Wednesday, 11 January 2017

At our Beach, at our Magic Beach

Beach holidays where memories are made and your bed is full of sand.

Where people are buried...

And treasures are unearthed..

Where the days are long and you live more outdoors than in. 

Where tide charts are consulted and skies are blue. 

Where hours are wiled away, time is forgotten and everyone's favourite word is "periwinkle".

Where sticks are pens and your pockets rattle with shells. 

Where the moody (almost) teen complains that: the crashing waves are giving me a headache! And the littlest one whispers: How much longer are the holidays Mum? I haven't done everything yet...

Where castles are built and moats dug because everyone becomes an architect and a builder.

Where meals are often fried and washed down with milkshakes - because everyone knows milk cancels out oils and fat and well, hopefully the February diet will be more effective this year!

Beach holidays where we often look down, not because we're depressed (anything but!) but because life there is so fascinating.

Where colourful towels are draped around brown necks and everything smells like salt.

Where bonds are strengthened and smiles are wide!

At our beach, at our Magic Beach...

Happy Summer Holidays Everyone!

Monday, 28 November 2016

Best Christmas Cushions in 2016

In the lead up to Christmas I often alternate between mad frenzied decorating when I am doing 50 things at once - and chilled out reclining on the couch, nanna napping and getting high on Christmas candles.. what can I say? ... this season brings out my extremes.

Here's a pic of my favourite spot when the exhaustion takes hold and I have to lie down and nibble on pfeffernuuse until I get my mojo back. I'm loving this new red sequinned cushion spied a couple of months ago in a kerbside cleanup. (Yes! I washed it). But so crazy! Didn't those people realise that #christmasiscoming ??

I posted my favourite Christmas cushions last year (click here) and many of you responded with enthusiasm, racing out to spruce up your merry decorating style. Well, guess what?! There are NEW cushions out this year that will make you do exactly the same thing again! Come on, you know you want too! If there's already enough cushions for the couch, throw them on a bed - it's just a fabulous way to add an instant festive feel!
$10 at Kmart - woohoo!
$15 at Target - smokin!
$27 at Myer - alright!
$29 at David Jones - GOLD!
$30.88 @
$59.95 @ Country Road - take me home!

$74 @ Pottery Barn - sold with or without insert 
- which means you can update last year's cushion by just adding a new cover - brilliant!

And feast your eyes on these delightful scenes to really inspire:
35 Ways to Create a Christmas Wonderland in Your Bedroom
Or check out Pinterest for heaps of ideas on how to make your own Christmas cushions - such a lovely crafty thrifty idea.

And one that I'll have to start in January 2017 to give myself any chance of having a beautiful home-made creation ready in time for next Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Christmas Trees in November

Yay there's only 32(ish) sleeps until Christmas! I've been feeling quite jolly (okay, more like smug, but that doesn't sound so nice) at:
a) getting our tree up on November 1, and 
b) enjoying the family's excitement at discovering the Christmas joy again...tempered with my husband's slight dismay at having pulled six crates of "Christmas gear" out from under the house - only to be told: We don't have the lights! There must be another box!!

I was enjoying our initial decor choices (wow - we're going with white!) and even had been harbouring strange yearnings to maybe avoid our usual cacophony of colour and go for a white AND minimalist look this year. 

Yes, I thought we might go minimal, for about 5 minutes. I was already imagining how I'd spend any savings made on not buying a new stash of (on sale but still) ornaments, and then I saw this:

Drat you Peters of Kensington! Now I'm not going to be happy unless our tree looks like the Ice Queen of Narnia (and here's a pic of Tilda Swinton looking particularly scary as this character, with the useless Edmund....

has thrown her entire wardrobe at the tree. I must have spent at least 35 minutes staring at this picture trying to work out how the look has been created. And I still have no idea.

I have felt a strange yearning for turkish delight though....

I showed my family the pic of the coveted tree. They were keen to give it a go. Until my husband said: If one glass ball costs around $6-$8 then I guess that tree cost about $500 to decorate. So I'm going with the minimalist look.

Spoil sport.

Anyway, he's wrong. Snazzy Christmas balls are never $6-$8 each. They are more like $9.50 - $24 each like these ones I'm fixating on from Pottery Barn.
So that would make the heavily adorned tree cost, um, a whole lot more than any of us ever dreamed of....


So back to fixating on the tree. I think if i trawl the $2 shops I may just find white feathery stuff to create the look. And hopefully for a fraction of the price. Only problem is that it will probably take me until January to find it all. And not necessarily January in 2017 either.

So much for getting the tree up early.

Well here's our tree in all of it's glory. So far.
Let's just call it a work in progress!

Yes it's blurry, but you get the idea...

Monday, 3 October 2016

Five-Year-Olds Have More Fun

Mum, did you know that Piranhas can bite through metal?
Um, (me, distracted) yeah, sort of. No! What? Are you sure? I've never heard that before..
Yep. They can. It's in the book Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas. Mrs Baxter read it to us in the library. 

Really? (Thanks Aaron Blabey. Was that book really factual?)

Mum. Did you know that Pterodactyl starts with a silent P and that some dinosaurs are herbivores? 
Um, yep. I did know that. Thanks. Can we eat breakfast now? (Me, eying his bacon and hoping he's not considering vegetarianism. Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

Mum, do marshmallows have lots of sugar in them? Cause I've just eaten six!!


Five-year-olds want to do everything and they want to know everything. It's an exciting (and exhausting) age. They still feel (to you) like they were only born yesterday but they are big now, and getting bigger (and louder) all the time.  

They have opinions. And they want to share them. Often. They want to tell you new things - that they've just discovered or experienced or thought of. They require your full attention. So they know you're listening. You have to stop what you're doing and face them. Eye contact is a must. Warning: this makes listening and driving/cooking/reading/sleeping difficult.

Sometimes you find yourself gazing fondly at them (yes, okay, often when they're asleep) and fondly recalling that brief baby moment in time when they couldn't talk. Oh the serenity. 

At times their emotions are erratic. Tantrums are fewer than in the past couple of years, but it's still hard to reason with a five-year-old who won't be told.
Never say "you're too little", which is often the case, or "wait till you're bigger" because it won't go down well. Definitely never call them a baby because the consequences will be extremely dire. (Siblings please take note.)

Here's Arch, after having had a small (humiliated) cry because I'd ordered him a babychino - NOT a baby anymore Mum! - showing me his wink. So cute. 

Here's Arch insisting he can fly the kite. Not easy when you're so close to the ground... Just saying. 

Arch toasting marshmallows like a pro and telling me it's the best day of his life! (It took the ten-year-old to dispel the magic by pointing out that "Arch hasn't actually lived that long"... ) Don't you just love tweenie cynicism?! 

Five-year-olds might still wear baby pajama onesies with the feet sewn in - but they'll insist on choosing their own (clashing/weather inappropriate) outfits during the day. Don't judge.  Most parents are way too tired to argue. 

Five-year-olds can still get way overtired after a big day - but if you suggest an afternoon nap you will be laughed out of town. "That was what I did when I was three or something!" Arch declared last time I suggested it. 

Five-year-olds can have way more fun you.  A poo joke can keep them laughing for hours. 

They take in information like a computer and often surprise with their level of knowledge and understanding.. However they will never understand why they cannot eat lollies for breakfast or why a piece of fruit is better for them than an icecream.

Don't underestimate what they are capable of, or how much better they look in your glasses than you do.

And when they say that they need a cuddle (or a snuggle and a snissy) make sure you stop what you're doing and give them a big squeeze. They may be growing up fast but these moments are way to precious to ignore.

You won't be sorry.

Illegal selfie on Mum's phone...

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Power of the Picture Book Challenge

At the beginning of June I discovered a picture book challenge on Instagram. Yes, it was winter and I was bored and getting kind of low-spirited at being cold - so what better way to brighten things up than make a whole lot of new Insta-friends with a common interest!? Oh my it was great fun. And addictive. Even our toys got in on the action.

Finding a picture book each day from our (not insubstantial) children's book collection to match a changing theme, was inspiring, interesting and entertaining. It reminded me of the power and pizazz of a good picture book. Some make you howl with laughter. Others have a poignancy that can bring you undone. My mum was a kindergarten teacher for many years and used to read a book about a Magpie who died - every year to her class, crying every time. Generations of kids watched agog at their teacher's emotional response to a picture book. I love this.
Through carefully chosen words and illustrations that bring the story to life - a glorious partnership is made in a picture book. Happily the market is apparently booming. Unsurprisingly e-books can't begin to capture the magic. 

Can you recall your favourite Golden Book? (Mine = The Tawny-Scrawny Lion!); The Dr Seuss tale you loved best? A book you treasured?; One you still own (or wish you did)?

If you thought you'd grown too big to enjoy 'em, you are sooooooooooooo missing out!!

Of course it helps to have a five-year-old who is wanting me to read/help him read one (or fifteen), every single night. We love snuggling under covers and discovering the magic of a new story, sounding out words, laughing at rollicking rhymes, pointing to the pictures (the artwork can be mind-blowingly amazing!) ...I really don't want this time to end (though by about book seven, I do find I'm yawning more than reading. Okay sometimes I do get cranky and snap the book shut - "Tomorrow! We'll finish this one tomorrow!!" Cue howls of protest...)

They become synonymous with your childhood, weaving their way into your mind and memories. You might recall a favourite book and then surprise yourself by also remembering intricate details about the pictures that went with it. Or how the spine got scuffed and who you blamed for it. Who read it best using funny voices. Or what your PJ's looked like in 1982....

Whether about big things or small, Picture Books bring laughter and joy to many. They characterise culture (for example, Australian ones can tell of things unique to Aussie life) or appeal across borders by highlighting universal themes (love, friendship, families, kindness, happiness, grief); they fulfil a vital role in the learning and development of children everywhere. They reach across generations.

Here's a few favourite Picture Books, for inspiration.

The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness by Colin Thompson is currently very hard to find. Follow the link to the publishers for a copy - all the major online sellers don't seem to have it. Any book that starts with the line: "George lived alone with his Grandmother and the empty space where his mother and father should be."is going to be emotional. This book does not shy away from the darkness that can live inside those who are feeling empty and lonely. However, in finding a dog who needs as much love as George, this boy (and his new found pet) begin to flourish. The story is delicately told and heartwarming in the extreme. The illustrations add to the poignancy. 

On a sillier note, Dinosaurs Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort is universally funny to kids (and adults). I know I'm not telling you anything new by saying that underpants is a subject guaranteed to produce snickering and laughter. However, making a link between the undergarment and how dinosaurs became extinct is kind of new. But to my (unscientific) brain it is as believable as any of the other theories out there... So for any parent who's ever told their kids that the Great Wall of China was built to keep out the rabbits, this book will make perfect sense. 

The vibrancy and wonder of Eric Carle's picture books have not paled over the decades. If all you know is the hungry caterpillar then you're missing out on the much larger and SCARIER animals given the Carle treatment. The Greedy Python is another fun one worth looking up.

For those of us who grew up wishing we were Laura Ingalls and loving Michael Landon, these picture book versions of prairie life are a lovely introduction to Pa and Ma, family, roasted jackrabbit and all that made up that wonderful pioneering life. 

And keeping with our bookish theme, we attended the launch of the latest Exploding Endings by Tim Harris. When we first discovered Tim's writing, we were pretty excited at a local title containing such a great mix of school age fun and humor. (See our review here) So it was with great excitement that we joined the celebrations for Exploding Endings Volume 3 - and yes, the tales are as hilarious as ever. Particularly good for reluctant readers (and similar in look and style to Diary of a Wimpy Kid) these titles make great Christmas gifts.

I'm now taking part in a #KidsLitChallenge on Instagram - celebrating favourite book titles for 6-12 year olds. Check it out!

Also check out the great list of nominated and award-winning books from this year's Children's Book Council of Australia Awards. Have you read many of them? 
Here's my review of the wonderful Mr Huff a worthy recipient of the Book of the Year: Early Childhood Award.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

National Op Shop Week 2016

I couldn't let National Op Shop Week pass without the opportunity to again state how great it is to support charity shops in their good works in the community. If supporting them means getting rid of some clutter, or by nabbing a FABULOUS bargain along the way, well how good is that?!! It's actually a great way to shop without spending too much. It's making your dollars count. 


Some people seem to have no idea how to op shop. And yes, if you don't have the patience to trawl though loads of stuff in search of a treasure then it's not going to be your happy place, that's for sure. While some op shops are set out in a highly organised manner, many prefer the more chaotic approach. Either way, you'll need a bit of time and fortitude to give it a red hot go.

FIrstly, think about what you are looking for. If it's kid's clothes, there's usually a section set aside just for this. Shoes, likewise. China and glass, tick. Records/CDs/DVDs and books might be somewhere else. Kitchen stuff - yes. Furniture - usually in the bigger stores. Sometimes the sheer volume of stuff can be overwhelming - in which case sticking to one category can help you focus and avoid running screaming from the premises. 

Some op shops have special deals on different days of the week. The Salvo's Stores offer cut prices on clothes with certain colour price tags between Mon-Wed. Many Vinnies stores have a colour coded tag each day that is 50% off. If they don't advertise a deal on an item, don't ask. It's annoying for the (usually voluntary) staff when people try and bargain what is already selling at discounted prices. You might think something has been way over-priced (yes, guilty of this myself - well-used girls' Nike sneakers at one of my locals were $30 and I found this a total joke!) just walk away..... deep breath.... let it go....

Here's a few of my latest finds to give you some inspiration!

CLOTHING: My working wardrobe has been dormant for over a decade now. Luckily, thanks mostly to op shopping, I had a good amount of quality items to draw on - but it definitely needed a revamp this term when i got a 4-day a week real job (as opposed to my op shopping job, which as you know, wasn't a real job). 

So what did I look for? Some versatile dresses that can be dressed up or down - work suitable but fun too. I don't have many prints - but that's the beauty of op shopping - you find yourself trying on things you would never spy in normal shopping land. 

One of these is a homemade dress, fully lined and fits me perfectly, bar the sleeves which are a little tight. One dress is vintage and made in France. The third dress is a high-end Australian brand that I could never afford new. I love them all - can you pick from the descriptions which is which?

The leather shoes appear to be brand new. Again, not what I'd look for normally - but fit beautifully and I just love the colour. They are leather with a rubber sole so super comfy too. They cost $20 which is quite a bit for me in op shop dollars, but would hardly buy you anything in normal shopping land. 

These red leather sandals are made in Spain and give me hope that when winter (finally) ends I'll be strutting around with a definite spring in my step! They were $7.50.

CHINA: I love these little floral Made in England butter dishes. Perfect for keeping coins/jewellry/soaps in. I never pay more than a few dollars for them and they make lovely little birthday gifts for friends when the budget is tight. 

ARTMaybe your mantle lacks a regal touch? I was chuffed to find this vintage print of the Queen in a gilt frame complete with a (slightly cracked) gold crown. 
When I saw this I knew I was a monarchist and that it is a keeper. 

CHINA AGAIN: Sometimes you just want a nice mug for hot cocoa. This beauty was made in Copenhagen. 
But I bought it from an op shop. 
Come to think of it, that's not as fun as going to Copenhagen to buy it, but still - op shoppers can't always get everything they want. 
That takes patience.   

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Parent Fails - Real or Imagined?

A friend recently posted on Instagram an (obligatory) bottle of wine pic with the caption: That moment you get your kids eyesight checked in grade 1 instead of kinder and find they need immediate glasses and an eye patch 🍷

Made me laugh (A lot. It's always funnier when it happens to others, but it could have been any of us, right!?) and think about all the oh-so-many ways we never manage to get it quite right when parenting. It's often just the little things that add up to that general feeling that we're somehow failing at the most important job in the world. Most of the time, we're doing a lot better than we think. Truly.  

At least that's what I told myself when these random moments happened: 
  • You realise the shower your kids use ran out of soap days if not weeks ago, and no one has bothered to mention it. Or notice.
  • You made a big effort to cook a wholesome and delicious Moroccan chicken dinner, and your five-year-old cried because he wanted two-minute noodles.
  • A class teacher casually mentions that your child declined to tell news at the start of the term because "our family didn't do anything fun all holidays". Yep that's us, the no-fun family.
  • You get a note in the diary to say your child has been reprimanded for making "inappropriate noises" - and you can't stop laughing!
    So if your parenting-fails (real or imagined) are getting you down, remember, you are so not alone. So here's some tried and trusty pick-me-ups! Yep, scientifically proven to work. Every time.

    Give yourself a treat. Preferably something with icing sugar and cinnamon. (Check out @scrollies on Instagram)

    Buy yourself some gorgeous in-season flowers. They'll brighten your day, your table and your mood.

      Find a place of serenity and lie down on a gorgeous and comfortable couch. 
      Warning, if you do this in a shop, eventually someone is going to come and tell you that they're calling security if you don't leave..