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.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Weight Watchers Journey


I came to the realisation last night that I've known My Opoes for a little over eleven years, we'll celebrate nine years of marriage in July and I've also been a full-time mummy for eight years. Early on in our relationship I spent time organising what I was going to wear out, what shoes would work best and should I wear a little bit of make up or nothing at all. We got engaged a year after our first date and from that moment on my focus shifted to other more important things e.g. organising a wedding, babies, kindy, planning holidays, school, errands etc I have spent the last ten years putting myself last, getting on with things so that everyone else is taken care of. Now I know I'm not alone in thinking like this (putting myself last) but I've decided 2013 is going to be the year I start taking care of myself.

It's funny but when you write it down, saying that you are going to start looking after yourself sounds selfish. I believe that if I don't start looking after myself then the outcome could become dire. There are a few reasons for wanting to look after myself and at the end of the day the longer mummy is around the better it is for my family. Some of the things I do regularly is always eating last, I put off going places especially if one of the children are tired, I tend to fit in a shower when I get a chance instead of first thing in the morning, I can't remember the last time I went to the hairdresser on my own let alone to have something done others than a quick trim, I tend to grab clothes or shoes at the shop and bring them home to see if they fit because it's just too difficult to drag three kids and a pram into the change room with me and if I do purchase something it's always on the cheap.

Some of the things I do are easy to change but my weight is something that I can't magically change over night. Although it's not an excuse I've had three babies in thirty-eight months and I never really took the time to start loosing the weight after number two or three were born. So I've decided that the first thing I'm going to concentrate on is loosing weight and I've decided that I'm going to get a little bit of help. This isn't a sponsored post, all the opinions expressed are hundred percent mine and I'm only sharing this with you so that I can hold myself accountable while I'm on this weight loss journey.


When deciding I wanted to loose weight I was shocked to discover that I had more than twenty kilograms (more than 50 lbs) that I had to shift from my frame. This twenty plus kilograms seemed huge, very scary and to loose this amount of weight wasn't just going to happen overnight. Being a Celiac (Coeliac) means that I can't do most of the meal replacement diets, Jenny Craig is out of my price range, joining a gym involved daily child minding fees for each child and the weekly membership fee and having meals delivered to our house would have to be added to our weekly grocery bill. So when you added it all up joining Weight Watchers was the best decision for me and our families budget.

At my first meeting I had to sit up front so that the leader could find me after the meeting to get my weight recorded, to give me all the items I'd need to start and then to talk me through the additionally items that I could need to start the program successfully. I enjoyed being out of the house on my own for that hour so much that I don't think I focused to much on what was being said. One thing I took away from the meeting was that 'any loss, small or large was better than a gain'. Being told this on my first visit was really helpful especially when a new member lost 2.4 kilograms (5.29 lbs) and I only managed to lose 0.4 grams (0.88 lbs).


So at this stage I'm looking at doing Weight Watchers for a minimum of a year at the rate I'm travelling BUT at least I'm losing weight safely and not to dramatically as I don't think I could afford having any surgery to fit me up after the weight has disappeared. One thing I'm learning is that I need to be better prepared. Meal  planning needs to be done for the entire day instead of just planning dinner, having snacks prepared and in my bag will make my life easier and having my weight watchers 'eating out' book on hand will allow me to make healthier options when eating out.

I am still learning and making mistakes BUT I'm getting there very slowly and hopefully I'll reach my first goal of losing 4.2 kilograms (9.25 lbs) which is 5 percent of the weight I need to lose. Now I'm off to have my breakfast and to organise some more snacks. Hopefully I'll get better at working the program into my daily life, I'll find a way to introduce exercise into my routine and soon the benefits will start playing off with a wardrobe that fits better. I hope to share my progress with you as I progress and maybe soon I'll be able to announce that I've reached my 5 percent goal.


Friday, 8 February 2013

Happy Birthday to you..

As a stay at home mother I've come to the realisation that I haven't noticed how my children have changed while they're growing up. I was talking to a school mum last week and she commented on how tall Quinlan was for a 10 month old. I corrected her about his ages, as he's nearly 16 months old but I also didn't think he was tall. So over the weekend I pulled out various photography's of Viveca and I was reminded of what she looked like as a baby. Being my third baby I remember being a little surprised that she was my biggest baby, she weighed in at just under 8 pounds 1oz (3650 grams) and she was 49 centimetres long which also means that she was the shortest. Yet when I see new babies now I can't remember my babies ever been that small so it's not surprising that I don't notice things about them as easily as other people do. So I thought I'd write a letter to you for your birthday.

Ready for her first night in hospital.
Dear Viveca,

Today is your birthday and it's hard to believe that our baby girl is turning three. In the short time you've been with us you've experienced a few changes to your environment, your routine and you're family. At no stage have you complained, you've been a good sleeper and because of your lovely nature you haven't made it difficult for mummy to do all the day-to-day things that I needed to do. As a little sister you adore Caelan and Mackenna, following them around and wanting to be involved in everything that they do. As Quinlan's big sister, you're always there to help him, grab him and to protect him. At times Quinlan gets frustrated when you pick him up under the arm's but I can always count on you to have him laughing by the time he's back in front of mummy.  So Viveca, I thought I'd write down a few things that I wanted to share with you, so that you knew how loved you are.

1. You had lived in four different house by the time you were 2 and a half.
2. You love to say 'hello' to people when we're out and if they don't respond you'll just say 'hello' to another person .
3. When you're tired you twist your hair while either sucking a dummy or your finger.
4. You are the only one who as used a dummy and a bottle and this makes you special.
5. You are scared of animals e.g. cats, dogs, ants, spiders
6. When eating you have to have the same as Mackenna and you will often get upset if she has something you don't.
7. You love having peanut butter and strawberry jam on Raisin Toast.
8. You enjoy sharing the bath with Quinlan and Mackenna BUT if you're offered a shower you think all your Christmas's have come at once.
9. You don't enjoy having your hair washed and at times you can get quiet upset.
10. You're not afraid to tell me when you're scared and at times you'll miss doing things because they are scary.

6 months old and ready to be baptised.
11. You don't like eating pea's or corn.
12. You love going to Kindy with Mackenna and being part of the class even though you're not quiet old enough.
13. You tend to fall over or walk into things when you get really tired.
14. Your favourite colour is PINK but you sometimes get it confused with purple.
15. You love changing your clothes two or three times a day.
16. It's extremely difficult to get you to put your clothes in the wash or away in your drawers.
17. You often tell everyone that you love them BUT at bedtime you'll give me a big cuddle and you're also let me know how much you love me.
18. You love watching Peppa Pig on television at 5pm every night.
19. When Mackenna gets up and dances you will copy her and the two of you will put on a show.
20. I sometime think that you and Mackenna were twins, you just decided to stay an additional 18 months because you enjoyed being in my womb.

Look who's 1.

21. You are still having at least a 90 minute daytime sleep every day.
22. You have asked to wear underpants to bed and we are going to start that tonight.
23. You would much prefer to sleep on the floor than in your bed BUT you also love sleeping in mummy and daddy's bed. So if you had to list your sleeping preferences they would be:
* on the floor with your head out in the hallway.
* in mummy and daddy's bedroom on either the floor or on our bed.
* on your bed
24. You are loved by Caelan, Mackenna, Quinlan, Daddy and Mummy and we are happy to have you with us in our family.

Enjoying her 2nd birthday dinner.
As a family we're so blessed to have you in our lives and I thank God every day for giving you to us. I cherish the relationship I have with you as it can be challenging, fun, loud while also been rewarding. I love how you let me tickle you and you'll laugh so hard and long even after I've finished tickling you. People have asked me if our family is finished and I think it is because I already have the most fabulous children and they bring such joy, happiness and delight into our lives.
So Viveca I hope you enjoy your 3rd birthday and that you enjoy your star birthday cake. I'm looking forward to watching you grow, starting school, making friends but most of all I'm going to enjoy the time I have with you as time has passed so quickly.

Happy 3rd Birthday Beautiful Girl.

Lots of hugs and kisses to my beautiful girl from your brothers, sister, Daddy and Mummy we all hope that you have a great birthday with us.


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Can I Ask

Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?
I talked late last year about my clutter and unfortunately I never reduced the amount of stuff we had enough that you'd notice. Honestly, do you think clutter and been disorganised weighs you down? I think we've reached breaking point in most areas of our house and I'm tired of spending so much of my time looking for things. I know I'm not alone in feeling tied by the state of my house, many blogs have developed special series in order to help us start organising and decluttering our homes during January so that we can get on top of thing. I know that when I become overwhelmed with the clutter in my home I'll eat more often especially if I'm procrastinating about what to do and where to start.

So, as part of my goals for 2013, I'm going to be taking charge of the clutter and I'm going to win the battle. Starting on Valentine's Day I'm going to be joined by the lovely Donna from 'Organize It' who is going to help me clean up my entire house. We are going to be focusing getting rid of the stuff we don't need, reducing the amount of clothing that we have, putting away all the stuff that's still sitting in moving boxes and setting things up so that they run more efficiently. This is going to be a really

in that Donna and I will be working a minimum of four hours a day over the course of four days. This means that I'll be spending a minimum of sixteen hours working on this house in the hope that we'll be able to drive the car into the garage, that I'll know were to look for the notices that come home from school, the kid's will know were to put their toy's and that the kitchen will finally be organised so that the pots and pans are away in the correct space instead of sitting in a moving box waiting to be placed in there correct spot.
Media room that is housing some
 of our clothes.

Our Kitchen Bench.

The garage were I hope to FINALLY PUT THE CAR.
Donna has said that some area's may require more time and the beauty of working with Donna is that she's able to tack more time on so that you can finish off the spaces your working with. I'm going to be giving this task my full attention because it's affecting me in more ways than one.
I have come to the realisation that the clutter doesn't make me happy and because of this I don't make friends easily as I tend to be a negative person. The clutter has lead to feeling depressed and this in turn has helped me gain weight over the years. However, I believe that the number one problem all the clutter and un-organisation has achieved is that it's ruined my relationships. My family have been very judgemental about the clutter, I can become annoyed really easily at the children because of the clutter and it's also played a role in ruining my marriage.
At the end of the day though this is my fault, I'm the one person who allowed all these things to be bought into our house. I'm the person who made it impossible for the children to invite people over and I'm the one who didn't say 'NO THANK-YOU' when things were given to us. I've spent so much time watching the clutter grow that I never got around to putting the clutter on a diet.
So the house is going on a diet and a major one at that. At the end of these four days I'm hoping that I can give things to charity, get rid of all the boxes, broken toys etc at the rubbish dump and that maybe I'll even be able to have a garage sale to sell all the clothing that the children have out grown.  Most of all I just want to walk into any room and see that everything is clean, tidy and put away. The next job will be to teach the children to put things away after they have finished using them. I hope that I will be able to have the kid's join in on learning how to keep our house clutter free.
Well I'm off now to get ready for a very special day tomorrow.


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Dressing up a Storage Cube.

While been away from my blog I've had the opportunity to watch other blogs and to see what all the other talented ladies are doing. What I discovered is that January is the month to start organising.  Many people organise their homes, some their health, others set challenges and others make changes to their blog, business etc. Organisation is a swear word in our house, it's something that I struggle with everyday and unfortunately I'm modelling this behaviour, potentially making my children lives difficult. As there mother I want a better life for them, I don't want to be running around like a mad thing looking for the permission slip, Caelan's sports socks or trying to figure out when Mackenna starts kindy for the term.
So during January, I decided that I was going to get on top of some of the clutter that has infected our new house and I was going to make a start on one little project. We're lucky enough to live within a 10 kilometre radius of two major hardware stores, so when it comes to wanting supplies it's never too difficult getting them. Masters is running a 'Australia Day Pledge' campaign in which you have until Australia Day (January 26th) to complete a DIY project around your home. Upon seeing the copious number of advertisements promoting the campaign I decided that I would pledge to sort Mr Opoes and my shoes.

I had read about the Closetmaid storage cubes a some months ago here, I decided 8 cubes would work best in my walk-in robe and I went off to Masters to make my purchase. While there I remembered that Masters offers free wallpaper samples so I grabbed 4 designs I liked and I bought them home with me. As this is the first project in our bedroom (walk-in robe) I knew I wanted to introduce some colour so I went with purple, black and silver. This is what I started with.

Light purple fabric cube
Black fabric cube

8 cube storage box

I was able to do this project for a little over $75, however if I'd given myself time I'm sure I could of reduced the overall price. Now I was able to save a little bit of money, taking samples meant that I didn't have to buy 4 different rolls of wallpaper which meant I saved $179. Now for a project this size I would never have spent that much money, I'm just keeping it real. Like most furniture these days I did experience problems when it came to putting it together. Firstly, the instructions were difficult for me to understand, this was because the diagram was difficult to interpret. Now I'm very familiar with Ikea flat pack furniture so I was pleasantly surprised to see that I needed a hammer and phillips screw driver to construct my storage cube.
Putting the unit together wasn't difficult once I'd returned to Masters to ask a few questions regarding the extra screws I had. What caused a huge headache for me was hammering the backing boards (pre cut cardboard) into place as shown in the picture above. I messed the first cube up on the last bang of the hammer, it went in crocked thus splitting the chipboard. I was so annoyed with myself that I put everything away and decided to work on finishing it off the next day. I haven't included a picture because it wouldn't photograph for me. When I downloaded my pictures I had two black images so I've had to leave this picture out. It won't be too much of an issue as it'll be hidden from view so there's nothing to worry about.

So this is what my storage cube looked like when I'd finished it. Now to find all over Mr Opoes size 13 shoes and place them correctly in the fabric cubes. I've got the cubes with the wallpaper for me to use but I have a funny feeling Mr Opoes will find a few more shoes to put in there.

This is the finished cube all dressed.
Close up of top four cubes.

Close up of bottom four cubes.

The best thing about my storage cube is that it so practical, if I want to move the shoes I can always use the cubes to hide away our swimmers, socks, hats, small presents etc. So I'm really happy to have finished my very first DIY project in our new house. I'm hoping that it's the start of a beautiful relationship and that I get to complete more DIY projects in 2013.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Try Something New Tuesday # 9

Noodle Box Dinner
Welcome to another Try Something New Tuesday. This week I decided to trick the children into believing that I'd gone out and purchased a noodle stir-fry meal from our local Noodle Box. The main reason for doing this was because I wanted them to reach their daily limit of 5 vegetables and 2 fruits. Now in our house getting to eat 2 pieces of fruit a day is the easy part, it's trying to get them to eat 5 vegetables that's causing me problems. Why is it difficult, I hear you ask. The answer is easy, each child likes different vegetables and remembering which vegetables to leave out can sometimes mean that no vegetables would ever get eaten.
So it was because of this reason that I decided to lie to my children. I went out with the two girls one afternoon and while we were window shopping I stopped into the dollar store (which never has anything for a dollar). They had a six packet of decorative Noodle boxes for sale for $2.50 and they also had the white ones you'd find if you were getting take away, these were smaller, came in a six pack and they were selling for $2.00. I went with the decorative noodle box because with two big eaters in the house (Mr Opoes and Caelan) I didn't want to reuse the container. Mackenna and Viveca both love purple so I was guaranteed that they would at least open the box to see what was inside.
Sweet Soy Meatball Stir Fry.
750g premium mince
4 shallots (spring onions), thinly sliced
2 covers garlic, crushed
1 egg, lightly beaten
450g thin hokkien noodles
1 tablespoon oil
600g fresh or frozen vegetables (I used mushroom, carrot, broccoli, yellow capsicum, baby corn, celery and beans)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup water
1. Combine mince, onion, garlic and egg in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.  Roll the mixture into bit size balls and place on a large plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
2. Crop up all the vegetables and place them in small piles ready to cook.
3. In a separate bowl mix together the soy sauce, brown sugar and water. When this is well combined use a warm spoon to add the honey and mix well.
4. Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Stand for 2 to 3 minutes or until they are tender. Using a fork try to separate the noodles and then drain.
5. Heat a wok over a medium heat and add about a teaspoon of oil. Cook the meatballs in small batches for about 5 minutes or until they are browned. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining meatballs.
6. Add the remaining oil to the wok and stir fry the vegetables. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until they are tender. Add the noodles and meatballs and heat through. Add the sauces and mix well you want to try and coat the noodles with the sauce. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Serve.
stir fry for
Now I placed a serve into each of the noodle boxes (I gave more to Mr Opoes and Caelan), you don't have to fill the box for younger children as it could cause a problem when eating. I was lucky to get 7 serves from this but that because I gave Quinlan, Mackenna and Viveca smaller amounts as I knew they had issues with one or more of the things in the box. That was dinner and I'm pleased to say that everyone at their dinner and I was even asked for seconds.
This was what was waiting for them at
the dinner table.

A few meatballs on top to grab the
children's attention.
This was a fairly easy meal to make and the hardest thing for me was getting the meal into the noodle box without making it look to messy and unprofessional. I did lie to the children and they all thought I'd gone out and bought dinner. Please don't judge me, this works in our house at the moment BUT give it a year or more and I'm sure the elder two will inform the younger kids that mummy in indeed lying to them. Hope to see you all tomorrow.


Monday, 4 February 2013

Landscaping Part Two - Soil.

So the boy's are back on site today after the Christmas/New Year break and it's all systems go. We had a quick meeting with Barry to talk through the next stage of the job. He also explained when the various delivers would be happening. I've come to the realisation that things will be getting very busy around here during the next few days so I'm going to be taking the children out most days. One thing I've discovered since we started the landscaping is that we have a very dusty yard. I have dust all over the place and no amount of dusting helps. I'm just going to wait until the job's finished and then I'll do a major clean up.

So the deliveries arrived and can you believe it, its more dirt. We have had a small amount of fill delivered (this is just to build up the area's around the house that aren't the same as other places) and the bulk of the delivery was soil. This will be spread out evenly over the entire yard in preparation for the grass to be laid and the tree's to be planted. The boys had to move the fill and soil to the back of the house and when this was done we had about five separate piles just outside our windows.

Mackenna had a pile of fill right in front of her bedroom window so she wasn't even able to open her window at night time due to the possible dust factor. The other piles of soil were right in front of the windows to our dinning room. I arrived home not long after the last delivery and I thought that a heap of cow manure had been delivered because it smelt really bad. Barry assured me that it was just the smell of really fresh soil, apparently fresh soil has a strong odour. Lucky us we had the joy of spending thirty minutes getting use to the smell. What was surprising, when Mr Opoes arrived home his first commented related to the amount of soil sitting in the backyard. He didn't pick up on the smell until much later in the evening.

The children have enjoyed seeing things change in and around the yard. Everyday we are getting closer and closer to having a grassed area for them to play on. One thing that I've come to realise is that Mr Opoes and I would never have been able to have pulled this landscaping job off ourselves. I think that if we'd gotten some help from a few family members and tried to do it over Christmas, I'm sure we would have gotten the retaining wall built. Once the wall was completed, Mr Opoes and I would have spent many weekends each months trying to complete the job. Mr Opoes and I were pretty sure that we still won't have finished it by the end of July. One thing I really didn't want to do was to work through the summer, especially as the temperatures that we'd already experienced were quiet high. Mix in the humidity and I would have not been able to Mr Opoes at all. So with all those negative aspects I'm glad that we employed Barry and his boy's to do it for us.

So I thought that I'd share a few progress pictures with you.

Before: the driveway and our street appeal.

The soil that arrived today.

More soil and in the back corner that's going
 to be my vegetables patch.

Looking out towards the street from the lounge room

Next week I'll share more of the progress pictures. With more things in place you'll be able to get a better idea of how we've used the area to best suit the needs of our family. When its all finished I'm hoping the kids  can have hours of fun running around while I'll also have the opportunity to develop a vegetable garden and maybe a chicken coop.

Tomorrow I'm going to show you a meal that I created in the hope of having the kids to eat more vegetables while also trying an Asian inspired meal. So I'll see you tomorrow for another Try Something New Tuesday.


Friday, 1 February 2013

Organisation Diet

One of the things I love about blogging is that numerous blogs host weekly link parties. So as a reader I have the opportunity to sometimes view hundreds of craft, cooking, organising, decorating, personal etc posts and I love seeing what other people have come up with. So the other day I was checking out one of the many link parties I like when I found Jenn's blog Clean & Scentsible and she has put together a year long project that she's called 'The Household Organisation Diet to get (and stay) organised! Now I'll be honest with you I'm not the best at following rules or timetables as things happen and I never get to start with the rest of the group. I did try to participate in a 20 day challenge last year BUT I didn't get past Day One so I'm hoping that this diet will be the kick start I need.

I'm liking the planning of Jenn's Household Diet as she has suggested that if you're able to spend 30 minutes a day you'll be able to tick all the jobs off the to-do list. I chose to write out my to-do list just because there were a couple of jobs listed that I didn't have to do as my kitchen is set up is differently. I'm going to take a few before pictures and then I'll do an after photo shot so that I can share my progress. Jenn is also thinking of having a monthly link party so that we can all share our progress. Who knows if I get the kitchen area completely done I might be able to add my images to the link party.
End of my bench.
So fingers crossed I'm able to complete everything on this diet. Maybe just maybe I'll be able to lose some clutter, create a better organisation system and eat work my way to a slimmer body house. One thing I'm looking forward to doing is cleaning the stuff off our island bench and put it all away. Although there's heaps of available space in my cupboards due to never getting around to putting everything away when we moved in, EVERYONE dumps stuff on top of the bench and this makes it really difficult to find things.
My entire bench top.
As you can see I need to start Jenn's Organisation Diet otherwise my little house maybe gaining a few additional pounds and before you know it I won't be able to close the doors. I'm really excited, with Jenn's plan as it means I can still work on organising the kitchen while also spending time looking after the children. With previous plans I've basically had to fit the children into the cleaning process and this often makes it difficult to complete the daily tasks.

So I'm hoping that within the next month I'll have my kitchen up and runny. As my mother use to tell me 'everything in it's place and a place for everything' so now All I need to do is get my skates on and start organising, decluttering and putting away. Then I too shall have a beautiful home that will be easier to maintain. Enjoy your weekend, I'm hoping to have some fun with the kids and to catch up on a bit of grocery shopping. Who knows I might even get so DIY done and maybe make some biscuits for the school lunches.