Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The Top Ten Holiday Tasks to Keep Everyone Happy

Oh glory be! Where did June go? I walked past the calendar today and was staring at July thinking, why has someone turned the page over? 

And now that I'm coming to terms with what month we're in (and that it has been a month since my last post - eek! 2015 was going so well too…) if I don't put up this story soon, the holidays will be over!

So if you do find yourself at home, not having escaped to warmer climes, or having headed south to the snow - and cabin fever is hitting home, here are some fun ways to stay happy and sane for whatever time you have left. 

1. Put a care box together. Maybe you have an elderly neighbour who could doesn't get out much. Or you know of a family who are struggling. Maybe you just have a relative you haven't seen in a while. Making your kids aware that holidays and treats are not just ALL ABOUT THEM is always a good thing. Get them to write a list of some small items that could make someone else's day - then go make + buy them. The kids can make cards and decorate the box.
I love the idea of this yellow-themed sunshine box spotted on Pinterest.
See, you're starting to smile already…

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2. Find a new (cheap) appliance to make holiday snacks something special. The reason I thought of this was because my son found a new in box Sunbeam Woddle Maker (penguin shaped waffle maker!) at our local Salvos Store for just $10. We are loving it! It has made the kids wildly enthusiastic about making breakfast a penguin waffle event!
I now need a new high-powered exercise program, but it's been worth it.
If waffles aren't your thing, try milkshakes! Or slushies!
This great red milkshake maker is only $25 from Kmart.
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Penguin waffles by lovedecorateletters

3. Decorate cookies or cupcakes 
Our local shopping centre held cookie decorating classes for kids last week. We didn't get to them, but the idea seemed great. Rifle through your cupboard, and you might be amazed/appalled at how much cake/cookie decorating paraphernalia you already own. I opened a drawer and found 17 different sorts of sprinkles, edible glitter and those silver balls that break your teeth - just like that. There was probably more in there but I figured we had enough. Tip the edible decorating materials into little bowls and put them in a tray in the centre of your table. Mix up a few different colours/flavours of frosting/icing and the kids can go to town (plastic tablecloth recommended, on floor and table, and possibly walls - actually this is a great outside activity, weather permitting!) If you can't be bothered making cookies or cakes from scratch, there's NO SHAME (not here anyway) in heading for the nearest packet mix. I personally love the Greens brand gingerbread cookie mix, and cupcake mixes come with the paper cases and icing for total convenience.

Seriously under decorated cupcakes by lovedecorateletters

Don't feel you have to eat them all - take them to a playdate or drop them around to friends and family.

Click here for a great and easy sugar cookie recipe. 

4. Easy Sewing Crafts
Finger knitting / pompom making / sewing embellishments - use your imagination to suit any child's interests and abilities. There are so many how-to's on YouTube, the trouble is only in deciding what craft to do (and not getting side tracked by watching 80s pop music clips - or is that just me?).
Pompom making is a great place to start - anyone can do it! And I just loved this blogger Amy Christie's idea on what to do with them next (click on the source to go see)

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This gorgeous back pocket detail on a pair of Monnalisa jeans made me realise that even I, a clueless crafter, could do it!  Just grab a square of your favourite material, unpick the jeans pocket and use as a stencil before resewing the new pocket back on (yes, I'd probably need help with this bit). Get your kids to choose the fabric or embellishments to personalise it.

lovedecorateletters - Monnalisa jeans
5. Take an Op Shop Challenge.
In the first week of the hols I had the idea of taking the kids to a different op shop every day. Usually we'd take a couple of trips (See my musings on op shopping with kids from a few years ago). But this time I had a rush of blood to the head and thought more was better. More is actually incredibly tiring. Still, we managed four trips in five days and seriously got rid of a lot of stuff out of our cupboards along the way. Treasures we bought home included: a wetsuit for my 12-year-old ($3); the waffle maker ($10); A loom band kit ($1); A large pile of books to suit all ages ($1ea); a Plan Toy wooden fire engine ($4); several tee-shirts ($2-4); some Burleighware china ($1 a piece). You don't have to spend much and yet everyone's sure to find something.


For more ideas on what to look for, read this article on the Salvo's blog.

6. Revamp a space.
Maybe you've got a prime spot in your yard that's just begging for a hammock, or a sandpit, or a cubby house. Try and view your spaces with new (kids) eyes and be open to new ways to make them fun and a place your kids will want to be.

Our cubby house was looking decrepit and had become a haven for junk. I'll blog more about it soon, but we have been giving it a make over. It has become a reading nook - and after ignoring it for the last couple of years, the kids now race outside any chance they get to spend time in there. I'm thinking of installing a heater and letting them stay out there on a permanent basis for the rest of winter. Who says I'm not a fun Mum?  






7. Visit your Library
Whether you and your kids are regular visitors or will have to use google to find out where it is, find your nearest library! It may even offer holiday activities. If your kids are addicted to screens, you may need to explain what a book is. Try showing them some of your old favourites. Or ask the librarian for ideas. Many authors have cool websites that may encourage reluctant readers to connect with the book in different ways. Failing that, offer food or confectionary incentives. Did I just say that?

8. Make Your Own Movie

Get your kids to write a script, choose characters, record a sound track, act and film it. They will probably know the technology to do this already. Thinking creatively and collaboratively will be a challenge at first. Ahh, so many life lessons here, but so worth the effort. Start small. The Oscars may seem a long way off, but you never know where this path may lead…and everyone ALWAYS thanks their Mum!

9. Park Play
No one needs to be told to go to a park. But have you thought of finding a new one with new things to do? Shake it up a bit. Go to one with a view (the water!) or one with a flying fox (for the big kids!). Definitely go to one with a coffee van. Take scooters, snacks, and a blanket. Find a spot in view of a toilet so you don't have to spend hours searching for one (you know someone will be immediately busting the moment you start to relax, right?)



10. Make Art!
Take a trip to the beach to forage for shells, or a bush walk to find interesting sticks and leaves. Hunting for natural materials can be a great way to keep everyone busy and focused. Then returning home to make some art will provide a creative outlet and purpose for the remainder of the day. If your craft cupboard is well stocked then grab the glue, paint, small canvases, glitter and fabric. Decorate shoe boxes or small wooden trays or frames. Themes will vary depending on the foraged finds but the options are endless, and you may just end up with something that is useful and attractive: paperweight; trinket box; photo frame; fairy garden..



Try 32 Awesome Things to Make With Nature for more great ideas.

So how have you found this holiday? I hope it's had more ups than downs and that you've chilled mentally and not so much physically.
Share your ideas with me about your fun ideas on what works best for you and your kids...

Monday, 15 June 2015

Terrific Thrifting Finds

The start of winter is a great time for trawling the op shops.
Perhaps the high volume of secondhand goods is due to the cooler weather causing people to clean out wardrobes and cupboards and donating lots of things they no longer want/need. And maybe the op shops have been stockpiling winter goods too, waiting for the weather to turn. Either way, there is a lot of great finds to be made, so today I thought I'd give you a glimpse - in to the heady world of fashion.
So what have I found of late?
I'm glad you asked! Here's a mix of discoveries - not all came home with me (had to leave some goodies for everyone else!)

WINTER COATS:

Oh my, they are everywhere and I've been dazzled at the array of trendy, well-made warm and stylish coats on offer. For as little as $12 you can find something well-made and stylish, to suit most tastes and sizes. 

For a glamorous and lightweight option this delicious number by Alannah Hill was only $15 but alas, too small for me. I loved the delicate polka dots and rose patterned silk lining, wear it and be transported: Straight to Downton Abbey!

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Or this rosy pink 1950s styled Jigsaw woolen coat had me with visions of myself rushing through Bletchley Park (more to do with me having recently seen The Imitation Game on DVD than reflecting my math skills..)

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To this edgier more Military style by Zara. It was a tad tight across the shoulders, but I figured if I could get my arms in, then a slimmer silhouette could only be a good thing. And it will quite possibly promote good posture. Just a thought..

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I paid $45 at Vinnies, which is quite a hefty price in op shop dollar terms, but its classic go-with-anything styling and as new condition made it well worth it. Wouldn't be easy to find the equivalent in a retail store for under $100. Which doesn't mean you shouldn't look of course - Zara in Australia is having something of a profit slump (SMH June 12, 2015) so I'm sure they'd be grateful if you gave them a try.

The article in the Sydney Morning Herald I linked to above provided the following information:
According to Knight Frank's director of retail leasing, Alex Alamsyah, Zara's average price point per item is $US90 ($116), compared with $US80 at TopShop, $US60 at H&M and $US30 at Forever 21.
I would say my average price point per item from the op shops I visit on a regular basis would be around $12. Plus I get to feel good for supporting a charity and the good work they do. I'm reusing/recycling used goods which is good for the environment too. So while I don't advocate NOT buying retail - op shops are a great cost-effective and ethical option, without sacrificing on quality or style. 

SHOES:

Boots are a fashion must for winter and again I've been impressed at the styles and range I've seen on op shop shelves. Many years ago when I started op shopping, knee high leather boots were as rare as hen's teeth (!). Very expensive new I think people held on to them year after year. I bought a used Italian pair eons ago from an Anglicare store I used to frequent in the inner west. They were a little big for my small feet so I lined the inner sole and toe with thick winter socks. They were so warm and comfy I wore them for years! I passed them on to a friend's daughter and now she is wearing them!

These I found a couple of weeks ago in Vinnies for $15. Score!

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And these were all as new and $10 a pair. And all in my size.
Eek!
That's why we're eating a lot of soup this week... 

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So winter has only been going a couple of weeks, but I may have already found my ultimate thrifted winter outfit. It came together in three visits to two different Vinnies stores and I only paid under $50 total! I present to you:

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Australian made leather coat: $20
Morrisey black dress: $20
Black heeled glitter boots: $15

And yes I know, even my inferior maths skills can tell me that that is $5 over my bargain outfit limit. Still, as any good op shopping fashionista will be able to tell you, it's all about the thrill of the hunt!

If you're interested in op shops, here's some links that might help you find those near you + information about donating your used items and even volunteering work opportunities:

Lifeline Shops
Red Cross Shops
Salvation Army Salvos Stores
St Vincent de Paul Vinnies

Tell me what your favourite items to search for at op shops might be?
Do you find your op shopping experiences great fun (like me) or frustrating?
I'd love to know..

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Reel Time

How many movies do you see in any given week, month, year? Since having kids, I haven't averaged many. So in the last two months I've been on practically a movie binge. It doesn't really explain my lack of posting in May, but I know you'd be bored with the excuses and this is far more fun to discuss. Remember my joy in April at experiencing the exciting and much longed for release of  CINDERELLA?  What fun that was. My girls are talking excitedly about the future release of the DVD. Despite the fact that DVDs are apparently supposed to be dead, we are not (so far) a downloading family. We want the movie in our hot little hands and an MOV (?) file will simply not do. I mean really, how is one supposed to take successful shelfie pics of one's favourite movie collection if one can't line them all up on a shelf in a satisfying row? 
Please consider...

The next special event was my 18th wedding anniversary. My husband had flatly refused to take me to see Michael Bolton - so I had to settle for humming "How can we be lovers if we can't be friends?" while we drove to the cinema. I chose the movie. "Testament of Youth" was playing at the Dendy. A movie based on the memoir of Vera Brittain, an english girl who had just begun at Oxford when World War 1 began, the movie opened on VE Day and then backtracked through the war years. Brittain wrote most powerfully on the futility of war, the role of women, and life in the aftermath of the horror. I had read the book while at university, and the movie did not disappoint. It was beautifully done. At times heartwarming, uplifting, moving and tragic. I was in danger near the end of crying like I hadn't since seeing Life is Beautiful so many years ago. Had to pull myself together for dinner afterwards, remembering we were supposed to be celebrating after all. For two hours we were transfixed, transported and overawed (I'm talking about the movie again, in case you were wondering.) The clothes and interiors were amazing too. The acting superb. Totally loved it. 
And all for $40 for two tix. 
Sorry, but Mr Bolton wasn't good value for money in comparison.


Then, a friend's birthday treat became a rare and exciting pleasure of meeting in the morning for a (shock horror!) daytime movie! Yes, it was us and a few dozen seniors. We went for coffee first, and a pastry - it was 10am after all. At 10.30am we rushed into the cinema having neatly missed the advertisements (on account of searching for the perfect winter beanie with pom poms in David Jones Department Store) and then had the most fabulous time watching A Royal Night Out. Set on VE DAy (yes I was having dejavous!) this movie was hilarious and jolly good fun! I found myself thinking how jolly good it was to be there and wondering why with Arch at preschool for the past year and a bit I hadn't done something like this before now??? #lostopportunity

Loved the acting (Elizabeth was uncannily like the real Queen I thought, knowing her as well as I do) and realising that the film had obviously played loosely with the truth, the entertainment of watching Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret let their hair down was fabulous. And who knew Rupert Everett was looking so old? He did make a lovely King and the Queen Mother (also as the mother in Testament of Youth - more dejavous!) was excellent as a stern "keeping up appearances" type.


Then came my own birthday. May is my birthday month so having lined up some babysitting and therefore a few precious hours to celebrate myself, Jonathan and I again returned to the cinema to see A Woman in Gold. You might be thinking three wartime movies in a month is too many, but they were all so good. Again the acting in this one was superb - Helen Mirren is perfect as a Jewish/Austrian/American war survivor who has a burning desire to see her family property returned to its rightful owners. When the property just happens to be some of Gustav Klimpt's finest works, and paintings that seem irreversibly tied to Austria - well the (true) story is one well worth watching. 


War has many victims. When a movie can show the poignancy, the tragedy and the suffering that has occurred, in a manner that is heartrending, informative and rich in characters, stories and history - as well as fulfilling the purposes of being entertaining - well surely they have achieved something good. Perhaps even very good. I'd heartily recommend these movies (yes, download them if you must!), you won't regret it. 

Monday, 4 May 2015

The Birth of a Princess


A princess has been born and in this Royal mad household we are all very happy about it! (Eleanore met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last Easter - we're still basking in the glory..)
We don't know what the name of the new Royal will be yet, but people all over the world are busy thinking about what it should be. I'm just going to put it out there and say it might (i repeat might!) be: Charlotte Elizabeth Diana Eleanore Wales..



And well done to Kate for not only looking so darn good 10 hours after giving birth, but for actually walking outside in public 10 hours after giving birth. Some of us would only dream about doing this in our worst nightmare ever!! (Here's a hilarious rant on the ScaryMommy Blog that says it best.)

I must admit though, that if I was going home to Kensington Palace from the hospital then maybe I would be in kind of a hurry to get back there too. As it was, and I do like my house, I always managed to stay at least FOUR DAYS in hospital after the birth of my children. I think my record for staying in the hospital room after birth may even have been five days. I can't recall - it was all such a blur! Which is kind of the point.
My method for maximising my hospital stay (when thankfully there were no complications) was to
a) stay very quiet and hope the staff forgot I was there; and
b) undertake copious crying (on my part, not the babies, they were fine..) when going home was even lightly mentioned as a possibility by some hapless nurse who obviously had no children back home herself and didn't realise that I wasn't returning to Kensington Palace with multiple staff, private medical practitioners and roomfuls of cosmetics and designer gear.

But seriously, I breastfeed all of my babies, but I never found it easy to begin with. With each new baby I had to learn how to do it all over again. Then there was all the physical stuff going on (your body kind of turns in to a foreign object), the lack of sleep and the pressure to feed that baby meant it was kind of traumatic. Every time. (If I just whisper the words: N***** Shields were my salvation - you'll start to appreciate what was going on…) So for those reasons and no doubt many more I've blocked out, staying in hospital for more than 10 (or 24, or 48) hours was not a luxury. It was VITAL for getting proper care for myself and the baby and for having midwives and lactation consultants and obstetricians everywhere who oversaw, checked, advised and assisted.

So these services may not seem like luxuries to many of us, but they certainly are for the women of Nepal. It's hard to imagine the devastation brought about by the recent earthquake, let alone to imagine giving birth in the aftermath. But it's happening.

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Here's one way to give and to give generously with whatever you have to spare. Go to Baptist World Aid's website.

Because all babies are beautiful - and getting a happy and safe start in life, whether that's in a palace or in an earthquake zone, is something that touches all of our hearts.


What do you think the baby Princess will be called?

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Rocking the Cliches When Buying Gifts for Mum

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Do you have your Mother's Day gift covered? Some people do, because this limited edition sparkly Opera Crystals Cinderella Clutch from Oroton (AU$1500.00) has SOLD OUT!

Or are you yet to turn over the calendar page from April 2015, and hence haven't twigged that MOTHER'S DAY is fast approaching!!??

There are plenty of ways to buck the trends and avoid the cliches when searching for a Mother's Day gift. Perhaps your Mum would like to go abseiling or on a bridge climb? Maybe she's dying to see Spandau Ballet in concert and hasn't got around to buying tickets yet (oh, is that just me?).

None of us like to revert to the old cliches when it comes to gift giving, but often we don't have the time to think too far outside the square. If you are finding yourself time/money/creativity challenged, then use these ideas to delight and spoil your Mum.

In the Kitchen:

This vibrantly patterned china jug by Christopher Vine holds 3.5 litres and comes in a dazzling array of other patterns and colours. This red beauty will give any table setting a lift, making a great statement without clashing. Fill it with flowers or use it for cool drinks. It's $49.95 from Myer.

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And if you have fallen hard for the current craze for all things copper, then these mixing bowls by Australian House & Garden are definitely a thing. This large bowl will add a glamourous gleam to any kitchen. Only $24.95 ea from Myer.
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Stationery:

They say that snail mail is almost dead, and with the increase in postage stamps pricing it possibly soon will be, but in the meantime, giving Mum gorgeous good quality stationery will always be appreciated.
Who knows, maybe you'll get a lovely thank you card coming right back at you!

Kikki.K has some super sweet ranges of memory books, journals and notebooks. Don't just buy a memory book - try writing in some favourite memories and sticking in some photos of happy times. It may take you hours to do the night before - but it will be worth the effort! And do remember, if you buy Mum a Thankful Journal, don't be offended if she chooses to write in it about things other than you… just saying.

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Flowers: 

Saying it with flowers is always a good idea. I'm actually a big fan of buying a few less expensive bunches (from say a local fruit shop or even, ahem, the supermarket) and combining them for a sort of large tousled arrangement that has a carefree cottagey edge to it. It will hopefully also be attractive. Add stuff from your own garden if that's an option. Raid weedy patches beside the road, within reason, and only if it's safe. Mum shouldn't have to spend her special day visiting you in the hospital!



And if you wanted to make up for enhance the wild DIY flower arranging, then buying a WOW factor vase will have your siblings gnashing their teeth! (not that that's the goal, obviously). This hammered copper heart is by the amazing Helen Bayley at LOVESTAR. Her family business was launched in 2012, and this super mum and her team hand makes each beautiful vase. The hearts can either stand upright in a clear perspex frame, or be hung on a wall. They are stunning.

Plant pots are also a good idea - particularly if they are filled with something like a succulent that is very hard to kill. Kmart has some really stand out examples of pots with gold details that are frankly, fantastic. For $10 a pot, you could even afford to add some potting mix which I'm told may prolong the life of the plant even further!

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Hampers:

I'm a big fan of the hamper. I come from a family that is mad on hampers. Over the years some have proved better than others. My brother wasn't overly impressed the year (it may have been his 21st, I can't recall) my parents gave him "a hamper" that was actually a plastic washing basket filled with no-name tinned food. Let's just say it lacked a little on the glamour side of things..

Mother's Day Hampers should be filled with items that your Mother would actually like to receive, and which she may not be inclined to buy for herself. Sometimes a themed hamper is the obvious gift. For example, if she has a beloved pet, choose pet-inspired presents that will appeal to her (and the pet). You could include doggy gourmet treats and chocolate for her; a mug with a pic of her favourite pooch/moggie; matching bows for her hair and the pet's; a pet magazine and maybe a nice brush or spray (for her or the pet, depending on who needs it most).

Follow this list for general hamper items for Mum - that can even be picked up from your nearest supermarket if you are doing it last minute!
Place items in a crisp paper gift bag with a sparkly bow on top. Or do something crafty like paint dip a second-hand basket. Give it a go - come on!!

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Cinderella Hamper:




Magazine options could include a mini subscription, offered by some publications, which means you don't have to pay a massive amount, and it gives your Mum a taste of a mag without the commitment of a full year. 

HOORAY! is a bi-monthly Australian mag offering sustenance, styling, atmosphere and celebrations! Perfect for any Mum who likes a party, a high tea or having everyone over for a swish soiree. 

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I hope these ideas inspire you to think a little creatively within the common cliche'd gift item categories that are wheeled out every Mother's Day!
Let me know what you end up with..

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Accidental Bargains!

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A story popped up on the net this week about the website of the luxury goods company, Balenciaga.

It was the stuff some dreams are made of (Well, my dreams. Can't vouch for yours..) The term "accidental discount" is music to any shopper's eager bargain-hunting ears, and when it's coupled with a company that make amazing handbags… you know it's gotta be good!

You see, Balenciaga's website went kind of psycho. For just one day, bags that used to be thousands of dollars, were down to just hundreds (I know, still not a bargain for some of us, but you get the picture!) Apparently as the news spread, women were texting each other with emoticons of unsurpassed excitement and joy - as they raced to their devices to pick up a luxury (and presumably, previously unobtainable) accidental bargain!

Well, that is until the company realised what was happening and shut down the website for 24 hours and cancelled all the erroneous (says who?!) orders. Blugh!

Not nice Balenciaga! Imagine the appalling precedent good will you would have installed in women around the world if you had honoured these orders that were simply taking advantage of your mistake?

Oh, okay, further research has shown that they did release this little statement: “Because Balenciaga values their patronage, clients who have been affected by the error will be reimbursed for their purchases and will be issued a gift certificate that will be redeemable at Balenciaga retail locations within the United States. Balenciaga customer service will contact each person individually with information on the gift certificate process.”

But still….

So I started thinking, what other items of pure loveliness could do with being accidentally discounted?

I thought I'd start with three random items.

The Watch: It's called the Arceau Ecuyere (whatever the heck that means) and is made by Hermes (that's pronounced her-may, if you were wondering). Any watch can tell the time. But this Hermes timepiece takes that practical notion to an entirely new level of gorgeousness! There's a touch of whimsey in those slanted numerals. Oh and of course there's the usual diamonds. Sparkle! The red alligator band keeps it real, don't you think?

Not real is the price tag. I'm embarrassed to say how much it really costs. Suffice to say if they took off about $19,550, I might consider saving up for one.

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A Rug. Why not? They can make all the difference in a living area feeling cosy and pulled together, or devoid of character and bitsy. However, I have found over the years that there is a BIG difference between cheap and generic rugs, and the designer variety where no costs have been cut on on the quality and feel and the design, colour and visual appeal.
Yes, I am saying that most cheap rugs are ugly and will fall apart. It's a decorating fact.

So, a new rug. Custom made is best, so that it perfectly fits your space. (Read this Houzz story for more info on choosing the right sized rug) The experts tell us that the front edges of your furniture should overhang the rug, or even sit entirely on the rug. Most off the rack (?) rugs are not that big. So my custom made rug of choice with a strong design and colour (neutrals begone!), a vintage feel and a floral theme is this one designed by Julie Paterson of ClothFabric. It's called Rough Rose, and it is beautiful!

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And if you have the stupendous rug then you need some decent furniture to put on it.
I choose this! Thank you accidental bargain fairy! If this dropped in price from US$12,400 to oh, say  $400, I'd be most grateful.

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Enough already?? I'm kind of excited at the possibilities here. I think the accidental bargains theme could keep me going for many years, possibly forever.

So tell me, if you could have something beautiful and unobtainable at an accidental bargain price, what would it be????

Mother's Day is fast approaching. Gift giving guide coming soon!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Mountains getaway




This photo proves that even when you leave the city in glorious sunshine and arrive in the Mountains to rain, fog, mist, hail, wind, cold, and more rain… our family has FINALLY reached the stage where the kids can cope; where I don't go totally (yep true, not even close) insane, and no one got sick. Well nothing bar a sniffle.

Let's just all take a big happy sigh of relief on that one.

Last year I got pretty euphoric buying my last packet of nappies - but this beats that. Past Easters involved everything from communal throwing up to toddlers with broken collar bones (Jesse when he was two).
So this is a milestone that feels worth celebrating!

In the light of our interactions with THE ROYALS from last Easter (click here to read about when Eleanore gave flowers to William and Kate!) it was going to be hard for this year to match the hype.

However, on arrival, this idyllic view always seems to calm the mind and soothe the soul. Yes okay it lacks the excitement of mixing with Royalty, but peace and harmony are not to be sneezed at.

On our annual Easter trek to the Blue Mountains we've stayed for a number of years now in a gorgeous renovated cottage complete with cottage garden filled with lavender, roses, camellias and dahlias. Heavenly! Outside the front gate are spectacular views of mountains and valleys - the kind that tourist buses drive past. Quite regularly.

Exhaust fumes aside, it's the kind of place where you really feel you have escaped from the crush of city life. I quickly forget what day it is as I revel in a place where the grandeur of creation is literally right outside the front door! Not that I bush walk mind you. I enjoy looking at it. That's it really.


Over the long weekend, we attend Katoomba Easter Convention - a christian convention where around 3000 people, many of them families, come together to hear talks from the Bible. This year we were blessed to hear Paul Tripp from Philadelphia, USA. Click here if you'd like to read more.

The kids go to a fabulous programme, run by volunteers. They have a ball.

The last few years the weather has been great. Totally great.
It was time for a change (whether we wanted it or not).  Dark clouds were gathering…



The mists rolled in. I took this (not very good) shot, just as the fog descended and everything went white. There was kind of no point in taking photos after that. My worst moment, which I'll share with you (as sharing the pain is good, right?) ..was while trudging ankle deep in mud across an oval, in the pouring rain, while carrying a crying four-year-old + 2 bags + umbrella I thought that I'd probably had enough of mountains weather. I was ready for some sun.


We didn't see the sun again until the third day (Easter Sunday), which was kind of fitting. We felt joy at being able to dry out and warm up. But the joy of reflecting on the great news that Jesus has risen was H U G E!!!!!!

It is heartening to focus on God over the Easter weekend, remembering all that he has done and is doing in our lives.  Paul Tripp talked about us having gospel amnesia, and I knew what he meant. Life gets in the way. We get distracted by the everyday.  We forget that God's great love is life-changing. That we should be living our lives as if He matters, every single day.

Here's a few more happy Mountains shots:

Eggs ready to be hidden


Dahlia picked from the garden


High tea with friends 


Kids at the lake


Feeding the ducks


Autumn splendour at Grandma's House


Happy Easter Everyone!