Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Christmas Gift Ideas - Girls 6-8 years

The idea of Christmas looming is a rather scary one , but I must admit , I am super organised this year. I kind of have to be , seeing as though we live away from most shops and really only have Kmart. 
Plus can never judge postage and freight so its best to get in sooner , rather than later to make online purchases. I also have Christmas spirit in abundance this year! It seems last year I had very little Christmas spirit and this year I seemed to get the urge to decorate and launch myself into crafting and baking mid November! And you know what? I did it! Who says you have to follow the rules anyway? Do what makes you happy I say , and Michael Buble's Christmas album makes me happy!

Anyway, after talking about gifts and shopping on my Facebook page, there were a few requests for ideas and the purchases I have made for our children. So here we are, this is an idea of the things we have bought Stella, our eldest who is 7 and a half. I actually find Stella harder and harder to buy for. She isn't quite a 'big kid' and isn't quite a little girl anymore either. But she is still a child and I want to keep her that way for as long as possible! Stella has a love for jewellery, and anything crafty. This means craft kits are always always a huge hit and after trialling her on a el' cheapo adjustable version, she is getting the real deal in the way of signet rings this year. Still only $30 but totally precious to her! I have also had the pleasure of shopping on behalf of my parents for most presents for the kids. It just seemed more practical for me to buy or order things than my Mum do it then pay for postage to us again. So not all presents I list are from us. We have tried to scale back Christmas this year, there is no need to spend obscene amounts of money and they just expect it year in, year out there after anyway! Anyway, here you go! I'll be doing similar posts for the other kids presents too! 

General Presents

Bead Sets - Kmart $3- $7
 Little Live pet Butterfly ( I bought Stella's from Woolworths for $10 but you can find them HERE)
 Beados Gem set - I paid $28 but they are in most stores or HERE
Blue Tooth Speaker - Kmart $15

Signet Ring - $30 Bought locally but found HERE
Seedling Bangle set - $24.95 Entropy
Learning Watch - $30 Entropy
Book/ Lockable journal and Diary  - Target


Blink Time Watch - $5 Kmart
Gel Pens and highlighters - 2 for $6 Woolworths 
Kmart assorted small bits and pieces in their Toiletries section
Notebook and pen set - $5 ea Target 

Kmart really have some cute goodies to fill stockings and they are all so cheap too! Last year, the most popular present was a cheap one I added to a stocking so never under estimate the power of a touch watch or bath crayons!

Stella is also receiving a new bag for dancing (to carry her shoes and socks to lessons etc) , a small toilet bag/case for when we travel and a new outfit set.

I hope this has helped and given you some new ideas!

I promise , I have not forgotten about the wardrobe posts, how dare life get in the way of blogging!
Stay tuned for more Christmas gift ideas and a whole lot of spirit ! Lucky you!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Clothing Our Kids Part 2 - Kids Clothing Inventory

As talked about in my last post, clothing our children is a never ending task (as they are are constantly growing) and one that is on the expensive side.
 I know it doesn't have to be, but I take pride in the way I dress and present my kids. They are a reflection of me, my parenting and our family. Plus, I believe, they deserve to look and feel good too! Every ones priorities in life are different, it just so happens that looking clean and presentable , never leaving the house without footwear on and taking pride in yourself and your appearance is a top priority for me. 
It is definitely a reflection of my upbringing. My parents taught us from a very young age that personal hygiene and appearance was important. I can't ever remember my Mum leaving the house without makeup on , or my Dad walking anywhere without shoes. But.. like I said, each to their own. If everyone was the same, the world would be a boring place!

As the kids get older, hand me downs are fewer, clothing changes and unfortunately our shops are limited where we live. I know there is always the wonderful world of online shopping, and believe me , I am a fan! However , with tall, thin children , it is nice to actually look at a garment, feel a fabric and see things with your own eyes in the flesh. So, this led me to create our Kids Clothing Inventory before my last trip away to the city.

A simple , easy to transport folder, where I can record what we have in each size , see clearly what we need and set levels that should be in the wardrobes at all times. I have assigned each child a section, with a list of each size relevant included. There are also sections for School Uniforms and footwear. 

I started with a basic, white ringed A5 file , plastic page protectors and some file dividers. These file dividers I actually made myself as I could only find them in plain, plastic and gaudy colours. I simply purchased the plastic ones and uses them as a template to cut my own from cute patterned card stock. 

The labels were made on a basic label maker. This way I can peel them off and swap things around if I wish, without too much trouble.

The School Uniform inventory covers all things, down to bike shorts that the girls slip on when they wear their school dresses.
If I have to throw something out because its stained (and it can't be removed) , I take one off the tally on the inventory. By having this file, it also means that if something gets advertised on a Buy and Sell page on Facebook etc, I am able to quickly check if we are in need of it and snaffle a second hand bargain. A bargain isn't a bargain if you don't actually need it . Now I can check!
I may be the President of our P & C , and I'm a full advocate of our Uniform Shop and it all that it does for the school, but I still have 4 kids, 3 at school. They play hard, have fun and can come home from school in a right old state ! Especially our 2 Pre Primary kids! We also live in a very transient town, where people may only stay for 6-12 months at a time. So if school uniforms are for sale second hand and are in good condition, I always try and buy them where I can. I think I have only bought about half of our uniform stock full price.
My motto is always ' Save on some, to spend more on others"

For our Shoe section I have created an inventory for boys and one for girls. These have a space to manually write the size in the top.
Our boys do actually wear the same size shoes (event though they are 18 months apart) so I just write a name before the size .
For the girls I have included Weekend dress shoes (which may be a ballet slipper from Cotton On Kids etc) and Weekend Sandals. Also Soccer /Football boots and school socks and casual socks.
Plus of course, school sandals and casual sandals.
The boys are much the same.

Again , I have included things like the Soccer/Football boots as its something that I anticipate that we will need every year. However the boots that Stella wore this year , will no doubt not fit next year and therefore Lacey could wear them when she reaches that size etc. All shoes that are too big , go into a box that is clearly marked and because its listed on the inventory, I know there is a pair waiting in that box , without even having to look.

Taking stock and updating levels etc with items in storage before a recent trip to the big smoke!

With the general Clothing Inventory , I want through the kids wardrobes/drawers and wrote down everything that we need for the year. We generally don't have a cold winter in the Pilbara and have an extremely hot summer for a good 7 months of the year so my levels would be different than that of a family in a different climate. Each small box indicates an item needed.
Each sizing even includes rain coats (as we have a wet season) , singlets , jumpers and even underwear.
I usually have a list in each child's section of their current size and sheets for the next 3 sizes up. This means that when I go away for a weekend to the city and can sneak in some shopping, or the online sales are on, I can purchase something I like, even if it doesn't come in the kids current sizes. Rather than missing out on it, I know they will get to wear it in the future and I save money in the long run when an item is discounted to just a few dollars.
I have always bought clothing on sale , in advanced sizing for the kids. But .. I seemed to buy it , stash it in a box or cupboard then when I get it all out its either too small and I've missed the boat or I have 10 T-Shirts in one size and only 1 in another! Well not anymore!
Now I know what I have, what I need and I don't over buy . Perfect. A life changer for me!

Another inventory and list before my city trip. Knowing what I need is the best thing of all.  Its hard because when people thing of a weekend away with no kids, they generally don't thinking of buying basic items, however its all I seem to do! 

For some, this inventory may seem far too organised. Some may say I have too much time on my hands (and I can assure you that time is something that is severely lacking in my life) but then again, some people may see it and think "YES!!!" I need that! 
It has changed the way I shop. Changed the way I pack for trips away. Changed the way I look at items , and instead of impulse buying, I am shopping smarter! I check what sizes are available, I see if I need it and if I do I purchase. If I don't need it , it stays on the shelf. Easy. 
I tend to stick to a colour scheme for the kids. The boys especially, as I find boys clothes so hard to find in styles that I actually like. This way, all their clothes mix and match. 
I may like a red top , but know that it doesn't go with the rest of their clothing and therefore I don't buy it. Easy.
You may think that only 5 T-shirts isn't enough, but when you wash everyday like I do and its usually back in the wardrobes the next afternoon , I think 5 is just fine. Again, everyone is so different. Find a system that works of you . It may be trial and error, but you'll get there. This has taken me years to figure out and implement. But I am loving it ! 

If you haven't already, check out Part 1 of my Clothing Our Kids posts. 
In Part 3 I will be covering my favourite places to shop, both bricks and mortar stores and online. 

Is a Clothing Inventory something you may be interested in? 
Shall I pop my lists up as printable? 
You could always try your hand at making your own too! 
I'd love to hear more about the way you keep track of your kids clothing, sizes and storage!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Clothing our Kids Part 1

In my opinion, one of the most expensive things about having kids , is clothing them. I am sure I am not on my own in saying that kids generally grow like weeds! I know mine do (some more than others), and its only taken me 7 and a half years of being a Mum to finally realise some important things and make some decisions on our kids clothing. 

We now live in the Pilbara, a part of Western Australia that suffers brutal summers but glorious warm winters. We are also a lot more isolated from varieties of stores to buy apparel from. These factors have made me reassess our clothing, what we really do need, and when and where to buy them all.

With 2 boys and 2 girls, you would think I would be able to pass most of the kids clothing down. Unfortunately this isn't the case, as our boys are in the same size clothes and shoes and will probably be for the rest of their lives. Even with 18 months age difference, one is a big boy and one is a slight build. Luckily I can pass Stella's clothing down to Lacey pretty much as soon as she has grown out of  it , and we don't have to store it in-between.

I thought I would cover the topic of our Kids Clothing in a few different posts seeing as though I receive quite a number of emails and messages asking questions about this, and because we have a large family with both boys and girls. 
I will be covering topics like; 
- Where we buy our kids clothing from (favourite websites, brands etc)
- How we keep track of what we do and don't have
- the method I use to purchase items (i.e: big shop every size or season or purchase gradually)
And in this post - Selling items once you have finished with them 
If you have any questions or would like me to cover anything in particular please just flick me an email or message on my Facebook page and I'll try and cover those bases too!

Down to business;

As mentioned above, clothing kids is not a cheap task. They sometimes grow quickly and aren't in a particular size very long , or they may be in a certain size for a long period of time and you need to constantly top up their items because they wear out. 

I like to think that our kids go easy on their clothes, but I know that some don't. I often have friends mentioning that their son/daughter is 'hard on their clothes' so I guess I am just really lucky in that way. 
In their wardrobes I have a tub for "Too Small" items, so that when they go to put them on and they are too small, they don't go back into the clothing cycle. We simply pop the shorts or whatever it is , in the tub and when I have a decent amount in each tub , I then make plans to re-home them.

Some things that are bought from the chain stores are bundled up (as shown below) and I list them on our local Facebook Selling site. I try and get around $20-$30 for a large bundle. Its not a huge amount  but they are all in good condition and every little bit does help to then reinvest in bigger clothes. The items that are worn or marked are either chucked, given to friends or donated to an Op Shop (sometimes all they need is a good soak and wash with an Industrial Machine).

Name brand items that are still in good condition (I firmly believe that if you spend more on something, you get better quality and they wear better in the long run), are photographed and either sold on Ebay (super easy to do using the phone app) or Facebook . If our small town ran Baby and Kids markets,you can bet that I would be a regular for stalls there too! So these are always great places to pick up some good quality items at great prices.

On eBay - You simply need to take a few pictures of each piece, up close and be honest when listing them. Describe the condition, photograph any marks or blemishes in the pieces and sell at a good price. I often think that its better for something to be sold a little too cheaply and know that it will sell after all of your hard work preparing to do so, than it be a bit too expensive for some people and it still be cluttering up your house weeks or months later. I also offer combined postage, so its a good idea to list a few items at the same time, with similar finishing times on the auctions so that its more inviting to buy more of your items and this then means less trips to the Post Office for you!

Now that I have covered how I like to re-home our clothes, the next post in this series will show you how I like to keep track of what the kids do and don't have, and how I record when I purchase clothing a few sizes in advance.

Like I said, I'm happy to answer any questions or please feel free to comment with your hint and tips, we are all in this parenting thing together!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Going Bananas

Happy Monday to you!
So it is the start of another week, and I have a busy one ahead including a rent inspection (and lots of cleaning and fussing to do), a day of work and parent /teacher interviews and then I've squeezed a trip to the city into the mix for the weekend! Phew
But seeing as though we are talking about busy , I thought I would share just how I store our bananas when I pop them in the freezer. Quick and easy, just my style!
Surprisingly only 2 out of our four kids like Bananas. The twins don't, funny little things they are. Regardless they never seem to last long in our fruit bowl - with our weather up here (always hot) and the struggle to get fresh produce that hasn't been frozen or in a truck for days , our bananas life span is rather variable. (Such an in depth conversation about a fruit, hehe)

Anyhoooooo, like a lot of people, when things go on special, I buy them in bulk , even if they are to be popped in the freezer to be used at a later date. When I score bananas on sale, or if they are nearing the end of their little lives , I peel them and pop them in a shallow square container (just like the ones to store pastry sheets etc) . They are the perfect depth, I can still take out one banana at a time or multiple and I even add smaller pieces to put in our fruit smoothies etc. The container also doesn't take up a lot of space and is great for stacking items in our upright freezer with drawers.

We also store our mangoes like this during the season (as we get close to 300 mangoes all within a few weeks) and often grapes also. 

Then when I have a baking session , I always have bananas on hand and can take them out of the freezer as needed. 

Then all that is left to do is enjoy your efforts and sit down for a cuppa ! 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Berry Banana Loaf - Recipe

I love to bake, but I love to bake simple things. Simple, yummy and freezable are my main requirements in a recipe and this one fits the brief perfectly!! Banana bread is a big favourite for our kids , and when I found some frozen raspberry's in the freezer ( they are safe , I promise!) that our house sitter left  behind , I knew exactly what I was going to make !

I've had this recipe for years and love it. It was from an amazing blog I used to read religiously and now, through fate and a whole lot of laughs , I now call Jade a wonderful friend. Jade has a Facebook Page called Project Happiness  where she shares lots of crafts, home decor and organising tips! 

You can add whatever berries you have to this recipe, originally it was with Blueberries but I have used Raspberries and the kids love it with some strawberries too! The berries keep it light and moist and its perfect served with a scrape of butter. Yummy 

1 1/4 cups Self Raising Flour
1 tsp Cinnamon
20g Butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg beaten lightly
1/4 cup milk
1 banana - mashed
1/3 cup berries ( Raspberry, blue berry , strawberry etc)


1)  Sift flour and Cinnamon into large bowl and then rub in butter
2)  Stir in sugar , egg, milk, berry's and banana. Do not over mix the batter , it should be lumpy
3)  Spoon into a prepared pan and bake in hot oven for about 30 mins 

NB- I used my Thermomix for this recipe as I do for most,  and still did step one separately on speed 4 for about 10 seconds. Then added everything else in Step 2 , on reverse and speed 4 for about 15 seconds. 

Delicious served warm and perfect for school lunch boxes! 

Friday, June 5, 2015

A Seven year old Room

Within the blink of an eye, your baby is SEVEN! It incomprehensible , but somehow so very true!
Not only is she 7, she is also growing up. Watching and observing. Asking and listening. Maturing and changing. Somewhere, along the way I realised that Stella needed a space of her own (she used to share with Lacey , 5) and a space that was a little more on the 'grown up' side. 
Don't get me wrong, I still look at her as a little girl. She has so many years ahead of her to be a 'tween' or 'teen' but for now, seven is still young. Still pretty and girly  and still a time for playing and being a kid. Well that's my opinion anyway.

Stella still asks me to pick her clothes for the day ( I am holding onto this for as long as possible), she still likes to play with her siblings, she still likes to play with Hilda her bunny in a role play Mummy situation and she still likes a soft cuddle toy at night. Hallelujah! 

When we decided to give Stella her own space ( and me stop working from home) , she moved into the smallest  and oddest shaped room in the house. Regardless, she was stoked!!  A space to call her own. And a space to kick her siblings out of when she was sick of them! We wanted something pretty but inspiring, a little area for her to write and draw (her favourite things to do) and some storage and display for her 'precious items'. All while being rental friendly! 

Now, seeing as though we live in the desert ( Ok, not quite the desert but it sure can feel like it at times!) we only have one shop, being Kmart. Its a pretty good shop to have at the moment, as they are busting out some awesome homewares but it still makes of limited shopping, especially when you are looking for something in particular. So sourcing bits and pieces we wanted for her room was the not the easiest task. 
Plus budget. Always back to the budget! We are a single income family (or were until this week when I returned to work) and therefore everything needs to be budget friendly.
I can't say I have ever set out to decorate a room. I have never said - Right Liz, lets make over this room from top to bottom. And gone out and bought everything that I have needed/wanted. Our budget has never allowed it. Our rooms have just evolved over time. 

Stella's room

I think with any bedroom space, whether it be for a child or adult, its nice to have some different bedding options. By simply changing your quilt cover or throw cushions with each linen change, you are essentially creating a new look and giving the room a fresh feel. Stella has the above quilt cover and also a reversible Coverlet which we change up every time I change her sheets. This gives her 3 different looks for her room. 

Cute love heart battery operated lights (bought on sale after Valentines Day from Woolworths for $5) add some fun and a soft glow when she is having trouble getting to sleep at night.

An older photo before we sourced new drawers and painted them . 
I had the floor mat made by a local lady who used fabric I had in storage . I love that it is machine washable - a must while living in the Pilbara.

The bookcase was given to us by a friend , Stella stores all her precious and keepsake items in it, as well as her books and craft supplies. 

Her desk area is a funny little alcove in her room and the desk is repurposed from my old work area.  It fits perfectly into the space and a lot of gorgeous drawings have been produced here. 

Bits and pieces and 'pretties' are a must for any girls room!! Free printables I found on Pinterest stuck on the wall with washi tape, brighten the space nicely.

A room is never complete without a wall collage! 

The watermelon print Stella drew and painted herself and the Ice-cream print is just scrapbooking paper with a sticker of an ice-cream added. Wall art doesn't have to be expensive!
The Live the Life print is actually the front of a Typo notebook that I cut off and framed.

There you have a look inside of Stella's girly space. She loves pictures and colours, watermelons and crafting. She likes to leave her shoes on the floor and is a bower bird for anything shiny she can find. Typical 7 year old really ;)

And because I know the questions and emails will come, details of pieces in her room; 

The quilt cover was bought for $20 on sale at the Adairs Outlet store. Its reversible as well.

Her newer drawers were bought for $20 off our local Facebook Buy and Sell site and I sanded, painted and added glass knobs to them. She just needed a few more drawers for things like knickers, socks, bathers etc. 

Stella name banner- Pretty Paper Label 
Pillowcases - Adairs and Cotton On Kids
Watermelon cushion - Cotton On Kids 
Face cushion - Adairs on sale for $15
Love Canvas- Adairs for $9
S letter- made with letter from Spotlight and scrap booking paper
Your are My Sunshine Hoop- Ollie Rose
Coverlet- Gifted to us by a friend but from Kmart a while ago

If there is anything else you would like to know please feel free to ask!

And despite Stella loving her own space, she also loves the other kids visiting her, and they love hanging out in there too!! Angus can always be found laying on her bed , watching her draw or taking her a book to read to him! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Paint and Customise a Dipped Basket

Dipped furniture and baskets are very  'on trend' at the moment , however its not always practical and can be costly to buy new items when you already have them at home. By painting your own items, you are able to customise the colours and patterns to suit your tastes and decor , and add any personal touches that wish.

Once I had seen the painted dipped baskets in Kmart (even though they are only about $10) , I instantly thought of the basket that I already had at home , that wasn't being used. To be honest, I didn't even purchase it myself - I bought some wooden toys off a Buy and Sell site on Facebook and they came in the basket. Win!

Plus I had some paint left over from my Kids Kitchen Makeover , so this little project came in at $0 is  outlay. Just the type of project I like ;)

Fancy having a go at something similar yourself? It was so easy, I have been on the hunt of more things around the house to dip paint!! Try it!

Any Basket will do, but something with more of a closed weave is more effective and easier to paint. 

I used a normal ruler and a chalk pen to measure and mark a like around your basket to act as a guide. This really is a test of a steady hand and good eye , but if you are accurate with this step, you are more likely to have an even effect.

Start by painting your line around the top , then just paint everything below that (or above, depending on the look you are after).  My basket needed 2 coats.

And that is it!! Seriously! Finished!!
Despite a groady and aged rental bathroom, the basket adds the perfect pop of colour and is a great size for this bathroom. We are using it for a dirty clothes basket, as I wash regularly and don't need anything bigger. By painting the basket in my favourite colour, it ties in so many other little bits and pieces I have around the home. 

This project didn't cost anything for me, as I already had the basket and paints, and if you had to go out and buy those items, then it would definately make more sense just to buy the Kmart versions. However, by painting your own, you can choose any colour you like and match it to your home decor. 

Next time I might try a pattern , or I would love to do some polkadots! Yes, Polkadots!