Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter

Easter has always been my favourite holiday, and not just because of all the chocolate!  My childhood was spent each year holidaying with the family on a farm up near Kyneton, and every year it was the same.  The same crisp, cool but sunny weather, the same sights and smells, the same animals greeting us like old friends.  There was something about the 'feel' of Easter, a time of year that had it's own atmosphere. 
 
Now, with my own family, we don't go away at Easter because there is always something happening on the farm or with our sheep that needs doing.  At the moment my husband is busy harrowing the paddocks, getting it ready to put in a new crop.  With the change of seasons it spells a new beginning and another faze in our lives surrounding the going-ons at the farm.  With a soil test done recently the fertiliser will soon be spread, before the clover and rye grass goes in.
 
At home the vegetables in the garden reached the end of their life cycles and last week I spent three hours clearing out the garden beds and mowing the lawns.  The soil can now be prepared for winter greens such as broccoli, broad beans and perhaps even garlic.  I'm looking forward to winter soups filled with our own produce.
 
I've become a little fascinated with colour lately and today's palette celebrates both Easter and the mood it provokes within me; a somewhat relaxed and lazy blue.
 
Have a Happy and safe Easter.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Industrial Country Kitchen

Country style with anything is certainly more the look I prefer.  But spending time roving through different magazines and blog sites I've discovered a mix of styles works really well.  Such as the idea of a rustic country look mixed with a bit of industrial style, softened with pretty feminine touches like fresh pale pink flowers.
Love this cluster of lights hanging at all different levels.  The slight variation in shape only breaks up the display and adds interest.  A great feature over the table, just make sure it's not hanging too low so that obscures people's view!  A display cabinet is not only great for keeping crockery on hand but means these treasured items can become a part of your room.
Move away from the traditional country look by introducing these metal chairs.  As well as giving the room a more modern feel it reduces the appearance of clutter.
As well as introducing a hint of colour, soften the room by moving these peonies out of the lounge room and on to your kitchen bench!
With a large family I put having ample storage space on the top of my list, and this goes for the kitchen as well.  Instead of hiding food items display them in attractive containers, mixing it up with both old fashioned clip jars and more modern canisters. 
If you are lucky enough, having a strong focal point, like this old fashioned stove, would be wonderful in any country style kitchen.  Bring it forwarded into the 21st Century by avoiding too much 'rustic' clutter, (so keep away from the patchwork and chicken printed tea towels!) and keep it clean and fresh with simple white and natural timbers.








Monday, March 21, 2016

A Teenager's Study Nook

Doing up my eldest son's room was a sort of comedy of errors.  But it was one of those times where you kind of stuff up but it works out for the best.  I shall elaborate.

I ordered this little study desk from Officeworks, a little 'pop together yourself' little number that was only $69.  I also ordered a student chair, one of those on wheels, you know, the type that you spend a lot of time procrastinating on when you are a teenager and are supposed to be doing your homework but instead you are spending your time spinning around and around, while staring at the ceiling, making yourself dizzy, then seeing if you can walk across the room without falling over.  I should know about this game.  Many a "study evening" was spent playing it. 

Anyway....I'm getting side tracked.  So I ordered the desk, and this spinning chair which was a lovely bright blue, and then I waited.  And I waited.  And I waited.  And I waited.  And then I waited some more.  But nothing.  It didn't come!!!!  What had I done???!!!  

Ok, as it turned out my order didn't go through and the desk and the magical spinning chair weren't ordered so I had to put the whole thing through again.  Annoying?  Maybe.  But fortunate?  Yes!!  I ordered the same desk but instead of going for the time wasting spinning vomit inducing chair I hopped on over to the Target website and ordered this gorgeous Replica Eames DSR Side Chair in blue.  And it's SUCH a PRETTY blue!!  Ignore the fact that this chair is pretty and it's for my son, but I love it and it was only $49. 
Now that my son is in high school I figured it was time he had his own study space for all the so called homework he's now going to get.  Of course it's now the last week of Term 1 (yes really, where did that time go?) and I'm yet to have seen him do any homework at all.  Anyway, never mind. 

The book shelf has always been a feature in my son's room, it was something he's had since he was three, although this is the tidiest it's ever been because I went through it the other week and had a massive cull of random useless bits and pieces and books that were way too young for him.  I bought him a couple of charcoal grey plastic boxes with lids to store all those bits and pieces that make shelves look untidy, which these boxes are identical to the ones I bought for my two other boys (see here), except for the colour of course!

I also shopped at Kmart (yet again) to get a few decorative things that I thought a teenage boy would like; such as the light-up arrow, which I thought was a bit of fun, the little set of drawers that I sat on the desk, the pencil holder (which is actually from the bathroom section of Kmart and is supposed to be used to hold toothbrushes), and this really cute notebook.

The poster on the wall is one I found a while ago, a male ballet dancer doing a leap of sorts.  It took me ages to find this online actually.  I wanted a poster of a male ballet dancer (as my son does ballet) doing some sort of dramatic leap, but I wanted him wearing all of his clothes (so it wasn't weird!!), and doing a really strong, dramatic leap.  The poster is framed by my Dad, who is a picture framer.
The cactus I got from my local IGA supermarket (because we all need something botanical to murder) and the blue desk lamp I ordered off eBay for $40.  I deliberately went for blue to match the chair.  Although he does have an overhead light in the ceiling (obviously!) I knew it was important to have the desk lamp because he will throw a shadow over his work when he sits down to study.
I changed the bedding in this room quite a while ago because it was a little bit boring and he was due for a change.  I got this versatile charcoal grey which has bright yellow and navy accents, good for a teenage boy. There was also this little pillow with the headphones that matched the set, which I thought gave it a nice teenager-y feel, and as it was another Kmart purchase, it wasn't much extra.  The painting above the bed is an original done by my best friend's husband, which are whales in the ocean, and the picture beside the bed is my son's favourite car, (don't ask me what it is I have no idea).

I was really pleased with how it all turned out, with the creation of a study nook not costing much at all.  Now let's see how long he can keep it tidy!







Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Boys Bedroom Monochrome Make Over

As I continue to make my way around my house on my interior designing frenzy; I find myself in my boys room.  This is how it now currently looks after a bit of styling.  Trust me, it won't stay this way for long.  As soon as they get home from school this afternoon they will walk in there and just their mere presence in this area will cause a major disruption in the nearby stratosphere and everything will simultaneously tumble out of place "by itself".  Yes boys, the blind fell out of the window without you even touching it.  Oh, of course, the doona cover miraculously came off the doona and somehow ended up hanging over the light fitting on the ceiling..........

Today I was able to finish up my boys room.  They are aged six and five and are as 'thick as thieves'.  Or perhaps 'a pair of monkeys' is a better descriptive term.  But monkeys aside, they are a lot of fun and really like their new bedroom.  These doona cover sets arrived yesterday, courtesy of Target, and needless to say they were both pretty happy about going to bed last night!  What a great trick!  Although unfortunately I won't be able to repeat it anytime soon because it will end up costing me a fortune in new doonas and NOBODY has the kind of money it would take to pay for new bed linen to keep my boys in their beds at night. 

I saw these linen sets in the last Target catalogue and was really drawn to the simple monochrome black and white.  I also liked the foxes and knew that my five year old would too.  He's mad about them, although he's more keen to shoot them (because Daddy goes hunting to shoot the foxes that kill and eat our lambs....just to explain), but he's also excited about anything with a fox on it. 

Boys bedrooms, and any child's really, can get really messy.....soooooo easily.....but it's not just the mess, it's also how busy they can get.  So much colour, so many bits and pieces, just so much going on.  What with all the books and bits of Lego (that you will inevitably stand on in the middle of the night) and the stuffed animals and the Hot Wheels cars (which you will also stand on).....it all just ends up being one gigantic colour explosion.  This was where, when I saw this quilt set in the Target catalogue, was when I had my epiphany.  This was the answer to the migraine going on in my boys bedroom.  Why not tone it down and help to create a little less chaos?! 
So I ordered these little beauties online, even though there is a Target about half an hours drive away, and in the meantime I worked on how else I could improve their space. 

In the end I did have to make a trip to Target, where I could have picked up these quilt sets, because over the weekend we had a kind of feather disaster, whereby my six year old pulled a hole 'accidently on purpose' in his doona, and I went in there the following morning to find an enormous pile of duck feathers.  I then sewed this up, but due to a little night time accident, had to wash all the bedding and the doona......which proceeded to EXPLODE quite dramatically in my washing machine in a cloud of feathers.  Honestly, it looked like I'd tried to wash a duck.  I then had to vacuum out the inside of my washing machine, something I'm positive NO ONE has EVER done before, and after I had tossed the ruined doona straight out the back door, I seriously considered vacuuming my grass as well.  Sooooo.....a trip to Target was immediately in order...which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because doonas were on special and I got a single Australian Wool doona for $59, reduced from $119.  Note I said Australian Wool, not duck!!!  No feathers.  Zip.  Nada.  Nil.  Never again.  No more feathers for this little black......oh.....wait.

Ok, so while I was in Target I also got the boys new fitted sheets.  With the black and white it was either go black or white but there was actually neither of these on offer so I went for something entirely different and got these really dark navy.  Actually I think they came up a treat!


I also got creative with this particular interior styling effort and made the wall art.  I thought it came up rather well.  Ok, so I had this pin board just sitting around doing nothing and it happened to be black and white.  The quilt sets actually came in these dinky little cloth bags made from the doona cover material, so I had all these little fox and bear and raccoon faces to contend with, so rather than just turf them I cut a few up and stuck them on the board.  Whammo!  Instant wall art!  I think it works.  It's certainly much better than the picture I had there of Curio, a famous Bronco horse that was around in the 40s, a horse that apparently nobody was able to ride.  Or so the legend goes.
 Now having three boys; ages twelve, six and five; I'm going to dish out some advice.  Storage, storage and storage.  Oh, did I mention having lots of storage is handy?  If you want to avoid a calamity of epic proportions then having lots of storage is a big plus.  Last week I made yet another trip down to Kmart and purchased this shelving unit.  It came in a flat box and was ridiculously heavy and just fit into the back of my car (on a dangerously weird angle) which then induced a decent amount of swearing (not to mention sweating because it was so bloody hot that day), in putting the thing together.  But I did get to use my husbands fancy drill while assembling it, so that made up for it and everything was all right with the world.  I bought these little plastic baskets to introduce some colour and give my boys somewhere to hide all the nasty things that little boys like to collect; you know, like dead lizards and fluff-less tennis balls and bits of string and such.  The ice cream cone on the top is a much favoured new addition as it is a night light, which will no doubt require new batteries faster than you can say "stop playing with the light, you're wasting the batteries."  The books used to be in the walk-in-wardrobe, residing on the bottom shelf where my six year old stores his clothes.  They were always in a gigantic mess.  This shelving has been here about a week and so far the books have pretty much stayed in place. 
This is the inside of the boys wardrobe; a weird thing to show you I know, (and I've kind of edited out the mess that is hiding round the corner because, well really, no one wants to see a giant pile of Lego and random dirty clothes), but this is a vast improvement on how this wardrobe used to look.  The baskets are new, they match the ones on the shelving unit (except they are bigger versions) and within these I've been able to hide all the bits and pieces that make the room appear messier than it actually is.  Down the bottom the boxes contain toy cars in one and art supplies in the other.  The middle two have a Marble Run game and a Hot Wheels racing car track.  Up top there is simply a whole bunch of random stuff that never seems to have a home of it's own, so there it went.  These shelves, by the way, were made by my very clever father, who is very good with his hands and also a bit of a perfectionist.  Well, when I say 'a bit' I mean a real perfectionist who owns the Taj Mahal of chicken coops (yes really) and will make you an awesome set of shelves if you ask him nicely.  Thanks Dad, you're a legend. 

I hope you like what I have done with this room, I think it's a vast improvement, (even though I never showed you 'before' photos, you'll just have to take my word for it!) and hopefully lasts a few more years to come.  Next stop, my eldest son's room!





Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ballet for Adults: Why You Should Dance

I've recently started dancing.  Classical ballet.  Before you start having a whole lot of disturbing images of me in a tutu and leotard, I keep it tame and respectful, I promise.  Three quarter leggings and a singlet top is my dance uniform of choice.

I go to a little local dance school in my town, in a space that is also shared by the playgroup, the scouts and the local newspaper.  Bobbie, the Principal, has been running it for only a few years, in the meantime fulfilling her dream of having her own school.  It's by no means the biggest school, but it's fabulous for our small town and I love seeing young women going out and making their dreams come true.  It also means that there is a dance school just around the corner from where I live and she happily has an Open ballet class....meaning 13 years and over.....which means that even me at the ripe old age of 'I turned 21 quite a while ago'....can even attend.

I love it. 

This week just gone was my fifth class and Bobbie said something to me that really lit my flame of enthusiasm.  She said that people like me are the reason she loves teaching.  Huh??  The look on my face prompted her to explain, but apparently I have improved so much since the start of term.  She said that she can see that I take everything she tells me on board and that I really work towards applying myself to improving. 

I certainly don't have perfect technique yet, but my turnout isn't half bad, and the muscles in my thighs are weirdly defined now.  No, really!  If you recall from past posts I have been on a lose baby weight crusade and been exercising for 30 minutes a day (give or take) and that includes a whole pile of squats, yoga and now plies at the barre (which is actually my chest of drawers or my kitchen bench....whichever takes my fancy!)

But perhaps she could be right in saying that I've improved.  I'm really trying hard to get it right.  Ballet is so technical and by doing it correctly I'm going to limit the chance of injury, which an ongoing, should I say 'injury', is the reason I'm dancing in the first place.

So why ballet?  Why start as an adult?  Probably the simple answer is...why not?  I never did ballet as a child, although I wanted to, and even though I did do it for a short while in my 20s, I wasn't able to stick with it.  I did dance throughout school in various school productions, and later once I'd left school.  I also did gymnastics in secondary school and never really lost my bend-ability, so that has really helped me step into ballet fairly easily.

Ballet for Adults and Why You Should Dance

Core Strength.  -  Apparently ballet is fabulous for your core strength.  Every move you do requires core strength, and this is one of the main reasons I started.  With my bad back I have been searching for something to do that is going to strengthen my whole mid-section.  Yep, I've definitely found it.  Even the slow movements and exercises at the barre leave me sweating.

Company.  -   When I say 'company' I don't mean doing anything fabulous like joining 'a company' and becoming their next Prima Ballerina, but rather I'm getting out and about and doing something with other women.  Ok, so there are a few in their teens, but one other student is a mum like me and somewhere around my age.  As an added bonus it seems that we are becoming friends!

Something for me. - When you have kids you are a slave to their wants and needs.  No truly.  Of course you do it because you love them and that's what being a mum is all about, but in a nutshell...that pretty much sums it up.  I am a taxi service, a courier, a cook, a washer woman, a cleaner, a nurse, a disciplinarian, an event planner, a time manager, a secretary, a personal shopper and the sanitation officer.  Within all of that there is not much time left for me, and unless you make time for yourself and do something for yourself, it never happens.  So this is it, my ballet class.  Half an hour a week of ballet bliss where "it's all about me!"

Joy. - I actually love to dance.  It's something I don't even think my husband knows about me.  He was really weirded out that I was doing ballet and wondered why on earth I was bothering.  I think HE was having strange images of me in a leotard and tutu. (I promise, I won't ever go there)  I don't know, but perhaps if I am involved in the end of year concert he will see that I can actually dance ....although finding a bit of rope strong enough to tie him down to get him to actually WATCH a dance concert would be a challenge in itself.

Dance is for everyone. - Even if you're not any good, even if you pirouette and fall flat on your face, if you never get up 'en pointe' and look a little saggy in your leotard.  Dance is fun, it's exercise and it's liberating.  I love it!  Try it, I think you will too!!


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Little Girl's Bedroom Makeover

Taking photos in my daughter's room proved really difficult because of the lack of light...and the fact that underneath the blind you can see is another blind (the old one)...which is actually broken and doesn't go up....so I couldn't open them right up and let more light in.  Hopefully you can make something out of these photos without having to squint too hard.

Anyway, this was a recent makeover I did in my little girl's room.  She grew out of her cot and moved into a 'big girl' bed and as a result I was able (at last) to decorate a girly room (she has three older brothers).  My daughter is crazy about ballet so it was an obvious choice in theme.

The furniture in the photo above is second hand from my brother, well actually the bed is 'third hand'.  When my parents originally bought their farm it was used as a weekender and they had two sets of bunk beds.  One set was given to us a few years ago, which is what we've been using for our two middle boys, but the other set was used for many years by my brother for his girls.  Until recently.  Just before Christmas he asked if I'd like one of the beds or perhaps both (which can be stacked on top of each other to form a bunk) and I said "Absolutely!  Bring them down".  Actually....if we felt like being really crazy...we could stack all four beds on top of each other and make a quadruple bunk!  How cool would that be?!  Nothing like adding an element of danger to bedtime!

Alright, we didn't stack the beds on top of each other to form a quadruple bunk bed....but the option is still there.  Instead we have gone for the boring single bed arrangement and I have completely 'ballet-fied' my daughter's room.  We had to get her a mattress, doona and pillows (so all the boring stuff) but that then left me free to go to town and choose lots of pretties for her room.

The doona cover set is a really lovely blush pink, which I much prefer over any other pink.  It's a bit more timeless, something that she would still most likely be happy with as a teenager, even if we have to ditch the sheets that are covered in little ballerinas.  I decided to go with the plain doona because of the 'busy' dancing sheets, and instead fold the top of the sheet down when I make the bed to add that bit of decoration.  The sheets, and the decorative throw pillow with it's embroidered ballerinas with the 3-D mesh tutu's, were bought online from Pottery Barn Kids, and the doona set was bought in a local store in Warragul. 

The ballerina ragdoll was a Christmas present to my daughter, bought through Etsy from a store called "Sew Many Pretties".  She makes the most gorgeous dolls and it took me ages to choose one, although I got there in the end.  Her little tutu comes off so as a result I find it under the bed, all over the house and even out in the garden.  Keeping with the theme I found this print of a watercolour at another Etsy store called "Zen Drawings".  My Dad did the picture framing for me, which he does all my framing as he used to own a store and business in Melbourne, but now he works out of his little workshop on his farm.  On the facing wall are a pair of pointe shoes that I found on eBay for $20.  Yes, they are real shoes but I can imagine just fairly crappy ones, not something that a real ballerina from, say The Australian Ballet, would dance about in.  I just thought they'd look good on the wall as part of the decoration.
Another pre-loved item, this chest of drawers was passed on by my sister, still in perfect working order.  With my roses all going crazy at the moment because of the really cold winter we had I am finding lots of places to put all the excess blooms, so this was as good a place as any.  I try to keep the bits and bobs up here fairly minimal as I tend to hate clutter.  My daughter's jewellery box is on the left (you know, one of those ones that you wind up and the ballerina dances when you open it) and a pretty picture frame.  Dad framed the print on the wall, (a little girl trying on her Mother's shoes) and hanging on the corner of the frame are a pair of delicate fairy wings that I bought from The Australian Ballet shop when my eldest son and I went to see a performance of "Cinderella" last year.  The dolls house I got for a steal because it was actually broken in the shop, from a toy shop in Yarragon called "Three Cheeky Monkeys", but it's still one of my daughter's favourite toys. (note the ballerina doll peeping out the top window)
This is the view from the doll house top window.  Ok, I assume this is the view from the doll house top window because I'm technically not IN it at the moment but standing precariously over it to take this photo.  The big wardrobe was given to us by my husband's brother and wife, it was brown but hubby stripped it back and gave it this white shabby chic paint job.  He did pretty well!  Various stuffed buddies line the top and the rocking horse at the end of the bed belonged to my brother's daughter, who kindly passed it on to my little girl when they moved to a much smaller apartment in Canberra.

Hands down my daughter's room is the nicest in the house and also it stays the tidiest (except when my daughter decides to pull all the toys out from the basket under her bed), but that's easy fixed and it very quickly goes back to looking really pretty again.

Next fix up....my boys room......if I can find it under all their mess......





Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lounge Room Uplift

After the success of my mini bathroom revamp I have decided to continue on through the rest of my house and make it a little more, shall we say, appealing.  With the loaming possibility of maybe having to sell our house in the somewhere 'near or distant' future, I have decided it is time to clear the clutter and try and widen the appeal of the joint!  I'm also attempting to do all of this while keeping within a tiny budget.

Anyway, my next port of call was my lounge room.  It's the most lived in room in the house, and if the state of the carpet is anything to go by, generally the room that gets the most trashed.  Honestly, when we decide to sell the house the carpet in THIS room has to be completely replaced.  It's undergone all sorts of horrible stains....from milk, to food, to toilet-training-toddlers peeing and pooping everywhere and more horribly...to projectile vomit stains.  There is nothing for it but to basically tear it up and start again, but at the moment, while I still have a toddler not yet toilet trained, this carpet has to stay.  Sooo....(sorry to put you off your lunch)......to continue....

This bookshelf above has followed me from house to house to house to house (I've moved 16 times in my life so it's looking a little worse for wear), but was completely over stuffed with books and there were a few large scrappy looking folders on the bottom shelf, which hold all the paperwork I have to keep (you know, things like birth certificates, immunisation records etc).  I moved all the folders to my linen cupboard (out of sight completely) and rearranged the books so they are now a lot neater.  In the meantime I had made a few more little purchases from Kmart at ridiculously cheap prices to decorate this now much tidier space.
The pale blue folder is actually my writing folio where I have put all the magazine articles I have ever written.  Having worked as a writer and photographer for a Gippsland magazine for about a year and a half there are over 30 articles in here and it makes quite a nice collection....so I suppose if I ever get the opportunity to go for another magazine job it's going to look pretty impressive (!)  This folder was sitting on a higher shelf originally, lying on it's side, but it is actually a pretty nice looking bit of stationary (if you can get excited by stationary...which in all honesty a lot of us do....) so it's much better on display like this.  The little glass jar and (fake) peonies was a Kmart buy and weirdly they came as a set (well...I found it weird).  The copper basket is also new, something I bought on impulse because of my newly discovered copper 'thing' (my post here on my bathroom revamp was my introduction to my new found copper obsession).  I will find something to put in it no doubt sometime soon.
Oh...more copper.  This is unlike anything I ever thought I would have ever bought in my life but the triangles in this....um....thing....extended on from the triangly theme that started in my bathroom revamp.  It's actually a candle holder, but as you will see, it suits the mirror I bought.  The little black clock is new too! (all Kmart)
The picture frame was bought separately and from my local chemist.  They have great gifts and this was on sale.  I'd been eyeing it off for a little while, and although there isn't a picture in it yet, I think it's really pretty.
Ok, so here's the mirror I mentioned.  Yes!  It matches the candle holder!  Bet that weirded you out for a while...wondering how a candle holder can match a mirror!  It's sitting above our TV cabinet, which is to the right of the bookshelf.  This was actually what started this particular make over, this mirror.  I'd seen it in the Kmart catalogue and as it was only $15 I thought it would be good to put here instead of the very dark poster of a bucking bronco that was here.  Seriously.  There was a bucking bronco on this wall.  It's now in the boys room.  Way more appropriate.  Anyway, I thought a mirror would help to lighten the room and open it up a bit.  It's not huge but I think it helps.  These are just some of the many roses from my garden that I have been picking.  They've gone nuts this year.
In the opposite corner to the bookshelf is my little desk, which I've had for a while.  It's my 'office'.  Normally I sit my laptop here and do all my writing and blogging from this spot but it's easy enough to put the computer away in the cupboard when I'm not working and have a pretty corner.  More flowers from my garden in a white teapot that was a wedding gift, a Kikki K. notepad, Ikea chair, a little fox pen holder and all the picture framing in my house has been done by my Dad.  He's an AWESOME picture framer, he used to have a business in Melbourne, but now works part time at it out of his workshop on his farm.
 
So this was my second attempt at decorating.  I will continue on........