ice blocks or do you just buy them from the shops?


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Teaching craft at school

Two months ago my lovely son told his teacher that I'd love to come in and help make cards with the students for Father's Day. At first I was a little worried, working with 50 children sounded very scary and I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it. However, once I made the decision to help them create a card I got started on creating a simplistic card. I settled on a navy blue, red and white colour scheme with a wood grain stamp to make it more male orientated. Both year four teachers were happy with what I put together so I got started gathering the supplies I'd need.

After talking to my son's teacher, she advised me I'd be able to save time wasting if I cut and taped up everything first prior to coming into the classroom. I took three weeks to cut, score and stamp all 600 pieces that I needed to create the card. Early on I worried that I'd be sitting up the night before madly trying to finish things off so I could teach the kids. This time my pre-planning played off as I had everything bagged up and packed away 20 hours before I needed them.


During my time up in front of the kids I found it difficult with the amount of noise that the kids were making but with the help of my sons teacher the kids were soon under control. The best thing about making the cards with the kids was that I was able to help them when they got stuck but overall they created a card for their Father's that was unique to the card that was been made next to them.


I thought I'd share some photo's with you of the different cards that the kids made and some pictures of creating their envelopes. I enjoyed the 90 minutes that I spent in the classroom and at the end of the class everyone had finished making their card and envelope so this saved the kids having to finish the cards at home.





I had enough supplies left over that I was able to give another kit to a student because she had two father's and I also made another two cards. One for my father in-law and the other for my dad (sorry Dad it'll be in the mail sometime this week). All up each card costs $0.80 which wasn't bad and it was way cheaper than a store bought card.


The best thing about been in the classroom was I got to watch my son make his card and halfway through he called me over and gave my a quick kiss. Not bad for a boy who's going to be turning ten soon. I could see how proud he was to have me in the classroom, it's a pity that I've had to put off helping out in the classroom during the last five years. I know that I'm going to be making more of an effort to help out in the classroom next year.

Hope all the Dad's had a great day last Sunday and that you got to tell you're father how grateful to have him in your life. I think that I'll do this again next year with my children because they had fun and it'll be so much easier doing four cards compared to 50 cards. Do you make cards and if not have you ever thought about doing it?


Friday, 29 August 2014

Yoga Party Decorations

Earlier this week I showed you the quick and inexpensive birthday invitations that I made earlier this month for my daughter's Yoga Party/ You can find the instructions here.  So today I'm going to show you the other things that I made for the party. For months I'd listened to Mackenna talk about what she wanted for her party and all she really wanted was the girls to come and fun with her while they did some yoga, played in the playground and eat some party food. So I tried to make the decorations, cake and favours reflect the playful, happy and chilled theme that she wanted.

I decided a minimalistic approach would work well for her party as it would allow her to spend time playing, laughing and eating which meant that I could also interact with the other parents. We had planned on doing a few different pink and purple decorations, however the park we used can get really busy so the few things I'd purchased from the discount store didn't get used due to it been really windy. 

When we arrived the first thing I did was cover two tables with coloured plastic table clothes because the tables never get cleaned. I also didn't want to have any of the kids get sick because they'd touched the dirty tables. Luckily I'd bought a roll of stick tape with me so when the wind started blowing the table clothes off, I was able to wrap the table like a present and this ensured that everything stayed in place. 

Yoga Party

As you can see from the picture above I kept the food quite healthy to work in with the yoga theme. The first thing that I made for the girls to tie in with the birthday invitations were water bottle labels. I made the labels in PicMonkey and then I printed them off at the local copy shop. After cutting them to size (I used the same measurements as the water bottle labels) I used a felt pen to colour-in the yoga ladies outfit, I then used clear contact to cover each label before attaching it to the bottle.

Yoga Party

Yoga Party

Mackenna had requested cupcakes for her birthday so I made her red velvet ones with chocolate icing just for something different. I made the Too easy chocolate cake from my thermomix Everyday Cookbook with a few changes to suit our party. Mackenna had picked out some cute purple polka dot cupcake cases so I made some cute cupcake toppers that would tie the theme together with the yoga. I used the same elements I'd used for the party invitations and the drink bottle labels. Each child was given the coloured cupcake topper that matched their invitation and water bottle.

Yoga Party

The last thing that I made were the gift bags that we gave to each girl when they were leaving. Usually these bags are filled with sugary treats and toys that don't last very long. I thought that because Mackenna had a Princess theme for her Yoga class, I decided to include lots of princess things as well as a few stationery items.

Yoga Party

Yoga Party

I'm glad that I put all my effort into making these few things for Mackenna's birthday party. At the end of the party every little girl came up to me and thanked me for their water bottles and gift bags. I'm so glad that I went with the colour theme mixed in with the princesses because I think that was something the girls weren't expecting. Overall, it was a great party and I got to talk to a few mums and put a mum to a child's name. I also kept costs down with all the decorations and food. This meant we could take Mackenna out for a special dinner on her birthday which is something we've never done before.


Monday, 25 August 2014

Book Week 2014

Every year most Australian schools have a special 'Book Week' celebration that encourage the kids to read more books and fostering a reading relationship. The children are asked to bring a book that goes with their costume. Every year I leave organising a costume to the last minute so my son ends up wearing his everyday clothes and he goes as his favourite author. This year I was determined to be better organised as I now have two costumes to come up with. If I get it right this year then next year will be a breeze especially with three kids at school. 

The good thing about this years Book Week is that my son already knew what it was he wanted to go as and it wasn't an author. The bad news was I didn't have anything he needed to create his costume so I went off to the thrift shop to see what they had. I was really lucky to find an army t-shirt and army cargo pants for nine dollars. This was a little more than I wanted to pay but he would be more comfortable wearing a cotton outfit than the cheap nylon dress up outfit the local shop was selling for ten dollars. With a few extra accessories the entire outfit has cost me fifteen dollars but he's so excited to be going as a army private that it's money well spent.

Australian Army

My daughter started Prep this year so her costume requirements are different. The class had a theme so each Prep class was asked to come as a character from a fairytale. Many of the girls chose to come as a princess (Frozen was a popular choice). The boys had the opportunity to come as fairytale character, our class had more superheroes represented than Prince Charming. With this in mind I jumped on Pinterest to see what I could find for my daughter. We were thinking of dressing up as a fairy but we thought this fairy costume would be very different from all the other fairy costumes that might be worn on the day.

I found these instructions at Lilliedale for her Book Fairy Costume and the best thing was she provided detailed instructions that helped when I put the costume together. The best part about this costume was that all I needed to purchase were a few second hand children's storybooks, ribbon and a few glue sticks which cost me less than eight dollars. 

I made a few changes to the wings so that they looked more fairy like and less like the pages were falling out of the book. I didn't reinforce the book with wire but I did use two books to stabilise it so that it stayed in place. I also used a drill bit to make the hole as I didn't have anything else that would make a hole big enough so that the ribbon would thread through to tie around her arms.

Book Fairy
1. Remove pages from book and glue to book.
2. Glue both books together making sure the cover is on display.
3. Drill through both books.
4. Insert ribbon so that it can be tied off.
The outfit was a great success, with a heap of parents stopping to comment on the costume and asking how I made it. The only negative aspect to the outfit was that it was impossible to sit in the car while wearing it. I ended up having to place it on the front seat and dress her at school. She loved wearing it and she didn't complain once. However with the weather being questionable the school cancelled the parade and they took the children into the school hall. Each year level had to sit down prior to been called up on stage, they showed off their costumes and then they returned to sitting down on the floor. As you can imagine she didn't have a big area to sit so the skirt was compromised. 

Book Fairy

Although she had to sit down for the best part of ninety minutes. She did a good job looking after it, only a few cones came away from the ribbon. I'd bought my glue gun with me to school in case anything like this happened so I was able to fix it quickly without it causing any problems.

Book Fairy

From the look on her face she had a great day and after the class pictures were taken I took her costume home with me. Having her wear it for the entire day would have resulted in her not being able to play and the costume would have gotten in the way. When I picked her up from school she was still wearing her crown and she told me that the librarian had come and talked to her at lunchtime. Apparently the librarian had never seen anyone like it in all the years she'd been working. Overall, it was a great costume and she looked beautiful.


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Colourful Tulle Tutu

We have a heap of events coming up in the next few weeks at Kindergarten and school which require me to create outfits for the kids to wear. The first event we have is the Kindy Disco. Some of the lessons they've been doing is learning about patterns so the teachers have asked the kids to wear a patterned outfit. After looking through her wardrobe I soon discovered that she would be wearing solid colours so I decided to make her a skirt.

After talking with Viveca I soon realised that she didn't want an A-line skirt she wanted a tulle skirt so that she could look like a ballerina when she went to the disco. So I took her to Spotlight as I had a 30% off discount voucher which I was able to use store wide. Viveca decided that she wanted her skirt to have her four favourite colours in it so she picked out a glittery yellow, hot pink, red and a glittery purple. These four colours formed the pattern of her skirt. We also decided on a hot pink ribbon to use so that she could have a pretty bow on the front of her skirt. Originally, I was going to sew together a piece of elastic to make the waistband but after searching Youtube I decided to use the ribbon that I'd bought as the waistband instead.

After watching the video by NashvilleWraps I knew that I had the wrong sized ribbon but I thought I'd give it a try before rushing off to the shops again for more ribbon. I'd purchased one metre of soft tulle (1.09 yards) in each colour so in total I had 4 metres (4.37 yards). Using a rotary cutter I cut my pieces three inches wide as six inches didn't provide enough pieces of tulle to attach to the ribbon. I also used every part of the tulle so if I had two inches left over I used those to fill in spaces that needed it. I'm really happy with it and for $27.00 it might not be cheap but it's original.

Tulle Skirt

Overall I'm really happy with our Tulle Tutu and Viveca loves it. She's going to wear black leggings so that the tulle doesn't itch her in any way shape or form as I'd hate to be halfway through the night and she's wanting to remove the skirt. She's already put her outfit together and she's counting down the the day's until the Kindy Disco. (Sorry about the picture but after been out all day the light wasn't working for me.)

Tulle Skirt

I'm thinking that I might make a couple more for Christmas Day as I can picture both my girls wearing pretty glittery red and green tulle tutu's on Christmas morning. So tell me what you think does she look like she's ready to rock and roll on Friday night?