Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thrift Store Thursday

Yep, I have thrifty goodness coming out of my ears lately.  Just a quick post to show you my latest scores!


An Emile Henry jug I bought for $4.99 (that is retailing on Amazon for around $60).  It is perfect and I love it!


A West Elm faux bois patterned planter for $8 (no idea if this is a good deal - they no longer sell it).  I also got that cute geranium for just $1 at the thrift store too.


A complete game board of Mousetrap.  Lord A (I can't keep up with my nicknames for my kids either...) has been asking and asking for me to buy this for him so when I spotted it for $1 I snatched it up.


It doesn't take long for him to personalise how he plays though.


I actually got this before last Christmas (for about $5) but forgot to mention it.  It is not a great quality one but it works fine and the kids love it so that is good enough for me.  Only problem is, we have used up the candles and I can't find where to buy new ones.  Anyone have any advice about that??

Way overdue thanks

THANKS!

I have been meaning to write about these two wonderful prizes I won for aaaaaages.  I guess I really wanted the time to write a very thoughtful post on each of them and of course, as these things go, time just whizzed by.

Firstly, in March, I was oh so lucky enough to win a place in a Playful Learning Spaces e-course with the wonderful Mariah Bruehl through her blog of the same name - Playful Learning.  I was so excited to win this.  Ridiculously excited actually.  I have been a fan of her beautiful and simple approach to children's play spaces for a long time.  The course ran over 5 weeks and we had access to a recorded lesson by Mariah each week as well as other inspirational resources she had collected for us and we shared as a group through Flickr and Pinterest.  I have to say I was not at all disappointed, even going in with such high expectations.  I LOVED the course and wish it could have gone on and on and on.  The information was stellar and I just enjoyed the whole process.  I enjoyed looking at ways to simplify my children's spaces and provide thoughtful little nooks for them throughout the house.  The process even helped me think about how I live and like to create and I made some little nooks for myself.  Below I will share photos of some of the spaces I was inspired to create during this course.  Mariah has just released a 'Playful Learning' book and I highly recommend it if the course is anything to go by.  I can't wait to get a copy.  Mariah is doing a blog book tour at the moment so if you head over to her blog you can follow along as well.

displaying animal figurines in an attractive, easily accessible way... 

a bird watching nook in the family room (the basket usually contains Audubon birds and binoculars) 

the kids' playroom before (I just kept stuffing more and more in there!)

and after (aaaah, much more serene) 

a basket of books in the family room which has led to lots more reading time cuddles

These are just a very few of the simple but profound changes I was exposed to and have made.  There is so much more information in the course that I can't do justice to here and I am truly thankful to Mariah for the opportunity!

Secondly, on another high note, in May I was fortunate enough to win the e-book 'How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too' by Mandi Ehman through the wonderful Overcoming Busy blog.  I was thrilled to win this book!  It is covering the topic of how to follow your passions/interests and still care for your children and home etc.  I would have bought it even if I hadn't won it.  I would love to do a review of it here but I haven't finished reading it yet (slow aren't I??) but I will do that just as soon as I get it totally finished.  Mandi is holding a book club discussion over on Life...Your Way starting either today or next Thursday (keep an eye out) and is offering the book at a discount (Kindle version is available as well).  Go check it out and join our discussion!

With all this winning in the air I just might go and buy a lottery ticket!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thrift Store Tuesday


I have seen these around the internet for quite awhile and decided to try my hand after spotting this sweet little vintage plate the other day in one of my thrift store rounds.  So easy and such a fun, quick result.  I think these would look lovely en masse for a party dessert buffet.

I bought the plate and glass candlestick for less than $2.  I used E6000 glue to stick them together, waited 24 hours for it to cure and that was it.  Let me know if you try it or have already tried it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Makeover Monday - Thrifty Mirror


Remember this thrift store mirror I had plans for?  The white kind of looks all fresh in this photo but in person it was looking a bit tired and tatty.


Here she is, all freshly painted and hanging in my entry way (some hints for indoor, poorly lit photography would be welcome Karen!).  It really brightens up this space and makes me feel cheery every time I walk past.  I love how little tweaks we do have that effect.  By the way, the paint colour I used was Martha Stewart's Cornbread.  The photo makes it look very bright but it is actually a softer colour in person.  Check out the paint swatch next time you are at Home Depot and you will see what I mean.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mouse mat makeover


I was thinking about doing this ages ago and then Benita from Chez Larsson beat me to it so if you hop on over you can read her wonderful instructions.  The only thing I did differently was to pull off the original fabric from my mouse mat as it was already lifting and I sprayed both the mat and the fabric before sticking them together (spraying one side gives a temporary bond, two sides makes it more permanent).

This is possibly the quickest makeover you will ever do and you get to look at and appreciate it every day.  My favourite kind.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thrift Store Thursday

Woo hoo, have I had some wonderful times in thrift stores lately!


Firstly I found this cute little bongo drum (which I recently saw in a catalogue for $25) for $4.



Then I found this gorgeous porcelain owl lamp.  Just $10 and it is in mint condition.


But lastly, I hit the mother lode yesterday.  All of this jadeite for $25!  I am still over the moon about it.

Anybody else had any thrift store luck?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rulers rule



Miss E's rulers are getting a little makeover for school.... (and, yes, I specifically bought wooden ones so I could do this - cue Miss E's eye roll).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Birthday party for Miss E

This is a catch up post for Miss E's birthday party which we held before we went back to Australia for our holiday.  Miss E has not had a proper birthday party for 4 years (due to moving twice right around her birthday and other factors) so I decided to put a bit of effort in this year!  E wanted a sleepover party (ugh - not my favourite thing) so she was allowed to invite 5 friends over and I stuck with a very simple party plan.  I did quite a big party for her 5th birthday and I actually made notes of things I liked about it and what I would do differently.  Here is a list of my basic party planning rules (from my vast experience of like two proper parties..lol):

1. Keep it SIMPLE.  Children really just want to run around and play most of the time anyway.
2. Have only one or two scheduled activities.
3. Don't have a heap of food and make it simple too.  The children are too excited to eat much generally (although maybe this rule will not be as important as they get older).

I had six girls in all coming for dinner, party, sleepover and breakfast and it was actually pretty easy to pull off (although I did have the help of a wonderful friend to help get it all done on time - thanks Dawn!!).

The girls arrived before dinner and I had platters of fruit, vegies and dip plus some potato chips out for them.  Yep, I am one of those Mum's that doesn't like to sugar up the kids (especially when I know they have to go to sleep at my house!).  I remember my sister doing a party for my nephew once and, amongst the fun foods (ie. lollies - aka candy - etc.) she had a platter of fruit kebobs.  The kids descended on them in a frenzy and it always stayed with me (this was well before I had my kids).


After the girls had played for awhile I got them organised with a craft activity.  I have been buying up embroidery hoops whenever I can from thrift stores and had just the right number in this size for the girls to whip up a little bunny outline (I printed a shape off the internet and traced over it to get the outline).  You can still see the blue water soluble marker in this shot.  I forgot to take a photo after they had rinsed them out.  My favourite part of this craft was my idea to provide mini pompoms for them to add as the bunny tail!  I think it worked out so cute.  They all did a great job after a very quick lesson on how to do a basic back stitch.

Dinner was easy - I figured panini type toasted sandwiches would be easy and the girls could customise their fillings.  I have a super hot panini press which toasts them very fast so that helped too.


Dessert was the cake plus orange cupcakes and lemonade (there is enough sugar there for them I figure).  Now, I seem to be missing the decorated cake gene.  I like to try most things and I love to bake and decorate at times but for some reason the whole themed party cake motivation has eluded me.  For E's cake I made a favourite family chocolate fudge cake recipe.  I cut it to make a layer cake and filled it with fresh whipped cream and strawberries then poured chocolate icing over the top.  My lame attempt at decorating was sitting a few of her favourite Schleich animal figurines on top to which I added some miniature bunting which took me just a couple of minutes to make.  I cut out tiny triangles of paper, used a sewing needle and cotton to thread them on and then tied the cotton to two short skewers.  I loved the bunting and I thought the cake looked quite festive (crappy photo aside).  Anyway, despite it not being very elaborate, it tasted marvellous!


I also made cupcake picks using cute little animal photos I got from the internet.  I didn't get a decent photo of those though so another blurry photo will have to do!  Ugh, I didn't have time to check my photos during this.

After that, the girl's watched a movie, went to bed (and to sleep - finally!) and, in the morning, I put out a breakfast of mini croissants, cereals, fruit and juice boxes.  The girls were even brave enough to try a little piece of toast with vegemite on it (most of them did not like it - I guess you have to grow up with it).  It has been a surprising offshoot of our expat lifestyle, this being a vegemite ambassador...


Now, I may have lucked out on the decorated cake gene but I really love to make the goody bag something special (and useful).  I have actually thought about opening an Etsy shop for goodie bags I think about it that much.  I am just not a big fan of the little plastic bag full of candy (no offence to those of you who are happy with them - to each his own!).  For each of the girls I made up these lined calico bags that are big enough to use as library bags.  Now, one note about these.  I got a little ambitious and put a little more time into them than I would normally for goodie bags but just couldn't stop myself once I got started.  So, anyway, they ended up with these cute bags with their initials appliqued on the front.  I used a combination of fabrics that I had in my stash and some I had found at thrift stores in remnant bins.  A quick note about thrift store fabric finds - always WASH THEM WELL.  I am not germ phobic at all but, really, you have no idea where those fabrics have been so wash, wash, wash them.

Now, before this blog post becomes a novel, the last thing I did was add a few little personalised items to the bags.  I put in a little bag of candy which I personalised with a tag with a cute animal photo and a message from E.  I bought some cheap little items from the Target dollar section as well.  There was a little matchbox style notebook and pretty decorated pencil along with these bubble bottles that I personalised by replacing the label with a personalised one I whipped up on the computer.  You get a bag of four of those mini bubbles for $1 and the same for the notebooks and pencils (2 for notebook and 8 for pencils) so it is very cost effective as party favours.

I will do another post about how to personalise those little candy/lolly bags and the bubble bottles.  They were really quick and easy and looked great.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Trip home

Things I love about going back to Australia for our once a year visit....

being able to collect fresh eggs, pick cherry tomatoes, passionfruit and mandarins fresh off the bush, vine and trees, picking macadamia nuts off the ground ready for cracking open and gathering a bunch of pretty violets for a vase....

trampoline fun with a missed cousin... 

attending camel races (camels just run funny!)... 

feeding the chickens... 

collecting the eggs... 

King Parrot and Rosella feeding at the mountains nearby... 

Getting close to a Kookaburra... 

Misty sunrises... 

Quad bike riding... 

and watching the wallabies having their breakfast in the front yard.

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