More sunshine, less whine

Sunshine and the great outdoors are the allies of the exhausted parent.

Armed with a double shot almond milk latte, in a huge mug, the lads and I began carrying supplies out to the deck for a morning of mess and imagination. Because when you are outside, mess can wait, and it does not agitate.

 

Whilst my lads age range might mean that compatibility in play is sometimes elusive, there are some things that just win every time, like sensory play.  We have used rainbow rice, cloud dough,  play dough and water play again and again over many years (new batches of course!!).  These are simple, low or no cost activities that I enjoy as much as my kids do.  It is really important to know what you enjoy in terms of play as a parent. Yes, we play things that we don’t particularly enjoy, because the kids want us to join in. But when we find things we enjoy as much as they do, the play is different. And we can all feel the difference.

 

So this morning, we played with cloud dough, play dough and rice with plastic animals and duplo. And afterwards, those animals really needed a bath.

We brought the dolls house and peg dolls I made outside, and Asher showing Tobias how to create an avalanche of animals down the staircase.  

Then we made some necklaces with our animals. “More,  more, more” resulted in Tobias wearing a zoo.

 

 

Not one complaint. No bickering. No fussing. It really isn’t rocket science; kids (big and small) need to be outside.

 

And does the fact that there are things strewn across the deck concern me? Not one iota. But if this same mess was inside, I would be finding it very hard to leave the activities out for much longer.  The lads will go in and out all day, and these things will be utilised in endless ways, as their imagination leads.

Oh, and I got to have my coffee while it was hot.  And we filled the neighbourhood with bubbles. Everyone’s a winner.


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Planning my Planner

I love lists. And pens. And washi tape. I also love paper planners as opposed to using the iCal app. So I thought I had found the perfect planner, but it disappointed me. I then turned to Pinterest to search for the free PDF downloads that would surely be the solution to my organising needs. I quickly became disheartened at the thought of trawling for hours through printables that would be fun and colourful, but not necessarily suited to my style of list making.

Then I remembered a graph book I got from Office Works and decided to draft my own planner pages for this week. My plan for my planner is this: I will hand draw each week, using what I liked from the previous week, and tweaking or removing what isn’t so useful.

There is truly something therapeutic about using colourful pens. You should try it if you haven’t in a while.

This week I have included: Finances for the week at a glance, School stuff, Menu Plan, Dream cloud for ideas and inspo, and my take on the ‘To Do’ list – the ‘Ta Da!’ List, which is much more exciting. Because when I get to tick something off, I will be all like, “Ta da! Look at what I did today! How clever am I?!”

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I best stop planning my planner page, and get planning my week. Well, what is left of it.

Gift Giving Guidelines for 2015

Over the past few years, we have dramatically changed the way in which we consume in this family.  So much of what we own is second hand, and a lot of it has been spruced up to suit our style. I started a Facebook page last week to chronicle some of my projects – Flair Enough.  The name of the page implies a few things I am passionate about – fair trade, enoughism (we have enough, we don’t need to succumb to the pull of thinking we need more), supporting local, and working with one’s own hands to create something. I am saddened that we live in a society that, to a great extent, values the glitz of shiny packaging and plastic over the innovation of resourceful creativity.  I have enjoyed many projects where I reclaim something that was no longer wanted, and transformed it into something we use, enjoy and others always notice. The latter is never my motivation, but it always happens. Resourceful resonates with the people I know, because there is a fascination with many regarding the simple act of transforming someones trash into a delightfully practical addition to our home.

This year, I am going to try and focus on transforming our gift giving for birthdays,  births, weddings, Christmas, Mother’s and Father’s days… My aim is to do one of the following things when it comes to giving gifts:

1.  Shop at home first – Use what we already have in our present box.

2. Buy second hand – Often times you can find new things that have been thrown away, or at the very least, a great quality second-hand item that can be repurposed or given flair.

3. Support local – A beautiful gift of flowers or condiments from the farmers markets, or pieces from local designers are a much better choice than mass produced plastic.

4.  Experiences – Rather than the standard fare of plastic, an experience is a great gift alternative.

5.  Make it – Handmade is a winner with me, and I believe this to be true for many.  To be honest, I am not sure of how well I will go with this one, because I do have a boom or bust reputation with all things handmade, be it crafty or cooking. Sometimes I nail it, other times, it is catastrophic. Like the time I posted a photo to Facebook of a caramel slice I made. I asked people to guess what it was. Lasagne they said.

I guess at the end of the day, I think we have enough of the stuff that they keep trying to sell us more of. I like to put a lot of thought into gifts, but I find that it is hard when others do not share the values that I hold to, so I then crumble under the weight of invisible expectations and buy the sub-standard gift.

I will leave you with this print I found at the thrift store on the weekend, which serves as a wonderful reminder to us.  I wonder if you will consider joining me on this journey?

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Sprucing up: Bathroom Edition

I love sprucing things up. I get a real kick out of reclaiming discarded furniture and revamping it so it can be enjoyed once again. There is something deeply satisfying to me about painting over an offensive wall colour with a shade that changes the mood of a room. Finding ways to recreate a space on a minimal budget is something I have done for many years, and now we are doing it on a larger scale in our ‘new’ 1974 home.  We have been here for 9 months now, and despite being utterly sleep deprived juggling three busy lads, we have managed to make a number of changes which make this 1974 beast feel like a home that fits who we are. I will be sharing the revamping journey of our home over the coming months as we, bit by bit, wall by wall, room by room, begin to transform our home, the frugal way!

To give you an idea of what we are working with, here are a few ‘before’ photos:

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Can you guess why all of the brown was starting to do my head in? I felt like I was living on the set of a bad 1970s Australian sitcom.

But the reasons we purchased this home trump the brown-ness of it. The view, location, space and configuration were the selling points for us.

195 Carella Street, Howrah, Tas 7018

Taking a long shower is supposed to be relaxing. Do you think you could relax in that bathroom? Our original, 1974 bathroom has been quite the talking point for our friends, and incredibly, a number of them were disappointed when we painted over the tiles!

After ripping up the floor tiles, replacing some rotting boards, painting them with paint suitable for wet areas, we started to see that this budget update might really work.

The tiles were primed and painted over using White Knight tile paint, in Stone Jug and Pebble Grey.  The shower base was primed and painted with a laminate paint, and it feels relaxing, clean and fresh.

Matt installed the new vanity which he found on sale at Bunnings, and I picked up the blind from Freedom reduced from $220 to $50.  The grand total for the bathroom revamp was $700.

Yard Sale Psychology

You can learn a lot about humanity by holding a yard sale. Firstly, about your own life. The accumulation of stuff that we once deemed so necessary in our lives, now up for grabs to passers by. My “no buy it diet”changed me forever. So the amount of stuff we culled this time was, in fact, minimal, but there’s still that quiet reminder that too much stuff doesn’t add to the essence of our lives.

First observation – blokes came looking for stuff for themselves! Tools and fishing gear. So many a man walked away empty handed.

Second observation – some people wear tshirts they probably found at a different garage sale, for example; “Trust me, I’m an alcoholic”.

Third observation – women usually buy with others in mind. Therefore my sons started singing “all the single ladies” in the hope that it would have a Pied Piper effect on the neighbourhood ladies. Women came mostly buying for friends with babies or children.

Fourth observation – women AND men change their minds. One lass purchased something only to return 10 minutes later for a refund. Do I look like a department store?! But I do look like a pushover, it seems. So I handed her fiver back. It hurt too, as that was 25% of our takings at that point.

One fellow thought long and hard about a Lego and Wii purchase. As we were eating dinner there came a knock on the door, 6 hours after we packed the gear away. He had $10 so we did an after hours deal on the doorstep. Odd, but the kids scored an extra $5 each.

Fifth observation – kids learn niceties quickly when greeting copious amounts of strangers asking them “How are you?”By the end of the day, they were (unprompted!) asking, “And you?”

Sixth observation – making a batch of gluten free scones and a pot of fruit tea for morning tea is good on any day.

We didn’t make much cold hard cash, but our home feels lighter, and our ongoing quest for less is strengthened!

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Reliving my bookworm childhood through my bookworm children

The feeling that comes over me when I catch a glimpse of a book from my childhood is almost embarrassing. I mean, I almost squeal. It’s everything in me to refrain from running around asking the people around me if they remember the book, in case they too might share the ecstasy of my find. I’ve been able to restrain these impulses to date, but one day, I will likely stumble across something that will reveal to my fellow op shoppers that I get a tad too excited over small things.
Here are some of the books I have scored from the thrift shop in recent times – I wonder if you enjoyed these too?

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The thing is, the lads don’t always share my excitement when I come home with these treasures. Some of them, they adore (like ‘Choose your own adventure’), but I am still waiting for them to catch the excitement of Encyclopedia Brown (it will happen, believe me. Watch this space).

Stories from our childhood are special. They remind us of times of imagination that ran wild, secret reading sessions when we were so quiet that perhaps we could almost be invisible. Visits to the library were a tradition for me in childhood, and I am so thrilled when I see my lads in libraries and op shops scouring book shelves for their next adventure. And sometimes my lads are almost invisible too, cloaked by the cover of a great book and an adventure on every page.

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Quick & Thrifty redos

Uni starts again next week, so I am cramming in a few quick projects before I have my head stuck in books for a few months.

I paid $1 for a few off cuts of fabric from the op shop yesterday, and recovered a boring lamp and a few canvases I had around home. I still have more than half of it left. On a roll, I remembered I had a $1 doily and stitched it onto a footstool I purchased for $5 from the tip shop a few months ago. I had recovered it with black fabric given to me already, but the doily made it complete, and made me smile. The lads aren’t so sure about doilies…it is an ongoing discussion around here – The Great Doily Debate. I think you can see who is winning. Three v One, yet I still manage to have doily dominion.

These few makeovers cost next to nothing, and we have a few new splashes of colour and another seat (or footstool!) in our living space.

What do you have around the house that you could tweak so you love it and use it once again?

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Feeling cushy

Tonight it felt good to start and finish a project in an hour. I whipped up a few cushion covers using thrift shop items: a pillow case, off-cut fabric and zips. I paid around $1 for the supplies I used.

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I am thinking some napkins might be next on the list of straight line sewing projects for me.

Shadows

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Shadows

We have had a few sheets of black cardboard Matt bought home from school last year that are a bit damaged from being used as backdrops for displays. Tonight as we were looking through a Science experiment book from the Library, we stumbled across this and I remembered the cardboard.
It was the first ever shadow sketch experience for the lads, and we got to turn the lights out and use their Lego man torch, which of course made the whole process so much more fun! They were amazed when we cut their silhouette out. We now have beautiful, frugal, simple art in the play room.