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, 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.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Try Something New Tuesday # 5

Cheesy Quinoa Cakes.
Welcome to Try Something New Tuesday, in previous posts I've mentioned that I've wanted to have the children try new foods and flavours. So with this in mind I made the decision to have the whole family try Quinoa pronounced 'keen-wa' as I'd heard lots of positive information about it and because it's also gluten free so mummy can also eat it without having to make any major adjustments or substituting gluten free flour in the place of flour.
I've decided on making the Cheesy Quinoa Cakes which I found over at Spoon Fork Bacon because I thought that I could pass the cakes off as burger patties and this would mean the children would be more likely to try them. I'm looking forward to trying Quinoa. I've recently seen flavoured Quinoa on sale at our local supermarket which I wouldn't mind trying but for this first time recipe I'm going to use the plain variety.
The Quinoa cakes look like fritters.

Cheesy Quinoa Cakes
2 cups cooked quinoa
2/3 cup grated fontina cheese
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons ground pepper
2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place all ingredients, except for the oil, into a mixing bowl and stir together until well combined. Season with salt and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes.
2. Pour oil into a large saute pan and place over a medium heat.
3. Form ¼ cup patties with the quinoa mixture and place in the heated pan. You will have to cook these in batches.
4. Cook the quinoa cakes for about 5 minutes on each side. Set aside on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining patties.
5. Season with salt and pepper.

I followed the directions correctly and I have to say that my Cheesy Quinoa Cakes looked nothing like the picture above. I rested them on paper towels for 20 minutes and they were still oily and pale looking. The mixture was really wet and I was at a lose to know how to fix the problem. If I used more flour I was concerned that they would become doughy and if I added more quinoa I was worried that because it hadn't been cooked it maybe crunchy. I made a total of 4 cakes, they looked wet and not very appealing so I ditched them and we ordered a pizza. Quinlan was extremely tired and he wouldn't wait for the pizza so I cut up one of the cheesy quinoa cakes and I feed it to him. He loved it so much that he ended up eating all four of the quinoa cakes.

My sad Cheesy Quinoa Cakes.
Although my Cheesy Quinoa Cakes weren't successful I'm still interested in giving Quinoa a try some maybe with a little more research and practise I'll have more success in the future. Next week I'm going to try something Christmasy so that we can start getting ready for the Christmas Holiday Season. See you next week....

Monday, 26 November 2012

Making Christmas ornaments with the kid's.

Back in September while walking through one of the big department stores at our local shopping centre I noticed that they had already put up the Christmas Tree's and all the ornaments, tinsel and wrapping paper was out on display. I couldn't believe that they had most of there Christmas stuff out already, Mackenna and Viveca looked at the tree's and they both agreed that the PURPLE tree was the prettiest. It was then that I got the idea of decorating our Christmas tree in a purple and silver theme.

I purchased a few ornaments and put them away. Then a few weeks ago Mackenna asked if she could do something crafty for our Christmas tree. I remembered that when Mackenna was a baby I'd visited a little shop on Brisbane's northside that makes has bisque figures and in October they introduce there Christmas. So I made a booking at Tea and bisque-it for Mackenna's special mummy and daddy time, I then changed our booking as I decided to make it a children's crafting session. We asked the kid's second cousin, Paige to join us and my children had a heap of fun. I'm so glad Paige joined us because when my girls had finished Paige and Caelan got to continue decorating and painting their pieces.
I painted this little bauble unfortunately the colours
 weren't what I wanted BUT it's still pretty.

Although Viveca enjoyed the activity I thought Viveca was a little too young as she her attention span was only good for about thirty to forty minutes. She did finish her little star ornament and we  had fun working on it together. Daddy came to take her and Mackenna for a walk while Caelan, Paige and I finished off the Christmas ornaments that we were painting.
                                                              These are the star's that Mackenna and Viveca created they did a great job.
I thought I'd show you a few pictures of Paige painting her pieces before they were fired. Once you have finished painting your piece, Jenny allows it to dry for 24 hours before she applies the glaze. Each piece is then taken to her home and she fires them in her kiln. A week after painting your project its ready to be collected and taken home. The kid's were so excited that on Tuesday they all wanted to know how many more day's until their ornaments came home.
                                                                                             Paige's pieces before been fired in the kiln. 
This is what the Angle and Ginger bread man look like after they have been glazed and fired in the kiln.


The kids all enjoyed the activity and I had the fun of also getting some craft time in without having to do it quickly or late at night after the kid's had gone to bed. So this Christmas we are going to have our hand crafted ornaments hanging on the Christmas tree.

Caelan's Star before he finished it off.
Caelan created his own colour and I think it
turned out really well.

Our pieces ready to go off to be glazed and fired.
Making these ornaments was really good activity to do with all the kids (aged 2, 4, 7 and 9 years old), they all had fun creating their unique Christmas Tree Ornament. I'm thinking that if we are able to look after them over the years it would be good to give the ornament back to each child when they get married so that they can share them with their family. I think this would be a great idea especially if your children move overseas, it could become a family heirloom.
Caelan's little drummer boy turned out really well, he
spent a heap of time working on this.

We were able to create these 5 Christmas Tree Ornaments and an extra piece that I might be giving as a gift on Christmas Day. The total cost for this 2 hour activity for my three children and I was $58 which I thought was really good value for money. I will be coming back during the school holiday's especially it worked out to be $9.66 per child for the 2 hours that we were there. Overall, this was a great activity for the children and for our Christmas Tree.

Monday, 19 November 2012

De-Cluttering, Young House Love, Sickness and Another Failed Project.

Well I've been away for two weeks and I've really missed you guys. We've had a few things going on during these two weeks so I thought I'd share with you what we've been doing. I spent an entire week DE-CLUTTERING sections of our house so that I could create more room in our house. One thing I discovered during this time was that I have held onto so many things that I've wanted to use later but I don't think I'll ever find the time to get around to doing every project I've thought of. I set myself a goal for the week, I wanted to get the car into the garage so that we'd be protected when it rained. I didn't achieve my goal but I did get rid of quite a bit of stuff, I was able to set up a store area for school bags etc and I got Mackenna's bedroom furniture into her room. However, I still have a heap of things to get rid of and with the wild weather we've experienced in the last two days I really need to pull my finger out.
My book 'Young House Love: 243 ways to paint, craft, update and show your home some love' by Sherry and John Petersik arrived on Wednesday at my doorstep. I was so excited that I sat right down to have a quick read. The first project was something that I'd been thinking about for ages so I was really excited to get my remaining supplies so that I could finish off the project. I found wrapping paper that fitted with what I wanted and I also grabbed some more double sided tape so that I could stick everything down. Well after spending 6 hours trying to stick wrapping paper directly to the back of a billy bookcase I gave up. I was so frustrated that I ripped the wrapping paper off and this lead to removing some of the colour of the backing board. So now I'm going to try following John and Sherry's advice and I'll stick the wrapping paper to bits of cardboard or foam core. I was going to share picture BUT when the project doesn't work I'm going to keep it secret until I finally get this little project off the ground.
Now we have all been ill with the flu around hear and as usual I'm the last one to catch it. A mother's life is so exciting especially when you know that 5 other sick people will eventually make you sick. I will be returning later in the week due to the fact that I'm going through the worst of this dreaded flu and this phase lasts a few days. When I return I will share with you the Christmas ornament I made as part of the Christmas Ornament Exchange program I've signed up for.
So I am off to look after the kids while also trying not to spread my germs around again. Thanks for stopping by and I can't wait to show you what I've been up to while I've been sick.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Planning a Christmas Gift List.

The Christmas crowds at our local shopping centre.
It's beginning to look like Christmas, the shopping centres have been decorated for a month now, the number of people crowds at the shops has increased and finding a car park is getting difficult. So what is a girl to do? Get herself organised and start thinking about what gifts she's going to buy or make for the family and extended family. Now I'm not going to give you too many idea's as I have family members who read my little blog so I don't want them to find out what they are getting before the big day.
Like many families Mr Opoes and I have lots of people to buy for at Christmas, because of this we've tried hard to stick to a budget. I know that I should be purchasing gifts during the year so that we can spread the cost of Christmas over many months BUT unfortunately I never remember so the cost savings spending start in October. With four children I need to plan smartly, I make lists of what I'm going to buy, I add additional items to it just in case grandparents, aunties or uncles get stuck for ideas. This generally means that at the end of the year I'm not left with unwanted toys, clothing or nik nacs that the kids aren't interested in. If we do receive a toy the kid's don't want I'll re-gift it the following year while also getting something small to go along with it.
So how much do we spend on each child! Every family is different, your finances, available space, upcoming bills and day-to-day needs won't be the same as the family living next door to you. Mr Opoes and I try to spend around $60 on each child, we try to get them something big and then use the left over money to buy smaller items. However, this year Mr Opoes has suggested we purchase Caelan a gift that's priced around the $80 mark so we may increase the money a little for the other three e.g. $75 and then buy Caelan the big gift and give him a small book so that he doesn't get jealous of the others. Technically this increase our budget by $65 but it just means that I have to make savings in other places.
So here are a few idea's I've had so far.

It's funny that once you start to write out peoples names all those great gift idea's just fly out the door. I had loads of ideas and now I'm straggling to remember them so I hope in the next few day's I'll get my memory back so that I can start on the shopping. After I've accomplished all of the gifts I'll move onto what we'll be eating Christmas Day.

I hope you all have fun getting your gifts together. I'd love to know what presents you're thinking of giving loved ones. Are you going to buy them all or are you really crafty and are you going to make some beautiful handmade items.


Missing Post.

Just wanted to apologise for not having my regular Try Something New Tuesday feature yesterday. I had to have some dental work done and due to the timing I wasn't able to photograph my creation. I will recreate the recipe again so that I can share it with you all next Tuesday.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Cooking with boys.

During the school holiday's I had the opportunity to do some cooking with the kids and I can say that each of them enjoyed the time spent in the kitchen with mummy. I've never been one of those mother's who has encouraged her children to help out in the kitchen or to even do some baking with her. When Caelan was little, he'd occasionally go visit grandma while mummy would go to various appointments and during this time grandma would allow him to help her in the kitchen. Simple things like wash a piece of fruit, getting a spoon out of the drawer or just watching grandma cut up potatoes. He would love it and talk about it on the drive home.

I remember thinking that this was going to cause me such grief because he was going to want to get into the kitchen and help every night and this would cause dinner to be delayed, him going to bed late and a lot of mess. What I had failed to see was that Caelan's a helper, he enjoys doing things for other people or with other people. Now that he's 7 and we have a much larger kitchen he is often asking me if there is anything that he can do to help.

I've started letting him get his own breakfast in the morning and although he butchers the butter every day he is doing a great job. He has taught himself how to cut open his English muffin, defrost it in the microwave, prepare it with it's topping BUT most importantly he knows about safety. He'll ask his father or me to get the muffin out of the toaster because he knows it can be hot or get stuck and that having one of us do it is the correct thing to do.

So with this maturity I've decided to be more encouraging of him helping me do some baking, to try teaching him the importance of trying new foods and Mr Opoes has even suggested that the two of them make the evening meal occasionally on the weekend.

Healthy Lunch Box Caelan created at the
Queensland University of Technology Healthy Eating Clinic.

Caelan was the first in line to make a fruit smoothie.

Caelan put kiwi fruit, passionfruit, mixed berries, banana,
 and strawberries into his smoothie. Normally he'd only
eat the banana and strawberries. He was so happy to
be having his first ever smoothie at 7.

Caelan's Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Caelan starts Christmas holidays at the end of the month and with Mackenna going to kindy until the 14th December I'm going to spend some time with him in the kitchen. We might be able to cook up something for the evening meal or maybe create a special evening treat for everyone who eats all their dinner. Either way it will give Caelan and I the perfect opportunity while Viveca and Quinlan are having their morning sleeps to bake some yummy food and for him to master some more skills. Who knows I might even get breakfast in bed on Mother's Day. Can't wait to get into the kitchen with him and see how well he goes.

Friday, 2 November 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

With it been 52 sleeps until Christmas Day I've decided that this year I'm going to include a mixture of store bought and handmade Christmas ornaments. After a lengthy discussion with my girls we decided on having a purple and silver decorated Christmas Tree. Mackenna and Viveca are both excited especially as this is the first time they would have had the tree up with Christmas presents under it. Now Quinlan will be 14 months old at Christmas time so we are going to have to put the play pen around the tree and all the presents but I think it will be well worth it.
Here are my top 6 decorations that I'm planning on making and if there is enough time I'm going to try and make a number of each of them. I also thought that I'd include white into the colour scheme, this will allow me to use the decorations over and over again and we won't be limited to having the same colour scheme every year.
5 Christmas Ornaments in 5 minutes from Tip Junkie

I love the button and flower bauble.
Becky refers to this creation as Ribbon Candy but I think you could also make it look like a Christmas tree.

Simple Star decorations made by Jolene from MadeStuff
You could make these with the kids.

 Toilet Paper Glitter Star Ornaments
Simple and inexpensive Christmas decorations that can be made quickly.
 Modern Paper Ornaments from Design Sponge
You could hang these throughout your house to add Christmas cheer to a room.

Last week I signed up to Amy's One Artsy Mama's First Annual Ornament Exchange so I'm hoping that I'll be able to make an ornament for someone and that it'll survive the trip in the mailbox. So if you want to join Amy's Exchange you have until Friday 8th November to sign up. Click on the above link to sign up for the exchange, support Amy and make someone happy this Christmas with a brand new Christmas Ornament.


I can't wait to see who I'll get and of course I'll show you what I've made and how I went about it. I'm hoping that I'll be able to make all the ornaments for our family and that I'll also be able to make something to exchange for someone else. I can't wait to get the kid's involved in making some decorations to dress up the house and to help create our very first magically Christmas in our new house. 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

When Clutter Own's You

Noun:                 A collection of things lying about in an untidy mass.
Verb:                  Crowd (something) untidily; fill with clutter.              
I have a secret, everyday this secret is impacting on my life, my happiness and the relationships that I'm having with my kid's, husband and those around me. It's getting more difficult to hide IT from the children, the eldest is starting to ask questions and I've realised that Mr Opoes and I have had this secret in our lives for the last 9 years. The impact of this is hurting my family, our time spent together normally involves running away from the house, having people drop by the house is confronting and I'm becoming more and more depressed with the situation.
We're about to entire the fourth month of living in our new house and during that time we have had clutter all around us. The car can't be parked in the garage because there's no room, we have boxes sitting around the house waiting to be unpacked, I haven't seen the floor in our bedroom for weeks because it's been used as a dumping ground, any clear space gets covered in seconds with stuff and with all this around us we aren't the happiest of people. The children are fighting more, Mr Opoes and I spend far too much time talking about clearing it up but no time actually doing it and my relationship with him is also suffering because our clutter is so in your face that we can't see past it. 
I've read books, searched the Internet and even watched television programs dedicated to helping people fix their problems. For me personally CLUTTER is overwhelming, embarrassing, never ending and consuming. In the past I have started to de-clutter but then something happens to distract me, I've lost interest OR I get started and then realise that this piece of furniture would be great to store the kid's toys, we don't have the money to purchase it and doing this will just mean ...........
I become side tracked, Mr Opoes spends about 15 hours a week travelling back and forwards to work so he can't really help me and most of all at the end of the day I just want to sit down and do nothing. So if you put all this together and the fact that we have stuff that we JUST DON'T NEED then it's no wonder our house never looks any good.
I found a quote the other day here and I think  from now on that I'm going to have to live by this simple yet effective rule.
"If you look at your entire house as one unit of junk,
you'll never do anything because the job is too overwhelming.
Take it one drawer at a time."
Janet Luhrs
So starting next week Mr Opoes and I will be working together to get the garage sorted so that we can park the car away every night, empty all the boxes, clean up the bedrooms and living area's so that we can use them, donate to charity all the things we don't need, take stuff to the dump and maybe sell a few items that we just no longer need.
Because I want to keep it really I'm going to show you photo's of what my bedroom and the garage look like now and in two weeks time I'm going to show you how we have progressed with the task of DE-CLUTTERING OUR HOUSE. I hope that I haven't scared to many people and that by doing this I start to feel more organised, creative and that I become a more productive mother and wife.
Our Garage.

My side of the bedroom.