Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Things To Make Housework Easier (Which I Often Forget To Do)

Cute enamelware bucket above available from Donkee House on Etsy

I’ve been thinking a lot of about housework today. You see, for the past few months, since our trying period with Sophie, once a week, I’ve had someone come and do a bit of housework. Paul suggested it just before Sophie ended up in hospital, when I was exhausted and frazzled.  I was ever so grateful to him for being so understanding. Don’t get me wrong though, with little ones in the house, I am forever tidying up and cleaning each and every day, but the one and a half hour a week of help meant that I knew my floors were vacuumed and mopped, my bathrooms were clean and a spot of dusting had been done. However with things getting easier with Sophie now, such an expense has become money we could be saving and so as of next week, it’s back to me cleaning again. I’m still nutting out how and when I will do so but I’ll save that for another post.

For now, I’m focusing on the small things I can do each day to make things appear tidier. Things that if I hopefully make a part of my daily routine, will actually get done… if only I could remember the following, keeping our house presentable would be so much more manageable…

• Wipe down Grace’s little table immediately after she’s eaten. The longer something like Weetbix sits there, the harder it is to remove and the more muscle is required.

• Fold the washing as soon as I bring it in off the line. I do this quite a bit, but on the occasion I bring it in basket after basket and dump it on the lounge, it makes it all the more difficult to sort through later and leads to unnecessary ironing.

• Make the bed as soon as I jump out of the shower and get dressed each morning. Often by this time Grace is up and desperate for breakfast which means I usually have to find a moment later in the day to sneak off and make it.

• Make it a weekly task to sort through the ‘clutter basket’ that sits on the end of our bench. I’ve been letting it pile up too much lately which makes it harder to file and leads to bills being misplaced.

Which task do you need to focus on doing to make staying on top of housework that little bit easier?

Friday, March 23, 2012

The A to Z Of Me

A few weeks back I noticed some bloggers posting an alphabet list of ‘get to know you’ type questions. I always enjoy learning more about the people behind the blogs I read so when I saw this list again over at Jane’s during the week, I thought it would be fun to join in myself. Here goes…

A. Age:

B. Bed size:

C. Chore that you hate:
Cleaning the bathroom (in particular scrubbing showers) and hand washing, although I’m learning to use the ‘delicate cycle’ on my washing machine more for this

D. Dogs:
Asha, our lovely natured Blue Heeler

E. Essential start to your day:
A quick shower to wake me up and help me start the day feeling refreshed

F. Favourite colour:
Definitely blue, pale ‘Donna Hay blue’ in particular or aqua.

G. Gold or Silver:
The jewellery I wear every day is gold (yellow and white) although I do have some silver pieces too

H. Height:

I. Instruments you play:
Nothing these days except a few simple songs on the piano for Grace to sing along to

J. Job title:
Stay at home Mum - prior to babies I was a primary school teacher

K. Kids:
Grace (who’ll be three in May) and Sophie who just turned 5 months this week

L. Live:
Perth (south of the river) - driving to Fremantle or Perth takes us virtually the same amount of time

M. Mother’s name:

N. Nicknames:
I don’t really have any, apart from my cousin who has always shortened my name to ‘Mand’

O. Overnight hospital stays:
A procedure to drain fluid from my knee when I was six, stays when I had both girls and a few days with Sophie in the paediatric ward before Christmas

P. Pet peeves:
People dragging their sick children out in public eg. to playgroup and school. If your children are ill, keep them home people!! This particularly annoyed me when I was teaching.

Q. Quote from a movie:
‘That is going straight to the Pool Room’ (The Castle)

R. Right or left handed:

S. Siblings:
A younger sister, we are five years apart

T. Time you wake up:
Generally around 6.30 or 7am - I haven't had a sleep in for a very long time, but I don't miss doing so as these days I'm definitely a morning person

U. Underwear:
Simple Bonds hipster bikinis

V. Vegetable you hate:
I don’t really hate any – my least favourite is probably eggplant

W. What makes you run late:
The girls! Someone always needs a toilet stop or dirties their clothes or misplaces something just as we’re heading out the door

X. X-Rays you’ve had:
Hips, knees, wrists, fingers, teeth - I had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as a child so have had many x-rays

Y. Yummy food that you make:
Ginger fluff sponge - I shared the recipe here

Z. Zoo animal:
I love the otters – they’re so playful and cheeky and full of life

And that's it folks!  If you haven't already, play along... I'd love to learn a bit more about you...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Finding A New Rhythm

As those of you with children know, the early months with a baby aren’t easy, especially when it comes to getting out of the house.  Simply managing to have your nappy bag packed and everyone into the car feels like a task that takes hours of planning. Back when Grace was born, it was no trouble at all to have her nap in the pram as I window shopped or to strap her to me in the baby carrier as I went for a walk. I’ve found doing so with two little ones however not to be as easy.

My biggest fear has been interrupting Sophie’s naps. While I know that my daily life cannot be totally controlled by this, after all those unsettled months we experienced, sleep time has become so precious that I hate to disrupt it. As my wise friend Jane advised me, ‘this is a time for being, not a time for doing’ and to date, I have been strongly adhering to her advice. Consequently, most of our outings have been brief ones, popping to the grocery store to get a handful of items or to feed the ducks at the park down the road. Grace doesn’t seem to mind our latest pattern of quieter, simpler days at home. In fact, she adores just pottering around in the yard more than anything. However, I feel that it is time for us to get back into the swing of short morning outings for her sake, especially seeing as I want to make her last year at home full time, before she starts kindergarten next year, a memorable one.

So, I’ve come to a compromise. While I never spent all day every day out and about pre-Sophie anyway, Grace and I did tend to have regular morning outings. I’ve decided now to alternate these with days spent at home. Two or three mornings will be outings such as going for a babycino, dropping by the library or visiting friends for play-dates. I am also thinking of taking Grace to a little dance class nearby or to swimming lessons so she can start socialising a bit more with children her own age. The remaining two or three mornings will be spent at home and during this time, I am setting aside special one on one time for my big girl. In the morning while Sophie has her first nap of the day, Grace and I have been doing a fun activity together like painting or baking, something out of the ordinary that involves something other than her usual playtime activities. It is nice to have time for just the two of us and I feel better doing something constructive with her that she enjoys. As for the afternoons, we do another activity together, usually outdoors when it has cooled down a bit. Or, if we’ve had a morning at home, we might head down to the park for a play. The rest of our days are taken up with meal times, chores and of course, free play.

A few weeks back, one of our outings was a visit to the Pickled Fairy in Fremantle, somewhere I had promised to take Grace to many moons ago. I let her wear her fairy costume as a special treat. We stopped at a café on the Cappuccino Strip and perched ourselves on the stools along the window where we enjoyed our babycino and cup of tea and played ‘Spotto’ as the traffic passed by. Then we headed to the fairy shop. Grace was in awe. Every corner of every wall and every inch of ceiling space was covered in fairies and butterflies and other such prettiness. We spent some time looking at all the cute things for sale, put a coin in the wishing well, did some colouring in at the fairy table and chose something to buy with the few dollars I let Grace have (she chose a three dollar fairy figurine). Miraculously Sophie fell asleep in the pram and while her nap was shorter than it normally would be at home in her cot, it was manageable.

One day last week, for a morning at home activity, we made fairy bread with cookie cutters. Grace enjoyed punching out stars and butterflies and was excited to be allowed to use a knife for the first time to spread the butter onto the bread. A simple activity, but something that I know Grace loved doing.

Gradually, I realise our current routine will probably change again as Sophie’s gets older and as the weather starts to become chillier. For now though, this feels right and I am happy that we have a rhythm to our days, one that suits all of us in our little household.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Denmark 'Dream House'

The quiet little town of Denmark in Western Australia's south west has always been our little 'home away from home' town.  Paul grew up there as a young boy and I've always felt drawn to this gorgeous spot where the forest meets the sea. Since we've known each other, we've made time to take a trip down there each year to escape the fast pace of daily life to somewhere more quiet and tranquil.

Paul will often send me an email with a link to a new property for sale in Denmark, usually with the words 'your dream house' in the subject line.  Last week, one such email landed in my inbox from him, the subject being 'your dream house... and this time I'm serious'.

While it wasn't the weatherboard cottage I've always pictured, this one was definitely a beautiful home (albeit with a hefty price tag).  It had a unique look, but to me, it definitely appeared warm, cosy and homely, so much so that I had to share some photos of it all with you.  I love its surrounding gardens, wrap-around verandahs and use of timber throughout the interior.  While I would modernise things with more fresh white inside, it definitely has the potential to be a stunning rural property...

All images courtesy of Denmark Real Estate for

Friday, March 16, 2012

'Round Here...

Here are some snippets of our week…

… the cross-stitch owl I finished for Sophie’s room (Grace has a matching one I made her in blue)

… Grace’s first piece of art that was actually recognisable – this is her water colour painting of three flowers under a blue sky

… the play tent we bought off ebay which has been getting LOTS of use by Grace and her stuffed toys - there have been tea parties, books read and colouring in sessions held in there

… Sophie enjoying being close to her big sister in her new Bumbo chair – she is so eager to be part of the action

… Grace at the river last weekend - we headed down for an early morning splash on Sunday after another 40+ day had been forecast

...Grace's little cupboard which is still yet to be painted - I tried last weekend and it was so hot the paint was drying quicker than I could brush!  While this colour is not quite right for Grace's bedroom where I'd prefer a pale blue, it is growing on me... a colour option for those kitchen stools of mine perhaps?

We don’t have a lot planned here this weekend although I had thought about taking a quick visit to The Boutique Markets for the first time on Sunday if I get a chance... we'll see... I'd prefer to tick off a few furniture painting projects first.

What are your weekend plans?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pinterest, Blogging and Copyright

Photo by Tim Young for House to Home

I’m a relative newcomer to the Pinterest bandwagon. A few weeks back, I finally took the plunge and have slowly been adding my thousands of images saved in inspiration folders here on my computer to my Homely One Pinterest boards.  I've found it so convenient to store all the great ideas I come across online for things I'd like to try as well as being a great source of inspiration.  My Pinterest boards are a bit like visual bookmarks for me.

I’ve always wondered about the copyright laws regarding images we use on our blogs and now, the images we ‘pin’ on our Pinterest boards. Back when I participated in Holly’s ‘Blogging My Way Course’ we touched on this subject and the term ‘fair use’. Since that time, I have preferred to ‘play it safe’ when using others’ images. If the blog from where I wish to use something doesn’t have a copyright statement, I try to email the blogger first to see if they mind whether or not I use their image in one of my blog posts, of course with a link back and a credit to them as the photographer. With images of products either found on Etsy or other online stores, I’ve always been of the mindset that posting photos of their products is ‘helping them’ by possibly driving more traffic towards their site and in a way providing free advertising. I figure if I’m sharing a product I’d like to buy with my readers and so long as I’m not writing anything negative, the shop owner wouldn’t mind. Occasionally however, I’ll stumble across a photo I just love and on the odd occasion, I’ll use it anyway.

However, when it comes to Pinterest, I hadn’t really considered the copyright regarding use of images. Until the other day when I read a post on My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia. Kristen raised this issue with her readers and referred to a post by The Knoed which I think is really worth reading if you own a Pinterest account. I’d love for you to read it and give me your opinion. Here are a few points taken from their post which made me think:

• Pinterest’s Pin Etiquette says to avoid self-promotion on the site, but its terms say we must be the sole owner (or have permission from the owner) to pin things. This is confusing. How does Pinterest suggest people use its site without getting in trouble?

• Is pinning something with a link back to the original source considered safe to pin? Or do I still need permission from the owner?

• How do I find out if something I want to pin is copyrighted or not?

• If I repin someone else’s pin, and it happens to infringe on a copyright or end up being sold, am I liable for repinning a pin? Who is responsible in this instance?

I realize this is all extremely unlikely and I’m not going to go cancelling my Pinterest account or anything like that. However in the meantime, I think as I am starting out pinning, I will just be a bit cautious about what and from where I pin at the moment until this issue is made a bit clearer. So long as I’m not passing off something that’s not mine as my own creation or painting something in a negative light, I don’t really see too much of an issue arising, but I am going to try and be more vigilant about paying credit to the original image sources of things I find. Hopefully, the way to go about things without infringing on copyright will be made clearer for all us ‘pinners’ as I really do think Pinterest is a wonderful resource and have come across many inspiring ideas, great products to buy and wonderful new sites through using it for only a few short weeks. The latest post on this issue here is also worth reading.

Draw from all this what you will. I’d love to know your opinion on this matter and how you view posting images which aren’t your own on your blogs…

In the meantime, here’s a few things I’ve pinned this week…

DIY washi tape magnet tutorial (image from Christine @ Just Bella)

A stunning bedroom on Elle Decor (Photographer: Grey Crawford  Designer: Michael S. Smith - image featured in: A Designer's World - May 2010

A great Easter activity with a free egg outline printable - photo by Bianca @ A Little Delightful 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Kitchen Ponderings Times Three

I had intended to share a recipe with you all today for some biscuits I tried out yesterday. However, I’ve decided to give them another go and perfect them a bit more before I do that. Instead, I thought I’d share with you some thoughts I have for a few small touches I’d like to add to our kitchen…

For some time, I’ve been searching for two bar stools for our kitchen bench. I wanted somewhere for Grace to sit and help me bake or to be able to have a snack while I prepared meals. They had to be simple, not too heavy and not stick out too far from underneath the counter top. Last week, I bought two cheap ones which I think will do the trick nicely. You see, my idea for these stools is to paint them. However, now that I’ve sanded them back and had Mum’s partner trim them down as they were a smidgen too tall, I’m a bit apprehensive about the actual painting part. My initial thought was to go with a soft colour, in a pale or icy blue. Part of me now wonders whether that is the way to go though or whether to stick to good old white.

In other decisions, back before Christmas as I was rushing through a department store trying to finish our gift shopping, I spotted a plate which stopped me in my tracks. Anything blue and white is bound to catch my eye and this Villeroy and Boch plate above sure did that. I snapped it up as a ‘Christmas present for myself’. My idea for this plate is to hang it on the wall above our oven. It was a suggestion a few of you gave on an old post of mine where I was asking for some ideas for our kitchen. Now I’m trying to decide whether to put it up there by itself, or whether two find a few smaller ones to accompany it.

The final thing I’m pondering is whether or not to spend some of my birthday money on the cute pewter measuring spoons above which have been on my wishlist for some time now. I think they would be perfect on the wall in our stovetop nook where all the tiled walls look very bare. However, the width of the copper rail the birds are sitting on falls virtually exactly on the grout between our tiles. There’s also a power point beneath (although I’ve heard there is some little gadget you can buy to help you detect whether there are wires where you want to drill.

So dear readers, what do you think of my ideas? Blue or white? One plate or several? To purchase or not?

Pewter measuring spoons image from Charleston Gardens

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jamie Vs Nigella

I've decided it's time to add to my cookbook collection. For someone who enjoys cooking and baking as much as I do, I don't really have many recipe books as I tend to refer mostly to pages I've torn out of magazines or to recipes which friends and family members have passed on. Two of my favourite celebrity chefs are Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver so I'm trying to decide which one of their books to buy first.

I've always liked Jamie Oliver, mainly because he seems so very down to earth when I watch his shows. Anyone who tells you to 'bash the crap out of it' when making pesto and then refers to such a creation as 'the viagra of the cooking world' couldn't really get any more unpretentious if he tried. I liked him even more after reading his wife Jools’ book 'Minus Nine To One’. ‘Jamie's 30 Minute Meals' appeals to my lack of available time to spend in the kitchen and I found myself scribbling down lots of recipes as I watched his show of the same name.

As for Nigella, she just seems so classy and elegant to me. If I could cook such indulgent comfort foods as she does and still look as glamorous, I'd be very happy. I've really enjoyed her latest television series 'Nigella Kitchen' where I found myself not only admiring the delicious dishes she whipped up, but also her tastefully decorated kitchen.  I loved that this series focused on 'recipes to beat the clock at the end of the day', as well as 'leisurely recipes to unwind with over relaxing weekends'.  However, I'm also drawn to the title of one of her other cookbooks 'Nigella Express'.

So I’m turning to you all for your opinions. Do you own any of Jamie or Nigella’s cookbooks? Which are your favourites? Is there a title you think would best suit my needs for simple, home cooked meals with relatively easy to source ingredients?

Image #1 from Shoot Factory
Image #2 from Food Network

Monday, March 5, 2012

My 30th Birthday

Hi everyone!  Today was my 30th birthday and I've had a wonderful day celebrating.  My morning started with Paul and our gorgeous girls piling into our bed to help me open my presents before we were up getting ready for my lunchtime party (today was a public holiday in Perth so that worked out well!)  Initially I was just going to have a small gathering of immediate family to celebrate, but two weeks ago, I decided that was a bit boring and so the past week has been a busy one full of preparations for a party at home with 30 members of our family.  

I've had a really lovely day and received some beautiful presents including books, earrings, some cute Cath Kidston enamel bowls, two Willowtree figurines (ones I've always wanted to symbolise me becoming a mother to Grace and Sophie) and some vouchers which I'm looking forward to spending and using - especially the one my sister got me for a day spa.  However my favourite gift was the special '30th birthday package' which Paul put together for me.  It included a voucher for dinner at the restaurant of my choice and tickets for us to go and see the musical 'Mary Poppins' in April.  I can't wait!

I felt really loved and appreciated today and am so blessed to have such special family and friends.