Monday, May 30, 2011

The New Bed Disaster

Last night was Grace's transition from cot to bed and it was a monumental disaster that I feel terrible about this morning. On Saturday, we had my cousin's wedding to attend and my mother-in-law was to babysit Grace while we were at the reception. We decided to wait until Sunday for the 'great bed change' so that my mother-in-law would still be able to use the mattress to sleep over. When we arrived home, Grace was sleeping soundly in her cot and I thought to myself how that would be her last time doing so and when she woke in the early hours of the morning (I presumed with teething pain), I actually enjoyed being able to sit in the nursing chair with her for one last time as I comforted her.

On Sunday, I was very eager to set up Grace's new bed so I could begin planning her quilt and the next stages of decorating her room. However, we decided to wait until after her afternoon nap. Paul put it together and it looked perfect once I'd put sheets and a blanket on it. "Like this bed," remarked Grace.

Last night as I tucked Grace under the covers, she appeared content and when we checked on her as we headed off to bed ourselves, she was in a deep sleep. Mission accomplished... or so I thought. Overnight, we had a lot of heavy rain and when I woke to the sound of it around ten thirty, I thought I'd sneak a peek at Grace. As soon as I quietly opened the door, she woke and this is where it all went pear-shaped.

Grace work crying uncontrollably. I tried everything I could to settle her to no avail. Paul was not impressed. He had an early start and a super busy day ahead at work. Why had we chosen tonight for this? Eventually, thinking Grace's pesky two-year old molars must be bothering her, I gave her some Bonjela and Panadol and with a combination of distraction and soothing techniques, she drifted off to sleep and I headed back to our bed around midnight.

Around two in the morning, I was woken by a loud bang and so was Grace. "Something just landed on our roof and has woken her," I grumbled to Paul as he headed down the hallway to Grace's room. Turns out, the loud bang was Grace falling out of bed and whacking her head on the metal frame. She was not a happy camper and as I switched places with Paul, I made the decision that I was wrong. Wrong to have tried out the great bed swap on a night when Paul had an early start and perhaps wrong even in my choice of bed. I dragged the cot back into Grace's room, made it up again (once Paul had moved the bed aside) and tucked Grace in. "Like the cot better," Grace said to me through her tears. She was asleep within minutes and didn't make a sound for the rest of the night.

I lay in bed until three this morning comforted by the rain and the fact that my little girl was sound asleep and that Paul too had drifted off, but I felt terrible and lay awake doubting all the decisions I had made regarding this fiasco. Maybe I should have taken my Mum's advice and started with the single bed mattress on the floor. Maybe I should have checked out the toddler rails my mother-in-law had pointed out in the Target catalogue. Maybe I should have converted Grace's cot into a toddler bed first. Maybe Paul was right and I've chosen a bed that is pretty but not practical for Grace when she is an absolute wriggler and squirmer in bed at night. Maybe I would now have to try and sell not only our super-high ensemble base but also the new bed frame and start again. Maybe a lower ensemble bed is the way to go after all. Maybe I'm rushing these changes considering our new baby will most likely sleep in a bassinette alongside our bed for several months.

Today I'm in a state of disarray and I felt so sorry this morning when Paul headed off to work having had little sleep. I know this change is going to have to happen sooner or later but I think I've stuffed up big time. With my growing belly though, getting Grace in and out of the cot is becoming increasingly uncomfortable.

I hope you all have a better start to your week than the one in our house this morning...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Drawn To Pink

Image via French Knot

Since this time last year, I have been looking to make some changes to our living area to 'finish things off' in what has for too long been a half completed part of our home considering we spend most of our time there. With a grey and white base and some touches of blue, I had been deliberating over a final colour to add some contrast. For a while, I toyed with the idea of adding yellow. However, without any yellow elsewhere in this area, it didn't seem like the right choice.

Over the last week, turning to two prints we have hanging in this area, I found my answer... pink. I won't be going overboard and adding pink items everywhere, just a few subtle touches as the pink will be more of a 'surprise colour' in this room's colour scheme.

I never used to be a huge fan of the traditional girly pink shades. As a little girl, my room was decorated in apricot (not that I had any input into that) and my favourite colour was purple. In high school, this changed into a love of all things blue, a colour which made its way into our first home and is still one I am drawn to today.

However lately, I've developed an appreciation for pink. I've been admiring some soft pink pieces to add to Grace's white and yellow room, the flowers we bought recently to add some colour to our back garden are all shades of pink and I even bought a pale pink top recently on my shopping spree (a colour which I've never had in my wardrobe).

Which colour have you found yourself drawn towards lately?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Trying To Improve My Photography Skills

I was looking back over my list of goals for 2011 this morning and while I have made progress in some areas, there are other items I am yet to work on. I am about three quarters of the way through Grace's album of baby photos and I have plans to learn to crochet (I would love to create a throw rug for the nursery) but I am yet to work on improving my photography skills.

Now that we have a DSLR, my photos should technically be better quality. However, I lack the knowledge about lighting and the way to use my camera in manual mode to achieve the perfect shot. I took the two photos on this post earlier in the week when I was playing around in the sunshine one morning with our camera, but I found I still had to adjust the lightness and darkness of them in a photo program afterwards.

I've decided over the next few weeks to actually sit down with the camera manual and see what I can learn. I also saw this book which I am tempted to order as it has some good reviews. Does anyone know of any good online resources for photography tips or can anyone recommend any good (and simple) photography books?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Grace's Nursery At Present

We're in the process at the moment of making some changes to Grace's room to make it less of a nursery and more of a toddler's room so today I thought I'd share some photos of how it looks in its current state and explain my ideas of what we're going to do over the next few weeks. Not a lot has changed in here since I last posted photos apart from the new carpet, new white skirting boards and the previously dark wooden window sill and wardrobe door having been painted white. We added a little shelf from Ikea in the corner where the Poang chair is and from this I have hung some bunting I made. This has definitely finished off this corner better and now I just have to decide on a few final objects to display on top.

As for changes which are slowly taking place, the first is that we have bought Grace's 'big girls bed'. Paul picked it up today and it's lying in our hallyway at the moment ready to be assembled on the weekend. I'm hoping Grace will be able to sleep in it on Sunday night. I took the photo below in Harvey Norman the other day to give you a sneak peek of it, although the one below is a king single and we've just bought the single. Our mattress is also not quite as deep so the overall height of the bed is a bit less.

Next up are blinds and curtains. This decision is still driving me crazy! I have a few companies lined up to come and give me quotes this week as a few things have been pointed out to me which have led to yet another change in my decision. I won't go into details here, I'll leave that for another post, but the vertical blinds above will be going soon.

The Poang chair and the bedside table will be moving to the new nursery as will the chest of drawers which is currently used as a change table. With Grace almost toilet trained, I figure I can just change her nappy on the bed on the odd occasion I have to. We'll get her a new chest of drawers that perhaps aren't quite as deep as her bedroom is rather small and with the bed going in, I want to still give her as much space as possible. The area under the window is going to become a little play corner as we bought Grace a gorgeous wooden kitchen for her birthday which will fit perfectly here along with her toybox.

Above the cot (where the new bed will go), I have some more artwork planned and I would like to hang something girlie and pretty rather than the turtle (although Grace is quite fond of him). As for the bed itself, rather than a doona, to start with I'm going to attempt to make Grace a simple patchwork quilt for her bed. I'm thinking of sticking to pale pinks and yellow. I've never made one before so fingers crossed it won't be too tricky. Under the bed, I may get some baskets to use as extra hidden away storage. I also have my heart set on a pretty Moroccan leather pouffe I've seen for beside the bed - it would be perfect for Mummy or Daddy to perch on to read bedtime stories.

So that's where we're at and where things are headed in this room. I'll be sure to share some photos as things progress. As excited as I am to be redecorating this room, I must admit I feel a teensy bit sad to see Grace's baby things go. I can't believe how quickly little ones grow up.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cooking Club: Easy Weeknight Meals

Image via Gingerella

Just over a week ago was our second Cooking Club dinner with a theme of ‘Easy Weeknight Meals’. Once again, I forgot to take photos. I know I promised after forgetting to take pics at our last one that I’d remember this time, but after busily preparing not only my own dish for the evening but also decorating the dining room, it was easy to do once again. Third time lucky at our June one I promise!!

I was a little disappointed the week before our get together as I had two cancellations. One of our girls had her baby four weeks early so she was of course excused. Another forgot to okay the date and organise a babysitter. I had visions of my only recently established Cooking Club falling apart. However, after Saturday night I was reassured. A table of five was fine and with Krystie (and bub) hopefully joining us again next month, our group will be perfect. I’ve decided that six is easier to set the table for, gives you a good number of new dishes to taste and means that we can all take part in the one conversation around the table. I would definitely recommend to anyone thinking of trying something similar to stick to a group of around six.

Our last dinner saw us enjoy:

- Roast Vegetable Pasta
- Thai Chicken Patties
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Chicken Pilaff
- Garlic Roast Lamb Cutlets

This was followed by my Apple Crumble for dessert and some after-dinner mints which I wrapped in small packages and placed on everyone’s side plate.

Once again, we had a ‘spot prize’ which this time was a goodie bag of handy gadgets (a julienne peeler, a teabag ‘squeezer’ and a palette knife) plus two mini cookbooks.

Here is the recipe for one of the yummy recipes from the night which my sister-in-law made:

Garlic Roast Lamb Cutlets

12 cloves garlic, peeled
6 x 170g King Edward or roasting potatoes, sliced
4 small zucchinis, halved lengthwise
1 tbsp rosemary leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
8 double lamb cutlets trimmed
1½ cups chopped mint leaves
1½ tbsp seeded mustard
2½ tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 220°C. Place the garlic, potatoes, zucchinis, rosemary, oil, salt and pepper in a baking dish, toss to combine and roast for 25 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, heat a frying pan over high heat and brown the lamb on all sides. To make the mustard mint sauce, place the mint, mustard and honey in a bowl and mix to combine. Place the lamb of top of the vegetables. Brush with some of the mint sauce and roast for a further 8-10 minutes or until the lamb is golden and the potatoes are soft. To serve, place the lamb and vegetables on serving plates and top with the remaining mint sauce.

(Serves 4)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Grace’s Birthday Party

For Grace’s birthday on Sunday, we had a small family morning tea to celebrate. Just a simple party with a few sweet dishes, a few savoury dishes and my attempts to make Grace a ladybird cake.

The cake was a success although the red and black icing were not fun to work with at all, especially the red which left stains on my white tablecloth which is still soaking in my laundry trough. I used the same cake recipe that I did for Grace’s First Birthday Party and once again, I made it a few days ahead, carefully wrapped it and froze it until the day of the party when it was defrosted and iced.

Grace had a ball running around the backyard with her cousins and received some great presents. Here are a few photos from the morning…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Gracie Girl Is Two Today!

To our dear Grace,

It’s hard to believe how much you have grown over the past year and how much of a little girl you have become. You are so happy natured, fun loving, energetic, sweet and loving – such a joy to spend time with and we are so blessed you are part of our family.

One of the most noticeable things in recent months has been your ever-increasing vocabulary. You are such a chatterbox from the moment you wake until you hit the pillow at night. Sentences like “where’s the ladybird gone?” or “Daddy’s gone to work” are put together easily and make it easy to forget how little you still actually are. Another recent development has been your use of the potty. Nappies are almost a thing of the past (except for bedtime) and you are always so excited when you have used the potty correctly.

The thing that shines through most of all however is your character and personality. You have a cheeky streak and an advanced sense of humour but you are also a placid, well behaved little girl with a caring nature. You like to share most meals with your stuffed toys, are eager to help Mummy and Daddy with chores, will always say ‘sorry’ by yourself as soon as you realise you’ve done something wrong and you love ‘squeezy’ cuddles and kisses. Your manners are impeccable and phrases like ‘yes please Mummy’ and ‘no thanks Daddy’ are now second nature.

We are so proud of the sweet girl you have grown into and both love you with all our hearts.

Love from Mummy and Daddy xx

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New Things Around Our Home

We haven't really done a lot of renovating or decorating around our place recently. Between me not feeling as energetic as usual and most of our focus being on our outdoor project, my decorating enthusiam disappeared for a bit. However, in the last few weeks, I've been getting excited about homely projects again as we plan on making changes to Grace's room, have talked about perhaps renovating our main bathroom and as I begin picturing in my head how our new nursery will look.

So today I'm sharing with you a few smallish additions to our home I've made over the last week. In the top photo is the new front doormat I bought on the weekend. As we walked out of the house on Monday Grace remarked 'nice doormat'. Apparantly it's very hardwearing and can be 'hosed off' if it gets grubby.

Today I added the second little frame above to my laundry which is an Irish blessing I found on a Tumblr page. I still don't know if this the right spot for it but for now it fills in the space a bit. As for the ugly security screen, I'm hoping to sew a simple curtain to cover this window soon and hopefully my little pot plant will eventually grow bigger to hide the power point a bit more.

The bottom artwork in a simple Ikea frame I especially love. It is a sketch of a scene in Holland by my Pop who was a draughtsman by profession. I never met my Pop but I had a few of his sketches in my family tree file and thought it might be nice to frame one. I know my Dad would have loved to have seen this up on our wall.

How about you? Have you made and little additions to your home lately?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

Photo above by Holly Becker of Haus Maus

I hope everyone enjoyed their Mother's Day yesterday. Mine was a wonderful one beginning with breakfast in bed snuggled up next to my Gracie girl with a cute card (complete with Grace's illustrations inside), a pretty bunch of flowers and a lovely gift from Kikki K to enjoy. We celebrated with Paul's Mum at morning tea and lunch was spent with my Mum.

However, the best part of my weekend was Grace coming up to me all the time saying 'lush you Mummy' (love you Mummy) all by herself and giving me endless kisses and cuddles. While she has parroted 'love you' back to me for a while now when I've said it to her, it has only really been this weekend she has started saying it by herself voluntarily and it was the best present I could have asked for.

I did hunt for some recent photos of Grace and I or my Mum and I to post, but I've discovered that I am often the one behind the camera and such photos are few and far between. This weekend is Grace's birthday so I'm going to put Paul in charge of photos and then hopefully, I'll have one to share with you all.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Time For A Big Bed

Image above via House of Turquoise

On Saturday, we went hunting for a 'big girl's bed' for Grace. We feel that she will be ready soon for this change and then I won't have so much trouble lifting her into bed with my growing belly. I'd also like her out of her cot well before our next baby is due so she doesn't feel like she's been ousted from her cot.

We have a single bed in our spare room, but its ensemble base is far too high for our liking to be Grace's first time bed. We've been hunting for something lower, something not too imposing as her bedroom is quite small but something hopefully that will last her for some years to come. We looked at a few options from white wooden bed frames, to pretty wrought-iron look frames and lower ensemble bases. We saw a wooden one we like but it was still too high and the price was a bit steep.

So far, the main contender is a white wrought-iron style bed we've seen. I do like the look of these for a young girl's bedroom, especially when paired with other wooden furniture and room accessories as it helps avoid the 'matchy-matchy' look. Part of me also thinks that a closed in ensemble base might make the room appear smaller than a bed base where the carpet continuing underneath would be visible.

Any advice for choosing first-time beds or for decorating small bedrooms?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Picture Perfect

As many fellow bloggers did on Friday, my evening was spent watching the Royal Wedding. I actually taped the coverage so I could wait until Grace was tucked into bed to sit down and watch the ceremony in peace and quiet. Over the weekend, I've enjoyed reading other bloggers' opinons on the big event and I too loved it all, especially Kate's exquisite gown and her sister's elegant bridesmaid dress. I thought the 'Picture Perfect' headline in yesterday's Sunday Times summed the wedding up well.

After reading Nicole's post this morning on the wedding where she shared some reflections on her own wedding gown and how she came to choose it, I decided to join in the wedding gown fun too...

Six years ago when I was shopping for my wedding dress, I had something very specific in mind - white, thin straps and quite simple without a train. I tried on several dresses but nothing seemed to stand out. When the sales assistant handed me what was to be the dress I would end up buying, I almost dismissed it immediately as it was nothing like the dress I had pictured - it was ivory, strapless, had a train and was covered in traditional style lace. With nothing to lose, I decided to try it on anyway. The moment it was on, I knew it was my dress.

I still kept things rather simple with a finely edged fingertip length veil, my hair natural and wavy as I usually wear it and just a simple pretty necklace and pearl bracelet. Here's a few photos...