Friday, December 30, 2011

A Few Christmas Photos

Well, Christmas has come and gone for another whole year and it’s hard to believe it’s almost 2012. We had a fun (albeit exhausting) time in our little household with Grace really being able to understand the whole gift giving concept and enjoying all the festivities that come along with this season. She was very disappointed though to discover that her Advent calendar had finished!

Our morning was spent with the four of us checking to see whether Santa and his reindeers had been, exchanging gifts and playing with new toys. Grace was very excited to see that the beer and biscuits we left out had been enjoyed by Father Christmas and that the broccoli we left for the reindeers had been devoured (I had a piece of broccoli due to be thrown out so I figured, why waste it?)

Late morning, my Mum and sister came over to help get lunch on and open more presents and then Paul’s Mum joined us for our lunchtime meal. We kept things simple with turkey, ham, salad and potato bake followed by the most delicious lime cheesecake which my sister made. I was very grateful to my Mum, mother-in-law and sister for organising all the food for me.

At night, we went to Paul’s cousin’s house where we spent the evening with his aunts, uncles and cousins.

Here’s a few family photos…

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Christmas I'd Planned To Have…

Image via weheartit

Entertaining guests and decorating when it comes to parties is something I love doing. So when we decided to have Christmas lunch at our place this year (to make things easier with Sophie as we’ll be going out at night) I was excited at the prospect of the pretty table and traditional Christmas lunch I’d be able to plan and prepare. With only six of us, I thought doing so would be easy.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case when you throw a newborn into the mix and a stay in hospital for Mummy and bub two weeks before Christmas. I’ve been very disappointed that unfortunately I haven’t the time or energy to do all that I was hoping to do this year. Wrapping my presents prettily and baking things like Christmas biscuits hasn’t happened. However, I've now accepted our position this year and know in my heart that the important thing is that we’ll be spending Christmas with our family. I also can't wait to share in all the excitement of Grace really being able to appreciate this time of year and all the fun that goes with it.

I hope you and your loved ones all have a wonderful Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

We've Been In Hospital...

After persisting with a frequently unsettled Sophie since we brought her home from hospital and attempting to find a solution through various reflux medications when the situation became worse as the weeks passed, I reached the end of my tether on Wednesday night. Sophie had been in pain after her feeds as usual but after screaming uncontrollably for hours (at a whole new scale) and with none of the usual tricks like a warm bath or a feeding at least comforting her a bit, I was concerned something may have been physically wrong and so took her to the children's hospital emergency department. From there we were transferred to a children's ward in another hospital for her to be monitored.

Nothing conclusive has been discovered yet and we're assuming her issues are stemming from our little piggy overfilling her belly with my fast flowing milk as opposed to it being reflux as her medication appeared to be making things worse. Also, she had put on double the expected weight since her birth and jumped from the 75th percentile to the 95th! So today we're back at home and trying shorter feeds to see if that makes a difference at all before a follow up appointment on Monday. I'll keep you all posted...

P.S Will draw the winner of my giveaway soon I promise!

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Current 'Lifesavers'

Over the past few weeks, there have been lots of things that have helped life at home with a newborn. I thought I’d share some of my ‘lifesavers’ with you…

Brownie mix – I love baking but life at the moment makes it extremely hard to do so as often as I’d like. It’s hard enough preparing tea let alone baking a batch of biscuits (I haven’t made any since the Nutella ones). I do like something sweet out of the oven though so my saviour has been a packet mix I was put onto by a cousin – Betty Crocker’s Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix. All you do is add two eggs, water and oil, stir it with a wooden spoon and bake it for just under half an hour. They are delicious, so moist and just as good as my usual brownie recipe. I keep one in the pantry on ‘stand-by’.

Laptop – buying our laptop back in September was one of the best things we’ve ever done. Having the flexibility of using the computer anywhere has been really handy, especially the other day when I was making a salad and needed to check on some ingredients of an online recipe.

Bag insert – earlier in the year, I won a nappy bag giveaway on Bloesem Kids and knew it would be perfect come October. Along with the bag that arrived was an insert with dividers and pockets which you can take out of the nappy bag and put into a normal bag. It means I don’t have to lug around nappies and wipes and things if I just need to pop to the shops by myself and don’t forget any essential items I do need.

Good toys – One of the toughest things about having a newborn AND a young toddler is trying to keep the older one occupied when breastfeeding or changing nappies. Having new or interesting activities is a must. Grace has all of a sudden taken a great liking to play dough and will sit for at least an hour at her little table making all sorts of creations. Another winning toy has been a floor puzzle. Grace spreads all the pieces out on the rug and puts it together as I breastfeed Sophie on the lounge and help from the side lines by giving her instructions.

What is your current 'lifesaver' making things that little bit easier for you at the moment?

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Plan For This Week

Image above via Pinterest

Sometimes, I go through a bit of a blogging block where I don’t quite know what to type or I haven’t taken photos to accompany something I’d like to write about. Other times, I feel as though my head is over-flowing with ideas and inspiration and I can’t post quick enough to share everything with you all. This week is one of those weeks. Unfortunately, with things a bit all over the place here at the moment, it may take me longer to write those posts than I’d like.

After a weekend I’d rather forget, I’m all set to start the week fresh. Thankfully we don’t have a lot planned besides a Child Health Nurse check-up for Sophie tomorrow so this week I’m hoping to:

• do some online gift shopping
• buy all our Christmas presents in one hit at the shops
• try some new reflux medication for Sophie
• catch up on blog posts and reply to long overdue emails
• place a big bulk Coles online shopping order to last the next few weeks
• plant the new herbs I bought (when it cools down later in the week)
• sort through Grace’s toy boxes

What do you hope to cross off your ‘to do list’ this week?

Also, if you missed my last post, I'm having a little giveaway... Enjoy your Monday everyone!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Giveaway Time!

Back in October, amidst my days of playing the ‘waiting game’ in anticipation of Sophie's arrival, I missed the little blogging milestone of Homely One’s two year anniversary. Quite a few years ago now, the first blog I ever discovered was sfgirlbybay. I visited a link to it which I’d found in a Real Living magazine and through it, discovered decor8 which in turn led to blog after blog after blog. It became a new hobby and I soon had quite a list I visited regularly for inspiration and ideas. I can still remember sitting in our study, rocking Grace who was only a few months old to sleep in my arms as I read through posts.

One day I decided to bite the bullet and start my own blog in order to create a space where I could share house projects and renovations we did as well as decorating ideas I came across online. Over time, my blog has evolved and changed direction a bit and these days, Homely One has become a bit more personalised and focused on all the happenings in our little household. While I still do read lots of ‘big name’ blogs, it is the smaller ones I prefer these days, bloggers who I have connected with and formed friendships with. I never could have imagined how much I would gain through blogging – I have ‘met’ so many lovely fellow bloggers whose kindness, compassion and thoughtfulness never cease to amaze me.

So, as a thank you to all those who stop by and leave comments and make my blogging all the more enjoyable and to give back a little of the joy I receive through this hobby of mine, I have put together a little pre-Christmas giveaway. It is a package of things I use or have bought recently myself and contains a set of cute herb markers, a butterfly cookie cutter, a CD I often play as background music around our home or when entertaining called ‘Paris Café’, some blue and white cupcake cases, two Cath Kidston guest soaps and a set of Cath Kidston paper napkins.

To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of Homely One and leave me a comment so I know you’d like to be entered into my draw. If you do not have a blog yourself, please leave your email address with your comment so I can contact you should you be the lucky winner. My giveaway will be open until 5.00pm (Perth time) on Monday 12th December.

Good luck and have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Energised And Motivated

Today I am feeling energised. My weekend was a lovely one- I was able to pop to Spotlight for a little browse, got lots of washing done, made chocolate brownies (packet ones) and painted with Grace, had afternoon tea with some visitors and yesterday, the four of us had a little picnic lunch at a park. Grace was well behaved – obliging, helpful and happy. As for Sophie, apart from the usual unsettled periods in the evenings, she slept fairly well and was easier to resettle when needed. She even gave me the luxury of a few longer blocks of sleep which I appreciated.

Perhaps it’s the made up sleep which has put me in such a good mood and got me all enthusiastic or perhaps it’s the warmer weather Perth has been experiencing but I’m really eager to do things. I have lots of blog posts I want to write. I want to try some new healthy recipes using seasonal fruit and vegetables. I’m itching to start decorating the nursery and to sort through all the lovely clothes and other gifts we’ve received for Sophie. I’m keen to get out in the garden (Paul will laugh at that one as he jokes it’s been nine months since I’ve done any gardening). I want to go on picnics and enjoy the sunshine. I want to start getting organised for Christmas.

What do you feel more keen to do when the warmer weather hits or when you’re in a more upbeat mood than usual?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cookies You Have To Try…

Thanks to some wonderful friends and family members and thanks to all the meals I made and froze at the end of my pregnancy, I haven’t had to do a lot of cooking lately. This has been extremely helpful as Sophie’s most unsettled time is usually in the evening when dinner needs to be sorted out. I have rather missed cooking though and while I’ll have to work out how best to organise and prepare meals with a newborn in the house, I am eager to get back into the kitchen.

Last week, keen for something sweet to have with my afternoon cuppa, I made a batch of biscuits from a new recipe I’d seen a while back on A Spoonful Of Sugar which I’d been wanting to try. It took me all afternoon to make them in between feeding Sophie and keeping Grace occupied, but it was worth it as they were delicious. Do yourself a favour and buy a jar of Nutella this weekend and make a batch. Be sure to enjoy several while they’re still warm too. Here’s the recipe I followed from A Spoonful Of Sugar

Nutella and Oat Cookies

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup Nutella
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350°F). Line a cookie sheet (or two) with parchment paper. Cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the egg, vanilla, and Nutella and mix until well incorporated. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt and mix until combined. Roll into balls, flatten with a fork, and bake for 7 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mosquito Free Outdoor Dining

Photography by Steven Randazzo for Country Living
found via Pinterest

With the weather over here in Perth starting to heat up (we have 37°C forecast for tomorrow), here in our little household we’re eager to spend more evenings playing in the backyard and eating dinner outdoors. There’s just one problem. Mosquitoes. If there’s one around, you can be sure Grace or I will be bitten alive. Grace’s bites often turn into lumps and I have to end up giving her an antihistamine.

I don’t want to spend the next six months indoors once dusk comes so I’m searching for a solution to keep the mozzies away. I find the green mosquito coils we place around at barbecues quite effective and the tropical strength insect repellent is fairly good too but I’d like to find something that is a bit more natural to use on a more regular basis. I already use citronella candles but I was keen to see if there were any more natural solutions that exist.

In one of my Shannon Lush books, she recommends using lavender oil as an insect repellent. Her suggestion is to wipe doors with it or to make a spray of 500ml of water and 2.5ml of lavender oil to spritz over yourself and your clothes. Another of her ideas is to place a lavender or pelagonium plant near your doors to keep mosquitoes at bay (apparently there’s a pink-flowering geranium colloquially called the mosquito plant because of its repellent properties).

What have you found works best against those nasty mozzies? Has anyone tried the lavender oil suggestion?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Filling You All In...

I’m back!! Boy have I missed you all and this little corner of blogland of mine. A month on after having Sophie, I finally feel like things are a bit more manageable and I’m getting back into the swing of things. I started this blog just over two years ago when Grace was a baby and I found myself craving some ‘me’ time. Once again, as much as I’m enjoying simple days at home with my girls, I’m missing the online community I’ve become a part of and so the time feels right to start posting again. I may not be able to write as often as I’d like but I am eager to share so much with you all, to slowly catch up on everyone’s latest news and to be inspired as always by all of your lovely blogs (stay tuned for a little giveaway I have planned too). So here’s a little update on what’s been happening in the Homely One household …

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your comments and good wishes on Sophie’s arrival. They truly warmed my heart. Sophie’s birth went really well. After being induced, I was in labour for six hours and I wouldn’t change a thing about the experience. Our hospital stay was great and I enjoyed the early days of getting to know our precious little baby girl. We had a few people drop by on the Sunday to meet Sophie, but I soon declined requests to visit as I was exhausted and preferred to spend the days with just Paul and Grace. We stuck to a little routine during my hospital stay which I think helped Grace cope as well as she did being away from me. We did have occasional tears though and Grace’s plea of ‘please you come home Mummy, pleeeease!’ broke my heart one afternoon. However, by the last day, she was so excited to be heading to ‘Nan’s house’ for tea that I didn’t even get a kiss goodbye.

When I returned home, I found the initial few days very overwhelming. The baby blues definitely kicked in and together with the sleep deprivation, I found myself constantly teary. Thank goodness I had Paul home and my Mum had taken a few weeks off work to help us out. I became a bit of a hermit as I didn’t feel up to visitors at all and found just getting through each day extremely tiring. Sophie was also quite unsettled as I had an oversupply of milk. The fast flow was causing her to get tummy pains and the frequent feeding just seemed to be adding to the problem (if anyone has any advice in regards to this breastfeeding issue please let me know!!)

Slowly, as the days went on and I caught up on sleep, things became more manageable and I felt better able to cope. These days, Sophie is feeding every three or four hours and I’m managing to get around six hours of sleep (broken up by feeds) each night. However, I try and time things so the two girls are both napping after lunch and I attempt to and catch up on sleep here myself. I find it so hard keeping my eyes open in the middle of the night as I sit propped up in bed breastfeeding, but I do treasure these quiet times alone with my bub.

Grace is rather smitten by our newest family member and wearing her ‘big sister’ badge with pride. She is eager to help with baths and nappy changes and yesterday I caught her trying to console Sophie by patting her lovingly and saying, “Don’t worry, I’m here.”

Gradually, I’m finding little strategies that help make my days with two little ones more manageable and I’m feeling more confident in my new role as a Mummy to two. And while I’m cherishing these precious newborn days as we don’t plan on having any more children, I’m definitely looking forward to having a bit more routine to our days, for breastfeeding to become a more peaceful experience once my milk settles down and for the night when I wake up after a block of solid sleep. In the meantime, I’m soaking up every little precious moment with our little bub Sophie…

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's A Girl!!

Meet the newest member of our family... Sophie Alexa. Born Friday 21st October at 2.29pm, weighing 7lb 11oz.

All is going really smoothly and we are enjoying our hospital stay and these early days of getting to know our new bub.

See you back here soon once things settle down a bit...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Grace’s Quilt Is Finally Finished!

Do you know how long I’ve been waiting to type those words? After literally months, Grace’s patchwork quilt (my first one ever) has finally found its home on top of her bed. It was the one project I’d been desperately hoping to complete before bub arrived. However, the main issue I’ve had has been finding the time to actually sit down and sew without interruptions and consequently I’ve had to work slowly on this project doing it bit by bit. Also, my sewing skills are very basic (I’m pretty much self-taught apart from a term’s worth of high school sewing lessons) and so I’ve become very well acquainted with my ‘unpicker’ tool as well as my sewing machine’s instruction book. Being a perfectionist definitely hasn’t helped either.

Thankfully, my friend Kylie has been very tolerant of my numerous quilting questions and another friend from work, Tracy, was willing to drop everything one weekend to help me. She kindly top-stitched the quilt for me on Saturday night with her special ’walking foot’ and attached the binding on, knowing that I was desperate to get it finished and my due date was looming. I am ever so grateful to her.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I love the combination of fabrics and colours and like the girly touch it adds to Grace’s room. It isn’t perfect but it’s been made especially for my darling girl with lots of love and that is what makes it so special. It has also been rewarding personally to work on such a large project and it makes me happy to be able to say ‘I made that’. I can’t count the number of times Paul said, “I’ll give you $50 to just go and buy a quilt” as I sat on our lounge complaining about having to unpick a row of stitching for the hundredth time.

For anyone interested, my finished squares are 3 ½ inch. As well as some existing pieces from my stash, I literally bought my fabrics from a whole range of places including Spotlight, Etsy seller This And That From Japan and online store Sunshine and Hunny Quilts. For anyone local to Perth, I also used Calico and Ivy, Patchwork At Homespun, Carol’s of Midland and Southlands Fabric and Sewing Centre. I also included one type of fabric which I cut from an old cotton dress of Grace’s.

So that’s my first ever quilt completed! I’ve really enjoyed getting back into sewing but I think I’ll stick to smaller projects for the next little while. Although, with a newborn due to arrive literally any day, I think my sewing machine will be guaranteed of a rest for the next few months at least…

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Around Our Place

This week has been a fairly quiet one for Grace and I as we haven’t ventured too far from the house. Apart from my Mum and a few friends popping in here and there, we’ve had lots of tea parties, spent plenty of time outside picking flowers and collecting snails (Grace is infatuated by them) and done a bit of baking. Yesterday we made a batch of delicious Mini Raspberry Melting Moments to enjoy for our morning tea which you can see above on the pretty china side plate I bought last weekend from a church fete.

I have also managed to get a few little crafty projects done, just a few small things for Grace’s room like the tissue box cover above. I’d originally seen a tutorial on Janette’s blog and ended up using a combination of two – the one she’d seen on Design*Sponge and one from here. I’ve also managed to finish adding a few new small touches to our ensuite and once I hang the little piece of artwork I’ve made, I’ll share some photos of it with you next week.

Today I’ve been alternating been pottering around the house and sitting outside in the glorious sunshine (after having a downpour of rain last Sunday and hail, tomorrow we have a forecast of 35!) Paul has been laying lawn all morning and ‘Grace’s Garden Corner’ is starting to slowly look a bit better now that the brick path and grass are in. You can see a current shot and before shot above. I have seen a cute little table and chairs at Bunnings which I’d love to get for here and once we fill the sand patch in the corner with sand, we just need to decide what else is going to go on the lawn – trampoline or cubby…?

How have you all spent your Saturday? Do you have anything special planned for tomorrow?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Today is officially one week until my due date and while the countdown is on, I’m trying to appreciate every moment I have left with this precious bub kicking away inside my belly. My house is clean and tidy (thanks to my wonderful Mum who has been constantly stopping by to help me do chores that I’m finding difficult), my hospital bag is all set to go and I’ve done as much ‘nesting’ in these past few weeks as my energy levels will allow.

Each day, I spend time thinking about how our family is about to change. About what it will mean to be a family of four, about how Grace will adjust to being a big sister and about how I will find my new rhythm as a Mummy of two. I wonder about how my labour will go. After having such a clear idea in mind with Grace’s birth, this time around I have no plan at all and have let all expectations disappear. But I feel at peace about what is ahead of me and know it will be an exciting time for our little household…

Image above found via Courtney Moser on Pinterest. Original source unknown.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Laptop Blogging

Up until now, my computer time was limited as whenever I wanted to blog or browse the Internet, I had to shut myself in the study to do so. This meant Grace could get up to no good while I wasn't watching her and I therefore only tended to use the computer while she napped. With a new baby on the way very soon, we decided that it would be a good idea to get a laptop, an inexpensive simple one that I could use mainly for writing emails or blogging which we could use around the house. That way, Grace could be playing happily and I could keep my eye on bub while still using the computer.

On the weekend, we made a purchase and I must say, I'm so glad we did. As I type this post, I am sitting outside at our patio table while Grace is next to me digging in her sandpit. Last night she came down with a cold (which I'm crossing my fingers I don't catch) and while she lay exhausted on the lounge this morning resting, I was able to sit next to her, and catch up on a few blog posts. I am loving the convenience and flexibility of a laptop.

On a side note, I had my 38 week appointment this morning and bub is still head down since the 'turning procedure' and looking very comfortable. I'm hoping that he or she stays put for the next two weeks now.

Also, sorry for the late giveaway draw but the winner of my fabric bunting which was drawn using a Random Number Generator (sorry I have no idea how to include the graphic in this post, you'll just have to trust that I'm an honest person) is... #2 Sonia of Raine and Sage... I'll be in touch Sonia to get your details.

Image above via weheartit

Friday, September 30, 2011

This Week...

Sorry for my unintentional week off blogging. On Tuesday I had my 37 week obstetrician appointment and unfortunately bub was still in the breech position. This meant that on Wednesday I spent some time at hospital as my doctor attempted to turn the baby. I was given an injection in my belly to temporarily soften my uterus (which unfortunately had side effects of making me feel light headed, shaky and caused my heart to beat fast) but these were all bareable and gradually wore off. After less than a minute of prodding around, just as I was psyching myself up to block out any discomfort, my obstetrician announced, 'there, done!' and bub had been repositioned head down. I barely felt a thing. Hopefully now he/she will stay in this new position and hold off making an appearance until a bit closer to my due date.

I've been taking things very easy lately and have purposely made no plans. I just take each day as it comes, am staying fairly close to home and besides an odd errand here or there, I mainly potter around the house. My to-do list each day has been dramatically pared back to three things - one household chore, one small organising task (as in tidy ONE drawer) and one bit of something I want to do such as crafting or decorating. The rest of my time is spent enjoying Grace's company. Yesterday we baked a batch of biscuits together, today we're planning on doing some painting.

One creative project I have had time to do this week was to make a pillowcase for Grace to go with her quilt. It is made with two types of strawberry fabric and some vintage ribbon I'd bought off Etsy a while back and still had in my sewing box. Grace loves it and calls it her 'strawberry pillow'. Her bedroom makeover is almost complete and I can't wait to share it with you all. The little blue gingham suitcase above which I'd ordered online from Little YoYo Styles arrived in the post earlier in the week and is also a new addition to Grace's room.

Hope you've all had a great week and have a lovely weekend planned...

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Little Giveaway...

As promised in my Pink Ribbon Day Party post, today I have a little giveaway up for offer. I have decided to give away the string of bunting I made to a reader/follower of Homely One who has a use for it. I realise that its colours and patterns may not be everyone's cup of tea but if there is anyone who has a place to hang it up or would like to put it aside for a party of their own, please leave a comment below and I will draw the winner next Friday afternoon (Perth time). My only conditions are that anyone who enters must already be a follower.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pink Ribbon Day Party

Each year for the past few years, I’ve held a fundraiser to raise money for Pink Ribbon Day and breast cancer research. Pink Ribbon Day usually falls in October, but with my due date being the 18th of October, I decided to hold one in September instead. I tried to be sensible however, keeping my guest list small and sticking to a small number of dishes (two of which I had others make, one of which I bought).

My lovely friend Lyndell managed to take some photos for me so I could focus on being a good hostess, so here are some details from the party…

For the food, as I shared with you all in my Party Planning Tips post a while back, I tried to balance my sweet and savoury dishes which included

- Finger sandwiches (chicken, chives & aioli and cheese & cucumber)
- Chicken and mango balls
- Homemade sausage rolls
- Fresh fruit
- Scones with jam and cream
- Lemon and pistachio slice
- Mini raspberry melting moments
- Mini chocolate mousses

This would have been the perfect amount of food for the 14 guests who were coming. With all the extra plates people rocked up with (despite my saying to ‘just bring yourself’) we had plenty.

For the main table, a piece of floral fabric left over from Grace’s quilt made a table runner and fit in well with the Cath Kidston napkins I showed you a sneak peek of in Monday’s post. All my dishes were served on white or glass platters. With the same scanned pattern I used on my invites, I made some little signs on Microsoft Publisher to label each platter. Above the table, I hung a string of fabric bunting which I quickly whipped up using scraps of material. You can see it in the background of the shot below where Grace is ‘riding’ Asha and in the invite shot above.

As for flowers, I used two jars of snapdragons on the main table along with two floating red camelias from our garden. On the drinks table and smaller tables around which guests were seated, jars of pink ranunculi made a pretty show.

As gifts for each guest, I ordered some more of those pretty bags I used at my Teatime Treats Cooking Club from Etsy store Jade L’il Craft and filled each with packets of seeds (some were flower seeds, some were vegetable seeds depending on the guest). A little label and some washi tape to seal the back finished them off nicely and I displayed them in a little fabric covered box.

To raise money for breast cancer research, I held a little raffle. The prize was a geranium plant and was won by one of my aunties who has the most beautiful cottage garden which I thought was quite appropriate.

Overall, it was an enjoyable morning (after the chaos of last minute setting up and food preparation) and the weather held off for us so we could enjoy the sunshine outside. Thank you to my guests who brought along a plate, to my Mum and best friends who helped me set up, prepare food and clean up afterwards and especially to Lyndell for taking these gorgeous photos for me and letting me share them with you all here on my blog.

Be sure to check back on Friday for my party related giveaway…

All photos © Lyndell (except the dodgy invite shot which I took)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Around Our Place

To start off this week, I thought I'd share a few random photos of what's been going on around here lately...

On Saturday, I held my annual fundraising party to raise money for Pink Ribbon Day (I'll share some photos later in the week). As usual, I had heaps of fun with all the planning and decorating, although I have to admit I had a 'what am I doing hosting an event at 36 weeks' moment on Friday afternoon. Despite rain last week, the sun came out and I was able to have my morning tea outdoors as I'd hoped. Above is a little sampler of things I used to style the table. For readers who are new to my blog, you can see my post on last year's event here.

I have finally made a start on packing my hospital bag. I still have a few things to wash before adding them to my bag as well as a few things to buy and a few things that can't be thrown in until the last minute. I found the pretty checklist above on The Coterie Blog although I've since added a whole stack of other items to it.

This book and magazine are currently sitting on my bedside table. I borrowed the book from the library last week as we had already decided on first names for bub but were yet to choose middle names. This is still a work in progress. The girl option is decided but as for boys' names, I find it really hard being a teacher as lots of names immediately conjure up images of naughty boys I've had in my class. As for the magazine, I'm hoping to spend some time relaxing this week flicking through it's pages.

My 'jobs to complete before 36 weeks' has taken a bit longer to work through than I'd anticipated, especially as most of last week was spent organising Saturday's party. I couldn't sleep last night and found myself lying in bed thinking 'what if I went into labour early, would I be ready?' So, I got out my torch and notepad and pen and jotted down the things I felt HAVE to be done before bub arrives. Thanks to trying out online shopping last week with Coles, I have already crossed 'stock up on groceries' off my list. I was happy with using this service and will definitely be using it again in the future. I didn't buy any fresh produce though, just packaged stuff, but it meant that all Grace and I had to do was pop to the butcher, bakery and fruit and vegetable shop, all of which could be done with me pushing Grace in the stroller. My pantry is now nice and organised and its top shelf is filled with spares of things we use often.

And finally, a package I had been waiting for arrived in the mail today with the cute little curio box above. I had been searching for one for Grace's room for a while now and found the above one on Etsy. Thankfully it arrived safely and is now ready for me to spray paint white and transform into something similar to the one in the picture below. I've already chiselled out a few trinkets that were still glued inside the boxes, now I just need to work out how to remove the remaining spots of glue before prettying it up.

Image source unknown sorry
Update: Photo by Tracy Nors via Ohdeedoh (via BabySpace)

So this week, I'll be pottering around the house, working through my 'to do list' and enjoying simple daily pleasures and moments with Grace. I also have a few little giveaways planned for the near future, so be sure to pop back soon...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cooking Club: Favourite Dishes

Saturday night just gone was our latest Cooking Club. This time our theme was 'Favourite Things To Cook' and we had a range of delicious food to try.

To set the table, I stuck to white and an aqua blue. Some graph paper material I had bought a while back off Etsy made the perfect table runner and went well with some placemats I already had. My centrepiece was a fern which usually lives in our laundry and on either side, I had two little juice bottles which I'd covered with paper and ribbon to hold some simple flowers from our garden.

My spot prize this month was a butterfly cookie cutter, a ready made 'hot chocolate spoon', a bar of stainless steel soap (for removing cooking odours from your hands) and some recipe cards (which I printed off and made up after finding them available on The Pretty Blog).

Our menu this time consisted of the following...

• Chicken Breasts with Sage Butter & Prosciutto
• Spinach Salad
• Red Prawn and Mango Curry
• Homemade Pizza (of Little Caeser’s fame)
• Chocolate Mousse
• Caramel Dumplings
• Chocolate Mudhoney Pizza
• Lemon and Pistachio Slice

Our next catch-up won't be until mid November, after bub has arrived and I've settled into life with a newborn. At this stage, we're going to do a Pot Luck theme again as it was good to have a range of dishes to make up our night's menu.

For those who are interested, here's the Nigella Lawson curry recipe which I'm hoping to make tomorrow night for tea...

Red Prawn and Mango Curry

Serves 2-4

1 x 15ml tbs wok oil
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1½ x 15ml tbs red Thai curry paste
200ml coconut milk
250ml chicken stock (made from concentrate)
2 tsp fish sauce
1 x 350g pkt butternut and sweet potato cubes
200g king prawns
1 tsp lime juice
150g mango cubes, diced
3-4 x 15ml tbs chopped fresh coriander

Heat the wok oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan and fry the sliced spring onion for a minute, then add the curry paste. Whisk in the coconut milk, chicken stock and fish sauce and bring to the boil. Tip in the butternut squash and sweet potato cubes and simmer, partially covered for about 15 minutes or until tender. Drain the prawns under running water to remove excess ice and tumble them into the pan. Let the sauce come back to the boil. When it does, add the lime juice and diced mango and cook for another minute or so until the prawns are cooked through. Sprinkle with the chopped coriander as you serve over plain rice or wide rice noodles, or even both.

NB. If you don't have access to the ready-peeled cubed pumpkin and potato, this recipe suggests alternating them for some drained chickpeas and some pineapple.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bump Update: 35 Weeks

Image source unknown sorry

My conversation with Grace this morning gives you an idea of how much my belly has grown lately...

Grace: "Where's your belly button gone Mummy?"
Me: "It disappeared"
Grace: "The baby take (took) your belly button... maybe when the baby gets bigger it give it back"

That's right, my belly button has finally popped. Apart from that, I'm still pretty much all baby with a little compact basketball bump, although I definitely stick out further than the gorgeous silouette above. I'll try and take another bump photo soon.

Last Wednesday I had to go for an extra ultrasound as my obstetrician thought that my belly wwas measuring small for dates. Thankfully, my placenta is working fine and there is plenty of fluid around the baby who was moving very actively and was only slightly under the average weight for this stage of my pregnancy. Unfortunately though, bub has done a major flip around in the past two weeks and is now in the breech position. I'm hoping he/she will move but until my appointment next week, all I can do is wait and see.

I'm starting to feel more uncomfortable as the weeks go on and sleep on some nights is becoming progressively harder. I am definitely finding myself slowing down more too and am giving myself until the end of the week to get all the essentials I want done. Anything I achieve after then will be a bonus. I have yet to organise my hospital bag but I have been putting aside some special gifts I have bought for Grace for when she visits me in hospital which I'll be sure to pack.

So fingers crossed bub goes back to being head down this week, otherwise he/she could be here a bit sooner than I'd anticipated and the birth I'd pictured might not quite eventuate. But I guess at the end of the day, I just have to trust my obstetrician and as long as bub arrives safely, that's all that really matters.