Monday, December 17, 2012

{You've Been Rack'd!}

Today marks one week until Christmas. I found an idea on pinterest (from tsj) that I adapted to our family. We are counting down the week by performing 'Random Acts of Christmas Kindness'. I have had so much fun with Mr. 6 dreaming of ways we could bless people just because. We may even have to "RACK" on the 12 days of Christmas next year! I will keep you updated on how this goes. A little bit of generosity always goes a long way and I think it is important to build this into our children at a time when it is commercially all about 'me, me, me' and 'get, get, get'!
Lauren x

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

{Childhood Treats That Turn Into Adult Aversions}

Final day of Kindy is tomorrow! I can hardly believe where that's gone.
Today the kids had a party for lunch and each family was sent home with a note with what to bring (saving 20 plates of cupcakes being brought).
I don't normally freak out at such a task. Until I read the note and it said 'cocktail frankfurts'. YUCK!
I have never bought these for my kids and I have never prepared it before either.
To me it is 'poached mystery meat wrapped in red plastic'. Again, YUCK! I could think of literally hundreds of things if prefer my kids to eat before I came to this!
I visited the deli, googled how to bring them and joined Kindy in their class party. Despite the disgusting "sausages" they had a blast.

But, this got me thinking. What else did I eat as a kid that I wouldn't touch now. My top 3 in no particular order:
- Cocktail frankfurts
- Devon
- Junket (anyone else remember this milky jelly stuff).
I guess this also happens in reverse too. For example, I never liked olives or zucchini as a kid, but I quite like them now.
Q: What did you eat as a kid that you won't touch now? Vise-versa?

Lauren x

Monday, December 10, 2012

{Nativity & Advent Calendars}

A few weeks ago, I visited 'The Yellow Dresser' for the first time. I picked up this gorgeous Advent calendar (and a few other gorgeous things) and couldn't wait to fill it with things to count down to Christmas. 
I searched for ideas, and there were a tonne of them thanks to google and pinterest mainly. I decided to keep it simple and I came across a lady who had a free printable on her blog of exactly what I wanted. All the hard work was done for me! {Here is the link} to the printable for the advent and this is an example of one of the days.

I chose not to add treats, as I wanted the excitement each day to be mainly about what happens next in the story. They definitely remind me to do it and it has become a real highlight for us.

Another good advent printable I found from one of my favourite bloggers, Be a Fun Mum, can be found {here} also. 

The other addition this year (which I wish I had found years ago) was an idea I had to make some visual aids to support the bits of the story we read each day. I found some images of the nativity online and simply printed them off, laminated them and glued magnets to the back.

Both my kids have been playing with them on the fridge and we sometimes use them to act out or help tell the part of the story we are up to. 

***tip: rather than buying expensive magnets form the craft store, save the large 'calendar magnets' you get given free in the mail from tradespeople etc... and cut up and glue on laminated pictures. Because of this and the laminating pouches I had, this cost me nothing***
{click for image of the nativity characters}
{click for image of the background}

I hope the lead up to Christmas isn't too stressful and you are taking some time to enjoy it with your loved ones.
Lauren x

Saturday, December 8, 2012

{Call me "the crazy gingerbread lady"}

Recently I made {this} batch of over 300 gingerbread cookies for a Breast Cancer Awareness evening. I received feedback from people that don't like ginger bread who even said they liked this recipe. 

However, since I am not one to shy away from a mammoth task, two friends from church and I decided to create a homemade Christmas gift for each of the young families at church (I am glad I had your help girls, team effort needed for this one and you girls rocked it!)
After sorting through different options of delicious treats, we decided to steer clear of 'perishable' treats that would make it hard to prepare ahead of time and things that would need refrigeration.
This is the thought process that led to us 'sanely' create a cookie-a-thon of 700 gingerbread stars that turned into 50 individual and delicious Christmas trees.THis takes my kitchen to a grand total of  over 1000 gingerbread cookies in the last little while....JEEPERS!

Here is the final product that was totally gorgeous and made the days of work worth it for the three of us! They looked so pretty being handed out at the BBQ we had today.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

{Extra Special Twinkle Lights}

So, December is in full swing and I hope your enjoying adding touches of festivity to your house. I have been a bit busy over here working on a special project that I can reveal soon, but can share a simple craft that added something special to our staircase this Christmas. 

- 1 length of Christmas lights. 
- 3m of stiff tulle in your choice of colours (I chose red and white). I got mine for about $2 per meter.
- Craft scissors. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

{Creating a Simpler Christmas}


Back in 2010, I read something that changed my attitude on Christmas for my family. Pretty much from mid year toy sales onwards, my letter box is invaded with toy catalogues galore! All shouting at you messages of your kid wants THIS. Your kid "NEEDS" this. THIS will make your kid happy. Looking back on my childhood, I remember a few of gifts, but most of the gifts I remember had a sentimental attachment to them. I couldn't tell you majority of them now. For me, I mostly remember putting up decorations on the tree as a family with carols in the background, making the pudding with cousins with Grandma and Grandpa. I remember TIME spent together, laughing, sharing and giving. 

So, hubby and I made a decision to scale back on the ridiculous amount of gifts that can be given. Let's face it, when you add up this plus presents from Grandparents and Aunties/ Uncles, our kids DON'T go without! Don't you find that it's almost as if Christmas has a free seasonal ticket straight to Over Indulgence City? Between the food, gifts, and alcohol for some I guess, when is enough exactly that. Enough?!

So, each year we now scale right back. We now give them 7 gifts each. They aren't always expensive, in fact I think the more we steer away from the cheap "made in china" , "trashed by New Years" kinda gifts the better. 
Here is how we do it on Christmas morning. Each of my boys receives something from each of these categories. The seventh one listed (give) is something they give to someone else i.e. a goat for a 3rd world family, a gift for their sponsor child etc... 

We are also starting a few new traditions which I will be sharing soon. Watch this space ;)

Do you find that the silly season gets exactly that....silly? 

Q: How do you fight Over indulgence in your house?

Lauren x

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

{Preschooler Craft Day}

Yesterday I had one of 'those days' with my three year old. If you have had a three year old, I know you are on the same page right now. Mister mischief just seemed to wake up on the wrong side of the bed and the day followed suit until he crashed at 6:00!

I was determined to not repeat this performance. Once the kids went to bed, I had a cuppa, took a breathe and decided to plan craft day. I visited the only place open after normal hours, my local Kmart.

These kits were $5 each and such great value!!

DIY Cars

The great thing is that there is no glue needed, as they are all adhesive stickers. So, no sticky mess! There is plenty of opportunity to practice fine motor skills. There were a tonne of stickers left over, so just print off some plain car templates and you can keep the fun going.

He was so proud of himself and has been playing with them ever since! We might try this one later today also:
Can definitely recommend to have these on hand for an easy preschoolers craft. I think my 6 year old would even enjoy this!

Lauren x

Saturday, November 17, 2012

{Leftovers Make Over : French Stick Toast}

After a recent BBQ with friends, we had some of the French bread stick left over. This gave me an idea for a makeover on this tray of slightly stale day old bread.

These were already cut and in a baking dish, so all I had to do was add some extra ingredients. I whisked up 6 eggs, cinnamon (one teaspoon ish), some sugar (2 tablespoons ish) and 200ml thickened cream (I keep a long life carton on hand at all times, it always comes in handy).
Pour it over your bread and make sure it's all covered.

Bake in a 180'C oven for about 25 minutes or until golden and set.
When it comes out, sprinkle with fresh berries and this is the result:

Lauren x

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

{Dip & Crackers with a Twist}

Spring and summer brings with it social occasions and get togethers.
Here is a great and easy dish to bring that looks as gorgeous as it tastes! 

Cinnamon Crackers and Berry Cheesecake Dip 

1. Cut up Lebanese style flat bread into triangle slices. You could also use 'mountain bread'.
2. Spray with spray oil and then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar to taste.
3. Spread on a baking tray and bake at 150'C for about 15 mins until golden. Don't leave kitchen because they can burn easily (I burned my first batch ;)

Berry Cheesecake Dip:
1. Place a tub of cream cheese into your electric mixer with a tsp of vanilla essence and a heaped dessert spoonful of caster sugar. You can add more sugar if you wish, but this should be enough.
2. Cut up some blueberries and strawberries (amount depends on the size dish you are filling).
3. Layer blueberries, cream cheese, strawberries etc...
4. Rip some fresh mint over the top and serve with the flat bread cinnamon crackers.
Serve and enjoy!

Lauren x

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

{Breast Cancer Awareness Night : Pt 2}

At the planning meeting, we tried to think of a gift to bless every woman that came. Something, cute, pink and girly. Someone showed a picture of some 'bra cookies' they had seen on the Internet. I had seen a few variations of these before and thought I'd give it a go making them. They were totally adorable and fitted the 'brief' (hahaha boom tish). These would actually be totally cute for a bridal shower also!

I have never done anything like this before (especially in such quantities) so here is how I made them:
*Find a cookie recipe and make dough as per instructions. I chose a gingerbread cookie recipe {loved this one}.
*Roll out dough, cut out heart shapes with your cutter. Before you slide it on to the baking tray, cut off the tip of the heart. It will help with the end design.
*Bake and cool.

{Breast Cancer Awareness Night: Pt 1}

Last night, my church hosted a fundraiser for The National Breast Cancer Foundation. It was a great girly night. Pink was everywhere, as well as an incredible spread of treats!

We had a wonderful local Dr who explained to us the stats and symptoms of breast cancer and how to be aware of changes. Her main advice was not too check too often as to cause anxiety. Know your body and check as each new season changes. Here she is demonstrating the 'breast dance':

Monday, October 22, 2012

{Some Bathroom Art}

I have been trying hard lately to put into action some of my pins on Pinterest. I loved this idea that added some colour to the kids bathroom and very cheaply. I printed them off at home and used some frames I got from the local salvos store and had painted white. I love the touch it adds to the room.

Lauren x

Friday, October 19, 2012

{Girl Stuff - Sshhhh!!!}

Recently I had a conversation with some friends about October 'pink month'. This conversation then turned into a chat on general women's health.

Amidst this discussion the P word was uttered and it had me shaking in my boots. That's right - PAP SMEAR!!
I know I've had two kids and you can cue the music and call me a diva, but I just can't get over the 'ickyness' of them!
I felt totally challenged after this conversation and came away trying to remember when my last one was! The fact that I had to work hard to remember was sign enough. I have the best of intentions and always think 'I'll do that soon'. Many 'soons' ended up turning into years!
In the end, I figured I'd bite the bullet and just do it! So, yesterday I sat full of dread in the waiting room, wanting to avoid what was ahead. But the way I figure is I'd prefer to be dreading the procedure than the treatment right?!
So, on this sunny October Saturday morning, consider this your public service announcement. If its been a while since your last Pap smear, get over the ickyness, call your GP and book your cute little toosh in to get it done! Sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry!

Lauren x

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

{Dark Chocolate Bites}

I do have a slight sweet tooth. I find I often crave something at about 3:00 or after dinner when watching tv.
These are a great healthy and easy way way to curb the sweet cravings.

- Dark chocolate
- An assortment of dried fruits & nuts as per taste and / or what's on hand. I used shredded coconut, dried cranberries, pecans and almonds.

1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler.
2. Spoon onto baking paper in bite sized pieces.
3. Sprinkle nuts and fruit on top and pop in the fridge.
VOILA! Told you it was easy ;)

These are so delicious! You could use milk chocolate but its healthier with dark. 

Q: Do you have a sweet tooth? Whats your greatest weakness?

Lauren x

Monday, October 15, 2012

{Childhood Jobs & 'Pocket Money'}

The idea of money, the value of it, the maths behind it and the ability to obtain it has been a big conversation in our house for months now. Mr 6 is paying attention to this A LOT! We started by letting him have a turn at {Coin Land} which is a PC game created by the Commonwealth Bank and it introduced some good concepts and taught him some good lessons. However, we found he was finding 'his own pocket money' from loose change around the house. We both believe that teaching our children about money and how to look after it well is very important in life. {Here} is a great tool that helps you understand how to break this down into age appropriate levels. We weren't convinced pocket money was something we wanted to launch into and so it took research, talking and thinking.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

{Oat & Quinoa Muesli}

Well, summer weather has hit (most of the time in Sydney) and one of my favourite breakfasts this time of the year is homemade muesli with yoghurt and fresh fruit.
I started making my own muesli this time last year and its so easy and delicious!

This one has a base of Oat and Quinoa (pronounced 'keen-waa') which is very good for you. Read more about it {here} I just got a roasting tray filled it with a few cups of Rolled oats, a cup of organic white quinoa flakes (available in health food isle of supermarket).
This is your base, then you can add other seeds, nuts and dried fruit you like and have on hand. I love this kind of food prep that you can adjust to tastes/ what's in the fridge.
I added the following but you can choose whatever you like...
- sunflower seeds
- sesame seeds
- chia seeds
- flax seeds
- currants
- sultanas
- shredded coconuts
- dried apricot
- dried cranberries
- dried apple
- dried paw-paw
- slithered almonds
- sprinkle of cinnamon
- stir through about 1/4 (more if you like) cup of honey thats heated up in microwave so it's thinner and easier to mix.
Put tray into the oven when it's on for dinner for about 10 minutes, stir and then leave for another 5 mins.

My sister in law is starting her HSC exams this week. So I bottled a jar of this as a 'brain power breakky gift'. You could also give it to someone moving house, who is sick or just had a baby. I'm sure a healthy breakfast meal would be appreciated when going through something like this.
Are you a muesli eater? What's your favourite breakfast choice?

Lauren x

Thursday, October 11, 2012

{Family Game Night}

Well, a few weeks ago we decided to introduce games to our Sunday night dinner. It started with a game we already had which is a family favourite. Here are some of the games we have played that we love. Are you a game player? Even if you don't think you are, you might be's actually a WHOLE lotta fun!!!

First Game: Absolute Balderdash
Absolute Balderdash Board Game 
This game is hilarious.Think you're a good liar and think you can tell when someone else is? Then Absolute Balderdash is the game for you. Absolute Balderdash includes 5 different categories, words, people, initials, movies and dates to add some variety to the popular game Balderdash. 
You can probably pick it up at most stores that sell board games and I also found it online {here}.

Second Game: 5 Second Rule
5 Seconds Rule Board Game
5 Second Rule is a quick-thinking, fast-talking game from the clever people at University Games.
It should be easy to name 3 breeds of dog - but can you do it under the pressure of 5 seconds twisting down and with the other players staring, waiting for you to get flustered? 
You can buy it online {here}

Third Game: Sequence. 
Some amazing new friends introduced this one to us. I have bought sequence as a gift for someone since playing it and this may have sparked our idea for game night ;)
Venture Games Sequence Board Game

The Venture Games Sequence Game of strategy is an exciting game for children (7 +) and adults. Learn to block your opponents and remove their chips. The Sequence board game features fun, challenging and exciting strategies. 
You can buy it online {here}

Game 4: We have also bought this game but are yet to play, it looks good though, so can't wait!

What's your favourite game? Are you a scrabble, pictionary, billionaire, monopoly or risk fan? Share your favourites! Tell me here or comment on the {facebook page} so I can get ideas for new games. 

Lauren x

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

{The SORT OF 30 Minute Roast}

Well, I was chatting to my neighbor recently and she is a BIG reader. She was reading a vampire novel. Whilst I don't share her love for vampire fiction, we do share a love for food. In this book someone cooked a roast in a peculiar way. It entailed putting your oven on the hottest setting with your roast in it for 30 minutes. then, WITHOUT OPENING the oven, leave it inside to rest for 3 hours. 

My next door neighbor raved about how it actually worked. I was definitely intrigued to say the least. So, with baked beans and toast on hand in case it didn't turn out. Yes, I was skeptical. 

So I used a Santa Maria Beef Roast from Aldi. We have used this marinated beef before and have loved it. I also chopped up 3 potatoes and put it in the dish also.
I put it in at 1:45pm, turned oven off at 2:10 (had to leave for school pickup). Then I got out at 5:15 to reveal this. 

Pro's : 
* It was cooked perfectly (there wasn't any pink in it so it was probably considered medium/well). You could take it earlier if you like it less well done.
*Only 30 minutes of cooking time saves cost and makes it easy to have done on a busy school night.
 * The potatoes were also cooked well

* My tray was slightly liquidy in the bottom, this could be remedied by actually using a proper roasting tray  with a rack in the bottom.
*It was warm but not HOT, perhaps i could have taken it out a little earlier.
*It was VERY hard to not open the oven once its turned off. I gave into temptation and this may have affected the end temperature.

Lauren x

{Confessions of a Handbag Pt 2}

Sometime ago, I wrote about reclaiming my handbag. Part one {read here}was all about how I had made some zippered pouches to organise my handbag.

The first step was a cute kids fabric that contains my kids stuff that lives in my bag. Now that we are out of baby stages of life, it's mostly 'distraction items' as you can see in part 1 (link above).

Part 2:
I have one large pink bag. This is all MY stuff and I can also fit my phone & iPad in here and therefore can lift this ONE pouch out and change handbags at a moments notice and do so very easily.

The small one usually lives inside the larger bag, to make it easier.

The larger bag has a whole lot of stuff from Panadol, pens, band aids, a notepad, safety pins, usually my iPad, tic tacs etc...
The little red pouch at front centre holds all my shopping trolley tokens. I always keep a spare arm band in there for shopping trips to turn my phone into a toddler taming device :

The smaller bag is my girly bag. General essentials from my moxie tins, lip glosses, elastics, bobby pins, mirror and nail file.

Is your handbag organised? Or does it look like a shamozzled mess of randomness that could possibly produce a science experiment?
Mine was bordering on the latter before these's great knowing where everything is meant to be and being able to find stuff at a seconds notice.

Lauren x

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

{I love you because}

I have many things on my pinterest boards that are projects on my to - do list. This is one I can tick off my list. It is a sign I have put in between our vanity mirrors in the bathroom. I have seen a few style variations on this sign before. You can always create your own on and print it out. 
However, i loved the chevron pattern i found on this one {here} and it was a FREE printable. There are also different colour schemes available to choose from. Just mount the frame somewhere you both see it with a whiteboard marker (normal sharpies don't work without windex or elbow grease - hint hint)! 

I had all the things for this at home except for the whiteboard marker which set me back a whopping $3! Great value!

I love that this provides a cute opportunity to share things you love about your other half and It may even help you to look more intentionally for things if this doesn't come natural to you. I find that it's important to appreciate the small things in life - one day you will realise they were in fact the big things!

Lauren x

Monday, October 8, 2012

{Jewellery Storage}

One thing I have been after for a while in my master room is a full length mirror. It can be quite tricky hopping up on bathtubs and stools to get a full length view of an outfit. Don't look at me like that - I know we have all (hopefully) done that!
Another problem I have had is keeping my ever growing accessories collection under control. Necklaces get tangled, earrings lost, rings dropped. 

Not exactly earth shatteringly important problems on a global scale. I know. First world problems. But the following product solved both of them in one slimline, stylish and relatively affordable package. 

Introducing my newest addition to my room - the secret storage mirror. I know right! I got it from the shop that never closes and always threatens to - Homeart. It set me back $99, and so far has been worth every cent!

Lauren x

Thursday, September 20, 2012

{Gift for a Chocoholic : Chocolate Strawberry Bouquet}

So my mother in law's birthday is today and she is hard to buy for. I know she loves chocolate though, so I decided to create a homemade gift that I knew she would love! It is only a little time consuming, a little messy but doesn't cost a lot, which is great considering the wow factor you get!
Here are my tips for making your own chocolate dipped strawberry bouquet.

I used:
- 2 punnets of strawberries
- 3 blocks of choc (white, milk and dark)
- 3 saucepans and glass/ stainless steel bowls to make double boilers for melting the chocolate
- bamboo skewers
- disposable piping bags
-a case (this one was $2 from Kmart) or you can reuse an old jar which I usually do but ran out
- tissue paper
- green cellophane
- sticky tape
- to help them dry : baking paper, rubber bands and a few vases or jugs

Hint 1:
Place some baking paper over your vases/ jugs and secure with a rubber band. Pre-poke some holes and use this to stand the strawberries in whilst drying.

Hint 2:
Cut cello into squares and poke a skewer through the centre. Then fold up around teens and tape the base to create 'greenery' for the arrangement. This also helps stabilize the strawberries. Trim some of these lengths so they don't all poke out the top and create a rounded arrangement.

Hint 3:
Once you have covered your strawberries with the base chocolate (1/3 of the qty with each different chocolate), go nuts decorating. Fill some of the piping bags with melted chocolate and pipe designs on them. Leave some plain if you like to balance it out.

Hint 4:
Line your vase/ jar with the tissue facing coloured side out. Scrunch another piece of tissue inside and use this to poke your skewers into. Foam would work best but I didn't have any ;)

I am sure anyone would love to receive this as a gift and it would suit almost any occasion too I think!

Lauren x

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

{All in One Breakfast Bake}

This is the kind of cooking I like. Its a no recipe, tailor to your own taste, use what you have kinda meal.
I actually made this one night for what we call "BRINNER". Breakfast for dinner. It was a crazy day and I wasn't going to the shops with crazy children after school and issued myself a sort of 'mystery box' challenge!

I can see so many adaptations of this idea. I can imagine family all digging in to this for a late Boxing Day morning together while using some f the left overs from Christmas Day. 

I'll show you how I did this and then show you how you could change it to your tastes. 

{A SUPER Birthday for Mr. 3}

I love how when you get married your family automatically enlarges. In my case (thanks to my husbands large family) I not only doubled my family, I probably tripled or quadrupled it! One of his cousins in particular we get along with very well. When their little man turned three recently, I was excited to put a twist on a gift I'd crafted before (read here) to help him celebrate.

I made the cape similar to what I have made several times by now. However, this time I made a mini version for his favorite toy. The little 'L' is for his toy lamb "Lambie". Isn't it just darling! My boys are so jealous that I now have two capes for my boys and two for their teddies on order and in progress - lol! 

Here is my little 'Mr 3'  posing for the camera to show it to you with his little lambie friend.

Reports in from the birthday boy, and this gift was a total hit! Maybe one of these days I might figure out how to be clever and put a pattern on here ;)

Lauren x


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