Monthly Archives: July 2011

Spring into Spring with Some Immediate Colour!

It’s been a cold winter so far, and suffice to say, I’m really really really looking forward to spring this year…

Fortunately, everywhere I look there are traces of early spring appearing. We have some sweet little purple daisies popping up in the garden, the resident willy wagtails are back, as well as the teeniest of tiny little native finches. The magnolia has started to bloom and it’s nearly August.

I’m so freaking excited that we only have one more month of winter left!

When we were prettying up the place for Toby’s christening a couple of weeks ago, I bought a few pots of pansies to have around the front and back decks. This is by far the easiest way to inject a little bit of colour and life to the garden while we patiently wait for the warmer days and the boom of growth and colour they bring.

You can pick up pots like this for $1-2 at your local nursery/Flower Power/Bunnings etc and they will go in just about any pot you have. Clump a few together to fill larger pots or squeeze them into small pots like I have.

Regular potting mix is fine, as long as you water them in with a seaweed solution and maybe a fish emulsion or liquid fertiliser, to give you as many blooms as possible in their short lifespan. (These annuals aren’t meant to last forever so once they’re spent just pop them in the compost bin).

Cutting the blooms off occasionally and keeping water up to them when you remember will help get the most out of them too.

A good, cheap, quick project for the weekend!

Play Time! The Bubblerator AKA Bubble Snake Maker

We’ve had such dreary, miserable weather here the past week or so, and I think everyone’s been going spare trying to entertain themselves and/or their kids. So today is a blissful change – the sun is shining, it’s warm, I’m even wearing a t-shirt!

I actually had to drag Isy outside with promises of bubbles (strange, seeing as she’s usually trying to get outside as soon as humanly possible most days) but she warmed up to it soon enough.

We started off with regular bubbles (always a hit) and then I remembered the Bubblerator AKA Bubble Snake Maker.

I read about this little contraption online somewhere last week (can’t for the life of me remember where though) and it’s really easy and quick to make – about 3 minutes – and bonus: it’s repurposing!

You’ll need:

an empty plastic water bottle, or similar, lid removed
a strong rubber band or a hair elastic
a bowl of water
a bowl of dishwashing liquid
a small face washer or teatowel scrap (10cm x 10cm-ish)

1. Cut the bottom off the bottle.

2. Place the washer over the cut end of the bottle and secure with the band.

3. Dip the washer end into the water, then the dishwashing liquid. Blow through the other end and… BUBBLE SNAKES AHOY!

Easy, fun and sudsy!

Happy-Making: The Little Things

My girl’s cheeky grin, a pretty shadow, a baby giggling, Friday night movies with Isla and Sparky…

Given how jumped-up I’ve been feeling lately, it’s so nice to take genuine pleasure and joy and happiness from the little things.

More happy-making: I saw Bridesmaids with two of my sisters last week and nearly wet my pants with laughter. It was the first time I’d been to the movies since Isla was born (the last one I saw was Slumdog Millionaire) and it was fun fun fun!

Plus, in other movie-related news, if you’re a Tim Winton fan like me I can highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of the mini-series Cloudstreet. It is absolutely beautiful and I loved it. I’ve already watched it twice. Quick Lamb had my heart all aflutter.

I hope your weekend is wonderful and relaxing. Sparky has taken himself off for a golf weekend so it’s just the kidlets and I. It’s meant to rain all weekend so I forsee lots of movies, craft, popcorn and cuddles under blankets. Can hardly wait!!


Gift Challenge: 6 Year-old Boy

A few months ago, I challenged myself to only give gifts that were either handmade, homemade, vintage or repurposed/recycled. I’ve had it fairly easy up until this point, with only Easter (homemade chocolates) and Mother’s Day (a bunch of handmade blooms as mentioned here) but we’re coming into prime birthday season here so I’ve had to put my creative thinking cap on and get cracking.

One of our nephews had his 6th birthday last week and I decided about two months ago that I would make him a gift that would help with his reading and sight words. He’s in kindergarten this year, so the challenge was to make it age-appropriate and fun enough to not look like a learning toy.

After thinking on the idea for a long time, I eventually came up with a magnetic storyboard. (You know the magnetic words you can buy in gift shops, where you use them to make up funny poems or crass stories on your fridge? Think a six-year-old’s version of that.)

You’ll need:

large magnetic whiteboard
large whiteboard 
AND magnetic paint (I had trouble finding it, but this would be a cheaper option)

primer (multisurface white undercoat is your best bet)
tin of blackboard spraypaint (I use White Knight as outlined here)
acrylic paint of your colour choice
magnetic tape
plain paper
list of sight or Dolch words and nouns

1. Prime the frame and magnetic surface of your whiteboard. Allow to dry.

2. Paint the magnetic surface using your blackboard paint, being sure to follow instructions. I’ve outlined my tips here. A good rule of thumb with spray paint is to either recoat within one hour or wait at least six. I’m impatient so I’m sure to recoat within one hour.

3. Allow the blackboard paint to dry thoroughly. Using a paintbrush and an acrylic paint of your choice, paint the primed frame, being careful to not get paint on the blackboard. Allow to dry and recoat if necessary.

4. Once dry, prepare the chalkboard by rubbing a piece of chalk over the entire surface and then cleaning it off with a damp cloth. It’s now ready to use!

5. Print the Dolch word and noun lists as shown here and here. Print them in the tables, as is, this will make the assembly much easier.

6. Put on a good movie and, using the table as a guide, cut out each of the words. I tended to cut close to the first letter and then left a gap of two or three spaces after the last letter, so the words wouldn’t run into each other when put in a sentence.

7. Put on another good movie (or maybe season one of Arrested Development) and apply each word to the sticky side of the magnetic tape, pressing down firmly as you go.

 8. Cut each word to size.

9. Stick to the board and you’re done!

Also be sure to include an amazeballs handmade birthday card (courtesy of Isla).

The birthday boy dug his gift a lot, and was really excited about having his very own blackboard. A few things I would do if I made a gift like this again though:

1. I would spray each of the words, once magnetised, with a gloss spray or a paper sealer. They just tended to get a little grubby with constant handling.

2. Include a couple of magnetic tins to store the words in while not in use. This would keep it much tidier and not as overwhelming for someone who is just learning to read.

3. Include 10 or 20 blank paper magnets, to allow additional words that aren’t on the list, as well as names and places that would make story writing more fun.

I’m really enjoying the challenge so far though, and have already started planning Christmas gifts. Between now and then though, I think we’ve got 8 kids birthdays, a handful of adults and Sparky’s 30th, so I’d better keep planning. (And not leave it to the last minute again.)

K.I.S.S: Chaos Reigns. Time to Make Friends with it.

Lately I feel as though I’ve been hit about the head with the crazy stick. Renovations, sick kids, parties to organise and host, the terrible twos, health troubles of my own, Sparky’s insane work schedule, keeping some semblance of a social life (barely) and running the house have all left me reeling.

I figured, when this new level of crazy didn’t disappear after a couple of weeks, that it must be the new kind of normal so I’ve decided to embrace the chaos rather than fight against it.

A clever lady once told me:

“Only be as organised as you need to be.”

While another said:

“Your house should be clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be fun.”

I want to simplify life, not crowd it with stress and anxiety. So I’m accepting the fact that there are only so many hours in the day and many, many things that need doing and that means something has to give. Sometimes that’s housework, sometimes social engagements, sometimes showering(!) I just think it’s important for me to be an active participant in choosing to do (and not do) certain things each day.

I am a worrier (particularly of what others think of me) and a stresshead by nature so I’m sure this will take some work, but I feel as though I’m making peace with the craziness that is this stage of our life. And what’s more, I’m starting to like it.