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.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas wishes

I have had to drop my 12 Days of Christmas series that I was doing as things in our household have become quiet difficult. Mr Opoes went Interstate last week and with every child at home because of the school holidays for the next 6 weeks I have lost on my plate. Christmas seems to have crept up on us and there is a heap of stuff to do around our house.

The other stuff that's happening is that we are having the landscaper start on our yard so I'm going to have to take the children out every day due to the fact that we are going to have a heap of machinery and some people working on part one of the job. Therefore, I'm not able to blog and still look after the children as usual.

It's because of these reasons that I've decided to take six weeks off so that I can care for my family. So I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I'm looking forward to sharing more of the crazy , more recipes, hopefully some craft projects that I actually start and finish, that I get to cross off a few of the decor projects that I have in mind and that I finally get this house decluttered so that all our lives are more creative, loving, happy and fulfilling.

So I will see you back here at the end of January. Till then stay safe, enjoy your holiday's and keep your family close. Please pray for the families who were effected by last weeks incident and remember them this Christmas.



Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Sequined Baubles and Flower Bauble.

Welcome to the 12.12.12 and our fourth day in the 12 Days of Christmas. Today I want to show you some ornaments that I made with the children. I started off by asking the girls what colours they wanted to see on the Christmas tree and then we went to the shops to see what types of ornaments we could purchase. During our talk the girls had gotten really excited about having lots of balls (baubles) on the tree so I started looking for decorative baubles that were either purple, silver, glittery, shiny or just plain beautiful.

It was during this trip to the shops that I realised that I wanted to make a few baubles with the children so that we had something handmade on the Christmas tree. I went off to the craft store and I purchased a few supplies as I'd used up all my polystyrene balls last year, I also needed purple and silver sequins and last but not least I needed sewing pins and lots of them. When we arrived home I looked through some of my scrapbooking embellishments to see if there was anything else I might be able to use.

While Quinlan and Viveca were down for a sleep I sat down with Mackenna so that we could have a play with our craft items. The idea was to make a few baubles in both silver and purple for the Christmas tree BUT when crafting with Mackenna you should know that everything needs to be purple because according to her it's the best colour in the world.
As there are a heap of tutorials available, so I'll show you in pictures how I went about constructing both of the baubles.

I wanted to have the purple showing through the little
flowers. I used both purple and silver sequins for this bauble.

We thought that putting the purple over the silver would
make the bauble look less like a DISCO BALL.
So these are the two baubles that Mackenna and I made. I must admit it took a lot longer than what I'd planned and Mackenna didn't like pushing the pins into the ball. So I had Mackenna put the flowers and sequins on each pin and stock pill them so that I could place the sequins and flowers in the correct position. At the end of the day we both loved the time we spent together and the pretty decorations that we made for the tree.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Try Something New Tuesday # 7

Christmas Balls
Welcome to another instalment of Try Something New Tuesday. Last Friday I started my 12 days of Christmas series and because I didn't want you guys to miss out I've decided to share a Christmas classic with you. So today's recipe is a variation on one of my all time favourite Christmas foods Rum Balls. Now the variations I made are - I didn't use rum, no condensed milk and instead of using only coconut I also used Christmas sprinkles. The best thing about this is that you can give these away as gifts and you can also taste them as you make them. Whats even better you can always do a double batch, pop them in a air tight container and put them in your freezer to use when unexpected guests drop by.

Christmas Balls
450g of Madeira cake
1 cup soft icing sugar, sifted
½ cup cocoa
orange juice - enough to make a moist mixture (can use rum)
coconut, sprinkles etc to coat
1. Slice of the brown edges of your cake and then crumble the entire cake into a large bowl. You can let the kids eat the brown bits if they are hanging around.
2. Sift in cocoa and icing sugar, stirring well so that its evenly distributed. Break up any piece of cake that maybe too large. 
3. Pour in the orange juice until you have the right consistency and your mixture is coming together. Mix well.
4. Roll tablespoon full of mixture into balls and coat in your desired covering. Don't worry if you can see little bits of cake as it all comes together and they turn chocolately over time.
5. Keep them in an air tight container and freeze. You could also place them in a decorative jar and keep in the refrigerator until needed.
6. Enjoy.

The other great thing about this recipe is that with a couple of simple changes you can make them gluten free (just use a gluten free butter cake) or you could add honey comb, chocolate bar or crushed up candy canes to introduce a little surprise that the recipient won't be expecting. I hope that you enjoy them as much as my kids do.

Gluten Free Christmas Balls just for Mummy.

So with 14 sleeps left until Christmas these simply Christmas Balls are quick, tasty and really yummy to eat. See you back here tomorrow for day four of our 12 Days of Christmas series. I'm going to be sharing another Christmas ornament that you could incorporate into your Christmas Décor. Thanks for stopping by, I hope that you have an enjoyable day.


Monday, 10 December 2012

Charity starts at home... teaching your children to give.

With only 15 sleeps until Christmas Day I am spending time with the children trying to get them to see past the monetary and commercial aspects of Christmas Day and instead look more at the CHARITABLE side of Christmas. This year I'm going to have the children help me with my annual charitable event and maybe as the kids get older they will want to make this their 'family tradition'. For the last 18 years I have been participating in the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal and this year The Salvation Army and Kmart are celebrating their 25 year anniversary.
I started my 'tradition of giving' the year after I'd finished high school way back in December 1994, I was working casually that a supermarket and I knew as soon as I saw the tree that I wanted to be part of The Salvation Army's event. Every year I've participated I have looked at what I can afford and I've bought gifts according to my budget. It's amazing the feelings that you experience during the whole process of looking for a present, wrapping the gift, placing your tag on the gift and then putting it under the Christmas Tree at your local store.
So this year I am taking the children to the shops, they will have a $15 budget and we are going to buy a gift for a child or adult of their choosing. As the shopping centres are busy and school officially finishes on Friday I am aiming to take Caelan and Viveca to the shops for a few hours on Friday while Mackenna finishes Kindy. Then on Saturday I will take Mackenna and Quinlan to our local shopping centre so that they can pick their gifts.
This then allows me the weekend to wrap the presents before sending them off with daddy on Monday so that he can place the presents under the Wishing Tree at Chermside. I have talked to the children about why we are doing this, explaining to them that there are people who are less fortunate than ourselves and I've answered their questions. I'm pretty sure that Caelan and Mackenna understand what we are doing and why BUT I'm sure that Viveca may protest somewhat when she realises that the pretty doll she has just paid for isn't for her.
So do you do anything charitable at Christmas? Do you do other things during the year? Leave a comment and share with me the things you and your family do to help others at Christmas time. I'll be back tomorrow with more Christmas cheer and a great recipe!

Friday, 7 December 2012

12 Days of Christmas

There are 18 sleeps until Christmas Day and like so many, my children are super excited that they will be receiving lots of presents. It's easy to see why we have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas, we spend hours shopping for gifts, preparing for celebrations leading up to the B I G day, planning the meal and ripping into the presents under the tree at lightning speed.

This year I want my children to see Christmas as a time of sharing and traditions - sharing gifts of course, but also sharing stories, laughter, good times as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus and with Quinlan been older I want a tradition that will be special to us. The simple things like decorating the tree and helping prepare for visiting family and friends are wonderful opportunities to remind ourselves and our children how important it is to bond with others. But Christmas shouldn't be the only time when we pause to celebrate Jesus and everything that he's done for us. I want the children to see past the presents, food and Christmas lights, I want them to understand the meaning behind the story, to realise the importance of the occasion while also taking the time to think about other people who are less fortunate than us.

So during the next 12 day's I'm going to create a few activities that help me and the kids share time together. We will make a few decorations together, create some Christmas inspired food and look at a few kid friendly religious activities. This year I'm going to have the children help me with my annual charitable event and maybe as the kids get older they will want to make this their 'family tradition'.
Caelan and Mackenna have noticed in the last few weeks that many of the Christmas pictures, cards and movies always have snow and Christmas trees that are covered in white stuff. Living in sunny Queensland there is no hope of experiencing a white Christmas so I set about trying to explain to them why some people have snow while other people have a hot Christmas.

I took Caelan out to Lincraft and we purchased a few items so that we could create a snow covered tree. Caelan lost interest in this little project really quickly so I ended up making most of the tree myself BUT I did get to explain the difference between our Christmas and a white Christmas. This project was easy and quick to complete. While in Lincraft,  I found some decorative elastic ribbon which I thought would be perfect for my little tree.

Because I used a polystyrene cone I wasn't able to use my hot glue gun so I just cut lengths of the elastic and I went about pinning it to the cone. I placed a purple glass bead on a sewing pin and then I inserted it through the elastic and into the cone, I placed a glass pin at the front and one at the back. As I worked my way around the cone I'd add a sewing pin in places that I thought needed it.

The elastic did slip but it's easily fixed so I just left it as it was. I folded some purple ribbon so that it looked like a star and I pinned it in place on top of the tree. I was really happy with the way it turned out and at night with the lights on it gives off a pearl shimmer effect.

The kids may have lost the message of what I was trying to create with them but there was a lesson behind our tree. My mother loved my tree so much that I gave it to her to use on her Christmas shelf and I then had the opportunity to talk to the children about how we shared the tree with Oomie (my mum's name for herself instead of Grandma). See you on Monday when I'll be trying out a kid's activity, fingers crossed that I can hold their interest. Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Christmas Ornament Exchange

Early last month I put my name down to participated in Amy from One Artsy Mama's Ornament Exchange and because I live in Australia I knew that I had to post my ornament off before the 30th November due to the fact that it wouldn't arrive in time for Christmas. So I waited for Amy's email to arrive, I was like a kid in a candy store, I couldn't wait to find out who I was making an ornament for.
Amy contacted me with my partners details, the lovely Jessica from Cox's Corner was going to be my partner. Like me Jessica likes traditional ornaments and she also like traditional coloured ones. Jessica also has a girly, crafty and elegant side to her so I was fairly confident that making something for her was going to be simple. Unfortunately, when purchasing my craft supplies I wasn't able to follow a traditional colour scheme to the full extent however I went with a red and silver theme as I had difficulty finding gold sewing pins. It's always a little difficult finding craft supplies because we don't have the huge range of items over here and if we won't to buy overseas then we have to content with the price, postage and the wait for the items to arrive.
So taking the time I had available to make my ornament I decided to make Jessica two slightly different red baubles for her Christmas tree. I don't have any photo's of me making each bauble because I worked on them during the evening after the kids had gone to bed or during nap time and I either forgot to take pictures or the lighting would have been too bad to show you what I was doing. I am hoping that both my baubles fit in with the ornaments that Jessica already uses to decorate her Christmas tree.
The first bauble I made Jessica was a sequin bauble. To make this I used a polystyrene ball, sewing pins, a silver ribbon, large and small red sequins. All you do is put your pin through the hole in the small sequin and then thread it through the large sequin, this will help keep the large sequin in place. Then all you do is pin them into your polystyrene ball making sure to cover all the white of the ball. When you have a small section left (just enough for one sequin) put your sequins together, then push it through the ribbon and push it into the polystyrene ball.

The second bauble is a mixture of sequins and ribbon. I got the idea of creating a shape with the ribbon really late one night and I spent hours working on it. I had to play around with it and I would have to say that I probably spent more time working on that small quarter section of ribbon that what it took me to thread the sequins and position them in the correct place.

The silver section is a mixture of small and large sequins 
with clear beads to hold them into place.

So I'm hoping that Jessica gets my two baubles in time for Christmas and I hope that she likes them. I'm a little nervous that they will be too big, too small, the wrong shade of red, too silver......... I can't wait to hear what Jessica thinks of my effort and to see if it goes well with her decorations.
So what do you think? I'm really happy with the way they turned out and I'm thinking that I might make a few silver and purple sequined baubles for our Christmas tree. I hope Jessica enjoys them and she gets them in time....


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Using a Circle Skirt to creat a Teacher's Gift.

Caelan had three weeks of school left when I started this project and as you can imagine there are so many end of year activities going on it can become difficult staying on top of things. So with three weeks remaining I have been thinking about what he can give his Year 2 teacher as a end of year/Christmas gift. She is due to have her first child in January so something for the baby was essential.  As she's expecting a little girl, I knew that I wanted to make a few of Dana's Circle Skirt's to help form part of the gift that Caelan would present to Mrs Volf during the last week of school.
Having found a few images of finished circle skirt's I knew I wanted to use fabrics that weren't your typical baby prints, that were both pastel and bright colours, and I wanted to refashion at least one of the baby skirt's from clothes that I no longer wore. As the gift was something Caelan was presenting to his teacher I involved him right from the start, he helped pick out all the fabric chosen for the skirt's. I then went off to Lincraft and Kmart to purchase the elastic as I didn't have any in my large sewing box. While at Lincraft I found some more pretty cotton fabric and I grabbed this to add to the pile. I spent a total of $17.00 for the elastic and fabric which allowed me to make at least 6 skirts at a cost of $2.83 per skirt. Now as I'm also giving her a few unused items of clothing that I received when I had my girls I decided to make at least three skirts. So not a bad gift for $8.50, I know of other mother's who will spend at least $20 per teacher.
I haven't provided you with a step by step tutorial because Dana did a really good job and her instructions are easy and the pictures will help you make your skirt. So if you go HERE you'll find the instructions for the circle skirt (adult and girls sizing) and if you want to make the double circle skirt (pattern for the baby size) you'll find it HERE.

Well school finished on Friday 30th November and as you can imagine with everything going on I ran out of time to make the three circle skirts and secondly I didn't take any photo's of the ONE I actually made. I was a little unhappy with the one I did make but I did decide to give it to Mrs Volf especially as we aren't planning on having any more babies. Due to things moving quicker than I planned I had to quickly come up with another idea for Caelan to give his teacher and I knew that he would want something big, baby related and something handmade.

My circle shirt was difficult to make while the
kid's were running around.
The handmade element was going to be a little tricky as I'd only made the one skirt and to just give that on its own would look a little sad. Five years ago while I'd been pregnant with Mackenna I'd been invited to a baby shower and I'd made a Nappy Cake for the expectation mother. Although it was fun to do, the cost of the gift wasn't cheap, it took hours to do and in the end she was given a heap of newborn baby nappies.

When I'd been de-cluttering the house I had come across a heap of babies and toddlers clothing that we'd been given or that Viveca (Mrs Volf is due around the same time Viveca was born) had worn once or twice. I thought that it would be a good way to give Mrs Volf a mixture of new and used things because lets face it there are only so many things a new born actually needs.

I assembled all the pieces that I was going to give her, making suit to match two piece suits up so that they were together before I folded and rolled everything into small cylinder shapes. I then set about wrapping an elastic band or a bit of curling ribbon around each item so that they would stay secure once assembled. I had two baby wraps that I used to secure everything into place and then I attached a piece of ribbon around each layer.

The bottom layer was the biggest in width and this formed the first tier to my cake. To this I attached a pram toy to jazz up the appearance and to give it a little bit of character. The second tier was filled with onesie, t-shirts and other size 0000 clothing. Again I wrapped a muslin baby wrap around it and then I tired a long piece of grey ribbon (this ribbon had come off one of my wedding presents back in 2004) around its base before securing it with a lovely bow.

The last thing that I did was place my cute little pink circle skirt over a toy crab and attach a ribbon to its claw. I then sat each tier on top of the other and before I knew it I was finished. It only took me an hour to put together which was great considering I only had 95 minutes before I had to drop our gift off at school.

When I arrived at school I handed Caelan his blank Christmas card so that he could write on it for Mrs Volf. I waited for quiet a while to get a photograph that I could share but I was happy with the end result. The children guided Mrs Volf who had her eyes closed over to the present while Caelan and a few other student's stood in front of. Caelan then told the children to move aside and he told Mrs Volf that she could open her eyes. Her reaction was priceless. Caelan felt so special and when I picked him up an hour later he couldn't stop talking about how his present looked like a cake and it was so big.

Mrs Volf's expression was priceless and Caelan's present grabbed the entire classes attention.

So what do you think? I think that I did really well considering that my Clothing Cake was a last minute gift. I think I worked well under pressure and I know that Caelan was extremely happy with his mother's efforts and he was proud to present Mrs Volf with such a creative present. I'm glad that she's been the after school art teacher for the last few years because adding the few pieces of ribbon, the crab, card and colours made this gift perfect. I'm hoping that none of the kid's teacher's get pregnant in the future as each one of the kid's might expect something like this Clothing Cake to arrive at school.


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Try Something New Tuesday # 6

Christmas Shortbread Baubles.

Welcome to another Try Something New Tuesday and with Christmas only been three weeks away I've been busy making cookies for the kid's to hand out with their Christmas cards instead of doing candy canes like all the other children. For Caelan's class I decided to make shortbread shaped baubles which I then decorate using Christmas sprinkles. I used a recipe from my old high school textbook 'day to day cookery' and I love this recipe because its easy, the kids love it and I think that this one is deliciously buttery and if you use festive cookie cutters you can create a merry Christmas with every bit.

So I hope that you have as much success with this recipe as I've had. Now in the past I've made a gluten free version at Christmas because otherwise I wouldn't be able to eat them, to do this I replace the required plain flour with my gluten free all-purpose plain flour and I'm still able to create beautiful shortbread without having to modify the recipe too drastically. So without further ado here is my go to recipe.

100g butter, softened
50g or ¼ cup caster sugar
200g or 1¼ cups plain flour

1. Pre-heat oven to 150°C and lightly grease a baking tray.
2. Cream butter and sugar together until it looks white.
3. Add sifted flour to form a stiff dough.
4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead until its ready to roll out.
5. Roll the dough on the floured surface to approximately 2cm thickness. Using a cookie cutter cut out your cookies, if it becomes a little difficult to cut the shapes flour your cookie cutter for better cuts.
6. Place onto your greased baking tray, leaving a 5 cm space between each cookie.
7. Bake in a slow oven for approximately 40 - 45 minutes or until they are a faint golden colour.
8. Allow the cookies to cool completely before you decorate them.

How I decorated my Christmas Shortbread Baubles:
I used an icing pen and Christmas coloured sprinkles to decorate. I placed lines across the biscuit to create a wave effect and to create different sections just like you might see on a Christmas bauble.

 Next I placed the Christmas coloured sprinkles in a bowl so that I could gain easy access.

Once you have the sprinkles were you want them tap the biscuit lightly so that the excess sprinkles fall off. Place the decorated biscuit bake onto the cooling tray to allow the icing to harden. Alternatively you can sprinkle caster sugar or icing sugar over the top of each cookie. If using caster sugar lightly dampen the top of the cookie and then dust it with the caster sugar.

As these lovely little cookies were been given as gifts I placed each cookie into a small plastic bag and then I wrapped a small piece of curling ribbon around the bag, tired a bow and set it aside for Caelan to hand out the following day. After making and decorating your shortbread, store them in an air tight container and place them in a cool area of your cupboard or pantry. I hope that you have fun making, decorating and eating these deliciously buttery shortbread cookies.



Monday, 3 December 2012

I'm over at Estylo Jewelry today.

I have some exciting news, my little kid's necklaces and bracelets are been featured on Sandra's blog Estylo Jewelry. Sandra has a series running that will show you interesting DIY crafts that you can do to create some fabulous handmade gifts for your loved ones, neighbours, friends, the kid's teacher and the list goes on. So drop in to Estylo Jewelry, have a look at her beautiful jewelry and show Sandra some love.
I'd like to thank Sandra for featuring my necklaces and bracelets that I made with my daughters a few months ago. The girls still play with them and I'm pleased to say that the elastic hasn't broken or caused any problems. Both Mackenna and Viveca love wearing their special pieces to church and Mackenna loves to tell everyone that she made the necklace with her mummy.
When I started blogging I never thought that someone would invite me to share a project on their blog so I am feeling very happy today. I will be back tomorrow with another fabulous recipe in the Try Something New Tuesday series and this one will be great to use during the Christmas holiday season. See you tomorrow.

Christmas Reindeer Wine Bottle

Last week I wanted to share with you what Mr Opoes took along to his Christmas Party for his Secret Santa gift but life got in the way and before I knew it the weekend had arrived. After questioning all of Libby's friends Mr Opoes decided to purchase a bottle of white wine for her however when he bought it home I realised that we were going to have to dress it up a little because the bottle was a little boring.
I'd previously seen a decorating idea for Reindeer Root Beer's at The Organised Housewife and it was then that I got the idea of decorating the wine bottle so that it would look more Christmasy. Due to not having any of the items required I went in search of the items and it was at this time that I came to the realisation that this little craft project was going to cost a bit of money $10 in total and I was going to have a heap of pom poms, goggley eyes and pipe cleaners left over. The final cost would have been $0.15 however as it meant having more craft items and know were to house them I opted for another option. While I was visiting Riot Art I came across a felt reindeer for $0.99 and because it was larger I went with this option instead.
All I needed to do was glue the felt pieces and goggley eyes with my hot glue gun and I had my reindeer. My mother was visiting for a few days so I was able to have help me put it together and attach it to the bottle so that it would arrive safely at the Office Christmas Party the following day.
The following photo's show you the steps I took to make the Christmas Reindeer Wine Bottle that Mr Opoes took along to his Office Christmas Party.
STEP ONE -  position the smaller pieces of felt and eyes onto the large felt piece so that it resembles a reindeer, this will allow you to see if you are happy with the look of your reindeer.

STEP TWO - start by gluing the ear's in place first, do the mouth and follow this with doing the nose next. I then glued the eyes making sure that you have placed them so that they're in portion to the rest of the facial pieces.

STEP THREE - lastly glue the rosy checks onto the face. It will be a good idea to focus on were these will be positioned so that they aren't too close to the other facial features as you won't want to overload the reindeer.

STEP FOUR - the last thing to do with the reindeer's face is to glue on it's antlers. Place them on an angle so that they aren't exactly perfect.

STEP FIVE - I glued two lengths of red ribbon onto the back of the reindeer so that I'd be able to tie him to the neck of the bottle. I glued about 5 centimetres of the ribbon to the back of the reindeer.
STEP SIX - attach to the bottle making sure that if you are going to place him into a bag he is sitting high enough so that his antlers don't get caught on anything.
So here is what Mr Opoes took as his Secret Santa gift and we were able to keep the gift under the $10 mark. Here is the break down of what we spent:
bottle of wine $9.95
Reindeer Kit $0.99
Wine Bag $1.98
So I was really happy that we managed to purchase the Secret Santa gift and wrap it for a grand total of $12.92 and better still Libby was happy with her gift and she liked the Reindeer decoration on top of her bottle. So what did Mr Opoes receive from his Secret Santa a large box of Cadbury Favourites so he's happy to eat his assortment of mini chocolate bars every night.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Secret Santa Gifts under $10.00

You know Christmas is right around the corner when your husband comes home, tells you that he needs a Secret Santa gift on Thursday for his staff Office Christmas Party. I asked Mr Opoes about his person and it turns out that he doesn't really know much about 'Libby'. So I thought I'd search the Internet to see what gifts we could find for $10.00 to take along to the Office Christmas Party.

Give a medical gift from UNICEF found here
The Kvill Frame from IKEA
Cookie recipe found here

The POLARVIDE throw from IKEA

The FINLIR frame found here

A bottle of wine try to get something
they will like.

Everyone loves chocolates, try getting
something the person will like.
Some of their favourite tea
could be a good gift.

A special coffee cup filled with candy.
Mr Fothergills Grow Pot is only $9.42
from Bunnings

So there are ten gift idea's that I came up with for Mr Opoes Secret Santa. I'm glad he received Libby to buy for because between the two of us we were able to norrow it down to the one gift that we hope she'll like. I will share pictures tomorrow of what Mr Opoes gave her and how we wrapped it. I'm really happy that Mr Opoes didn't have to buy for a male as I would have just left it up to him to get the gift. So I hope that these ten gifts under $10.00 help you when you're thinking of idea's for your office Secret Santa or Kris Kringle gift.