Category Archives: Family

Happy-Making: Slow

I’ve been readjusting my view of the world lately, and I’ve come to a conclusion: sometimes slow is best. Soaking up experiences, savouring, creating meaningfully. Slow is good.

I’m reading all about creating a slow home here, and I dig it. It’s basically what I’m all about, only more articulate.

This weekend will hopefully be a good mixture of fast and slow. Lazy mornings, birthday parties, maybe some gardening and continue the declutter.

Some things that are currently inspiring me:

5 Reasons to Declutter your Home, via Re-Nest.

This incredible vintage Airstream caravan/home/studio, also via Re-Nest

Nine Quick Tips to Identify Clutter, via zenhabits

DIY: Recycled Road Map Cork Boards, via design*sponge

These amazeballs cups made from plastic bags, via The Supercyclers

Green Living : Make Your Own Baby Food

We’re in the throes of introducing little Toby to all sorts of new fruits and veges at the moment (he is such a guts too – would literally eat anything and everything we offer him!) so making baby food is at the forefront of my brain these days.

Making your own baby food is really simple, and I find that if I do it all on a Sunday (my cooking/baking day) then it’s hardly stressful at all. Like most things, if you do it in bulk, the benefits are outweighed by the slightest bit of extra work. Plus it’s a lot cheaper than buying baby food all the time, and I know exactly what’s in it. (Better still when I can get local and/or organic fruit and veges to use, but that doesn’t happen all the time. Or most the time.)

Some good combos, as approved by Toby are:

– pear and apple
– pumpkin, sweet potato and corn
– carrot and corn
– pumpkin, potato, zucchini 
– (rice or pasts can be added to any of these as bub develops)

1. Peel and chop your chosen fruit/veges. The pieces should be around 2cm each.

2. Put in a saucepan with a little water – around 1-2cm.

3. Bring to boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer until the fruit or veges are tender.

4. Use a blender or a stick mixer to blend up the food for young babies, and a fork to mash it up once your little one can handle slightly chunkier food.

5. I freeze Toby’s food in plastic containers and pull it out as needed. 

When you’re travelling or get caught short, there’s now a few good, organic baby food options at the supermarket.

Raffertys garden is a good one, but I’d go for their organic products, as last time I looked I realized there’s no mention of their regular products being GMO free. So best avoided I’d say!

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.)