Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Sea Change

Wow!!! Things have been chaotic.

I fell off the radar for the last 2 months and I have had every intention of grabbing the laptop and just typing a quick hello and update but then children, nappies and vomit have gotten in the way. BUT although things for the next month are going to be epic at the same time at 7pm when the kidlets are tucked in their beds (or they are meant to be), I have the freedom to sit with a hot cup of tea and talk to you all. :-) Well at least that is the plan.

In the last month or two hubby has taken a new role in his company, leading to FIFO work (and subsequently the decision to relocate back to our families in Tasmania). We have had many fabulous visitors and "sleepovers" as Miss 3.75 calls it, we lost a sale on our house in Tas and I have had many trips to Ikea (yes, without B). We have celebrated easter with family in NSW, caught fish, spotted spiders, celebrated birthdays (80's theme), had family breakfasts out, had high teas, sold furniture and appreciated sunsets. We have travelled to visiting family, snuggled sick on mattresses, visited hospitals, had a race course day out and celebrated more birthdays and that only brings us to the second week in May... There has been lots on and then you throw in a pending move interstate and well lets just say that to sit down for 15 minutes is impossible.

I am working on it though. I truly believe that once I get home and am settled back into our home (BRING ON THE RENO's) there will be a little more time to sit and share more fabulous projects and family activities with you all.

I do want to say thank you. Thank you for taking the time to sit and read my blog. I didn't expect to reach (or interest) anyone but I have to say that the interest and support has been fantastic.

Keep smiling.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Incredible Insects

I have this need to spontaneously combust today. I am embarking on this exciting new venture and I can assure you all there is lot more leg work than there should be... Especially when you don't have all the correct info ;-)

I hope that you have been having a blast with you children and the activities. I would love to see what you create with them so feel free to share your pics with me.

This week you will need some painting aprons...

PHOTO CREDITS: I loaded some of these ages ago and cannot find credits. If you know who to credit please feel free to let me know so I can adjust.

Butterfly Painting
WHAT YOU NEED: paint, white paper, paintbrush, pencil

WHAT TO DO: Fold your white paper in half. With you pencil draw very lightly the shape of half a butterfly. Get your little person to paint within that space being quite liberal with the paint. Once they have filled in the shape get your paper and fold in half so hat the painted side is on the inside of the fold. when you open it your paint should have transferred meaning that you now have a whole butterfly.

WHAT YOU NEED: paint, scissors, 2 paper plates, black card or paper, glue and some googly eyes

WHAT TO DO: Take one of the paper plates and scissors and cut the paper plate in half. While you are doing this get your little person to paint the other plate black. Give your little person the cut plate and get them to paint in the colour of their choice. While you are waiting for the paint to dry cut our a small semi circle from the black card and glue on the two googly eyes. Once the paint on that plates has dried using their finger tips get your little person to dot black dots on the coloured plate. Then once all of that is dry glue the coloured plate halves onto the top of the black plate and then glue on the black semi circle. Voila... A coloured lady bug (or Gaston as Miss 3.5 calls it).

Toilet Roll Bees
WHAT YOU NEED: toilet rolls, glue, scissors, yellow paper, black paper, white card, beige card, permanent marker (or texts) and black pipe cleaner

WHAT TO DO: get the yellow and black card and cut them into strips as evenly as possible. get your little person to glue these onto the toilet roll creating a black and yellow striped bee body. Get the white card and cut out some wings. Attach these to your toilet roll. Using the beige card cut out an oval shape. On that oval shape draw on two eyes and a smile. Then cut the pipe cleaner in half and attach to the back of the beige card. Attach the beige card to the opposite side of the toilet roll as the wings. Ta Da! A toilet roll bee :-)

Ladybug Hat
WHAT YOU NEED: red card, black paint, black card, scissors, black pipe cleaners, red pom poms, googly eyes and white out, stapler or sticky tape, hole punch if you have one

WHAT TO DO: Get the red card and cut it in half lengthways. Get your little person to use their fingerstips to create black dots with the black paint (just like the Ladybugs plates). While you are waiting for the paint to dry cut a semi circle out of the black card, glue on googly eyes in the curve and use the white out to create a smile near the flat edge. Attach this to the middle of the strip, flat edge to the bottom edge of the strip. Get the hole punch (or scissors if you don't have the hold punch) to put two holes about 1cm apart in the top of the hat above the semi circle. Feed your pipe cleaner through these holes and bend them so that they create antlers. If you have pom poms attach these to the end of the pipe cleaner. Get the strip and measure to fit your little persons head, hold the measurement and get a stapler or sticky tape and fix the strips ends together. 

Colouring In Pages
Fnd some pages of insects and sit with you little person and colour them in. sometimes Miss 3.5 and Miss 1.5 love nothing more than sitting with me and colouring (apparently I don't do it right).

Outdoor Activities
Although the weather has been horrible 


and I haven't been able to do any of these activities with my little people, doesn't mean it is horrible where you are.

Chasing and Catch
What To Do: To tie this activity in with my insect theme I got the girls to skip and hop and flap their wings as if they were a butterfly when playing this game. It certainly made the game interesting.

Activity Dice
This activity does require some mummy or daddy prep prior to playing BUT once done you can store these and keep for another day. 
To Do: Create a box from cardboard (or if you are me buy two cube boxes), there are lots of templates on the internet. Decorate how you wish ( I just painted). 
On one cube write some activities. Mine were: 
1. Dance like a ballerina; 2.Flap like a bird; 3. Run on the spot; 4. Jump like a kangaroo; 5. Skip around the room; 6. Hop like a frog. 
On the other cube write some stretches. Mine were:
1. Reach for the Sky; 2. Touch Your Toes; 3. Butterfly Stretch; 4. Pat On The Back; 5. Triangle Stretch; 6. Puppy Dog

Note: the best thing about activity dice is you can have them for anything activities in the kitchen, story telling, activities with grandma or daddy.

Where Does This Go
Go around the house with a washing basket and collect random items from each room. Get your children to select an item and ask them where it goes. Get them to take it to the spot they think that the item belongs. This is especially fun when you pick something that they do not usually see and you can see their little minds ticking over... It blows my mind sometimes what they do in this game...

This is self explanatory... Find something fabulous to get them to help you cook. Children love to imitate the best people in the world to them (ie you) and they love cooking... (I caught Miss 3.5 "washing up" the water bottles today).

Chalk Drawings
Again this is fairly self explanatory. Gets some chalk (supermarkets do have) and sit outside, finding a space to do some drawings... Although not sure that I would be keen for that in today's rain ;-)

Hope that you have another fantastic week with your little ones.

Keep smiling


Monday, 24 March 2014

Roaring Routines

So I had to laugh at the irony of today's post. Well yesterday's post technically. So yesterday was a chaotic day to say the least. I have a friend that does competition skating... So it's like ice skating but on roller skates. Kind of retro and cool. SO, when Mrs S asked if I would make her costume I was more than happy to help. I didn't have a pattern (just a live model and prior comp outfit) so I started. I was doing ok but it is getting to the pointy end of the the pattern... Embellishments and glitter and sleeves. So to avoid having to keep calling Mrs S over to try it on I put a call out to my coast peeps to see if anyone had a dressmaking form (have you seen the prices on those things!!!!) so yesterday I was collecting the form, doing a fitting with Mrs S, sewing the back embellishment, cleaning, cooking having someone from an aid agency and Mormons doorknock and having a lovely new friend and her family over for dinner. To say it was chaos was an understatement... 

So to my point... Do you know why it was chaos? I had no structure to my day AT ALL. I flew by the seat of my pants as such. Now don't get me wrong I do have rough guide times BUT some days some things take longer but Its more about having a basic structure to my day.

I find that I need to get my jobs out of the way early so that I can spend the rest of these day with my little ones and doing my blog (and this costume). For example, I am BUSTING to fix my garage and so today (around the costume) I am going to clean and organise our garage but to do that the remainder of my "jobs" need to be done.

So (this is only a guide) I hope it helps you

6am.  - Shower
          - Breakfast
          - Housework
8am   - Hang out washing
          - Bath L
          - Play, craft, read with children
10am - Morning Tea
          - Prepare dinner
          - Vacuum
12pm - Lunch
          - Day Naps
I use this time to do my blogs, Ruffled Lace things, paperwork, budgeting, scheduling, sewing, phonecalls (although I hide in the garage for these).

If I can do things ahead, at this point I do it in this time :-)

2.30p - Play, craft, read, walk, park with children
3.30p - Afternoon snack
4pm   - Bath I and S 
          - Washing off line
          - Final dinner prep
5pm   - Dinner on
6pm   - Quiet time
7pm   - Girls bedtime

It is at this time B and I have dinner. Then I wash dishes or load dishwasher, tidy up "hot spots" (those places in your house that seem to ALWAYS be messy) and if the floor needs to be mopped B does this JUST before bed.

There is some flexibility in times etc but I try and keep things as regular as possible cos. just like their mummy the girls like and thrive on structure (probably why I am teacher - and LOVE organising).

When you create your own "routines" think about what things you do in the day. Think about roughly what time you do them. You might find that unconsciously you have out yourself and your little ones (or not if you don't have the little ones yet) into a routine. It is always the way that things will change (ie nap times etc but the best thing about routines is that they are not set in concrete, they really are just a guide.

When you are in your early stages of setting up a routine or structure set your phone alarm to help you stay somewhat on track OR to help you readjust some of your timing.

I hope that this helps you all.

Have a lovely day 

Keep smiling


Friday, 21 March 2014

Growing Gardens

Today I am sharing with you the activities for the next week and I warn you in advance that they are messy, require sunscreen and a good sense of humour. :-)

Growing a Herb Garden
I'm not sure about you all but I find that the smell of fresh herbs in my meals is divine. I am a bit of a plant killer (I'll admit that) but really wanted to grow my own garden so I had to find a happy medium. A way I could grow them without killing them. I found the way. It is with a product called Greensmart Pots. They are fabulous, especially for people like me who want that veggie garden but cannot necessarily rely on daily watering. Select a patch of yard or talk to your local nursery about pots or a pot that would suit your needs. Decide upon the herbs that you want to grow. at his activity can be as expensive or as cheap as you wish to make it. :-) Prepare your pot. I cleaned mine and selected a place for it so that I didn't have to move it regularly. Get some potting mix and any other minerals feeders that you may need. Place these in your pot (or turn it through your garden). Plant your little seeds or seedlings. Water. Voila! You have your little herb garden. You can involve your little person by getting them to help fill with the potting mix, planting the seeds or seedlings and watering. I LOVE my pots but my mum and dad had an old wheelbarrow that they used for their garden this looks fabulous (I do recommend lining this) here are some ideas for your herb garden.

PHOTO CREDITS: 1.; 2.; 3.; 4.; 5.; 6.; 7.; 8.

 PHOTO CREDITS: 1.; 2.; 3.; 4.; 5.; 6.; 7.; 8.

Fairy Garden
It is always fun to keep their imagination growing and feeding them a little magic. This is where the magic fairy garden is fantastic and so easy! I have to credit Kidspot for this fairy garden.

WHAT YOU NEED: Shallow box (wooden or plastic). Small potplants. 1 small dish for a pond. Shells and pebbles (beach or backyard), soil (or potting mix), decorative pebbles (Bunnings), I small terracotta pot and a small decorative frog.

Fill the box with soil (if you are using a plastic tub you could paint this first). Collect all the bits and pieces for your garden. Dig a shallow hole for your pond. Put in the dish that you chose and surround it with pebbles or shells. Put in your plants. Place the terracotta pot on its side to make a fairy grotto. Put some soil in to make it look authentic. Cover the soil with the pebbles. Use large pebbles from the beach or otherwise to make a stepping stone path. Fill your fairy pond with water.


Herb Markers
I love all the different herb markers out there and I think that if I was clever enough with ceramics I would attempt some of them BUT I have decided on a far more Lauren friendly and kidlet involvement way of marking our little herb garden. Pebble markers!

Pebbles (may be left over from your fairy garden), acrylic paints, spray primer, paint brush, permanent marker, clear spray, newspaper/paper

Put down your paper and add the primer to your pebbles. When dry paint the stones with the acrylic paint (Chickettes only painted one side, but being the obsessive I am I did both). Use the permanent marker to write on the stones. Then use the clear spray to protect the pebble. Allow to dry for a while. Voila! New pebble markers. This is a great activity to get the little ones involved with. They love painting right? If you have enough time and a grandma or grandpa that has a veggie garden these are a great gift from the little ones. ;-)

PHOTO CREDIT: Chickettes

Tomato Plants
This activity is the same as the herb garden activity. I have a separate pot for my tomato plant. Although I do recommend hiding this baby from your little people once you have planted it together as I know that my little people enjoyed picking off the unripened tomatoes.

Pot, cherry tomato seedling, potting mix.

Prepare your pot, place your potting mix into the pot. Water the potting mix and place plant into the pot. Use a stake to keep the tomato plant growing upward. Your little person can help you with all steps with this.

PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipedia 

Apple Stamping
This is a fabulous activity for little ones. You can create a fabulous gift for someone or for your little ones.

Apples, paint, calico bags, newspaper, plastic plate

Select your calico bags and lay it on some newspaper. Put paint on plastic plate. Cut your apple in half from top to bottom and dip it in the paint. Stamp onto the calico bags. Allow to dry. Voila! NOTE: Unless you use a fabric paint, washing an acrylic paint is not recommended - it might not stay pretty for long.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Lynn's Sweets


Monday: Sorting Buttons
This is a fairly simple one but so effective and great for the little ones. You need some buttons (these can be bought from Spotlight or the supermarket. Sit with the child and get them to gather the buttons into colour groups. This is a good wind down and focussing activity after all the muddy fun that your little person would have had creating the family herb garden.

Tuesday: Gardening
This is a particularly good activity considering your beautiful garden creation. It assists teaching your little person some responsibility and I am not sure about your little ones but my little ones LOVE the watering can PaPa bought them.

Wednesday: Cooking
It doesn't matter what you choose to cook for this activity. With all the outdoor activities that you will do this week, this activity is a nice break from the great outdoors. My little girls love making mini cupcakes (thank you Betty Crocker) and this activity allows them to help you in the kitchen without creating too much chaos and mess.

Thursday: Bucket Balls
This activity is reasonably simple. You need a bucket and some balls (or beanbags). Get your little one to stand at a distance from the bucket and get them to throw their balls or beanbags into the bucket. This is fabulous for their gross motor skills.r

Friday: Jumping
You can do this however you like but I like to give the girls something to jump to. Perhaps a spot on the carpet or a toy. It is actually amazing that when you make it a competition they can go for forever (even more so if you get in there and do it with them).

Have fun with your kidlets this week.

Keep smiling.


Cleaning Bucket


So I have been a little MIA the last two days as on Wed I cleverly placed my hand on the stove top (forgetting that I had just cooked veggies for the girls)... MAN it hurt and although it is still uncomfortable now the burning sensation is gone (thankfully) and for the most part I have use of my hand.

This post is about your cleaning bucket...

I have a cleaning bucket... Well technically I have a few... A car cleaning bucket, cleaning stuff storage bucket, cleaning bucket, then I have stuff scattered throughout the house. PLUS I have a design on an accident cleaning bucket (more about that later) :-) I just cannot help myself.

I believe there is merit in having a cleaning bucket (or 5 if you are me). I have to be very clever with my time or I end up with unmopped, unvaccumed, chaotic mess all through my house. This being said, with my cleaning checklist being reinstated in my house things have been less chaotic and I have found that I am a little more organised and less time poor. 

Now the reason that I have two buckets is because all the products in my old bucket were empty (because I was so in love with them) so I created another one "temporarily" until I could afford to replace all the bits and bobs in my original one. 

My Original Bucket


My original bucket was formed when I lived and taught in a mining town in WA. The town was iron ore central and apart from everything being a beautiful shade of terracotta red, I knew that the "elements" around me weren't exactly healthy. So I made the call to keep my chemical intake to an attempted minimum. I was invited to a "party", you know the ones where you have a host and a salesperson... and although I was trying to hide that I was pregnant (possible not so well- as I dashed repeatedly to the toilet). I still managed to buy a fabulous product (that smelt so yummy!)

These are by a company called Nature's Direct. At first I was a little skeptical of the "power" of these products and although I used them it wasn't until I needed to clean a stain on the carpet and used their carpet cleaner that I realised actually how good these products are. I had a stubborn stain on the carpets in our place and used this product on it. Although having used warm water and soap and that not working their carpet cleaning spray worked a dream. I haven't looked back. 

Now my problem is that I have run out of product. You can buy the refills (I just have to get off my proverbial and organise). If you have the money they really are worth every cent.

In the meantime I have created a temporary bucket for myself (god forbid I have an unclean home)

Ok so maybe it is more of a cleaning cupboard than a bucket...

I am not a huge insect lover... Well more the Arachnids and Cockroaches so I always have some Mortein (for that moment that we come face to face- I HAVE been known to faint depending on the arachnid. I am getting better).

Finish Dishwashing Tablets
I have never been a dishwasher user (in fact the house I lived in last year had a brand new dishwasher that until we moved out had never been used). But for time efficiency I have been utilising the load and go functionality of a dishwasher. I LOVE the finish tablets, the seems to leave my things clean without that funky grainy residue that I have seen some dishwashers leave.

Morning Fresh Dishwashing Liquid
I still love my washing up (really?) and therefore I always have morning fresh in my cupboard (I do like mixing up the scents of these ones).

I am not a huge bleach user (B LOVES the stuff) as I find my teeth get really sensitive and it is like my gums get... tingly (not in a good way). My teeth and gums ache I guess. So although I can see the merits of bleach for toilets etc. I personally don't use often... But I leave that up to B. 

Glen 20
I do have a can of glen 20 in the cupboard. With all the sickness that we have had in the past I do keep a can in the cupboard. It is able to kill a lot of the germs that can make you feel icky and quite unwell.

I am not sure about you but I like clean windows and I think that Windex is the best product for that. I do recommend that IF you use Windex the best way to avoid streaks etc is to use a Microfibre cloth.

Earth Choice Bathroom and Shower Spray
Hidden behind the Windex is Earth Choice Bathroom and Shower Spray. I love this for the bathroom. It has a really lovely fragrance and is a fabulous product.

In the bottom of that cupboard I also keep some paper towel, some cloths and a dustpan.

I also find that good old soapy hot water is great for cleaning lots of surfaces too. In blogs to come I will be sharing with you some household products that have more uses than you realise. Also through this series we will work together to create our own cleaning buckets :-)

I would love to know what your have in your cleaning bucket!

Keep smiling


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Divine Desks

As you know I upcycled a writing bureau last year. Those of you that have been following me know in hindsight I wasn't 100% happy with it. I'm not sure what it was. Maybe the fact that I felt like I rushed it or the colour combinations, as you can tell I am not sure BUT l came across a photo on Pinterest that took my fancy and decided that I knew why I wasn't sold on the writing bureau. It wasn't actually the look I was after but I had a sentimental attachment to the idea of it. A writing bureau, done right, looks amazing and because what I had created felt wrong, it didn't sit right.

I plan to redo the writing bureau (I have already begun) but in the meantime I still wanted a desk but had to find something that worked for me, now.

Then I found it.

The desk was fabulous in its original form BUT I found the stain quite dark. When I got the desk back home it had been painted and waxed so I gave it a light sand and a much more vigorous sand on the top (that wood stain was tough to remove). I then used the same paint that I have been using through my furniture renovations (Taubmans Water Based Enamel Trim -Satin in Dulux's USA Antique White). I didn't have to do too much because the previous owner had done a really good job with the basics. 

Once that was done I prepped the desk top. I then applied a clear coat. I had snuck off to Ikea on my way back from collecting the desk and purchased a few items to decorate my desk. Overall I was happy with my purchase and minimal upcycle... BUT I wanted to point out how a little bit of sanding and painting can make a huge difference.


The pencil holder, candle, vase and artificial flowers were all from Ikea.

Now I just have to find the perfect chair to place with it.

Hope that it inspires you!

Keep smiling!


Monday, 17 March 2014

Food Preparation

Hello lovely people! I hope that you have had a wonderful weekend. The weather here was lovely and balmy (it might be heating up now) and if you ask B the surf was pumping. B, the little ones and I usually start out weekend with a Friday night BBQ by the river. We have created a little tradition with some friends to meet on a Friday night and slowly but surely, the group has been growing in size. As you are aware now I have been getting my groceries delivered (I'm terrified of the prospect of 3 under 3 at the supermarket). I LOVE that I can select my delivery times and the ease of the purchase. However this Thursday when I did my grocery shop I had clearly removed my brain. When it cam to selecting the time for delivery there were only two times available (and closing soon) and I thought "sweet, they have 6-9 available" so sure enough I clicked on it and didn't give it another thought.... Stupid Lauren! In the morning when I went to "track" my delivery it said 6-9 PM I nearly had a heart attack. Especially when I realised that it was Friday night and I had to be there for the delivery. So sure enough the BBQ got moved to our place (whoo hoo). Sadly not everyone could make it but that took the pressure off a little. My two gf's were perched on my breakfast stools watching me unpack my groceries... Then came their entertainment...

I admit that my organisation and cleaning is a little OTT but I truly find that without it I am in chaos and I don't feel like I ever get back on track and I am constantly chasing my tail. My food preparation is the same.

I have mentioned in my meal plans post that by 5pm my little ones are tired, hungry and wanting all of my attention, doing food preparation is something that induces stress and anxiety. I really love cooking too so I had to find a way to bring happiness back into my cooking. This involves being organised.

When I get my groceries I put everything away except the groceries that go in my fridge. Usually the first thing that you would do is put away the cold stuff but I keep my veggies, fruit and cheese out. Why? Because I go all OCD on this stuff. :-)

I have to credit The Organised Housewife for the cheese cutting idea. I have followed Kat's blog for years and although my cutting veggies has been something I have always done, Kat has certainly assisted me in refining these skills (incredible lady!!!!!) So as you can see I usually buy a big block and then cut it in half and chop half the block and grate the other half. The reason that I both grate and chop is that I usually use grated cheese for recipes (and those bags of grated cheese add up) and the other reason is that the girls LOVE cheese. I like to be able to go to the fridge and grab out a few containers and know that the girls have a quick healthy snack (plus I am far better of grabbing a cube of cheese that a packet chips or chocolate.

Grapes. Mmm. I have always loved green grapes but found walking around with them on a stem inconvenient but it always took time to pull them off. As the girls have gotten older they have shared my love for grapes but I have been finding the stems everywhere (and I think in shoes counts as EVERYWHERE!) so I made the call that well, they are in the fridge so they can go in a container. So I just pick them off the stems and into the container they go. This has been great and I know the girls are loving it (sneaking into the fridge and taking off with the container).

My carrots are another obsessive thing. I have done this for years now and whether you are a peel or not to peel lover doesn't matter... I want to add here that when I store these I do place a piece of paper towel in the bottom to absorb some of the condensation that seems to accumulate in the container. I do these for all my veggies (pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots) as no one likes soggy or slimy veggies.

I just want to add here that B and I found THE best veggie peeler ever at Ikea. It is heavy for a peeler but has stayed sharp through all it's usage. I love this so much it have invested in some "spares". I have been known to accidentally throw out my peelers (and teaspoons- go figure).

As you can see here I usually cut watermelon, mushrooms (or I cheat and buy them precut- whatever is most cost effective that week), broccoli, caluiflower, pumpkin, carrots and cheese. 

I use the Sistema range of containers for my fridge and as mentioned above I do place some paper towel in the bottom of the vegetable ones to absorb some of the moisture. My veggies are usually good for at least a week and in some cases up to two. If you do pop over to Kat at The Organised Housewife you will see that she has trialled a few different containers and at the moment is working with some of the Howard's Storage World containers. It really is a case of budgets. As long as the container you use is air tight and unusable in the fridge you are onto a winner.

Not only do I find that prepping my food frees up some of my fruit and veg crisper but it makes it so much easier to go for a healthy snack (that is already pre cut or pre prepared) but it saves time and takes some of the the stress out of cooking.

Have fun and go wild!

Keep smiling