Search Results for: gift guide

Gifts for The Babies

{via the green gal on flickr}


The newest Gift Guide has arrived and this one is all about the babes.

From the newest of newly arrived parcels, through to 12 months old, these ideas and suggestions should give you plenty of gift-giving options that are both out-of-the-box and kinder to our environment. Again, they’re one of the following:

  • an experience
  • handmade
  • homemade
  • vintage
  • repurposed/recycled

If you have any suggestions, I’d love to add them to the guide!

In other news, we’re in teething hell over here, so forgive me if I’m MIA on the odd occasion. Plus non-Daylight-Savings is kicking my butt at the moment. The kids apparently feel that 5:00am is the perfect time to start the day. Yay!

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.)

Bele Masterman on keeping Christmas simple – SHP026

Gift guilt and Christmas conundrums - SHP026

To be honest, I kind of hate myself for being that person, talking about Christmas – in September. And yet, here we are.

Last week I received a Christmas-themed question on the Facebook page, from a listener named Natalie (thanks, Natalie!) and wanted to spend some time digging in to the topic before the craziness of the season hits. Because honestly, the changes we talk about in this episode aren’t going to happen overnight, and it might help to start thinking about them now, before the season is upon us.

Natalie asked:

“I would love you to discuss how you manage Christmas and all of the commercialism that surrounds it. How do you manage the expectations of what your children expect for Christmas? And how do you manage what family/friends give your children for Christmas? Because, as parents, we sometimes don’t have control over what others get for our children.”

It’s not an easy question, and it’s one I’m asked a lot, because so many of us struggle to balance the commercial aspects of the holiday season with our simple, slow living philosophy. It’s also a time when our differences can become very apparent, particularly when we have friends and family who have different ideas on gift giving. 

I have my own thoughts on this topic, naturally, but my ideas are just that – mine. There’s so many different ways to approach the holiday season, so I invited Bele Masterman back to chat about her views on giving and receiving, whether re-gifting is OK (yes), how to buy second-hand, and what to do if a gift is unwanted.

We also talk about how best to manage our kids expectations, how to deal with family and friends who love giving gifts and how to let go of the guilt that comes with a sentimental present.


PS. This episode is a bit longer than normal, and we’d love to know if the length is something you enjoy, or if you prefer the shorter episodes. Let me know in the comments below.


Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Alternatively, you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!


In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

    • The impact commercial have on our kids and their gift expectations
    • How previous generations idea of a good gift (ie. useful) is different to current generations
    • Why Ben and I still buy our kids presents and are happy to do so
    • Why we tend to stick to the notion of “Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read”
    • How we manage expectations around Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions
    • The type of conversations we have with our kids about stuff, advertising and the environment
    • Why it’s important to understand that some people see gift-giving as a ‘love language’
    • How to deal with the guilt of unwanted gifts
    • Learn how to be a compassionate gift giver and receiver
    • Aligning buying decisions with your personal philosophy can make it a simpler process
  • Most important of all – people over things.

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

    • Leetchi – a crowd-gifting platform

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On Breaks and Holidays

Taking a Break

I’m taking a break over the holidays. I think you should too. After all, it’s an opportunity to reconnect – with family, friends, spirit, passions, hobbies and yourself. And, if I’m honest, I’ll also be reconnecting with test cricket, mojitos and afternoon siestas.

So often we lament the fact that we don’t have enough time to relax, to connect, to just be. So let’s not waste this time of year. Let’s make it count.

I’ll be taking a digital sabbatical from today through to mid-January. To be truthful, you may not even notice I am gone. Things will be quiet this week – I’ll be walking the simple-living-walk and taking the Christmas week to reconnect and recharge – so there will be no new post this Thursday.

Aside from that though, I’ve scheduled some great posts for the break and there will be something new to read every Monday and Thursday, as usual. The difference being I won’t be around to reply to comments, Tweets or emails. And being that I’m not the Leader of the Free World I think the earth will continue to turn in my absence.

Holiday Reading

If you’re anything like me, you will be looking forward to some reading time over the holidays. And while I am demolishing Hunger Games (I know, I know), you may be looking for some reading material that is slightly less… brutal. So, for you, I’ve put together the 10 most popular Slow Your Home posts of 2012:

21 Quick Actions You Can Do Today to Simplify Your Life

The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Beautiful, Clutter-Free Home

Get Rid of Your Paper Clutter Once and For All

Simple Living. It’s Ridiculously Complex

How To Run Your Household Budget

9 Kick-Arse Reasons to Slow Your Home

12 Things Happy People Do Differently

The Antidote to Perfection is LIFE

The New York Times Best-Selling Author…And Me.

Finally, The Merriest of Merry and Happiest of Happy

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas, wherever you are.

Much love,

Brooke xx

The Best Of Slow Your Home

Best of Slow Your Home: And there are far, far better things ahead.
{via Observando}


Sit back, grab a coffee, Tweet it out and bookmark this page if need be. This post is going to give you a lot to think about.

I’ve been writing about creating a simpler life for just on two years. Over those two years, my writing has improved dramatically, my worldview has shifted and my life and the life of my family is infinitely better. Simpler, freer, happier.

Those two years have produced over 280 articles – that’s more than 160,000 words – on creating your simpler life.

I write them to share what I have learned, what I struggle with, what I want you to know. I write them to myself, I write them to people I love, I write them to strangers.

It’s a great deal of time that I spend on this site, and I do it because I believe 200% in the positive power of living a simpler life. I know it helps people, it improves lives, it brings about happiness and passion and purpose and joy.

That being said, I don’t expect you to wade through 160,000 words to find the nuggets of gold.

So I’ve put together a definitive list:

The Best Of Slow Your Home (so far)

Grab a cup and dive in, my friends!

21 Quick Actions You Can Do Today to Simplify Your Life

You can start today, and this list gives you 21 actions to get you on your way to a simpler, happier life. Read More…

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Beautiful, Clutter-Free Home

Now, if shiny, white boxes float your boat, then that’s fabulous. But me? I love a home that has warmth, personality and history. I simply don’t like clutter. This post shows you that creating a beautiful, simple, clutter-free home does not mean creating a boring, sterile, style-less home. Read more…

Simple Living, It’s Ridiculously Complex

What is Simple Living? The same as success or happiness, it’s vastly different things to different people. But to me, and on this blog, simple living is… Read more.

Get Rid of Your Paper Clutter Once and For All

Get rid of your paper clutter and the stress that comes with it. This is Part One of a 3-part series taking you through the entire process of getting organised and getting rid of the paper clutter – once and for all. Read more…

Comparison is a Losing Game

It’s a merry-go-round of negativity and in the game of comparison, no-one wins. Read more…

9 Kick-Arse Reasons to Slow Your Home

If you’re needing some motivation, just look at what you have to gain by creating your own Slow Home. Read more…

‘D’ is for Decluttering

An inescapable part of creating a simpler, slower home is decluttering. This post takes you through the Never-Fail decluttering technique – it’s the only thing you need to know before you dive in. Read more…

The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide

Be it Christmas, birthday or anniversary, there are dozens of gift-giving times throughout the year. This post gives you 28 clutter-free gift options for your loved ones. Give a gift of love and enjoyment, not clutter and guilt. Read more…

“But… It’s Free!”

Next time, think very carefully before accepting a gift with purchase. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you need it. In fact, the opposite is likely true. Read more…

12 Things Happy People Do Differently

Try and adopt some of these 12 into your daily life – I guarantee you will benefit. Read more…

Use It? Need It? Love It?

Asking yourself those three questions when decluttering will make your decisions so much easier. “Do I use it? Do I need it? Do I love it?” Read more…

How to Start

You don’t need to start big. In fact, you probably shouldn’t try. But to create the simpler life you want, you do need to start. This post shows you how. Read more…

3 Questions for Decluttering Sentimental Items

Sentimental items feel like more than stuff. There is emotion tied up in them and they are often the hardest things to let go of. These three questions will help dramatically with your sentimental stuff. Read more…

How to be an Introvert and Still Succeed at Conferences

Written from awkward personal experience… Read more.

What is a Slow Home? 

The ultimate starting point, this post describes what a slow home is all about and why you will benefit from living in one. Read more…

Parents – Are You Getting Any?

We need it. We love it. We desire it. What is it? Read more…

How to Simplify Your Online Life

It is such a huge part of our daily life, but how do you stop your online life taking over your entire life? Read more…

How is Your Other Half?

Are you working on creating a balanced person? Or are you neglecting your other half? Read more…

The Antidote to Perfection

Can I tell you what’s better than perfect? Living. Living is better than perfect. Read more…

The Myth of Work/Life Balance

I don’t think it is actually possible to create a life that balances work and life perfectly. In fact, it’s all about the tilt. Read more…

The New York Times Best-Selling Author…And Me

The opportunities that await us – if only we learn to be open to them – are amazing.  Read more…

Lessons on Happiness – From a Pain in the Arse Teenager

I was a HUGE pain in the arse teenager. Huge. But I did learn one long-lasting lesson on happiness, and I’m here to tell you about it. 15-year-old attitude and all. Read more…

The Days Are Long…

The days are long, but the years are short. Some thoughts on learning to live in the moment. Read more…


That’s it. The best. For now.

Let me assure you, though, there are far, far greater things ahead. And I am so excited to share them with you.

Brooke xx