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.

Friday, 27 September 2013

6 Steps for a Successful Trip to the Movies with Young Children.

In my little part of the universe it's school holidays, this means that I have two weeks to fill with fun, food, activity and excitement. In order to achieve these goals I need to have planned something FUN to do for every day. And as you would have guessed I haven't planned anything FUN or EXCITING for the children as the holidays sort of snuck up on me.

So it was great when my mother (Oomie) asked to take Caelan for a week because at the moment he really wants some one on one time and with three other siblings it's extremely difficult to give him that time. So while he's away I know he'll be going to the movies with his uncle which means he'll talk non-stop about the movies when he gets home and this will upset his sisters. So with this in mind I took the girls to see The Smurfs 2. My girls are 5 and 3½ years old and this means that I have to work within certain limits otherwise a trip to the cinema can go horribly wrong. So here are my 6 steps to a successful trip to the movies.
1. Purchase your tickets on-line.
Until yesterday I'd never purchased a movie ticket on-line so I was somewhat surprised when I had 10 minutes to complete my transaction. My local cinema had charges that went along with this service but because our telephone company has a special deal with the cinema we were able to get our tickets cheaper and there was no booking fee attached. I saved a total of $17 which is a great saving. The other great thing about buying on-line you get to jump the cue at the cinema to pick up your tickets.

2. Arrive about 15 minutes before the movie starts.
During this time pick up the tickets at the box office, take your children to the toilet, find your seats in the movie theatre and talk to them about the behaviour you expect of them during the movie. Also when you talk to the children during this time I'd whisper as it allows you to help them realise how loud they might be talking prior to the movie starting. I was able to pick my own seats when purchasing my tickets so I had the opportunity to pick seats up the back and no one would be climbing over us to get into their seats.

3. Take advantage of the booster seats provided.
Our local cinema offers booster seats that have cup holders and food holders built in so that the children don't have to pass thing back and forward all the time. It also helps if you've picked an easy to access seat otherwise you might hit people with the booster seats you're carrying.
4. If possible sit between younger children.
This method works beautifully if you have two children with you. If you have more than two children I would suggest sitting between the younger children as this allows you to monitor their behaviour and to address problems before they get to big. Also have your handbag available in case you need to find something while the movie is playing.

5. Bring your own small snack with you.
Come prepared. If you have children who like to eat while they're watching a movie and you know that the cinema's candy bar is really expensive then bring your own food.  As our cinema is within a shopping centre, the cinema has an expectation that people will bring their own food and drinks into the theatre. However, a number of parents purchase from the candy bar and if each child get a drink and popcorn you can easily spend an additional $30 plus on refreshments. I took a packet of biscuits, a popper each and a small selection of lollies to share between the two girls. I'm happy to reports that I came home with everything I'd bought with me as the cinema was hosting an event.
NOTE: the cinema was celebrating the release of Diana and they were giving away pink lemonade, biscuits and cupcakes for each patron and my girls got a small drink, mini cupcake and biscuit each.

6. When picking a session time work within your children routine.
I would have to say that this is the most important point to remember when picking a movie. I chose a 6.20pm session last night and that's the start of Viveca's tired time. As I needed my husband home to babysit Quinlan I choose a late session thinking that as she'd had a big sleep during the day I'd get away with it. However, I was wrong and about 40 minutes into it she wanted to lie down and have a sleep. So if you work within their routine you should have a successful visit to the cinemas.

If you follow these six steps you should have a successful movie experience. However, I think that one of the most important things to remember is to select a movie that you know your children want to watch.  Also 'if you're unsure whether or not a visit to the cinema will work with our children' then you can always have a movie experience at home. I hope that these six steps can help you when you get to go to the cinema with your children. If you have any other tips I'd love to hear what has worked for you.


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Eye Ball Cupcakes

For the last few weeks some shops have had a small selection of Halloween decorations for sale and it was while I was out with one of the children that I thought I'd attempt to do something to symbolise Halloween. Ever since I can remember Halloween has never been a big thing in Australia, in my thirty plus years we've only ever had trick or treaters knock at our door three times and we've never had anything on hand to give away.
Technically this is our first Halloween in the new house so I thought I'd make a fairly simple cupcake that I'd be able to put together quickly so that if we had people knock on the door I'd be able to give them something without having to pretend we aren't home. The best thing about this recipe is that you don't have to spend a heap of money and there isn't many special items you need to buy - so its a win win for everyone.
When I'm backing I generally like to make my own cakes, I usually buy gluten free mixes as it allows me to make something quick, late at night when I've realised I need something the following day. For this particular recipe I used six ingredients and I had everything was done within four hours but this was because I made mine at nigh time and I didn't have any of the children needing my attention.
Quick Halloween Cupcakes
your favourite chocolate cake mix
eggs, butter and milk according to packet
cupcake wrappers
icing sugar
food colouring
¼ cup of coconut
Nestle Areo bubbles, Maltesers or any other round chocolate ball shaped lolly

1. Follow the instructions on the back of the box.
2. Spoon the cake mixture into the cupcake wrappers and bake in the oven at the temperature on the box. Reduce the cooking to 20-25 minutes, check to make sure they are cooked in the centre.
3. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool.
4. Mix icing sugar, butter and water together to make a soft but usable icing.
5. Add a drop of green food colouring to the coconut and mix until the coconut has changed colour.
6. Once the cupcakes are cool, place a small amount of white icing on top of the cupcake. Take the Areo bubble and place it in the centre of the cupcake.
7. Take a small amount of white icing and place it on the Areo bubble and decorate using black icing to resemble an iris. If you want to make them look even scarier use red icing on the eye ball.
8. Trick or treat they are now ready to eat.
The best part of making these Eye Ball Cupcakes is that if you don't use all the chocolates then you can sit and eat them while the trick and treaters come knocking on the door. The kids got to eat some of these today and they really loved them so it looks like I'll be making these again. So do you have a special Halloween food you make or do you purchase lollies and give them out when kids coming knocking?

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Pantry Organisation

Last week while visiting one of my favourite link parties I discovered Mary Organizes and her 91 day De-Clutter Challenge. I always love a good de-clutter series, I've participated in three different series so far this year and with each series I seem to take a few steps forward but they are never long lasting. Back in February I participated in an intense seven day organisation program that saw me putting up to five hours each day so that I could officially say we'd unpacked after moving into our house eight months earlier. During this process I was happy to have moved the car into the garage.
Unfortunately, my time management skills need an overhaul as I find myself never finishing jobs that need doing. One of my blog friends shared this on her Facebook page and although I had a good laugh I'd have to say that I'm one of these Twelve Procrastination Types. Can you guess which one??

Sunday night saw me feeling down as I realised another weekend had passed and my to-do list hadn't changed if anything it had gotten bigger. It was then that Mr Opoes and I started a conversation about what we needed to do in order to achieve our DREAM of living in a clutter free home. One thing Mr Opoes said he needed was a short break especially as he's been working hard since the beginning of the new financial year. The children have also been asking when they could have another small trip away since the one we had last month. So Mr Opoes suggested the he take the kids on a short break next month, while they're gone I'm going to spend the time organising the kitchen and dining room as we tend to spend most of our time in this area.
I've always known that my husband is a good father but to volunteer to look after four children, over the weekend on his own is just brilliant. I'm hoping that he likes what I've done when he returns and that the children will see the change because over the Christmas holiday's I've got plans.. My plan is to create a chore chart, install a routine especially as Mackenna will be starting school next year and to work on keeping their bedrooms clean ha ha. I want to use the eight weeks productively instead of the house filling up with school supplies, Christmas presents and rubbish that they don't want to get rid of.
As you can imagine I've made plans to add colour, style and some organisation into the kitchen so that it functions better in the coming months. I'm planning on ticking off these little project in the coming weeks so that when it's time to de-clutter I'll be organised enough that the task gets completed within the time allowed. I'm working on a storage area for my collection of Retro Tupperware which my mother in law gave me when we moved in. I've managed to cut it down from two large boxes to one cardboard box however I'm going to need a number of cane baskets as I can't find anything big enough that fits in the space. I'm hoping that the colour works well with the kitchen, especially as Mr Opoes choose the colour back in May when we talked about the direction we wanted to follow in the kitchen.

So what do you think of the pink? The baskets will be sitting in the pantry so you won't see them the moment you walk into the kitchen but depending on the angle you're standing you'll see some of the colour showing through. I'm also going to add blackboard labels so that the kids can put things away especially if they're on dishwasher duty. I've also got a plan for a small amount of pink to go on the bench near the oven so that it all ties in together.
I'd love the hear your thoughts on the pink storage baskets, what type of 'procrastinator' you are and what type of 'procrastinator' you think I am.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Gardening Mis-Adventure...

Last weekend I had an extremely long to-do list that I wanted to complete, unfortunately we'd already planned to meet up with some friends Mr Opoes hadn't seen for a few years and all my plans went off the rails. I've always known that I'm a very unorganised person, which is somewhat of a problem. OK it's a huge issue in this house. You'd think marrying a man who's organised, has a routine and can tick things off a to-do list quickly would make us a winning combination. RIGHT. NO. We seem to have vastly different ideas of what needs to be done and communicating the next step isn't something either one of us do well.

One of the most important jobs I wanted to tick off my list was constructing two garden beds and plant them out. We started this task on Saturday at about 11am, now you would think a quick visit to the hardware store and home again would see this completed in four to five hours. Wrong. It took us two and a half hours at the hardware store, then we rushed home unpack everything we'd just purchased for ONE garden bed and not TWO like we planned before we rushed off to meet up with Mr Opoes friends. Now the plan was to spend three hours socialising before coming home to finish off anything that needed to be done with the garden.

In reality everything got started on the Sunday afternoon which only left us enough time to build one raised garden bed and to fill it with the supplies we'd spent over two hours buying. I then went off to another Kmart to purchase some pool noodles as I'd only managed to pick one up. I had thought with the warmer temperatures the noodles would readily be available however they are proving difficult to find. So after a total of four hours work over two days we had built, filled one raised garden bed and I'd made it a little more safe for the children.

Next up I need to plant my seedlings and packet seeds, add some supports so that my three tomatoes can climb and make some labels so that I know what I'm growing. At the moment it looks like I'll be busily planting this little veggie patch out on Saturday afternoon after the Family Fun Day that Mackenna's kindergarten are having this weekend. In the meantime I need to get working on all the labels so that Mr Opoes and I can spend a few hours constructing the second garden bed so that we are all ready to go.

So I'm hoping that when the children start their September/October holidays I'll have the garden beds all planted out and that I'll be able to have to children help with the watering and weeding of the veggie patch. Unfortunately, I don't have any photography's due to losing the camera outside. I'd placed it on the water tanks pump while we were filling the garden bed with all the soil and as the water tank is used to flash the toilets the vibration from the pump the camera has fallen off onto the grass. So after searching inside the house top to bottom for four days I went outside and I retraced my movements and guess what I found it laying on the grass. So now I'm waiting for the camera to dry out a bit before I use it again.

I've also been working on a little organisation project for the pantry which I'm hoping to finalised in the next few days so that I can share it with you. I'm trying a new type of spray paint so it's drying time is a bit longer than I'm use to so I'm hoping I've done it right. When I've finished this project I'm hoping that the colour I've chosen will work well with the kitchen finger's crossed.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Framing the Entry... the reveal

Drum roll please...... As promised yesterday I want to share with you my very first gallery wall and it definitely won't be my last. I've loved gallery walls since they become popular in the blogging world, so much so that while we were building our house I went out and purchased a heap of picture frames so that I could get started immediately after moving in. Well that was fourteen plus months ago and this wall wasn't even on my radar back then. So today as promised I'm going to show you the completed gallery wall but first I want to give you a break down of how I'm going on my to-do list and to give you some idea of what I've spent so far on my Entry makeover.
I thought that this project would have been done and dusted within three weeks maybe a bit longer if the electrician was booked up BUT I miss judged the amount of work involved and my ability to get it done. I'm still looking into the electrical work as pricing will play a major role work but I also need to think outside of this particular room so that I don't have to call them back later to do more electrical work as this will be expensive on the hip pocket. Maybe now that I've finished the gallery wall I can tick off some of the smaller tasks....
  • create a gallery wall
  • find a table, bench, stand for added storage
  • tint glass on door and side panel
  • repaint the hall table
  • add a pop of colour to the front door
  • change the large chandelier with something more practical for the space and the ceiling height
  • find something to go on the wall above the hall table
  • dress the hall table
  • maybe a rug or something for the floor
  • add vintage suitcases
Now for the budget. We set $800 for this project which may seem quite large but while we were building our house Mr Opoes and I decided that we'd include a beautiful feature light in the entry and with dreams like that a big price tag is sure to follow. During construction I fell in love with a heap of beautiful lights I liked but they all came from America and this could have meant that I'd be faced with issues relating to voltage (we have different requirements) and with the light meeting Australia's Safety Standards so I had to look else where. So here is the breakdown of what I've spent or need to spend:
  • picture frames $60
  • paint, primer and spray paint $70
  • 3M Command Strips $58
  • butchers paper $0
  • painters tape $0
  • black ink pen $0
  • paint chips $0
  • brand new light $375
  • electrician - could be up to $200
  • hall table plus new paint $119
  • window treatment $24.98
  • TOTAL: $906.98
As you can see I'm already over budget, it's possible that my guessimation is way under budget which means I'd need more funds to install the light. I've decided that I'll take the time to save the additional money needed so that we can have the light installed but in order to put some funds back into the kitty I'm going to try and sell the chandelier on-line. I'm hoping that if I price it correctly I should be able to sell it pretty quickly.

So without delaying the reveal any further I now have the pictures you've all been waiting for (sounds dramatic doesn't it). I hope that you like the colourful gallery wall that I've created as much as I do and I'm looking forward to completing the entire entry within the next month or so.

So tell me what you think? I'd love to hear what your opinion is of my gallery wall. I love it and the pop's of colour give the room some character which is exactly what I wanted to achieve when I started this project. I'm hoping in the next week or two to get the tint onto the glass panels on the door and on the panel beside the door. I'll have to organise with Mr Opoes to take the children out for a few hours so that I can spend the time doing the job correctly. Fingers crossed I get everything done within the time limit I've set myself.


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Framing the Entry Part 2

So last week I showed you some of the inspiration I'd collected on my Pinterest board as to how I'd like to decorate our entry. As you could see I wanted to create a colourful, empty gallery wall using six coloured frames to complement the silver/chrome light fixture and black hall table that will feature in the room. So I started collecting paint chips from my local hardware store so that I could figure out which colours complemented a beautiful orange paint that I'd found. I settled on purple, pink, yellow, silver and teal to go with my lovely bold orange. However, when Mr Opoes visited the hardware store to purchase 5 sample pots I needed Mackenna and Viveca picked up a few paint chips of their own and one of them caught my eye, so I swapped out the teal and replaced it with my new favourite colour.
1. Ballistic (Wattyl) 2.Perfect Purple (Wattyl)
3. Pale Daffodil (Dulux) 4.Perfectly Pink (Wattyl)
5.PlastiKote Metallic Pewter 4403  6. Silk Sari (Wattyl)
Now the next step I took was a little different from all the tutorials I'd read so without giving you a long winded description of what I did I thought I'd just show you in pictures. I've also attached a simple explanation so that you can understand what I'm trying to show you. Some pictures won't be that great because one of the kids took the photograph for me as I was busy and couldn't do two things at once.

Depending on the number of frames you're hanging I'd plan the layout before attaching
to the wall. I taped off the space I wanted to work within on the floor.
Next I lay butchers paper down on the tiled floor within the taped off area as this was the space I'd be working with once it was on the wall. Having the paper down gave me the opportunity to visualise how it would look up on the wall plus I also make any changes I might need. With a black felt pen I traced around the frame and then I removed each of the backing pieces from the frames.
1. Trace around the frame with black pen. 2. Remove the glass, paper and chipboard.3. Using pliers remove
the little metal pins that hold the picture in. Place back on the butchers paper.
In total I had thirty one photo frames and six paint colours which I had to group together without it looking too planned or busy. While talking to my sister she suggested that I gather up a heap of paint sample and throw them up into the air. I loved this idea and so I decided that wherever the paint chip landed would determine the frames colour. However, if more than one colour sample landed on the same frame I'd previously decided that the sample facing up would be the colour chosen. I also wrote each colour under each drawn frame.
1. Mr Opoes throwing paint chips in the air. 2. Paint chips on each frame.
1. I cut each paper frame out 2. Paper template taped to the wall.

Finally it was time to place all the frames up on the wall. I purchases a heap of 3M Picture Hanging Strips (Velcro type) in different width and sizes so that I could place each frame up on the wall. Mr Opoes helped me when it came to placement as I needed to know whether or not the frames were straight. Once everything was straight and in the correct position I then pressed each frame down for a minute. As I didn't follow the directions correctly I used strips that would hold more than the actual weight of the frame.
Now if you're still reading congratulates. I will share the pictures of our finished wall tomorrow as I am experiencing problems with my camera so I'm going to have to use my phone tomorrow to take more pictures. Tomorrow I'll also talk about what other things I need to complete in order to call this project FINISHED.

Have you ever started a project only to discover that it's taken longer to finish than what you anticipated? This project has taken me so long I gave it two weeks and I've already gone past that by an additional four weeks and counting.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

During the last five months I've had the opportunity to attend a few scrapbooking crops at my local shop. I first started scrapbooking eight years ago just after Caelan was born but back then I spent many hours visiting stores, buying papers, buying cardstock and did I mention buying products. I purchased so much stuff that when it came time to actually put a page together I had know idea what it was that I should be doing. I subscribed to a scrapbooking magazine and every month I'd look through it marking off layouts that I loved and that I wanted to re-create.
As you can imaging it's difficult trying to copy someone else's layout, the problem I've always had was trying to identify and locate products that the person had used. It was due to this reason that I started going to classes and then crop nights in the hopes that I could work my way through the hundreds of photography's I have for all the children and to develop my own style.
I went off to my first crop five years ago in the hope that I would create something nice with the few photo's and supplies I had. As I was pregnant at the time I spent the majority of the time going back and forward to the toilets, but I was hooked and I've enjoyed crop nights ever since. Back in May I went off to a crop with three photo's, a few supplies and a dream of completing a layout. I spent the first hour trying to figure out what it was I wanted to do and then I had a light bulb moment I found a layout that I decided to copy. It was perfect, the colours were faultless and many of the pieces were in store that night.

After about 15 hours of work I was able to create a double page layout that helped showcase the cross country event that my son competed in this year at school. I was really happy to have completed my first ever page dedicated to Caelan especially after I started scrapbooking back in 2005. I was really happy with the layout and the best part was that Caelan really liked what I'd created for him.

Here are the other layouts that I've created since May and I'm happy to say that in all the years I've been interested in scrapbooking this is the most I've ever done. What do you think am I good at copying other peoples layout's and calling them mine?

I've been thinking that while the children are home during the Christmas holiday's (six weeks) I might get around to investing a few hours to completing a few layouts using the new 'Simple Stories' range that I found at my local store. The range is very similar to what Project Life produce however there are a few differences I think. As Mr Opoes went to Europe prior to our meeting he has hundred's of photo's, maps, postcards, tickets and programs that he collected while he was away. These have been sitting in boxes ever since I've known him. Not long after we got married I attempted to place them in an album but I soon discovered that I seemed unable to match the photographs with the location notes that he'd made. So I'm hoping that I can create this manly scrapbooking album for him without it been too pretty, boring or PINK.

Wish me luck as I've already purchased a few things that I think might work and I'm hoping that they go with the pictures that he took some fifteen years ago.


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Chocolate Bread Butter Pudding


Have you ever done things backwards and really enjoyed it? When my eldest was about two years old I served up dessert for dinner and I can tell you the look on his face was priceless. So every now and then I like to surprise the kids and give them dessert for dinner, hubby also likes it because it means less dishes for the dishwasher and so it's a win win for everyone plus I'm guaranteed everyone will eat their dinner without telling me they don't like it. So last week we had a 'Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding' for dinner.

As a child I grew up eating this pudding however my mother generally added sultanas and serve it with cream BUT sometimes mum would add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and that made it seem so special. Since getting married I would have made this dessert maybe three times and on one occasion I managed to dry it out. So when I found this recipe in a diet inspired cook book I knew I had to give it a go and I'm glad I did. The process is quiet easy, its simply delicious and best of all you can eat it cold the following day especially if you don't want to wait for it to be re-heated.

Chocolate Bread Pudding
Serves 6
6 large eggs
3 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 cups of milk
Nutella® spread
12 slices of bread, use whatever you have available

1. Preheat oven to 200°C or 180°C for fan forced oven.
2. In a large mixing bowl beat eggs the eggs until they are well combined. Add sugar and vanilla essence and mix well.
3. Add milk and continue mixing for a minute.
4. Pour a small amount of the egg mixture into your medium casserole or small dish.
5. Spread some Nutella over each slice of bread and then cut into 2 or 4 triangles (leave the crusts on). Dip each piece of bread into the remaining egg mixture and then place it into your dish Nutella side up.
6. Place your casserole or dish into the centre of your preheated oven.
7. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until its firm to touch.
8. Allow to stand for 5 minutes and then serve. Serve with pouring cream or with a little bit of ice cream. If you're making this for someone special you could also grate a little bit of chocolate over the top of your ice cream.
Note: You could even freeze this if you are lucky to have leftovers. If you run out of egg mixture just make up some more as bread can absorb liquids differently.

I hope you enjoy eating this as much as my kids did, I'm glad that I got to share a favourite childhood food memory with you. I'd love to hear what your favourite childhood food memory was.



Monday, 2 September 2013


Today's the second day of Spring, this means I have to start getting the garden prepared so that we're ready to grow some vegetables that the kid's will eat. I've spent the last few day's researching the benefits of using a store bought metal raised garden bed verses us building a wooden raised garden bed. After looking at various web sites I've decided to purchase a metal garden bed because we've a number of events coming up which won't leave us much time to construct the garden bed, plant it out and then wait for it to grow.

So on Saturday while the girls and I went off to Weight Watchers I had the boys go to our local Aldi supermarket to purchase two raised metal garden beds as they were on special and this meant that we were able to save $20 per garden bed by getting them from Aldi instead of the local hardware store. While the boy's were picking up the garden bed's my amazing husband discovered that Aldi were also selling packet seeds and 100mm tomato seedlings for really good prices so he picked up a 100mm tomato seedling and nine packet seeds. So when it comes to putting the garden bed together we will have something to plant in it.
Next weekend when the whole of Australia is at polling booths across the nation voting for the next Australian Prime Minister we'll be out in the backyard putting our garden beads together, purchasing soil, fertiliser and then planting my little seeds and my tomato plant. I can't wait to see how it all goes and in ten days up to sixteen weeks I might have something to harvest. I'm also hoping that Caelan has fun working on our little veggie patch together because when he did gardening club last year he really enjoyed it.
So if you have a veggie patch and you have any tips you'd like to share please leave me a message in the comment section as I'd like to hear how things turned out for you. Next week I'll show you how Mr Opoes and I went about putting the garden bed together and if time allows I'll also share how I planted my seeds.