Monday, October 29, 2012

Point And Shoot: Our Sunday

A perfect Sunday was had in our little household yesterday and fortunately, I had my camera with me to take some shots throughout the day...

We started off with an early breakfast at one of our regular haunts.  We were actually able to relax and enjoy our meals for once, with Sophie happy to sit in the high chair 'people watching' and sharing bites from our plates.


With a bit of bribery, Grace obliged as my model while I played around with our camera in manual mode, trying to practise using different settings.  I was happy to snap this sweet photo of her among the many shots I took.


We dragged out the slip and slide for the girls early in the morning, before it became too hot, so that they could have some fun and cool down a bit (it got to 35 degrees here in Perth yesterday). Sophie loved it almost as much as Grace and was fearless as the two of them scooted down the plastic together.

It became rather overcast and started to drizzle a bit in the afternoon so while Sophie (exhausted from the mornings antics) napped and Grace played quietly in her room for a bit, Paul and I managed to get stuck into some tidying - him in the shed, me in the study.  Huge progress was made on my part I'm happy to say.

Since it was still balmy as evening approached, we put the picnic rug out on the back lawn and had fish and chips together as a bit of a treat.  And then, as the sun went down, we let Grace have her first experience with a few sparklers.  I loved seeing the look of amazement on her face as they began fizzing.

What did the weekend look like at your place?

Linking up with Lou's Point And Shoot

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sophie's 1st Birthday Party

Sophie's first birthday party last weekend was by far my favourite party I've put together.  I'm not sure if it's because blue and white is my favourite colour combination or if because by now, after hosting several children's birthday parties I know what works for me and how I best organize things with as little stress as possible.  Either way, it was a wonderful morning celebrating the first birthday of our little girl with close family and friends.

Decorations consisted of a simple photo board, fabric bunting which I had sewn, jars of daisies wrapped in gingham ribbon, washi tape cupcake flags and checked tablecloths.  I also designed some bag toppers for the party favours which coordinated with the invites I had made.

We had some smaller tables set up under our patio but with the morning becoming quite hot, most guests congregated under the shady corner of our backyard where we had picnic blankets spread out, a picnic basket filled with baby toys and our sand pit close by for the little ones to play in.  The good old slippery dip was brought out at the end of the party too.

As for the cake and all of those fondant daisies I made, I'm not sure my photos do it justice.  I really wish I had a better shot that showed more detail as it looks smaller here than in real life and the icing was a pale lemon and not so yellow. I baked two simple butter cakes (I wasn't sure if one would be enough for all our guests) and smothered them in frosting before adding the daisies on at the last minute.


And as exhausted as we all were that afternoon (and the following day) we had a wonderful time celebrating.  Our mix of guests really made for a fantastic party, we had blue sunny skies (lucky considering it rained on Monday) and there was enough delicious food to go around... a perfect party combination in my books...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Our Wednesday

After all the party preparations of last week, this one has been nice and calm and slow-paced so far, free of deadlines and 'to-dos' and full of play, pottering and left over birthday cake.

One nice surprise this morning was a package that arrived on our doorstep.  Wanting to add a bit of a vintage vibe to Sophie's nursery among all the newer items, I'd been searching on Etsy for a cute ornament of some sort.  After spotting the trio of white swans above at The Vagrant Duck, I ordered them as part of her birthday present.  I chose well as Sophie kicked her chubby little legs in excitement and made her own version of a quacking noise when she saw them sitting on our kitchen bench.  I can't wait to get her shelves up now so I can display them.

The rest of our day has been spent catching up on washing while it's been good drying weather, spring-cleaning Sophie's wardrobe and tending to our vegetable patch.  I've also been sorting through the photos I took on Sunday so I can share some of them with you soon.  Be sure to pop back at the end of the week for a post about Sophie's first birthday party...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sophie Is One!

About a month ago, we finally got around to selling Sophie's bassinet.  As I watched it being carried away, a pang of sadness hit me then and there... I suddenly realised my baby was growing up, much quicker than it felt like she should be.  Over the past few weeks since then, she's changed more and more every day as she's reached new milestones and stages.  Just like that, she's gone from a baby to a little girl.  And as excited as I am about all the wonderful times ahead of us, I can't help but feel sad and wish that it were possible to slow down the months a teeny bit.

The past year has been such a special one.  Watching Sophie develop her own personality with her unique little quirks and mannerisms has been so precious.  She is happy, smiley, cheeky, strong-willed, adventurous and oh so lovable and she lights up our world with her presence.

On this very day twelve months ago, we were waiting with excitement to meet our baby.  One year on, our family life is all the more richer having our little girl a part of it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

One Weekend Wonder: 197 Daisies

Over the weekend, I have been slowly making fondant daisies for Sophie's birthday cake  (the photo above shows only a quarter of those I have created).  Back when I first posted about my vision for her party and the picnic theme I was picturing , I was still unsure on the cake, until Catherine left a comment suggesting tying in the flowers on my inspiration board in some way.  A bit of Googling had me deciding on a simple round cake with buttercream frosting, covered in a sprinkling of edible daisies.  However, with pre-made sugar decorations costing around fifty cents each, I instead bought myself two cutters and a pack of fondant icing and added the task of making a whole bunch of these to my party preparations.

I must admit, this activity lost its novelty factor about halfway through and became a tad tiring (although making these flowers is actually very easy).  I now understand why prettily decorated wedding cakes are so expensive.  However, one positive that came from this repetitive task was that it gave me time to sit and think and reminisce...

As I worked away, I thought back to where I was at this time last year... three days away from my due date.. Sophie was head down after having been 'turned' a few weeks earlier when we discovered she was breech.  My labour bag had been packed, complete with presents for my big girl for each day she would visit me in hospital.  Grace's patchwork quilt had been finally sewn (my one 'must-do' on my list of 'nesting tasks'.)  My round belly (whilst small and compact) was becoming increasingly uncomfortable.  I was feeling a mixture of emotions... excitement at being able to finally meet our precious bub and also apprehension about how I would adjust to being a Mama to two little ones.

And yesterday, as I continued on with my mundane task and made daisy after daisy and became lost in my thoughts, I looked over to Grace and Sophie playing in the living room beside me and realised  how lucky I am to be at this point, one year on, with my precious little family and this life I am so blessed to have...

Pop over to Claire's One Weekend Wonder Link-Up to see what others have been up to this weekend...

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Pile Of Postage Stamps

As a little girl, I went through a phase where I loved collecting stamps.  I can still picture that first stamp album of mine, a bright purple covered book, inside which I allocated several pages to Australian stamps as well as different pages for international ones.  I used to love cutting stamps off old envelopes, waiting patiently as they soaked before taking great care to arrange them neatly.

For as long as I remember, my Nanna always collected stamps.  She would buy a set of each new Australian design that came out and a stamp bulletin would arrive in her letterbox every month.  I used to love when she let me carefully browse through her collection. 

Over the years, my passion for this hobby disappeared and so too did that old purple stamp album of mine.  My Mum did however keep most of my old Australia stamps, and so recently, when I asked if she still had them for me to give Grace, she was able to pass on a nice little bundle to her.  Grace has been using them for some craft activities.  Some she glues into a little notebook I’ve given her, sorting and categorising them into pages of ‘bird stamps’ and ‘flower stamps’ and ‘Queen stamps’.  Others have become part of her play at letter writing and playing 'postie'.  

I’ve even kept a little bundle of these stamps aside myself, with the possibility of using some on a little craft project of my own.  I’m keen to try and cover a box with them decoupage-style or to even attempt something like the postage stamp artworks I've seen on Etsy by Butterfly Mind Vintage and Stamposaurus.

As for those albums of my Nanna’s, several years ago, they made their way to our home and into my possession.  I dragged them out again the other day for the first time since I’d been given them and let Grace sit with me as I looked over each page.  We picked out our favourite stamps and talked about all the designs and pictures.  This is one of the things I love about being a Mum – being able to share in past hobbies and passions with my girls and reliving those special moments from my own childhood.

Who knew something as simple as an old pile of postage stamps could bring so much joy to a three year old?

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Tiny Bit Of Nursery Progress

Last Friday, whilst visiting a friend who had recently given birth to her third baby, she shared her disappointment with me that she had yet to finish decorating her baby girl’s nursery. The walls still had to be repainted, piles of baby clothes and gifts needed to be sorted through and a bookshelf was waiting to be styled. However, when I told her that poor Sophie (whose first birthday is approaching in less than two weeks) was still sleeping in her incomplete room, she said she felt much better.

I on the other hand did not. Despite being up to my armpits in party preparations at the moment, on Saturday, I decided enough was enough and promised myself to cross at least one thing off my ‘nursery decorating list’.

So, while Paul took the girls and Asha to the river for a splash, out came my sewing machine. Using a great tutorial I found online, I managed to whip up the bobble trim cushion cover I’ve been meaning to make for some time now.

Progress is finally happening (albeit slowly as with most things in my household) and I’m more eager than ever now to finish decorating this room. I’m ordering a mobile from Etsy seller The Butter Flying, have some prints to frame and just need to put the final coat on the floating shelves I’m making (with Mum’s partner’s help) before I can put them up and arrange some bits and bobs to display. I also sewed a basket liner on Saturday, but after finishing it, decided it was too dark a shade of aqua (I’m going for a more mint green) and so I now need to take a trip to Spotlight for some new fabric before I can attempt ‘take two’.

As for this week, among a few play-dates and catch-ups with friends, I’m dedicating it to making party decorations. I have bunting to finish sewing, goodie bags to put together, first year photos to print, tablecloths to wash and fondant flowers to finish creating. I’m aiming to make something each day and am hoping come the weekend, I’ll be done. That will leave me next week to focus solely on preparing all the food.

Wish me luck!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bits And Pieces From Our Week

Sometimes I go through lulls where I wonder if anyone is interested in the simple little daily tidbits I post about.  Today, I'm putting those fears aside and sharing some snippets of what we've been up to this week...

... Grace spent Sunday afternoon with her Daddy, uncle and cousin on the family boat enjoying a cruise up the river...

... we spent the morning of the Monday public holiday at the Royal Show... Grace was excited to ride on a carousel 'like Mary Poppins'...

... we've spent some warm sunny days in the garden, finally finishing off the mulching we started the weekend before (would you believe there are already onion weeds appearing!) and the girls had lots of fun on their bikes...

... I designed Sophie's first birthday party invites, printed them on textured card and they have been posted...

... we've picked rose after rose from the flourish of blooms on our Double Delight bushes - their scent is truly breathtaking...

As for the weekend ahead, I'm hoping to finish making decorations and goodie bags for Sophie's party but other than that, I'm hoping for a few days of slow-paced, simple pottering around our home.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Sense Of Community

A few months back when flicking through television channels, Paul and I found ourselves watching a documentary one night called ‘Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder’.  It was fascinating to watch, although sad at the same time, giving an insight into the world of a poor chap named Richard Wallace, a hoarder who had literally become almost buried by the clutter and ‘junk’ he had accumulated over the years.  His house had become uninhabitable, the only access between rooms being tiny gaps left at the top of doorways among endless piles floor to ceiling high of newspapers and other household items.    

What I liked most about this tale though was watching the changing attitudes of the local community towards their fellow neighbour.  Residents in the village of Westcott, (who placed a great emphasis on presenting their homes and gardens to impeccable standards) had been battling the local council for years over Richard Wallace and his eyesore.  What I found heart warming was the way that a local builder managed to befriend Richard and helped him begin to clear his yard bit by bit, eventually coordinating a busy bee of sorts which saw local townspeople change their way of thinking and actually help this poor man begin to work his way out of the rut he had found himself in. 

I began thinking about our own neighbours.  Living in the suburbs, there isn’t a community feel here as there would be in a country town.  While we often stop and speak to the lovely couples in the houses directly across from us, or give a wave to one another as we drive down the street and so on, our actual neighbours in the house next door are virtually unknown.  If I bumped into either of them at the local shops, I probably wouldn’t even recognise them.  

Back when I was teaching, I witnessed a real community feel in the tiny private primary school where I worked.  Meal rosters were organized by families to help other ones who were dealing with sickness or tough times, parents regularly volunteered to help out at school busy bees and fundraisers and a few lovely Mums on occasion would bake cakes and treats for us teachers for morning tea ‘just because’.  A friend of mine who recently had her third baby told me about the lovely community at her eldest daughter’s school who had kindly organised meals for their family in those early ‘newborn weeks’.

For me though, my greatest sense of community has been definitely felt here in blogland.  I feel proud to be part of a group who rally together to support others in times of need, who write emails filled with encouragement and kind words when they’re needed and who share their expertise with one another where they can (thank you Katrina!!)  

I’d love to hear your own experiences of community spirit… How is your relationship with your neighbours?  Are they the type you could borrow a cup of sugar from?  Have you found yourself in a caring school or church community?  Have you too been surprised by the support shown for one another here online?

Cute mixed media collage above by Laura Wennstrom

Monday, October 1, 2012

Home Office Inspiration

When Sophie was born and our spare room was transformed into her nursery, we lost our 'dumping spot' - somewhere to pop things to be 'dealt with' and where I could hide things.  I remember when I was planning Sophie's nursery, I thought a lot about how we could somehow fit a spare bed into one of our rooms but there just didn't seem to be the space and so instead, we made do with a folder bed borrowed from my Mum for a few months.  Paul spent many a night on that folder bed in order to get a decent sleep in the early days when Sophie was a newborn and I was feeding three hourly through the night.  That folder bed served its purpose but has since been returned and we've now decided we need a spare bed.  Not so much for sleeping on, more so that I can have that 'spot' again where I can dump things out of sight.

So, we've thought long and hard about the only remaining room that could possibly accommodate such a piece... our study.  We've decided that slowly over time, we'll transform this room into a combined home office and guest room.  Much of this room is currently wasted.  A chair in the corner of the room has never been sat in.  Our filing cabinet is too big for what we need.  Our cupboard holds endless books and other items we no longer want or need.  The built in robe in this room with its single hanging rail and overhead shelf is 'dead space'.  We've decided we need to make better use of what we have available.

For years, I've kept inspiration folders, including ones for home offices and guest rooms, often wondering why I did so when our study was already furnished and a guest room was something we would probably not see in our household for some time to come. But now?  Now I can plan.  I can allow myself to imagine a new space with new furniture and a new colour scheme.  I can picture new handy with neatly organised craft supplies (I'm taking inspiration from Jane for this one).  I can dream of the inspiration board I will create with pretty pictures and quotes.

Here are a few images that are inspiring me so far...

To start with, we're decluttering this room.  We're selling furniture.  We're donating old books to charity.  We're freeing up space.  It's going to take time though... there's a lot of 'stuff' in this room.

Do you have a home office?  A guest room?  Are you happy with your space or if you had the chance, is there something you'd change?  

Original image sources:
#1 House To Home (photography by Rachael Smith)
#3 kikki.K