Thursday, January 30, 2014

Don't waste the Pav!

Nothing feels more suitable for Australia Day than a yummy Pavlova! It was funny to see on my Instagram and Facebook feed how every man and his dog was making and/or eating one too! 
Being the Martha Stewart I am, I ducked bought Pav shells from Woolworths and just threw the toppings together without much thought, well just a thought of the way it tasted of course! 

But it seems I wasn't the only one 'throwing' things around. When I opened the box of 10 shells, only 6 had managed to survive the rough treatment. Pretty lucky seeing as though we are a family of 6.

But what do you do with all these pieces of yummy meringue that look like they should just be thrown away? 
Why make a lovely little 'Pav Smash Special' of course! 

Simply layer cream, fruit and the broken meringue pieces in a glass or bowl then drizzle with passion fruit pulp to finish! 

No waste in this house!!
It made for a yummy desert for later that night when the kids were in bed, and in my opinion , I think it actually tasted better!!
Or maybe it was just because the kids were in bed, everything tastes better then!  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Travel Busy Bags

A few days after Christmas, we returned to our home town for a few weeks holiday to visit our families.
It was the first time for me since moving , the main reason being the distance and time it takes to get there! A nearly 14 hour drive (depending all on stops and speed) and 1350km. Its not exactly something you can do often, especially when you are travelling with young kids.

To keep the kids occupied on the long haul trip, I wanted to make them a 'Travel Busy Bag'. Something that each of them could use to hold their toys for the trip, items to keep them entertained and any other personal items that needed to be kept close in the car.
I also didn't want to go out and purchase anything especially for them, seeing as though we were preparing for Christmas and a holiday, expensive times themselves.

I bought these cute fabric bags from Kmart for just a few dollars and that was the extent of the expense for us. It was just a matter of corralling all the items from around the house, into the one place.

Each bag contained (this is Max's below);
- a large colouring in pad (the bigger the better so that it is easier to lean on their laps in the car)
- a crayon or pencil roll
- a small spiral notepad (these are from Kmart) 
- a small blackboard and chalk (these are from Typo, bought a while ago for $5 ea)
- a set of flashcards each
- a fabric bag that they could fill with whatever toys they wanted to take away with us
- a set of ear phones
- their new DSi players they received for Christmas ( super cheap at $69 from Kmart as they are the old style) 

Stella (nearly 6) had a few extras in her bag as she is a little older and was also sitting at the very back of the car by herself. We wanted her to be able to operate and occupy herself independently for the majority of the trip (which she was).

 She had a few extra Learning based books (bought from Red Dot and the like) and a blank notebook she could use to free draw or write stories/words.

One of my biggest tips is to keep things containerised. It creates less mess and chaos within the bags (as you know that kids are just going to roughly rifle through them and then declare they can't find something) And then the items are easier to pull out on the road - especially for you helping them. 

I HATE the constant turning around as passenger, the sore back, the way the seat belt hurts your neck! blah!  

So each child had their earphones inside a small fabric bag, all a little different and re purposed from random things. I bought a pair of sandals from Just Jeans and they came in this cute floral one. I like to keep things like that 'just in case'.

And the BIGGEST tip of all;

FOOD!! Lots and lots of food!! hehe
If all else fails, feed them until they are happy. It occupies them and there are worst things (like having a breakdown 4 hours into a 14 hour trip) than having your kid snacking away!

I thought I was so organised, and packed small bowls and boxes of Shapes etc, they were totally impractical and even though we don't buy packaged products very often, this is one time I would be them! The small packets of popcorn and muesli bars were a hit, and so easy to distribute. 

Other must have items are; 
A rug for napping and comfort
A cuddly toy or comforter
Towels for the windows or shades ( I prefer the old fashion towel option, it blocks out much more light and heat) 
Sing a long CD's or music 
A First Aid kit
Plastic bags for rubbish or unfortunate sickness
Earphones for the parents (we travelled a night for the most part and I was able to listen to music, sing along and keep myself alert, whilst still keeping the car quiet and the kids and hubby asleep)
Toilet paper and perhaps a potty (for roadside toilet stops)

There are plenty of other things you could add to your Travel bags, including these gorgeous printables from a little delightful
However there simply isn't enough traffic when you are driving from up here, but I will definitely look at including them next time.

All in all, the trip there was a breeze. We actually decided to leave after my husband finished work and departed at 5pm. Which meant we arrived at 7am to surprise our family. It was all worth it and even though we were tired and sleep deprived, the kids travelled well and it was less of a strain on them.

The trip home , however, was not as easy going. An air conditioner that decided to stop working 2 hours into the trip, cranky kids, sad to be leaving friends and family and a number of stops along the way. The trip took 15 and a half hours and was not pleasant.
BUT ... these things have to be done. And they are all worth it when you get to see and hug your family !

Friday, January 24, 2014

Back To School - The FUN stuff!

With still a week to go until we return to school in the West of Australia, everything is starting to come together, but all with as little effort as possible!! ha
Call me lazy, but organising school supplies and the like is the last thing I want to do in the last few days before school starts. I want to play lego, make some Play dough biscuits, have my hair done by my resident hairdressers (Stella and Lacey) and generally just lap up their company before school so rudely takes them away from me!

So here a few things that have been ticked off the 'Back to school To Do List' but all the fun stuff of course. The things that are actually fun to go shopping for. 

With Max and Lacey heading into Kindy (4 year olds) they are required to have a change of clothes in their bags at all times. (Stella is also required to have one just in case)
This being for little toilet accidents they may have at school, or in Stella's case when she was at Kindy - because she got wet through water play activities or got too messy while painting etc.

As mentioned in my previous Back to school posts the school we are at now requires full uniform through out all grades, including Kindy and Pre Primary. 
So it was a bit kinder on the hip pocket, and to save an expensive uniform set from just having to sit in the bag as a back up throughout the year, I purchased a number of basic uniform items from Best And Less. 
Most department stores (the cheaper ones usually) generally have a range of generic uniforms in the basic colours, and it just so happens that our school uses one of them! Win for us!

So for each child, a basic polo shirt ($5) and lightweight shorts ($7) and a set of underwear will be put in the front pocket of their bag in case they may need them.

We also bought some tracksuit pants (we are unsure if they kids will need them with our temperatures up here but after having such a hot summer they may feel it when it cools off some) , a lightweight jumper and a set of culottes for the girls as our uniform shop does not sell these. 
Oh and I can't forget the bike shorts that our nearly 6 year old insists she has to wear under her skirt! I thought I had a few more years to worry about seeing her knickers but obviously not!

I am not normally a huge fan of licensed merchandise , however our kids love the stuff! So a few exceptions need to be made , and the smile on their faces is so worth it! Plus a $3 water bottle will have no love lost if it breaks or gets lost somehow.
So the water bottles the kids will start the year with are these pop top ones from Coles for $3 and the lunch box containers , these click ones from Woolworths ( I think they were about $3 also).
The kids have a cool container and I get to keep my Tupperware safe. Win win really!

Back to School is such an expensive exercise , and all the small things add up. Well so do all the big things. So this year we are starting out with our existing cooler bags, as they are all in great condition.
Don't get me wrong , I would love to buy Max and Lacey a Fridge To Go cooler like Stella has (at the back, hers is well used !) as we absolutely LOVE them ( see my review on the product HERE) however at this stage buying 2 of them is not that feasible, so that is something we will work towards soon enough. Instead, Max and Lacey are using their Penny Scallan cooler bags that they have had for a few years now.

New backpacks were a MUST this year, as Max and Lacey's existing backpacks are too small to carry all the necessary things for school. Stella has had her old Penny Scallan backpack for both Kindy and Pre Primary and it is still is great condition but seeing as though she is heading into Year ONE we thought it would be nice she got a new one too! 
I honestly love these backpacks!
 I love that we can wipe them out every so often.
 Love that they are waterproof. 
Love that they are hardy! 
And of course love the designs!
I bought these before Christmas on sale from Motherslove, they were cheaper than other places I had seen and I got them with free post so that was a bonus too! 

Upon returning home from our trip away, I was welcomed by 3 large boxes of school supplies. Another thing that I did before Christmas and I am so glad I did ! 
Luckily our school has a Stationery supply order system, and this is my first time using it. It may not be the most cost effective way of shopping ( however I think the prices are quite competitive) but you can't beat the convenience. Delivered right to your door, you've got to love that when you live 1800km from the capital city and the main shop is Kmart! 
Within a few hours of being home, the bags were unpacked , washing machine was running and I sat down to mark off the goodies! 

This year is our first for having to cover school books. Fortunately I had these covers put away from a big sale that Spencil ran on one of the discount sites (think it was Brands Exclusive) and I had just enough for the sizes and styles she wanted. It made short work of a job that could have taken hours!
I would highly recommend these covers and you can buy similar from 2Kool4Skool, Spencil and I have even seen some in Kmart!

And one of the biggest decisions for me was the type and brand of Labels to go with. They all look gorgeous and at this time of year , there are some great packs and savings to be had. However I ummed and ahhed for so long and just had to make a decision and came out with these basic labels from stuck on you (this post is not sponsored, I am just sharing the love!).
Most of the packs from other brands had so many different labels in them that I really doubted I would ever use, and would end up costing me well over $100 for the 3 kids. Really I just need iron on labels and basic name ones so this was the best value for money. Plus the designs are basic (I won't get sick of seeing them before they run out!) and can be used on anything and everything!

So there you have a few of our FUN things we have marked off the list. There really isn't much more to do. Just the application of the iron on labels and baking of the lunchbox treats. I will be trying out some new recipes this year, so I will keep you posted with any ones that prove a success!

If you haven't read them already, don't forget to check out my other Back To School posts HERE and HERE and from last year HERE.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Back to School - Hair Station

If you have girls, doing hair is a large part of the before-school -rush. It takes time and patience and even though I am a hairdresser, I still struggle with getting the girls to comply and create a neat look that lasts all day. Especially now that they like to request certain styles!! 

School for us starts at 8:10am with the classroom opening at 7:55am so its an early start, which means there isn't a lot of time in the mornings . I certainly miss that extra half hour we used to have before we moved. 

To make the mornings easier, I thought we needed to create a few stations to help and the first being a 'Hair Station'. 
Somewhere that all the items we need for doing the girls hair in the morning. 
Something that was easy to transport and could be taken to the living or dining areas if the need arises , and light enough that the girls could help retrieve it for me.

While away on holidays, I made the most of checking out my old favourite department store , Target!! Target oh how I miss thee!!
Anyway, I picked this white tin up from the Laundry section for about $7.50 on sale. It is metal, plain and has a handle. Perfect!
All that was  needed for it to 'look the part' which is of course, very important , was attaching a cute tag. This is actually a Project Life Card from a school mini kit, I just trimmed it down to a smaller square shape and re -rounded the corners. Tied with a simple piece of Bakers twine and everyone knows what its for. 

Then I collected all the necessities;

De tangling spray
Hair Brush
Comb (for creating straighter parts and sections)
Hair Lackeys
School clips/Accessories

And of course, Suncream. It is a crucial part of our School Prep and therefore this is a great place to store it. 

I found these School clip sets at Best and Less while on Holidays as well. They are the perfect colour to match the school uniform and will save our pretty clip collection from being lost!

Now the tin has pride of place on the Bathroom bench top. The vanity in the main bathroom is small, however I feel its the most practical place to have the Hair station seeing as though it will be use daily!

Hopefully this a a problem area of our School day prep that has been conquered. Stay tuned to see if it works!! It couldn't get much better and I have a feeling I am going to be run off my feet in the mornings now!! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Back to School- Shoes


Its nearly that time again, and its a bitter sweet one for me. I love School holidays, the relaxed mornings, kids playing and no strict schedule. BUT .... I do also love the routine, less bickering and a cleaner house during the School term.

Seeing as though we were away for the first 2 weeks of January, I had to plan early and start organising our Back To School items and lists in advance. The booklists and School bags were bought between Christmas and the New Year and extra uniforms and the sandals bought while away (we took advantage of the shops while visiting family)

I know that most other states are returning to school very shortly (perhaps even next week?!) but we still have another few weeks , thankfully. So over the next week or so, I will be running through our choices and a few ideas to make the Back To School process a little easier.

After moving towns, our kids now go to a Public School (which is fantastic!!) and therefore things are a little different for the uniform and requirements than when Stella was at the Catholic school.
This year our twins, Max and Lacey, are starting Kindergarten (they turn 4 at the end of April) which is  2 days one week, 3 days the next and Stella is going into Year 1!! We can not believe we will have 3 at school. Time flies when you are busy! This Mumma is a bit emotional!

At our new school , all kids are required to wear a full uniform from Kindy and must also have appropriate footwear. Stella was always able to wear thongs (for easy removal and playing) and casual clothes but I must admit I like the idea of a uniform more!

Everyone has a different opinion about school shoes, and we aren't ruled by any colour or material restrictions so for sneakers we have just gone with basic Kmart ones. Super cheap at $8 a pair for the twins, and Stella's were around $15. I found hers from last year to be quite good quality for the amount you pay for them, she found them super comfortable and they are cheap enough that when they grow out of them, or they get covered in red dirt (like they all do in the Pilbara) you don't mind chucking them and buying a new pair!


Sandal wise, the girls have gorgeous Target sandals, and Max has a pair of velcro strapped ones. Again, easy for them to put them on and off themselves, cool and comfortable and seeing as though we aren't at a private school, these are fantastic on the hip pocket.


Like I said, everyone has a different opinion about kids shoes. Do you buy more expensive ones for fragile , growing feet? Or are kids just hard on their shoes regardless, so you buy cheaper ones because they grow so fast? 
I am of the cheaper option, seeing as though Stella went up 3 full shoe sizes during the last 6 months, her shoes don't wear out before she grows out of them.

Anyway, that's our Term one shoe picks for this coming School Year!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The year that will be 2014 .....

Happy New Year !!
 I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and are happy to see a new year come around once again! I have had a wonderful few weeks away, spending time with friends and family and returning to our home town but its down to business now, school starts again soon and life is gearing up yet again.

As each new year comes around , its customary to make a 'New Years Resolution', and each year I do just that.
 However, it seems to be the same few things that I try and commit to or at least promise myself. 
BUT .... this year I have scrapped it all. 
Choosing instead, to choose a word. A word to live by and use to define moments and my reaction to them all.

It may seems strange but I am excited by the idea.
Something to remember when life is giving you lemons, a positive outlook to dreary day. 
For the year that will be a full, happy and successful 2014 for us (here's hoping), I have chosen APPRECIATE. 

I want to appreciate every situation, however unfortunate it may be or I may feel, purely for the life lessons learnt.
Appreciate our family and friends, for the love, support and being in our lives.
Appreciate the life we live. Our home and our belongings.
Total appreciation for our health, and hope that it continues.
And lets not forget, appreciate our beautiful children , to no end. The joy they bring us , the love they share and light they have.

And taking a new found appreciation for the small things in life. 
Trying to notice and cherish the birds chirping. 
Feeling and liking the cool breeze on my face or the wind in my hair
Stopping and listening to the infectious laughter of our gorgeous children

The things in life, big and small, I hope to appreciate them all and make 2014 a beautiful and joyous year for our family x

So perhaps if you haven't set a New Years Resolution for 2014, you could choose a word to live by too! I'd love for you to share it with me x