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........



 





Friday, February 12, 2016

Bathroom Revamp

Last week was the first week of school for two of my boys; their first steps into the world of formalised education.  What a shock to the system that was!  Although a few teething problems, they are both enjoying it immensely, although how long that lasts remains to be seen.  This step into schooling also meant my 2 year old daughter had her first day care session, which went fabulously.  She bustled in with complete confidence, made 'goo goo' eyes at a little boy, then settled down happily with a puzzle at the table.  As I said goodbye she replied quite calmly "Bye bye Mummy", and waved in my general direction without even giving me a glance!  Awesome!  Needless to say I was out of there in a flash and off to spend my first Monday child-free......the first day to myself in a long long long.....well you get the general idea......

Anyway, I decided to go to Kmart.  Yes, I know.  With all the wonderful places I could have ventured on this remarkable day, I choose to go into a chain store.  BUT (in my defence), we had received a catalogue in our junk mail the weekend before and in amongst it I saw the prettiest things that I thought would be great to help spruce up my bathroom.

You see here is the THING....(and I'll put THING in capitals because this has been a bit of a dilemma for me for a few years now).  I have never bothered to actually decorate my house.  A few reasons.  The main one is I have little kids, so you dare not put anything valuable out (or in the case of my kids...anything at all because without a doubt it will be destroyed).  The other reason is the house I am in now is not the house we plan on being in forever.  Our home is fairly non-descript.  When we built it we had to go all budget-y with it and as the plan was to eventually sell (more in the short term rather than years and years down the track), we picked out an even more non-descript colour scheme....you know, all creams, beiges and a hint of light-ish chocolate brown in the ensuite and laundry.  We just 'played it safe' knowing that something basic and....well bland really....would appeal to more people when we put it on the market.  SO my point is, when I think of decorating properly I always think of my dream house.  You know, the house that we are aiming for, the one that we will have when we finally get our farm.  The plan is (and who knows if this will ever eventuate), is a lovely weatherboard country style home with big verandas and inside it will have lovely country-isque (my made up word for the day) d├ęcor. 

Now, this is my problem.  For a few years now I have been NOT decorating because the style of things I like do not suit our boring plain non-descript house.  As well as the destructor kids I have bred (is that my gene or my husbands???...hmmmm....I think I might blame him (!)...everything I think of doing I always pause and end up thinking....NO....I can't do it because it will look.....um....well.....stupid.  So I haven't.  Until now.

Back to the Kmart catalogue.  Perusing through it one weekend I noticed all the pretty pastel items as well as the copper things (which weirdly appealed to me) and also the repetition of the geometric triangle patterns.  I don't know but something about it got to me and I began to circle things with a pen.  What a break through!!! 

Now Kmart is cheap.  Ridiculously cheap, and for the first time EVER I thought...what the heck (!)...why don't I decorate my house a little?  Why don't I decorate to suit THE STYLE IT IS!!!!  Honestly, I can't believe it's taken me this long to figure this one out.  I must be stuck in some kind of brain time warp or something.  Why didn't I think that perhaps I could decorate with cheaper items for now and then later get the things I really like and want, even if it means just passing on the cheaper "just for now" stuff.  Anyway.....

So...off to Kmart I trotted....(child-free and very gleeful)...and within HALF AN HOUR (I know....I could not believe how quickly you can get stuff done without children in tow!!) I had found absolutely everything I had circled in the catalogue, plus a couple of other little bits besides.  I had decided to start with my ensuite because basically it drives me mad.  I'd done a little bit of a 'clean up and throw away' and decided how sick I was of the limited storage space.  Honestly, our sink is this big square thing and we have literally four inches of bench space on either side of the sink.  THAT'S IT.  It's ri-donk-u-lous.   There's a cupboard underneath, but it's not massive, and that is all the space that this particular building company (in their infinite wisdom) think that a couple needs.  Pffttt. 

Anyway, here's what I bought......
Stupidly cheap shelves, with a smaller shelf at the top, increasing in size towards the lower shelves.  Came in a flat box with all the screws and an alan key thingo.  Took me ten minutes to assemble with NO swearing involved!
As well as the lovely candle and mug (with the flowers in it) in the top photo, I also picked up these two canisters, which were actually from the kitchen section.  My daughter particularly likes the pink one which I keep finding all over the house.  It's breakable but since it cost me $5 I won't burst into deranged mummy tears if she drops it.
Pink terracotta pot with a honeycomb pattern (super cute!) and a new plant that has matching pink on it's leaves (a real plant!.....fluke I found one with matching leaves).  I shall call him Llyod.  (in honour of my late indoor plant 'Flyod who no doubt died from a 'non-watering' related incident)
Why oh why have I never discovered copper coloured things before??  I love this!  It's actually a fruit bowl but I decided to do this with it.....
By chance the towels I use in the ensuite are pink and white....which as it turns out, are the colours of all the bits and bobs I bought.  (this was another fluke by the way...I don't ever have the presence of mind to coordinate anything with bits I already have).  I also got a toothbrush holder, a soap dispenser and the little dish on my sink was something I found in the local chemist the other week and just couldn't resist.
Weirdly this ended up being in the same colour scheme.  After discovering all of this I realised that this was NOT just a pointless shopping spree but was indeed fate, there were higher powers at work, and that I could indeed justify it completely to my husband.  Ok, just keep telling yourself that Amber.
Bathroom revamp success!!







Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Progress

This is the time of year that a lot of New Year's resolutions start circulating and other such plans for the future.  I must admit I am one of those that start to think about the next year ahead when December rolls around but know that New Year's resolutions are a bit of a faff and that if you make them you are pretty doomed to fail at them.  Anyway, I wasn't planning on doing a 'New Year's' post like this, because really, who is interested in reading about my plans for the year.  BUT then I realised that I so enjoyed reading about what my friends Stephanie and Kiki have in store for the year, (which weren't lists of resolutions by the way, but rather goals...which I thought was a WAY better idea) that I thought I would make a little list of my own. 

So here goes....

Lose Baby Weight.  I can't believe I just wrote "lose baby weight" down....particularly because my 'baby' is 2 and a half years old.  My back has been really bad since I've had my daughter and as a result I've found it virtually impossible to exercise without increasing the pain.  Over the last few months I have had orthotics in my shoes and these are making some difference so finally I have been able to exercise.  I also was given a bit of a shove into getting rid of the excess me because I couldn't fit into my jeans (boo hoo!) when I was having a bit of a clear out of the wardrobe, so immediately I signed up to the Lose Baby Weight challenge.  There are so many delicious easy recipes to make and so much support from other women doing the challenge via their Facebook group that I am finding it really easy.  So far over 3 weeks I have lost 3 kilograms (which sounds way better in pounds.... over 6 and a half pounds!) and lost centimetres off all my measurements.  It's been fabulous!  Plus I'm feeling a lot better and getting fitter.  Weirdly my exercise consists of me marching up and down the hallway (in time to dance music) because I can't get out of the house to exercise, what with the kids, but now over the last two days I have also started to incorporate some jogging on the spot into this because I obviously will need to up the exercise to burn the calories, but I also have found that only 3 weeks of walking has vastly improved my fitness.  Normally a 'lose weight' resolution is never successful, it's something that is imposed on you by guilt after stuffing yourself with turkey and pudding over Christmas, but I started this the week before Christmas.......and despite Christmas and New Year's I still lost a kilogram a week.  I know I can stick at this because I am actually enjoying it and really seeing some results!  Yay me!  (Note....above is one of the 'healthy' recipes...a Chocolate pudding made in mug with caramel sauce! and below are Vegetarian nachos!!)

Take care of myself.  As a mum, particularly one with lots of kids, you can sometimes fall in to the trap of losing yourself.  You are so wrapped up in caring for your kids and your partner that you just keep coming last.  For example, I had a haircut just before Christmas.  Before that I had a haircut 9 months before.  Before THAT haircut it had been 12 months since I had seen my hairdresser.  This is terrible!  My poor hair!  And trust me, I have pretty crazy hair now that needs lots of attention.  I used to have fairly straight hair but since having my last 3 children it's just got curlier and curlier.  It's also really thick and there is a lot of it.  Henceforth I NEED to go and get it cut every 8 to 12 weeks AT LEAST.  Soooooo......this is what I plan on doing from now on.  Making sure that I take care of myself, get that haircut, go and have a remedial massage when my back starts getting too sore, take time out to rest even.  This year I will have my 3 boys at school (the eldest will be starting high school and the other two are both off to school for the first time!) and I will be putting my daughter in day care a day or two a week.... so there will be time now to finally have some time out for myself.  Whether that means I just get to do the food shop without the screaming, or actually get to go see a movie that I really want to see...I'm not a hundred percent sure yet....but it's going to be great whatever happens.  I just know it.

Get involved.  I'm a real introvert.  Really.  All I do is stay at home.  And the truth be told I actually don't have a buddy.  I have buddies overseas, the bestest best buddies a girl could ask for, but I'm yet to meet them and unfortunately I can't just catch up with them for coffee.  My dear friend from school, who I see probably once every six months, lives about an hour and a half away, so catching up with her is also difficult.  And then there is the excuse that life gets in the way, which it does, particularly when your schedule is dominated by those of your children.  Anyway, this year I am going to join the parents group at my boy's new school, be one of the 'reading' mums and go out of my way to make some friends.  Arrgghh.  It sounds so sad and pathetic....you know...that I have no friends...but I would not be alone in this.  I went to a school in the city and since then the students have all scattered to various parts of the GLOBE...whereas here where I live, in a rural town, it's not uncommon that people just stay and you can know someone your whole life.  Moving out here about 8 years ago was the best decision I ever made, but it has meant starting over friends wise.

Find myself.  Well, not that I'm really lost but the Amber that used to exist doesn't really exist anymore.  I used to always sing in a choir.  I'm actually classically trained.  Did you know that?  Probably not.  I would like to get back into that because the other day, when I was wasting time on Facebook, I ended up watching a video of a choir singing and I promptly burst into tears.  I know.  Freak. I was probably hormonal, but I realised how much I MISS it.  This year the little local dance school (that my son was dancing with last year) is now opening up adult tap classes, and having done tap in the past I thought I would sign up.  Fun AND good exercise!  They are also opening up the classical ballet classes too, which I think would be fabulous for my flexibility and my back.  I am also toying with the idea of selling Intimo again, which for those of you who don't know is a direct selling company that sells the most gorgeous lingerie.  I did it for a couple of years and did enjoy the company.  The women involved are amazing, you know, incredibly inspirational, plus I always feel like I have a purpose if I can contribute financially.  Plus the little bit of extra cash would be nice too. 

Keep writing.  Writing is who I am so I intend to keep posting here, although without any goals to become 'the next big thing in blogging'.  I also have a book idea that I might dabble at.

Travel!!  Yes.  This is the year that I get to travel!  I know, can you believe it!  My husband is going shearing in England in May this year for about 6 weeks or so, and although I'm going to be on my own with the kids for over a month (and yes...hating it, I must admit) I will be heading over to be with him towards the end of his stay and NOT taking the kids!  We will be having a proper holiday (as long as he's finished shearing...fingers crossed!), just the two of us.  And considering we haven't had a holiday since our honeymoon..... I can't wait!!!!

I hope you have some good plans/goals for this year!


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Things You Should Pack When Visiting Australia

As a follow up from a post I did here on Ten Things You Think You Will See in Australia I decided that I would have no doubt (!) really tempted you to come visit us here 'Down Under'.  I will just quickly point out that in that post I wrote that you won't see any people wandering about with hats with corks on them.  WELL....... today I actually saw a guy wearing one!!  And he was walking down the street in my town!  He was an old dude, so maybe that's forgivable....but really....it was a pretty major fashion faux pas.  Also, just to add, the corks really don't keep the flies off.  A few corks dangling down is not going to stop flies from sneaking through and landing on your face.

Anyway...back to the point.

If you decide that you do want to come visit (and even come and visit me specifically!)...then here is a little helpful list of things to bring, that I have put together for you to help you survive!
Mosquito repellent.  If you're visiting during the summer then mosquito repellent is an absolutely must.  I was away up north at Wakool over the New Year period and I got positively EATEN alive and over a week later I'm still itching. 
Sunscreen.  Don't be caught without it.  The sun here gets hot hot hot.  Although I'm sure it gets hot everywhere else too, but here it certainly gets a nasty 'bite' to it, and I've noticed that over the last decade it seems to be getting worse.  I like this "How to Apply Sunscreen to a Child" because this really does apply to me when I'm trying to get it on my kids.  It's such a tedious thing....particularly because I have to repeat the steps three times.
A hat.  A broad brimmed one is the best, so it shades all sides of your head.  A peaked cap works too of course, just make sure you use that sunscreen you brought along and put it on the back of your neck.  Oh, and don't forget your ears.
A swimsuit.  Unless you're coming in the winter, then yes, a swimsuit is a must.
Sunglasses.  I just bought my husband some sunglasses for Christmas actually.  He did not own a pair at all and actually hasn't since I've been married to him which is 6 and a half years.  I knew they probably wouldn't suit him and he would have to go back and change them to suit his face (because unfortunately I couldn't take his face into the store with me when I was picking them out), but I knew that it would then force him to HAVE to go into the shop himself and pick a pair that did.  The lengths we have to go to just to get our partners a pair of sunnies!  Anyway don't forget yours when you pop on over.
Boots.  If you are planning on visiting the countryside, say wandering about the bush, or maybe you are thinking about coming over for a working holiday and think that farm work might be for you (!), then a pair of boots is a must.  Elastic-sided boots are really comfortable and you can get some great ones here, so don't bother bringing some over (because they will be heavy in your luggage), buy them here.
Camera.  Australia is so wide and varied.  So many different things to see and do.  So many different types of landscapes to experience and take photos of!  So definitely don't forget your camera...even if you have to take out the mossie repellent to fit it in your bag!