Friday, August 31, 2012

Small Lessons Learnt This Week...

Thanks to those who commented earlier today to let me know all was okay here with my posts.  I was pleased to read things seem to be working okay.

It's been a lovely quiet week in our house over the past few days.  At the start of the week, I managed to run a few errands, yesterday the girls and I took advantage of the warmth and sunny weather and had a picnic lunch by the river and today we had friends over for lunch and a play.  A nice balanced week in my books.

Along the way however, there's been a few blunders and lessons learnt.  Perhaps by recording them here, I'll be less likely to make the same mistakes again...

Lesson #1... Trying to cook when Sophie is napping and therefore choosing to not use a kitchen timer is not wise.  It usually leads to something being overcooked or burnt which was the case not once, but twice this week.  Not wanting to risk waking her, I thought I'd be safe without the oven timer.  However, a burnt quiche and an overcooked cake proved this wasn't a good idea.

Lesson #2... Leaving the task of wrapping birthday presents until the last minute only leads to tears.  A while back, I thought I'd be organized and ordered a cute print off Etsy for a friend's upcoming birthday.  I was excited about being able to wrap it prettily and looking forward to giving it to my friend tomorrow morning when we are meeting for coffee.  However, as I went to put the print into the frame tonight, I found the one I'd bought wouldn't fit properly.  Fortunately my friend knows me well and will understand my mortification at not having her present ready to give her tomorrow.  I just wish I'd put her gift together a fortnight ago when I initially bought it.

On a side note, if you're looking for cute tags to add that perfect finishing touch to a gift, check out the ones above by Sarah of Molly's Maison - so pretty!

Lesson #3... Trying to run an errand during the chaotic period after five o'clock is not ever going to work.  Last night, I thought I could leave the girls with Paul and pop down to the shops to pick up a few things quickly in between feeding the girls and dishing up our own tea.  However, queues are always longer than expected, parking spaces hard to find and consequently, the whole nighttime routine ends up being pushed back later and children become even more ratty than they already are at the end of the day.

How about you?  Any lessons you've had to learn the hard way this week?

Can You All See My Posts?

Just a quick note before I do a proper post late on today... I'm wondering if you're all seeing my posts in your readers and so on?  I've been fiddling around all week with my blog layout and various bits and bobs in my sidebar and it's really been a learning curve for me as I'm not very technical at all... lots of Googling, trying things out and so on.  I am in the process of trying to make the RSS button in my sidebar link properly and tried so the other day with Feedburner and then messed things up and so I deleted it.  Looking at my low post visits from this week is making me wonder if I've deleted something I shouldn't have...

If you can see this post, can you please let me know with a quick comment...  
Also, does anyone know of a good tutorial on how I can make my RSS button work or explain to me simply what I need to do?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Our 'Crafternoons'

While Grace has always loved art, in recent weeks, she has been especially eager to explore her crafty side and often busied herself making things.  She's excited at finally being allowed to use scissors to cut, has fun gluing and making collages and is desperate to use sticky tape at every opportunity.

We've been trying something new during the afternoons in our house lately which has filled in the late hours on wintery days nicely... we called it our 'Crafternoon Time'.  Firstly, Grace helps me wash and cut up some fruit for our afternoon tea and then we sit together at the kitchen table working side by side on crafty projects (if Sophie has woken early from her nap, she watches from her high chair whilst having afternoon tea or she crawls around playing on the floor next to us). My idea was that I would be spending quality time together with Grace teaching her new skills and also be able to work away alongside her on my own tasks, modelling skills for her at the same time and hopefully slowly completing a few projects of my own.

Yesterday, I set about working on making a colour matching game for Grace using paint sample cards. I'd initially seen the idea via Pinterest on the blog Crunchy and Green and had been meaning to try it out myself for some time. Our crafty time finally gave me the opportunity to do so.  Grace sat opposite me creating a collage picture, having fun mastering the art of sticky tape and getting messy with glue. 

In other crafty activities, last week, as part of us joining in with Claire's Bookworm Club for this month, I gave Grace a fish outline which she coloured in, decorated with polka dot stickers and glued sequins all over in an attempt to create her own version of the Rainbow Fish like the one in the book we had read.  Grace is also really into letters and numbers at the moment, often pointing out the letters of her name in books and on signs so I printed and cut out a few different sets of the letters of her name in varying fonts and her task was to glue the letters of her name back together again.

I'm hoping that as my girls get older, there will be plenty more opportunities like these 'crafternoon' sessions for me to share other hobbies and passions of mine with them both.  I love that fun-filled times like these are all part of being a Mum...  

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Few Bits To Share

After our little holiday down south, the rest of last week was spent with 'what will we do today?' type days, the kind where you wake up with no particular plans and see where the day takes you. Not only was it nice to have Paul around the house during the time he was off from work, but we also managed to get some jobs crossed off our long running 'to-do list' which was very satisfying.

One item on my list for Paul (which was actually ticked off on the weekend before he began holidays but which I had yet to share with you all) was to hang some decorative plates in our kitchen. Thanks to some pestering on my part, the blue and white trio above now fills up a patch of wall which has been bare since we bought our house. A two dollar op-shop saucer and a vintage Swedish side-plate I bought off Etsy (which matches the tea cup and saucer I purchased a while back) fit in nicely next to the Villeroy and Bosch dinner plate I bought as a Christmas present to myself last year.

A trip to Ikea was another 'to-do' we managed to complete.  After returning home from our holiday to Denmark last week, I managed to persuade Paul to come to Ikea to check out a chest of drawers I was interested in.  They turned out to be perfect for what we were after and have made me happy every time I've walked into our bedroom since the weekend.  We now have SO much extra storage with such big, deep drawer space.  Now I just need to decide what to display on top...

Friday, August 24, 2012

Our First Holiday As A Family Of Four

Last week, as I spent what felt like forever packing all of our bags to take with us, my enthusiasm for our family holiday was seriously lacking, despite us having looked forward to this one for months. Sophie had been up most of the night before (I was assuming with teething pain) and as I battled to keep my eyes open the following day, I had visions of our idyllic break turning pear-shaped. In the end, I was glad we got away though.  It was refreshing to have a change of scenery and lovely to spend some quality time together.  Grace especially had such fun down south, channelling her inner Dr Doolittle as she 'talked' to all the farm animals, stomped through creeks in her gum boots and looked out for kangaroos in the paddocks.  Seeing the smile on her face each day as we set out on various adventures was priceless.

I've posted before about our family holidays to Denmark.  It's our little 'home away from home' and has even  more meaning for Paul who lived there for several years as a young boy.  Each time, as we drive into town along the scenic country roads lined by breathtaking forests and lush green paddocks, I feel a wave of serenity wash over me.  I love re-visiting our favourite spots, finding new places to explore and soaking in all the fresh air and beauty in the surrounding landscape.  It truly is a magical spot.

This time, seeing as our family had grown by one and our needs were a bit different, we chose to stay in self-contained accommodation at Kangaroo Valley Cottage.  It was perfect - the picturesque views, the warmth of the log fire, the country kitchen and the surrounding farm animals and wildlife have made this a place we are definitely keen to return to again next year.

During our stay, we returned to Grace's beloved animal farm where she once again was in her element feeding, patting and cuddling all the animals.  We also let her bring along her money box which she'd been filling over time and allowed her to spend the money she had saved on something of her choice.  Another morning, we took a drive to Albany where we had Devonshire tea at Emu Point Cafe and the following day, we stopped for a drink and play at the Boston Brewery at Willoughby Park Winery.

After time away though, I always love returning to the comforts and convenience of home which make our simple days and routines so much easier.  For the remainder of this week while Paul has still had time off, we've gotten back into the swing of our simple daily rhythm, completed a few odd jobs around the house and even managed a visit to Ikea.  It's been wonderful waking up every day this week feeling like it's the weekend.  I'll be sad when Monday rolls around...


Edited on 31st August 2012: This post was featured in the August 2012 edition of The Post Of The Month Club

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Prize Winner

Hello all!  Sorry I've not posted as regularly as usual.  We've been down south since Saturday on a long awaited family holiday in our favourite little town, Denmark, as Paul has this week off work. However, we're back home now (and with Internet access again) so once I attempt to make a dent in the mammoth pile of washing currently sitting on our laundry floor (the worst part about returning home after time away), I'll be back with a few photos of where we stayed and what we got up to.

In the meantime, I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to comment on my last post.  I appreciated your feedback SO much and found it helpful to hear what you liked, to read the suggestions you gave and to come away even more motivated to make a few small changes here. One of the things that pleased me the most was hearing that this space was very 'me' and that my sharing snippets of daily life around here doesn't bore you all too much.  It was also great to have some new faces introduce themselves as it's always nice to know who's reading my posts.

You'll have to bare with me as I slowly try to spruce things up and work on a new blog banner for this space.  Changes will have to be done bit by bit during my 'precious time' while Sophie naps so it may look a bit hotch potch here while I'm in the process of my bloggy makeover.

As for my book prize (which I've since realised was an appropriate prize to give away seeing as this week is Book Week here in Australia), I popped all the names of those who were kind enough to leave me some feedback into a bowl and gave Grace the honour of choosing the winner who was...

I'll be in touch with you soon Belinda to find out which book you'd like... Now it's time to stop procrastinating and to sort out some washing...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Can I Ask A Favour?

In a few months’ time, I will have been blogging for three years.  Over this time I’ve found the focus of my blog has shifted somewhat, I’ve lost followers and gained others (hello by the way to any newbies) and I’ve settled comfortably into my cosy little corner of blogland. 

I’ve been thinking a bit about this blog of mine lately, re-reading my notes from Holly’s blogging course that I took last year along with Tara Frey’s book ‘Blogging For Bliss’ and I’m planning a wee bit of a makeover for this space.  This will be a long-overdue spruce-up which I remember was initially on my to-do list in the final weeks before I had Sophie and which still has not eventuated. 

I’m wondering if you can possibly all do me a favour and give me a teensy bit of feedback on how things are here visually and the topics I post about.  I’d like to learn more about my followers, to fix any issues that may pose themselves and to keep things interesting here in the way of content.  

To keep it simple for myself and you, I’ve limited this 'favour' to three brief questions…

1.      Who are you?  If you’re not already a follower who I’m familiar with, if you’ve never commented before, I’d love for you to introduce yourself.  Where are you from?  How long have you been reading Homely One? 

2.      Which topics do you like reading about here?  Recipes?  Crafty projects?  Parenting/babies?  Random snippets of daily life?  Decorating/renovations?  Is there a topic you want to read more about?

3.      And finally how easy do you find it to navigate around my blog visually?  Am I missing something that would make it easier?

As a thank you, anyone who leaves a comment here to help me out (any time during the remainder of this week) will automatically go in the drawer to win their choice out of the following three books:

·         Simplicity Parenting - by Kim John Payne
·         Bake - by Tina Bester     
·         Blogging For Bliss – by Tara Frey

Thanks in advance to any of you lovely people who spare a moment of your time to give me some much appreciated feedback... 

Photography above by Jenna Trapasso via Style Me Pretty

Monday, August 13, 2012

Regaining Some Fashion Sense

Outfit above compiled by Kelsey of Evoking You

Back when I was teaching, I took great pride in how I looked at work – fashionable clothes, make-up, hair neatly done and so on.  Somewhere along the line since becoming a Mum, I’ve let all this fly out the window and lost any sense of style I once had.  I can’t remember the last time I wore heels.  I now ‘pop to the shops’ in outfits which previously would have been relegated to the ‘only around the house pile’.  It is a rarity if I actually wear make-up.  And I am rotating between a small number of outfits as I have only been clothes shopping once since having Sophie. 

I’ve decided that while it’s not necessarily important to my girls how I look, it is to me.  Making sure I look presentable does wonders for my mood (and means I’m not worried about ‘who I’ll bump into’ if I’m out and about).  So here are my new rules I’m going to follow to make more of an effort with my appearance…

·         If I’m having an ‘at home day’, no make-up is perfectly fine.  If I’m visiting friends, going to the shops or anywhere else where someone other than my immediate family will see me, I’m going to make a bit more of an effort and put on at least the basic tinted moisturiser, mascara and lip gloss. 

·         I need to overhaul my wardrobe and come up with a new ‘Mummy uniform’ that involves something other than the same pair of tracksuit pants and ugg boots.  Nice fitting jeans, comfortable ‘goes well with leggings’ type pieces and more colour are all things I’m going to try and seek out.

·         I really think accessories can make the world of difference to an outfit and yet 90% of the time lately, I find myself without them.  Scarves, belts, costume jewellery and the like will all be getting dragged out of my wardrobe more often in these coming months.

Do you have an ‘at home uniform’?  Or do you find yourself in the same old tracksuit on days you’re home too?  How often do you wear make-up and accessories?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ten On Ten

Today I thought I’d join in for the first time with Rebekah’s ’10 On 10’ linky, a project where bloggers take ten photos for ten consecutive hours on the tenth of the month with the purpose of ‘finding the beauty in an ordinary day’.

Here’s a snapshot of how things have looked in our house…

#1  A mug of green tea on a cold winter's morning...

#2  Poor Asha having to eat her biscuits off the back door mat after Grace spilt them when feeding her...

#3  Sophie creating her first mess of the day...

#4  Grace playing 'shops'...

#5  A tear out from an interiors catalogue that arrived in the mail - am hoping to check out these vases and vessels on our travels this morning...

#6  Hanging out a load of washing in the sunshine to dry - Grace finally agreed to me washing her beloved 'Baa Baa'...

#7 One of the gifts Grace chose for my Mum's birthday today - she was adamant we had to give her a plant, so we made a quick visit to Bunnings...

#8 A lucky find in the carpark, guarded safely by Grace until she got home and put it in her money box...

#9  My keys hanging inside (alongside the spare set!!) - we locked ourselves outside on our way to run another errand.  Would you believe, I'd only just used our spare set (which is normally hidden outside) a few days ago and had yet to re-hide them... fortunately my mobile was in my pocket and my mother-in-law came to the rescue with her spare keys...

#10  Sophie playing with the pegs while I took the washing off the line...

Wishing you all a nice relaxing weekend ahead.  We're off to morning tea tomorrow for my Mum's birthday, are having one of my best friends over tomorrow afternoon for a long overdue catch up and then have a quiet Sunday planned.  How about you?  What have you been up to today and what do you have planned for the weekend?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Our Baby Girl At Nine Months

With us well and truly into August now, the prospect of being three quarters through this year is starting to scare me a tad.  Why are the weeks whizzing past so fast?  In only a few months our baby girl will be one! A fortnight ago, Sophie hit nine months and it is such a cute age.  She is growing and changing and learning so many new things every single day.  However, while these milestones are unbelievably exciting, it’s the unique little ‘Sophie-isms’ that make my heart literally burst with love.  Here’s just a few I want to remember…

·         The way she strikes the same ‘pose’ with one leg crossed over the other, balancing on her toes every single time she rests or pauses for a second.

·         At night, once I’ve zipped her up in her sleeping bag, she waves to the photo of herself and then nestles her head into my neck for one last cuddle as I turn off her lamp and sing her a goodnight song.

·         She has the chubbiest little toes and feet and loves to be bare foot, taking great delight in pulling her socks off at any opportunity, especially in the car or in the pram.

·         Her hand grips sweetly onto the neck of my top or front of my bra as she’s feeding, like she’s pulling herself in closer for more of a snuggle… I’m cherishing these last few months of breastfeeding.

·         When I ask for a kiss, she opens her mouth wide like a little fish and leans in – so cute!

I can’t wait to see what the next few months brings for our feisty, cheeky, happy little bub…

Monday, August 6, 2012

Discussing Death With A Three Year Old

Up until recently, we hadn’t had to discuss ‘death’ with Grace.  There was only one occasion earlier in the year when she found a baby dove which had fallen out of its nest.  Its lifeless, barely feathered body was lying underneath the jasmine bush just by our back door and she was rather puzzled by what had happened. While I told her he had ‘died’ and we lovingly buried him in the garden under the lily-pilly, I don’t think she really understood that poor little bird’s fate.

Then a few weeks back, the topic of death came up as we were watching the movie Finding Nemo.  Up until now, Grace didn’t seem to realise that the two fish at the beginning of the movie were Nemo’s dad and mum.  She thought they were the dad and Nemo himself.  That week, she clicked on. 

“I think that’s the mummy and daddy Nemo,” she told me. 
As the scene where the nasty swordfish swoops in finished, a scene where the viewer can assume the mother fish and the fish eggs have been eaten, Grace asked, “Where has the mummy one gone?” 
I tried to avoid having to explain things further with an “I’m not sure” but Grace wasn’t convinced.  “But I saw the mummy one just then,” she said, “she was there, where is she now?  Nemo needs his daddy AND his mummy.” 
We talked about the possibility that the mother fish had been eaten.  I told her not everyone was lucky enough to have a mummy and a daddy to which she burst into tears exclaiming, “But I need a daddy AND a mummy… Mummy, are you going to die?”
I assured her there weren’t any swordfish in our house and I was staying put. 

Then a few weekends back, we stopped by the cemetery to put some flowers on Dad’s grave.  “This is a boring shop,” said Grace. 
“It’s not a shop,” I said, “it’s a cemetery, we’re putting flowers on Pop’s grave.” 
“Why?” came the response. 
I explained Pop had died because he had been very sick and had a bad heart.     
“Will you die Mummy?” she asked, clearly concerned again. 
I explained that Mummy was young and healthy and that she didn’t have to worry about me going anywhere. 
“But you were sick before,” she said, “You were coughing.’

We have conversations like this a lot lately.  It's hard to know how to answer at times or if I'm giving the right type of response.  Grace is at an age where she is so inquisitive and curious about the world and its workings.  Ours days are filled with endless ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ which are exhausting at times, but I love helping her learn and understand and wouldn’t have things any other way...

Photography by Chelsea Fuss of Frolic

Friday, August 3, 2012

Desperately Belated Award Thanks

With my blogging time more limited these days, I've been a tad slack at passing on any blog awards I'd been tagged for recently, blog awards which were appreciated so very much and which I would love to continue on in order to share around a bit of blog love...

Going back a little bit now, I was kindly tagged for a Liebster Award by two lovely ladies, Claire of Scissors Paper Rock and Catherine of A Time To Create.  Thank you so much ladies!!  This award is all about the number 11... I have to list 11 random facts about myself, answer 11 questions and pose a series of 11 questions to the next bloggers I tag.

However, before I get writing about myself, I also want to thank Claire of oscarlucinda who passed on a Sunshine Award to me a few months back and Sue of Sweetpea Family who tagged me for a One Lovely Blog Award.  Rather than boring you all with too many insignificant facts about myself, I'll use the Liebster Blog Award to continue sharing the blog love.  Here goes...

  1. I am attracted to anything blue - duck egg blue or navy blue in particular.
  2. I have only ever lived in two houses - my childhood home and my current one.
  3. I have a mug of Milo each night after tea.
  4. I'd love to have chickens in our backyard - sadly Paul and our council laws don't agree.
  5. My favourite thing about Christmas is wrapping presents.
  6. Growing up, I wanted to become an architect, a graphic designer or a journalist.  I became a teacher.
  7. At 18 months of age, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis - I outgrew it in my early teens.
  8. I still have an 'old school' mobile... time for a long overdue upgrade soon...
  9. The only time I brush my hair is right before I wash it as brushing curls = frizz
  10. I have a freckle on my nose.
  11. I have never tasted oysters or mussels.

Here are my responses to the questions Claire asked me...
  1. One word that best describes you? This is a hard question... I'd like to think 'thoughtful'
  2. Sweet or savoury?  Sweet (there is a raspberry muffin on my plate next to me as I type!)
  3. Why do you blog?  To connect and share with like minded people, to record memories for my family and to fulfill my love of writing
  4. What are you reading at the moment?  'French Children Don't Throw Food' and 'Simplicity Parenting'
  5. Favourite film of all time?  There's a few... Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and The Notebook.
  6. If you were a colour, which would you be and why? I Googled 'personality colours' for this question... I would have to say white because of my strong desire for simplicity 
  7. Reality TV, love or loathe?  In general, love it
  8. Describe a perfect day...  Cups of tea, fun with my girls, a clean house, time for blogging and crafting, pottering around the house, a family outing in the sunshine, not having to cook tea and an uninterrupted night's sleep 
  9. Somewhere in the world you're dying to go to?  The UK
  10. Biggest fear?  Ill health

I'd like to pass on the Liebster Award to the bloggers listed pressure, only if you feel like joining in and haven't yet done so...

And the questions I'd love for them to answer are:
  1. Favourite flower?
  2. What colour is your handbag?
  3. How long have you been blogging for?
  4. Poached, fried or scrambled eggs?
  5. Winter or summer?
  6. Do you have a regular holiday destination?  If so, where?
  7. Favourite day of the week?
  8. Which famous person would you love to invite to dinner?
  9. Do you have any siblings?
  10. Daily must have?
  11. Favourite perfume?

Thanks again to the lovely ladies who thought of me for these blog awards!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bookworm Club: Bugs And Insects

With the feeling that this year is disappearing before my eyes, I found myself lying awake in bed the other night suddenly realising that I only have Grace home with me full time for another six months before she starts kindergarten in February.  I began to worry if our days were fun enough for her, if I spent enough time playing with her each day and if we were doing enough enjoyable activities.  Deep down I know that she loves our time together at home.  I just don't want to get to next year and look back on this time wishing I'd 'done more'.  I find I'm constantly reminding myself of the poem 'Excuse This House' lately whilst I'm doing my best to balance work and play.   

One of the the things we have been spending time on together is Claire’s fun Bookworm Club over at one of my favourite blogs, Scissors Paper Rock.  Trips to the library, curling up together reading books and using what we'd read as a starting point for some art activities are all things I want to continue with Grace over our next few months together.

This theme seemed to re-ignite Grace’s love of 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' and consequently, EVERY night this week, it’s been her book of choice for a bed time story.  When we reached the page about the caterpillar building a cocoon and transforming into a butterfly, Grace kept asking, ‘but HOW does he build it?’ so together, we used this as a learning opportunity and searched for a clip on You Tube to help understand this better.  As a related art activity, we looked at the symmetry of butterflies and with some help to find the segments which matched on each side of its body, Grace coloured in the outline you can see above and had fun shaking glitter over a few parts.

By far, Grace's favourite bug related book was a great sticker book we found in the toy aisle at our local supermarket which provided lots of simple explanations and information about a whole range of creepy crawlies.  It has been a wonderful activity for rainy days. 

Now we’re looking forward to the theme for the August Bookworm Club which is Under The Sea… lots of scope for fun books and activities with this topic... can't wait!