Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Gratitude


This post is brought to you by Nuffnang and Circa Home.

I'm a big believer of (where possible) focussing on the positives, rather than the negatives.

"Circa Home exist to create memories for now and for the future. They believe it is about the little things, sharing, loving and giving to the people you care about. They touch people’s lives and homes with beautifully uncomplicated scents, that live in harmony and provide a soul rejuvenating fragrance backdrop for day or evening that sits comfortably, both complimenting and enhancing the home."

I was sent one of Circa Home's Limited Edition Honeyflower & Sandalwood candles and it is seriously delicious! After a long day at work, it's been a real treat coming home and lighting this beauty. If you make it to the end of my post about things I am grateful for, you will have a chance to win a limited edition Gratitude gift pack (I'll be totally jealous if you are the lucky winner!).


Circa Home also sent me a 'Today I am grateful for...' notepad. My favourite quote about gratitude is the one I have had printed below - "Gratitude turns what we have into enough." An attitude of gratitude can really change the way we look at the world (and our life).


Over the last few months I've been reflecting on how we look at life. The more I've looked at the positives in our life, the more blessed I have felt. It's easy to get caught in the trap of wanting more (more money, more time, more energy), but the truth is that what we have is more than enough already.

Tonight I thought I'd share what works in our household (and what I am grateful for).


I love that, as parents, we try and shake things up from time to time and make the mundane every day tasks a bit more fun. Glow stick baths, painting with shaving cream (in the bath) and writing on glass windows with whiteboard markers to practice spelling words really do spices things up.


We celebrate everything and go a little (or a lot) overboard. Birthday parties, New Years Eve or a good report card....we'll be ready with our party hats for any occasion. 


Tim and I make an incredible team. There is something special about going through each day knowing that you have a support network alongside you no matter what challenges come your way.




We strengthen our relationship and gain new skills and experiences by taking on projects together. It's not always kisses and high fives, but there is a great sense of pride when we look back at what we have achieved.


We send photos to each other when we are apart so that we can share in each other's excitement/disappointment/time away from home. We also snap pictures for the boys to include them.


We have fun and get up to mischief, especially around Christmas time when Elfie comes to visit.


We are both ridiculously obsessed and grateful for our boys. It's not always easy being a mum (or dad), but we try our best every day to be the best parents we can be...and if we have a bad day/moment, we pick ourselves back up and try again.


We make memories and record them. One of the things I am most grateful for is our Project Life books jam packed full with everyday life and special memories.



Tonight, if you're feeling a little down and out, think about some of your favourite memories and make a plan to make some more special moments together as a family. Perhaps you could all dress up like superheros (my boys LOVED becoming a superhero family for the night)!



If you would like the chance to win a Limited Edition Gratitude Gift Pack, click here or if you would like to purchase your own Circa Home products, click on the links below.

Honeyflower & Sandalwood Classic Candle
Honeyflower & Sandalwood Fragrance Diffuser
Honeyflower & Sandalwood Soy Melts
Limited Edition Electric Wax Warmer

What are you most grateful for?



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Sunday, 14 February 2016

Getting swimming lesson ready!


We have recently started swimming lessons on a Saturday morning at 8:30am. The first two weekends of swimming were hectic and both times I forgot things we needed at home. I knew I had to put a system in place so that I could make our Saturday morning swimming lessons run more smoothly and ensure that I didn't forget anything at home. Designs by Emma (click on the link to her Facebook page) had sent me a gorgeous bag and I'd thought it would be perfect to use as our weekly swimming lesson bag.

Each week, as we return home from swimming I wash the boy's swim shirts, towels and togs and I put them straight back into the bag once they come off the line. I also replace the boy's dry clothes (ready to change into after the swimming lesson the following week) and I leave the goggles in the bag. This bag then stays in the car ready for the next week.

I feel much more organised now as I know I am ready for swimming nearly a week in advance. I am seriously considering purchasing a second bag so that I can have one that is always ready for us (in the car) to take to the beach.


Emma custom makes each bag for you. I loved that I was able to message her back and forward and choose the fabric that I liked, from sample pictures that she sent me. Emma has kindly offered a bag (like mine, but in your choice of fabric) to giveaway to a lucky reader. All you need to do is comment on my FB post and you are in the draw! Entries close on the 29th of February at 8pm.

Because I love introducing the fabulous mum's behind these amazing businesses, you can read more about Emma below. If you would like to order your own bag, scroll down for more details on pricing x

Hi, I'm Emma. I started Designs By Emma when we moved to a small remote country town as a project for me to do on the weekends. I started out making them for friends who were having babies and it grew from there! That was 9 years ago and now I have to schedule my work a little more carefully to make sure all my lovely customers get a custom made one of a kind bag for their needs! I don't often make up lots of stock and go to markets but have been trying to do a little more of this over the last few years. Last year I branched out and was lucky enough to have a small article in LittleOne Magazine in an effort to branch out my advertising. I am so lucky to have been included in some amazing blogs (like yours!) and have met some inspiring bloggers along the way! I aim to create one of a kind custom made bags and products tailored to each customers specifications. I help them choose their preferred fabric, bag size, bag extras and any additional matching products and hand make each item myself. I love seeing photos and hearing about all my "Emma Bags" and the adventures their owners take them on! 

I have been lucky enough to send orders all over the world from the US to the UK and I even got an order from Athens Greece last year! I love chatting with every customer about what they are after and what their fabric preferences are!

Over the last 9 years it has become a real family affair with my husband helping me with heaps of market merchandising, my Mum does lots of the bag cutting out for me (the most time consuming part), my Dad does lots of my market set up and transport and even my little 2 year old daughter sits in the middle of my fabric scrap basket and shows me her favourites!




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Saturday, 6 February 2016

What is in my handbag?


As you all already know, I am particularly picky about what products I choose to review when offered. For me to do a review I always have to make sure that the product is something that I would actually use myself and I need to think that it would be useful for some (not all) readers. Bellhop Bags emailed me to introduce their product and I was kindly sent a set of files to trial. Over the past few weeks I have been using the files in my handbag and I love them!

There are 4 files in each set of bags and you can choose what each file is used for. I chose 'Personal' (Lip balm, deodorant and pads), 'Essentials' (a note pad, pens and mints), 'Toys' (cars, flashcards, a notebook and pencils) and 'Change' (2 nappies, wipes and a spare set of undies). You could obviously choose your file names based on what you pack in your handbag.

When the files are packed into my handbag along with my Simplified Planner and wallet, this is what it looks like..


It is now SO easy to find what I am looking for. If I need to send H to the change room with Tim I can just give him the 'Change' file and it has everything ready to go. You can take one or all files with you when you head out - the 'Toys' file will be a hit with the boys.

If you would like to have a look at the two different colour combinations (red or blue), head on over to http://www.bellhopbags.com.au/. To keep up to date with specials and new products on their Facebook page, click here.

A set of Bellhop Files retails at $39, but they have kindly offered my readers a 15% discount by using the code 'ORGANISING4' .

For more information, read below x


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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Restoring an old caravan


My husband's parents wanted us to go on a caravan trip with them. The plan was that we would be staying in their caravan with them (and two other family members). We decided that it'd be easier to have our own space and began talking about the possibility of purchasing our own caravan. While I was online one day I noticed a well priced caravan pop up on a local buy and sell page. We went and had a look at it and were so happy with it that we made the purchase the following morning. And so, on the 8th of June, Milly - our 1980's Millard caravan came home with us.

The before photos:


As soon as we got home, my husband ripped everything out of the caravan. The caravan had been lived in, on and off, for the past 20 years, so we both agreed that we'd be happier to start fresh. I didn't take any photos of the van without the ceiling or walls (you can still see the old walls in the photos below). The walls and ceiling were replaced with white caravan ply. Do your research on this - we found some places to be significantly cheaper than others. My husband also started playing around with the size of the boy's bunks so that I could decide on the layout of the van - we wanted to utilise the space and make sure that no bit of floor space was wasted.


I threw ideas for the main bed backwards and forward, but just wasn't 100% happy until I saw a picture on Pinterest and got a new idea. We built a bedhead for our bed (which is unusual in a caravan) for aesthetics and to double as storage down the track.

You can still see the old kitchen in the photo below.


The new floors and ceilings made such a difference to the look of the inside of the caravan - all of a sudden the caravan felt and looked bigger and it was easier to think about where I wanted everything to go.


We purchased the timber look alike vinyl for the floor from Bunnings and secured it in place before we started building anything.


The structure for the boy's bunks, our bed and the seating went up really quickly - my husband spent every hour after work on the caravan, often coming inside well after midnight. He built everything from scratch himself and I just chipped in along the way with all the design ideas/plans. If something seemed impossible, I'd do the research to find a way that we could get it done - stopping at nothing.




The main bed was made queen length (my husband is tall), but double bed size in width. We purchased foam mattresses and cut them down ourselves because it was ridiculously expensive to get a company to make the foam to size for us.


The kitchen design was one of my favourite things to plan. We had to incorporate our oven and fridge and the range-hood needed to be in front of the existing ventilation. We had a small area of space left next to the fridge so my husband used it to build our wine rack and I loved it. Who doesn't need lots of wine when they are camping?!


I love 'shaker style' doors and knew that I wanted them in our caravan - much to the disgust of my poor husband. After a bit of researching (thanks to Pinterest and the world wide web) we found the most effective way for him to make the doors. Before long a production line of cupboard doors was happening from our garage. We saved a fortune doing all the work ourselves. If you want to do your own doors - have a look at Pinterest. It is full of DIY instructions with plenty of different options for you to try.


The day the benches arrived was a happy day! We ordered the same bench tops as the ones we have in our home kitchen - 180fx carrara. Keep an eye on the weight of your caravan as you build. We actually ended up with our caravan 40kg lighter then it was when we bought it, even though these bench tops were installed (and they weren't light). I was super impressed that Tim managed to do that.


The exterior painting was a very long process. Thankfully our brother in law is a professional spray painter and he did the painting for us. It took a very long time for my husband to get the van sanded and prepared and it didn't look very pretty once undercoated.


Each colour had to be painted on separately and then it had to sit for a few days before the next colour could be done. This meant that the entire van had to be taped up for each colour - a massive job. White went on first. We decided to paint the front and back of the caravan white so that the van didn't look too busy (we thought panting the stripes all the way around would be a bit much).


 Next was the cream..


and then the blue and coral.


One of my favourite things in the van was the custom upholstery we had made. It is hospital grade and it looked stunning. The seating, curtains and upholstery are the three things we outsourced to professionals and we think it was well worth it.


It took me a while to find a suitable light for the caravan. I knew I wanted a pendant, but we had to consider the swaying while driving. We found this metal pendant from Bunnings and made sure to hang it at a height that meant that it couldn't hit anything while driving.


We bought brand new white walled tyres to suit the theme - they were very cool!


Inside I kept the linen simple. All the linen was from Pillow Talk. 

I wanted silver knobs for the cupboards, not standard caravan locks. They did have to be able to be locked (for travelling) so we installed magnetic baby locks to all the cupboards. They remained locked while driving, but we could unlock them when we arrived at our holiday destination. The curtains and sheers were purchased from Spotlight. The curtain colour is charcoal.




Tim installed a 12 volt socket next to our bed so that I could charge my phone at night and still have access to it if needed. The fire blanket also lived by our bed (and next to the kitchen) so that it would be easy to grab if we needed it in a hurry. A fire extinguisher was also a requirement for our roadworthy.


The fridge we purchased was a 3 way fridge. Most caravan fridges seem to come with a timber front on them, which I wasn't a fan of for our van, so Tim replaced it with a white piece of caravan ply.


We made sure there was plenty of room for seating. We could sit 4 people (2 on each side) at the table and another 3 along the bench (without access to table space). The bench started at the door and was perfect for us to sit down at and put our shoes on before we left the caravan each morning.


The boy's both had a window above their bunks. They were existing on the van (we just worked with the existing exterior and windows when designing the inside).


The base of our youngest's bed touched ours. This was very handy in the morning as he would shuffle up our bed and join us for morning cuddles.


Our eldest son had access to a cupboard from the top of his bed. We thought it would be handy for him to store a water bottle in it so that he could reach it easily during the night when everyone was asleep. Deeper in that cupboard were his clothes. When he woke up in the morning he'd reach in and get dressed before any of us even woke up. He loved being able to be independent.


We chose to put the sink on the right hand side of the bench because that was the closest to the door. We could wash our hands before meals, without having to walk through the van if we were eating outside.


And here is another picture of that glorious wine rack! I'm so glad we used the small space for something that sparked joy, rather than for more storage - because we already had an incredible amount of storage built in.

Other than the 16 (!!) cupboards along the top of the caravan, here are some more storage spots we built in. You all know how much I love storage!

Our bedhead was perfect to store the kids camping chairs along with other tall bits and pieces.


Under all the seating was storage.


The small bench's storage was used as a toy box.


Under H's bed we stored the Weber Q, outdoor games, a big umbrella and picnic rugs (with plenty more space left over).


Beneath our whole bed was storage too - it was a huge space.


We had a few things we had to outsource -  one being the gas compliance work and certificate. New vents had to be installed and we had to ensure that everything was legal and safe. That (very important) job was obviously outsourced to a professional. We also had to pay to get the caravan roadworthied (is that a word?).

Now onto the finer details and the questions we are often asked.

How much did we spend? Out of respect to the new owners who purchased our caravan, we aren't going to disclose a total amount - but we spent approximately $6000+ on the renovations plus the price of the caravan itself on top of that (remembering that Tim did ALL the labour - paying someone to do the building/painting would raise this total considerably).

How long did it take? We purchased the caravan at the beginning of June and went on the holiday mid September. We used every inch of spare time that we had working on the van. It was down to the wire to get it finished - to the point that we had the road worthy completed the day before we left and the number plates installed the day we left! It was a close call! During those 14 weeks Tim worked on the van every free minute he had after work. Towards the end of the renovation, he wasn't coming inside until 2am. I can't say the exact amount of hours, but I'd estimate 700+ hours.

It was a fun project and one we enjoyed doing (most of the time). I loved the design aspect and Tim was just incredible with all the work he did! We haven't ruled out doing up another caravan down the track. We learnt so much the first time round.



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