Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Wishes

Well, only one more sleep to go and aside from another layer on my ice cream cake for tomorrow's lunch, I'm all set to go. Even though many of you have already signed off for the year, I wanted to wish you all a lovely Christmas - I hope you all have a wonderful time celebrating with your family and friends, enjoy all the delicious food and receive a nice prezzie or two.

Through blogging, I have connected with so many supportive, kind hearted, beautiful individuals and made some truly wonderful friends who inspire me through blogs of their own each and every day. I appreciate the time you all take to read my posts and leave me comments and would like to say thank you to all who follow and read Homely One.

Warm wishes and big hugs to you all and I'll see you back here soon...

I've been flicking through Christmas photos from the past few years - it's been so nice remembering all the special times spent celebrating. I can't believe how little Grace looked in her Christmas photo from last year and how much she's changed in 12 months!

I've just noticed that this is my 200th post - how lovely it fell on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pretty Christmas Presents

What a busy few days we've had recently! On Friday night, we had the cousin's get-together at our house where lots of fond memories of Gran Ivy were shared. On Saturday morning we organised a last minute catch-up with friends of ours from Boston who are in Western Australia over Christmas. Luckily our house was nice and tidy after my big clean up on Friday but I did spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking sausage rolls, whipping up some chicken and aioli sandwiches and baking a chocolate slice. Sunday morning we visited my Mum to swap Christmas presents (she has since left on her trip to the UK and contacted me last night to say they had landed safely in Manchester). Sunday afternoon was a Christmas party with extended family at Paul's uncle's beautiful home overlooking the river. Finally, yesterday was Paul's Gran's funeral which was a lovely service and fortunately, I managed to keep Grace occupied with bits and bobs from my handbag and she was very well behaved all day.

As for Christmas preparations, I've finally wrapped all our presents. I went with a red and white colour theme and used red and white printed gift wrap and a roll of polka dot paper too. With some gifts, I wrapped a band of contrasting paper around before tying on a ribbon. I didn't wrap all our presents prettily (especially not the children's presents!!) I just focused on the gifts for friends and family who I knew would appreciate a carefully wrapped gift. It was wonderful that the ribbons and bakers' twine Catherine included in the little package she sent me were all red and white colours too as they fit in perfectly.

As for gift tags, I used a combination of the lovely ones Catherine made and sent to me (you can see her kraft paper ones in the photo above) and then, the other day I spotted a roll of packaging tape which matched the one she had used on her tags so I bought some and used it to make some more simple tags of my own. I also used the tape on a few presents which you can see below.

I truly do enjoy giving gifts more than receiving them. I like to think I've carefully chosen a gift that will be appreciated and enjoyed and even more, my favourite part of Christmas preparations is wrapping all the presents. I do still have half of one gift to buy (although I'm hoping Paul will sort that one out for me) and I need to get something small for Grace but apart from that, all I need to do before Christmas is make two desserts and I'm all set!!

How are all your Christmas preparations going?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Flower

Today I thought I'd follow Laura from A Place For Tea's lead and write a Friday Flower post. The pretty bloom above is from the potted hydrangea on our patio. I'd like to dedicate this flower to a few special ladies...

Firstly to Paul's Gran Ivy who passed away this week. She reached the amazing age of 90 and I am hoping that the funeral next Tuesday will be a real celebration of her life. She was a sweet old lady and I know Paul has many happy memories of her from his childhood.

Secondly to Nicole and Mirela who passed on some lovely awards to me this week and to my good friend Janette who gave me the 'You Are Gifted Award' she received from Nicole too.

And lastly, to Jane of My Pear Tree House who has a tough road ahead of her - she needs all the prayers and positive thoughts she can at this difficult time.

Now I'm off to tidy up as we have all Paul's cousins coming around to our house tonight to work on writing a tribute to be read out on Tuesday. Our house is a mess so I need to do a quick tidy up. The Christmas present wrapping I had planned will have to wait until tomorrow - I'm going with a red and white theme and will share some photos on the weekend. Enjoy your Friday evening...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Two Lovely Awards

I had a lovely end to my day last night after discovering I was the recipient of two blogging awards from two lovely blogging friends…

Mirela from Melli’s Designs has passed on the ‘A Blog With Substance’ award to me. Mirela is so sweet and such an encouraging friend and I am honoured to receive this award from her. Now I would like to pass it on to two bloggers whose blogs I feel make for great reading and provide lots of inspiration:

Jane of Life On Planet Baby
Abby of Two Little Dicky Birds

Also, Nicole from Bubby Makes Three passed on the ‘You Are Gifted’ award which she’s started up to celebrate the Christmas season and to recognise the gifts of fellow bloggers. Nicole’s posts are always entertaining – I love her wit and her humorous style of writing and I relate to so much of what she shares. I was so happy to be included in her list of bloggers.

I would like to pass on this award to the following lovely ladies:

Anna from Lona de Anna – Anna's blog is full of inspiration for all things interiors and she is such a supportive blogging friend. The comments she leaves on my blog are always so honest and wise and for this I am very grateful. Her gift is the way she encourages others through her kind comments.

Sarah from One Perfect Day – Through her blog, Sarah shares the special day to day moments with her precious little boy. Her gift is the way she encourages others to appreciate the simple pleasures in life and for being such an inspirational mummy to me.

Tina from Rubies Place – Aside from being one of the loveliest bloggers I have encountered here in blogland, Tina is extremely creative and shares the most wonderful ideas and tutorials on her blog. Her gift is the way she inspires us all with her DIY projects and for the generous way she encourages us to give such projects a go ourselves.

There are so many bloggers I could have passed the above awards on to – so many of you inspire me every day with the posts you share and are such wonderful supporters of my blog – I appreciate each and every one of you.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Forgotten Photos

I love that feeling of discovering something you'd forgotten about - money hidden in a coat pocket, a chocolate bar stashed at the back of the pantry or as was the case for me on the weekend, photos I'd forgotten I'd snapped. Since getting our new DSLR, our poor point and shoot hasn't had as much use. However, yesterday when I went to bring it to a Christmas party, I discovered some snaps I hadn't yet downloaded. Here are my two favourite ones...

Yesterday's function was an extended family lunch with cousins and aunts and uncles. We had a great time catching up and enjoying all the delicious food. This coming weekend we have Paul's work party on Saturday night and a family get together with Paul's side on Sunday afternoon. Such a busy time of year but so lovely spending time with family and friends.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Progress

I have really enjoyed browsing through posts this week about how others are decorating their homes for Christmas - there is so much inspiration to be found. I initially had visions this year of making lots of Christmas bits and pieces but the last few weeks have left little time for anything but looking after Grace and so my grand plans will have to wait until next year unfortunately. Being a bit older Grace will be able to join in with the crafty fun a bit more then too.

At least our Christmas tree is up and decorated (although it does look a little bare. It is proving to be a bit too tempting for Grace though and has been pulled over twice (luckily I hadn't hung any fragile ornaments this year). I think presents under the tree will definitely have to wait until Christmas Eve!

Yesterday, I received my first gift of the Christmas season. I arrived home after being out present shopping (am halfway through thankfully) to find a parcel on my front door step from Catherine of A Time To Create. Through our blogs, Catherine and I have become good friends. She is one of those bloggers I 'click with', who thinks similarly, has common interests and hobbies and who inspires me so much. So many of Catherine's posts are saved under my 'to make' and 'to cook' folders. When I opened the box, there was such a beautifully wrapped gift inside. I was so overwhelmed that little tears sprang to my eyes. Knowing how much I admire Catherine's crochet and crafting which she shares on her blog, she sent me a book called 'Learn To Crochet', some crochet wool, a crochet hook, a package of her beautiful handmade Christmas tags and a beautiful star garland. I was so touched by Catherine's kind gesture and feel so grateful to have made such a wonderful blogging friend. When I hang my garland and wrap my presents using the gorgeous tags I have received, I'll share some more photos.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend ahead. What do you all have planned?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bedroom Colour

A little while back, my sister and I went for morning tea with my Mum. On our way home, we stopped at the flower sellers along Beaufort Street where Mum bought each of us a bunch. The yellow blooms I chose added a nice bright pop of colour to our bedroom where I placed them. I'd never considered using yellow in our bedroom but having these flowers beside my bed made me rather like the sunny touch it added, especially when teemed with the aqua hints already in our room.

I have also been thinking of ideas for something to hang from the ceiling hook in our room to fill in that corner and provide some visual interest. One afternoon, I was playing around with options and strung up the polka dot bunting from Grace's party to get the idea of the possible length I could work with. While the polka dots are the wrong colour for our room, I've decided to try making a new polka dot garland in more suitable colours or perhaps from something like old maps of meaningful places we've visited.

After the busy Christmas season, I'd like to look for two new wall lamps for above our bed and to decide on some new curtains. I have no idea what colour to go with to complement the white, stony greys and dark wood in our room, all I know is we need something fresh. I'm looking forward to adding the finishing touches on this room in the New Year... makeovers in our home seem to take forever!

P.S Thank you all for your comments and recommendations on my kitchen mixer post - I will read them again carefully before I decide to make a purchase...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kitchen Mixer

I am in desperate need of a kitchen mixer. As you all know, I love to bake and for the five and a half years we've been in our house, I've made do with a pair of handheld electric beaters. This hasn't been too much of an issue, except on the occasion that a recipe has stated 'beat for ten minutes'. However, seeing as I enjoy cooking so much, I've decided that it's time to buy myself an actual mixer.

As much as I love the look of a Kitchen Aid, I don't know if I can justify the huge price tage that accompanies it when it would spend most of its time hidden away in a cupboard. I also love the old vintage Sunbeam mixmasters like the one above. I remember reading a post of Simone's at Beach Vintage and admiring her lucky thrift shop find when she scored one. Sunbeam still do a retro looking mixer which I was all set to buy recently until I read a few product reviews online which were definitely not 'glowing reports'.

So I'm turning to all of you for advice. Which mixer do you have? What do you like or dislike about it? Is there anything I should consider when making a purchase? Hopefully there will be some good deals in the post-Christmas sales so I can make a purchase then but in the meantime, I'd love to hear your recommendations.

Source of image above unknown

Friday, December 3, 2010

This Week...

...I've finally made a small start in getting ready for Christmas. Yesterday, Grace and I put up the Christmas tree. The fairy lights are on but I have yet to add the decorations. I'm debating whether to put them on the higher branches out of Grace's reach or whether to buy or make some simple ones that will be safe for little hands. This weekend's job is to write out our Christmas cards ready to be posted.

...I have found some time to enjoy reading. I have just finished the novel 'Homecoming' and am now a few chapters into 'What We Have'. I forgot how much I love getting stuck into a good story and as much flicking through a magazine is one of my favourite ways to relax, becoming engaged in a good plot with interesting characters is fun too.

...I've become very well aquainted with the 'nursing' chair in Grace's room. Grace has had a week of very unsettled nights due to two nasty teeth that are beginning to appear. This has meant cuddles have been needed in the early hours of the morning and I have since reached the conclusion that although I like our Ikea Poang chair, it is definitely not a chair I would use in a nursery in the future.

...I have appreciated the supportive comments from my readers. After a week of feeling frazzled and sleep deprived, it has truly made my day to see a comment has been left on a post I've written. I feel so lucky to be part of such a supportive blogging community.

Source of image above unknown

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Kitchen Touches

I was flicking through some photos I’d taken recently with our new camera and realised I hadn’t yet shared a few small additions to our kitchen. Back in February when I posted some kitchen snaps as part of my Homely One House Tour, things were looking rather bare. Our kitchen is relatively new following a big renovation (see here for before and after shots) and I had mentioned it was lacking those finishing off touches that add warmth and character to a room. I am slowly making progress in this area.

One of the additions we’ve made is a little shelf above our bench. I wanted a ‘tea and coffee making station’ close to the kettle as walking back and forth from the pantry wasn’t practical, especially with me who enjoys several cuppas each day. After searching and searching, I eventually found the perfect canisters to put on top of the floating Ikea shelf I had Paul install. Not only does this make things more easily accessible, it adds something to the previously bare wall.

Also, I have found a better ‘home’ for my recipe books and folders which were previously hidden down the bottom of one of the kitchen cupboards making them very difficult to use. With some inspiration from Nicole’s kitchen, I now have them positioned neatly above the fridge. My recipe folders (which I talked about in a previous post) are separated into two Kikki K magazine holders (one for savoury things like meat and pasta and one for sweet things like cakes and desserts). Any ‘not so attractive’ books are kept in the third holder. Inspired by a post on Nina’s blog, I made some ‘Dymo’ looking labels using a free font found online.

There are still several bits and pieces needed to finish off our kitchen but I’m liking the way things are headed and now have a clearer picture in mind of the look I’m aiming for.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Back To Blogging

Thank you for all your get well wishes for Grace. She seems to be on the mend today and although she is not entirely back to normal (especially where sleep patterns are concerned!) she is finally starting to get some of her happy little spark back after she suffered a terrible reaction to some antibiotics she was on for an ear infection.

And so begins another week and Christmas creeps up closer and closer. I need to get into gear soon and organise myself as I haven’t bought one single present yet. The first step will be putting up our Christmas tree during the week.

This year my Mum won’t be here for Christmas as she and her partner are are heading to the UK. It will be so lovely for them to enjoy a white Christmas entirely different to how we experience things here in Australia at this time of year. Does anyone have any suggestions of anything I should ask her to be on the lookout for for me while she’s over there, something small that’s better over there or only made in the UK?

How are all your Christmas preparations coming along?

Image credit: Jenny B Harris

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Few Days Rest

Just letting you all know that I haven't been around much over the last few days as I've been looking after my little poppet who's been unwell. Will be back once I've caught up on some much needed beauty sleep and look forward to reading all the latest posts on your blogs then...

Image above via Small Place Style

Friday, November 19, 2010

Difficulty Choosing Window Treatments

I’ve been getting a few quotes recently for blinds for our place. At this stage, we’re just after something for the laundry window and something for Grace’s room. The laundry is bare at present but the verticals in Grace’s room let in too much light between the slats and it’s far too bright in there in the morning.

My dilemma is that while we’re only focusing on these two windows for now, I’m trying to think ahead as to what we’ll one day have as window treatments in our other rooms. For Grace’s room (and one day the other bedroom and study) I’m liking the idea of a white Roman blind (in a block out fabric) as being a small room, drapes would be too heavy and close the room in and I feel this option would not stand out too much yet still look stylish and streamlined. The window in Grace’s room is a bit odd as it ends right against the wall which makes installing the blind a bit difficult. Are Roman blinds usually installed on the outside or the inside of the window cavity?

As for the laundry, the most recent quote I had was leaning me towards a simple roller blind but now I’m preferring the idea of a venetian blind in a white faux-wood (larger width slats).

My question is, do you think there should be some cohesion to the window treatments in a home to unify the look of things or can different rooms be treated differently if a similar colour scheme is kept? Decisions, decisions!! I’d appreciate any advice you have about window treatments from your own experiences…

Image found via Two Little Dicky Birds

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Grace At 18 Months

My darling girl Grace, such a beautiful age and so many things to love more and more about you every day...

I love the way you like to help. You enjoy unstacking the cutlery from the dishwasher and the other day, I even caught you in the laundry putting Daddy's socks in the clothes hamper.

I love the affection you show for Asha. You love to pat her and give her cuddles and I can see you are going to be great friends.

I love your endless energy and love of the outdoors. You potter around in the garden, investigating things and pointing out anything interesting you discover. Your favourite thing at the moment is your swing (which has been the centre of a few recent tantrums).

I love the kisses and cuddles you willingly give. You rarely object to a request for one and snuggle into my neck like a little koala. The other day when I was reading you a book, you looked up and planted a big sloppy kiss on my lips (without me even asking) and my heart melted at your sweet gesture.

I love your joyful personality. You enjoy making others laugh and think you're funny when you walk around in our shoes or when you pull silly faces. You are such a happy little girl and such lovely company as we go about our days.

I'm so proud to be your Mummy x

Monday, November 15, 2010

Getting To Know Me

The lovely Jen of From Me To Mum has kindly tagged me in a little ‘get to know you’ game.

Jen's blog is a great read and I always enjoy her posts. She is a Mum to two gorgeous twin boys and I admire the way she shares with honesty and genuine love her journey through motherhood.

So, here are my answers…

What is your favourite time of the day?
I love mornings – I get up nice and early and enjoy some quiet ‘me’ time at the computer with a cuppa and then Grace greets me with a big smile and kiss when I go to get her up. The morning is when I get myself organized for the day, turn on the dishwasher, throw on a load of washing and water the vegetable garden so I always feel like I’ve accomplished something before we head out to run errands and so on.

Where and when did you meet the love of your life?
Paul and I met at the wedding of mutual friends back when I was only 19. He was the best man in the wedding party and I was one of the guests. We’ve been together even since then and really make such a wonderful team. We think so similarly, often go to say the same thing at the same time and share plans and dreams for our future and our little family.

What three words would your friends outside of the blogging world use to describe you?
I emailed my friend Kylie for this one and the first three words she said were thoughtful, organized and loving.

What country would you like to visit and why?
I’d love to see the UK one day, in particular London as it’s one part of Europe I am yet to visit. I'd also like to explore some of the English countryside.

What is your favourite dish to cook?
Cooking is something I love to do and my favourite things to cook are cakes. My favourite at the moment is a recipe for a lemon cake which contains almond meal, giving it a nice texture and it’s covered in cream cheese frosting – delish!!

Salt or sugar?
I do have a bit of a sweet tooth but ever since my taste saga, I’ve found I like things a tad less sweet and now I only have the teensiest amount of sugar in my tea. Also, lately I’ve found myself addicted to the cheese and chive scones our local bakery sells.

What are your must have make up or beauty items?
I religiously cleanse, tone and moisturise morning and night. If I’m home, I don’t wear makeup but when I do, for everyday wear I keep things simple and use Clarins Tinted Moisturiser, a dusting of MAC Bronzing Powder and mascara. As for must have beauty items, I love Nutrogena Facial Cleanser and the Natio Rosewater and Chamomile Toner.

What are your favourite flowers?
I love the simple beauty of white roses. However any single bunch of blooms in our house always makes me happy.

What are your worst vices...honestly?
I am indecisive and can take a long time to make a decision when shopping. I’m not much of a risk taker either and tend to stick to my little comfort zone.

At what time of your life were you happiest and why?
All the usual big milestones have been my happiest times such as our fantastic wedding day and the day Grace was born. I can’t imagine being any happier than I was on both of these occasions.

And now for a couple of other girls who I'd love to know a bit more about:

Sarah at My First Little Place
Renee at Four Little Finches
Samantha at Black Velvet Chair

I'd love to hear your answers if you have time and feel like playing along with this little 'about me' game…

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Few New Things

Early this morning, Grace and I headed off to the church fete I blogged about during the week. Unfortunately, when I arrived, I discovered I’d left Grace’s pram at home and which meant browsing was a bit difficult with Grace ‘on the loose’ so all I managed to scoop up was a pot plant and some cakes. Hopefully I’ll have more luck at the upcoming craft fair. Seeing as I didn’t have any finds from this morning to post about, I thought I’d share a few new bits and pieces around our home.

One new addition is a cute antique Bentwood chair we bought for our entryway. I’ve been on the search for one to use as a resting spot for some time and had envisaged discovering a chair on the roadside or at a garage sale. About a month ago when we were browsing through some antique shops in North Fremantle, this one caught my eye and so a fortnight ago, I asked Paul to drive past the shop again thinking that if there were any left ‘it was meant to be’. Sure enough two remained and we bought one which I love. It has nice detailing on the seat and is perfect for the little empty space next to our front door.

Also, during the week, my lovely cushion I won in Deb’s giveaway arrived. She is very clever making something so beautiful and I really can’t decide where in my home it looks best – at the moment it’s on the armchair in our study where I think it complements my patchwork cushion nicely. I was really surprised when I won Deb’s giveaway as coincidentally, only the week before, she had won mine.

Finally, not related to homewares but new nonetheless is this floral summery dress I bought yesterday. I had errands to run and was on a tight schedule but this dress caught my eye in a shop window as I walked past. It is not something I would usually wear as my wardrobe consists more of neutrals and plain colours but I’ve decided I need to step out of my comfort zone a bit when it comes to fashion. As it was, I won forty dollars on a scratchie my Mum bought me last weekend so I figured I’d spend my winnings on this new item of clothing.

Hope you’re all enjoying the weekend. I have a quiet night planned of catching up on all your blogs and reading my book.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Missing Cardigan

When Grace was born, Mum passed on a few little hand knitted items of clothing that I had worn myself as a baby. One piece was a gorgeous pink cardigan with pretty detailing made of beautiful soft baby wool.

When I eventually went to put it on Grace, I searched high and low and couldn't find it anywhere. I was adamant Mum mustn't have given it to me. She was positive she had. It was only recently whilst having a big tidy up that I discovered the cardigan down the bottom of a bag containing all the cards we'd been given when Grace was born. It must have gotten mixed up in there when Mum gave it to me in the hospital.

Unfortunately Grace hasn't had the wear out of it as I would have liked but I did dress her in it a few times before it became too small.

Do you have any special piece or keepsake from your childhood which has been saved for your own son or daughter?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vintage Etsy Envy

In keeping with the 'Vintage Modern' label I have decided suits the decorating style I am aiming for in our home, I am always on the lookout for a pre-loved treasure at thrift shops, antique stores and flea markets. Lately, I've stumbled across so many vintage pieces on Etsy I would love to decorate with. However, postage for these is usually within the US only and international shipping for such items probably wouldn't be practical anyway.

Fortunately for me, there's an annual jumble sale at a little church nearby where my mother-in-law always manages to nab a bargain, so on Saturday morning, I'll be going for a browse and hopefully find some treasures. Also, an upcoming Craft and Antique Fair in Perth is also home this year to the Polka Dot Vintage Market so I'm hoping to go for a look at that later in the month too.

For now, I'll share with you the Etsy pieces that have caught my eye...

Image #1 unknown
Images #2 & #3 AMradio
Image #4 harmoniepark
Images #5 & #6 ethanollie

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vegetable Garden Progress

Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend. Today I thought I’d let you know how our little vegie patch we started about a month ago is going. I've included the photo above so you can get an idea where it's positioned in our yard (you can see it in the background if you look closely). We planted seedlings of cherry tomatoes, capsicums, baby carrots, spring onions, a whole bunch of different lettuces, baby spinach, red sorrel and strawberries. In some pots next to the planter, I’ve added another strawberry, rocket and tomato plant to balance things out with my herb pots on the other side and everything has been mulched with pea hay to help keep the moisture in.

All the seedlings are growing really well, especially the lettuces which we’ve already been able to use. There’s nothing better than being able to pop outside to pick a few fresh lettuce leaves to make a salad. I have noticed something is taking some bites out of the rocket and a few lettuce leaves though and a few white cabbage moths have been hanging around, so perhaps caterpillars are the culprits?

This part of our backyard is so much nicer now than the previous neglected corner it was. Also, we have stopped the problem of Asha running along the fence barking at the dogs next door and making a mess of grey sand everywhere. The remaining yellowish bush in between the herb corner and the vegie patch is really in the wrong spot, but it’s growing so well that I think I’ll just leave it where it is. We just need to neaten up the lawn and the edges around the planter and it will be perfect.

Here’s some photos of how this corner used to look and how things are looking now so far…

On a different note, I have to say I feel a real cloud of sadness in blogland here today with A-M’s latest news of her decision to take a break from blogging. Please stop by her blog and offer some words of support and encouragement for such a lovely lady who is going through a difficult time…