Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas craft: paper chains

I'm just popping in quickly in between gearing up for the big day (3 sleeps) to remind you of an easy and fun Christmas paper craft you can set up for the kids.

I got the "what craft can we do today mum" question this morning. So with a roll of wrapping paper, some scissors and sticky tape we were set up in a couple of minutes.

Make it fun or turn it into a challenge by asking the kids to see how long they can get it in 10 mins or giving a prize for the longest chain in a set time.

Have a merry and safe one to you and your family from me and mine.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Christmas craft: Reindeer Noses

Your child has decided that they'd like to give their entire class a Christmas present. It's the last week of school. Could they not have thought about this earlier? WHAT are you going to do with limited time and minuscule budget? Reindeer Noses!

Get the kids to help with this one.

All you need is:

  1. couple of bags of Jaffas (choc orange balls)
  2. printer
  3. paper
  4. clear plastic lolly/treat bags
  5. stapler

While you set up some lolly bag toppers in text editing program or a more fancy photo editing program, get the kids to bag up 8 jaffas in each bag. We happened to have self-sealing bags which I found in my craft stash, so the bagging and sealing was done by my 7 year old.

Using your software, create outlines of boxes to suit dimensions of your lolly bags - so measure the width of the bags so that your toppers match when they're attached to the bags (you don't want them being too short or having ugly over-hang).

Double the measurement of the height you'd like the toppers to be as you will have a front and back.  For the reverse of your topper, you will need to remember to flip your text upside down so that after you cut it, you will fold the centre to have a double-sided topper.

NOTE: There are lots of free festive fonts you can download - just search for "free christmas fonts" in google.

Once you're happy with your design, print and cut like a crazy person.

You can also get the kids to fold the toppers in half making sure to create a nice straight crease.

Staple those suckers on and you're set to go for a class delivery of festive cheer - no doubt earning yourself some brownie points with your kids along the way.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas craft: bottle cap tree

Let's face it, Christmas can be an expensive exercise when you take into consideration gifts, decorations, lunches, dinners, travel and any other associated costs, so it pays to think creatively and save money where you can.

One quick and easy project you can do on your own or with kids (yours or someone else's) is a bottle cap Christmas tree for your wall.  Maybe you don't have space in your home for a real Christmas tree or you're just looking for an extra bit of festive cheer - like me.

We collect all sorts of reyclable materials in our house, so we have a bag full of bottle caps from beer bottles always calling to be used in some creative way.

All that's required for this project is bottle caps and blue tack and in a few minutes you'll have yourself an instant Christmas decoration that's cost you virtually nothing!

And don't forget about the pom pom wreath I posted about the other day. Another cheap and easy Christmas project with plenty of cheer.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas craft: how to make a wreath using yarn

Rather than go hunting for a Christmas wreath that I'd be happy with, this year I've decided to make my own. That way I'm guaranteed to I get exactly what I want.

So with a little bit of thought and most materials already on hand, I set out making my handmade Christmas wreath. It's part of my pledge for a handmade Christmas - as much as possible.

Maybe you might like to do something similar and hand-make your Christmas decorations this year?

Here's how I did it...
Gather your supplies:

  1. Yarn - choose as many or as few colours as you like
  2. Large piece of cardboard (an empty cereal box will do)
  3. Tissue paper
  4. Pencil
  5. Scissors
  6. Sticky tape

Lets do this:
Using a large dinner plate or something similarly round and large, trace around your circle straight onto your cardboard.

Using a smaller side plate (or something else that is smaller than the first circle) trace around your circle making sure to centre it within your larger circle pencil outline.

Now cut on both lines and you'll be left with a cardboard doughnut. Wipe the drool off your chin and move onto the next step.

Cut some strips about 3-4cm wide from your tissue paper. Attach the first strip to your doughnut with sticky tape and start wrapping it around the cardboard so that you've covered all of the visible cardboard. As you run out of one strip, attach another with more sticky tape. Keep doing this until your doughnut is completely covered. 

Note: The colour of your tissue paper is completely up to you.  The reason for it is in case there are any gaps in between the yarn, you will see colour rather than cardboard.

Using your first colour of yarn and your fingers, you're going to wrap the yarn between 40-80 times around your fingers. When you can wrap no more, snip off the yarn, then cut another piece of same coloured yarn about 20cm long and feed it in between your fingers and around the middle section of the yarn loops on your fingers. Once you've tied the loose piece of yarn tightly, carefully pull the wrapped yarn off your fingers. See photos for visual instructions.

If your pom poms look a little messy, don't be scared to give them a haircut. And you can save all the lovely colourful yarnfetti for another project!

Now keep making your finger pom poms until you've made enough to cover your cardboard doughnut. Loosely arrange them on top so you can see if you need more.

Let's start attaching the pom poms to the doughnut. You can either glue them on or tie them onto the cardboard. That part is completely up to you. I tied mine on so that I could adjust the pom poms on the front and make them look a little neater. Plus I like the look of the coloured ties on the back.

Lastly, make a plait with some yarn and tie it into a bow. Attach it to the bottom of your wreath using more yarn or glue. Make another plait out of yarn and attach it to the top at the back so you have a method of hanging it.

Now, hang it up, stand back and admire your work.
Congratulations. You just made an awesome Christmas decoration!

Friday, 14 September 2012

housework made fun: make a dirndl clothespin bag

Let's face it, most of us don't enjoy housework, right.  The only time I do enjoy doing housework is when I am super duper angry.  I take my frustration on the dust-mites, fluff-balls and any unsightly mould-spots. It is therapeutic.

So why in the world would I name this post 'housework made fun' then you ask.   

Since I've turned stay-at-home-mum a couple of months ago (read maternity leave), I've been looking at ways to minimise housework time and maximise the limited precious day-time hours I have to spend with my newborn, my big kid, my husband all whilst looking after the most important person - me.  After all, a household won't function without its number one worker ant.

So I'll be bringing you a series of posts all about making housework a little more fun over the next few weeks.

Where I live in Melbourne, we've just started having the most glorious spring weather.  And with spring comes the urge to spring clean, spruce up decor and interior styling, get organised and get some fresh spring air (minus the hay fever for those of you who suffer).

In light of the beautiful weather we've been experiencing with the start of spring, my laundry has finally moved to being hung outside again (rather than inside over a heating vent).  And as we just recently moved into a new place, we have a clothes line again - something which I have missed for some years now.  So I needed a peg-bag for my new pegs.  Cue the first 'housework made fun' project: make a dirndl clothespin bag!

Who wants an ordinary clothespin bucket when you can have your very own clothespin bag fashioned to resemble a dirndl.

dirndl is a type of traditional dress worn in Germany – especially Bavaria – LiechtensteinAustria, and South Tyrol, based on the historical costume of Alpine peasants.

And because I'm time-challenged these days, rather than create something from scratch, I found a fabulous and easy tutorial online at Made with Love by Hannah's blog.  All you need are a couple of fat quarters or smaller pieces of fabric, some ribbon trim, a printer, scissors, pins and a sewing machine.

So will you be joining me in an attempt to make the mundane a little more bright and enjoyable? 

Feel free to leave links to your own 'housework made fun' projects in the comments section and if you're on twitter or instagram you can use the #houseworkmadefun tag on anything you post which is related to this project. 

Let's get inspired to make chores less painful.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Keeping me busy

It's been some time between posts and if you don't follow me on twitter or instagram then you probably missed the news of our stork delivery.

Last Friday the 13th of July I gave birth to a healthy and rather squishily adorable baby girl who we have named Blyss.

As I write this post I am ecstatic to report that she's eating and sleeping like a trooper and is already putting on weight. That's my girl!

During the pregnancy I made quite a few things for her which I'll post about next time... Lots of baby crafts coming your way!

Monday, 25 June 2012

re-purposing thrifted finds

There are two things that I can honestly say really excite me in this life:

  1. being able to make something by hand
  2. finding great treasures whilst thrifting
To be able to combine the two is even more blissful. So when I found a few things at my local op-shop recently, I knew straight away what I was going to do with each of them. And it's not what you would think.

The total for these three items came to a whopping $4! And I have to say, I love a bargain just as much as the hunt itself.  Let me take you through what I purchased and how I've re-purposed those items into something useful...

Pressed drinking glass, 99c 
There's nothing special here really. They're a dime a dozen (so the saying goes).  And you might be wondering why I only purchased one. The answer is "no, it's not to complete a set".  I have been looking for a toothbrush holder for some time now. I don't like anything I've seen out in the shops, but this little re-purposed gem works well in the bathroom of our new place.

Yellow daisy soap dish, $1.99
Yes, this would make a lovely soap dish. But I don't like soap in cake form. Especially when you have children living with you. And I have a thing about shed hair. Even my own. So cake soap is a no-no in our household. Instead I'm using this little sweet dish to hold my garlic on the kitchen bench. And she looks mighty sweet in her new home.

Embroidered waffle hand towel, 99c
This, I have to say, was my most favourite find of all.  I adore thrifting things which others have hand made, but have somehow found their unloved way into a "random" basket at the op shop. So much time goes into embroidery and cross-stitch, so to just toss it away is rather sad.  But you need to have a vision of how it could be re-used or re-purposed into something a little more spectacular and even a little less nanna.  

So this little 99cent baby has been turned into a beauty case complete with kiss frame. I'm using it to put all my hospital toiletries into for the upcoming arrival of baby no 2. 

I think it's just divine to have something completely one-of-a-kind that no-one else in this world has. Makes you feel a little more special and a little less like you've just purchased something mass produced and over-priced which Mrs Jenkins down the road probably has one of too.

So, go forth my thrity friends. The key here is not to overspend and to think big. You can turn a humble unloved tea towel into a much-loved cushion, a crocheted doily into a panel on a children's dress or in this instance an embroidered hand towel into a toiletries case. Let your imagination run free!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

creating a maternity wardrobe on a budget

It seems that similarly to the wedding industry, if you mention the words 'maternity' or 'baby' most products and services attached to those words somehow manage to miraculously jump in price.

Why and how these service providers think that it's acceptable is very much beyond me.

So when I started to outgrow my clothes with my beach-ball-belly, I put off going maternity clothes shopping for a few reasons.

1. Maternity clothes are expensive
2. Most maternity specific clothes do not appeal to me in either cut, shape or colours/patterns available
3. Why hand over all that money for a wardrobe you'll only be able to wear for a few months? (I have some pieces in my wardrobe that I still wear which I've had for years)

So I took a different approach and without stepping foot into a single dedicated maternity store I created a stylish and budget-conscious wardrobe for my growing body using pieces I could wear post-pregnancy too.

Here are my tips for shopping for your very own maternity wardrobe without blowing the budget.
  • don't discount the shops where you normally buy your regular clothes. You just need to be open-minded and shop wisely.
  • look for stretchy waistbands in skirts and pants. Harem style pants are brilliant because the come with stretchy waistband and leg cuffs.
  • cotton-rich or 100% cotton fabrics are the best options for your chosen garments to ensure comfort and minimal itch.
  • stay away from blouses or dresses which have a seam-line across the belly area.  Instead, opt for seam-free in that region or a seam which sits directly under the bust.
  • when choosing tops or blouses look for longer cut (mini-dress) tops that will grow with your belly and cover it sufficiently. 
  • invest in some long stretchy singlets that can be worn underneath shorter tops and over tights or leggings.
  • get yourself a good supply of leggings and cute tights. They will become your best friends as you struggle and a much comfier option than pants
  • fitted short knit dresses work great over tights and show off your pregnancy curves nicely.
  • make layering work for you. As long as all your bits are covered, you're set.
  • don't be afraid to look in op shops (second hand stores) for some well-priced wearables.

Here are some outfits which don't break the budget and can continue to be worn well after the baby is born
second hand knit cardigan $6.99, Salvos
3/4 sleeve fitted cotton mini dress $9.95, Valleygirl
grey tights $6 and over-the-knee knit socks $4.20, Target
vintage brooch $8, Camberwell market
grey boots $20, flea market in Poland
3/4 sleeve fitted  knitted teal mini dress $14.95, Valleygirl
red cardigan $14.95, Valleygirl
patterned tights $4.95, Sportsgirl
teal flocked jelly shoes $35, Melissa
red necklace $40, Mumma Bubba Jewellery
3/4 sleeve fitted cotton mini dress $9.95, Valleygirl
black fleece-lined winter maternity tights $13.25, eBay
lace-up sneaker boots $30, flea market in Paris
grey knitted dress $19.95, dotti
plum patterned tights $4.95, Sportsgirl
grey boots $20, flea market in Poland
Here's my pick of shops to shop at (please note these are Australian stores):
Cotton on

And remember: just because you're pregnant doesn't mean you have to give up your own sense of style. 

Incorporate some accessories that you'd usually sport to jazz up otherwise basic or staple pieces and check your wardrobe for things that you can keep wearing throughout your pregnancy. I certainly found a few pieces in mine!

Monday, 21 May 2012

how to make bath bombs

About this activity:
This is a fun activity to do with kids and if yours are anything like my 6 year old who wants to be a scientist, they’ll love mixing up this “potion” in the kitchen.  You’ll not only have fun making them, but you’ll also know exactly what you’re putting in the bath!  No nasties here.

What you need before you get started:
1 ½ cups bicarbonate soda (grocery store)
½ cup citric acid powder (grocery store or chemist)
Sweet almond oil (chemist)
An essential oil such as peppermint, lavender or your favourite blend
Herbal teabags (chamomile, lemon, rosehip) or dried flowers
Food colouring (optional)
Rubber gloves (to stop the food colouring from staining fingers)
Silicone ice-cube tray with fun shapes – mine is from Ikea but you can get them elsewhere too

How to make it:
For the bath bomb base: In a large bowl sift the bicarb soda and cirtric acid to ensure no lumps. 

Let’s start customising: you can make a variety of different smelling bath bombs and the easiest way to differentiate them is by the food colouring you use.  From the bath bomb base you’ll get approximately 2-4 batches of different bath bombs, dependant on the size of your ice-cube tray moulds!

In a separate bowl add ½ cup of your bath bomb base.  To this you’re going to add any other dry ingredients you want to use such as herbal teas, pot pourri and dried flowers such as rose petals or pot pourri.  Be as creative here as you like. My son doesn’t like “floaties” in his bath, so we limited our additions to fine chamomile tea rather than flower petals which will unfurl and increase once added to warm bath water.

In a separate small mixing bowl or measuring cup add ½ teaspoon of almond oil, a few drops of your desired food colouring (if you only have a couple of colours you can consider letting the kids mix the colours to make a third!) and a few drops of your chosen essential oil.  Mix them well so that they bond.  Now you’re going to add your wet ingredients to your dry ones and mix them quickly so that the bicarb and citric acid don’t fix too much.  You want to save some of that fizz for the bath!

I had to help my kiddo with the mixing part to make sure that the small amount of wet ingredients were thoroughly combined with the dry ingredients so that the bath bombs set properly.  Otherwise you’re going to end up with crumbly bath bombs that aren’t solid.

Once you’ve mixed it thoroughly, you’re going to start filling your moulds.  The trick here is to compact them down into the mould with the back of a teaspoon as you go and when you think you’ve reached the top use your fingers to press the mixture down into the moulds even more.  You’ll get quite a bit in each shaped hole. 

Tip: if they’re not squished down properly, they’ll come out in pieces rather than a solid shape.

Depending on the weather and humidity in the air your bath bombs will take 24-48 hours to thoroughly dry.  To get them out, you just flip your ice-cube tray upside down and gently push each bath bomb out of its hole onto a paper towel.

The bath bomb base (of bicarb and citric acid) can be stored in an airtight container if you find that you only use half a batch at a time – like we do.  Then you’ve got it sitting there ready for the next batch.

I hope you enjoy making your own bath bombs in different colours, shapes and scents just as much as you'll enjoy using them.

Original recipe from Kidspot

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Happy Camper Family Organiser

Sparked by a recent need to be more organised, I started looking online for inspiration.  It seems that being the little lady of the house I am the only one who is remotely organised and without calendars, planners, a diary and various lists our household chores would be highly neglected as would any form of a decent weeknight dinner. 

We both work, the kiddo goes to school and has after school activities.  We are lucky as we only (currently) have one dependent to keep track of.  I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when the baby joins the kiddo in regular school attendance.  Two kids to keep track of. Eek! 
I have the utmost respect for mothers of a household of multiple children.  The cooking and cleaning alone is a killer (especially if you don’t have a dishwasher as we have experienced for the past year) let alone keeping track of all of their parties, school excursions and extra-curricular activities.  Hats off ladies. Hats off. 

So back to the organiser. I came across the idea on Pinterest and pinned it.  Some say that Pinterest is a waste of time as it’s all about time-wasting, day dreaming and pinning things that you’re never actually going to follow through on.  I disagree.  I regularly revisit my pins to see if I can spawn a little creativity (when I have no mojo) or to get ideas.  And I’m so glad I pinned this one. 
The idea is that your family organiser will contain all those pesky random floating about the house papers, letters, notices and other important things you need to store somewhere handy.  Mine have always just been left around the house in piles.  Until the mister goes on one of his cleaning sprees and creatively files them only to later negate any responsibility for knowing their whereabouts. Of course he will deny all of this if confronted. 

Honestly, it’s such a simple idea and if you’re anything like me you’ll have most of the supplies already sitting around your house and if not then a trip to your local stationery shop will get you sorted. 

What you’ll need
  • folder/binder
  • divider tabs
  • pen
  • plastic sleeves
  • hole punch (one which lives inside your folder is preferable, that way it will never be misplaced)
And here are some heading suggestions for your section tabs to get you started:

  • To be paid (in a plastic sleeve)
  • Paid
  • Clean this section out every 6-12 months otherwise you’ll end up filling your binder with bills. Ewh, that’s definitely no fun.
Important Contacts
  • Include a few business card plastic A4 sleeves to easily store doctors, specialists, plumbers, electricians and other important contacts business cards
  • Download from your mobile phone and print out a copy of your contacts.  This will come in handy if your phone gets wiped, stolen or lost. Trust me. I speak from experience.
Food planning
  • your weekly meal planner
  • local take-out menus
  • clippings or print-outs of some recipes you’d like to try
  • Report cards and progress reports
  • Important notices
  • Newsletters
  • Permission slips
  • Homework plans etc
  • Keep your medicine scripts and repeats handy
  • Specialist appointment letters
  • Private health insurance statements and membership details
  • The mister works in sales so he receives weekly payslips and weekly commission slips.  So much paper.  Keep them handy and in chronological order in case you need to use them for applying for loans or credit cards.
  • If you have a seasonal cleaning planner (I’m not that organised), then this will be the place for it.
  • Also, handy tips for cleaning your house minus the harmful chemicals. I also have some printouts on how to use bi carb soda and vinegar in and around the house in this section
Memberships, Logins, Passwords
We live mostly in a virtual world and it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of all your online passwords, usernames and other bibs and bobs.  Use this section for print-outs of your login info for various sites, memberships and rewards programs.  You’ll never again be asking yourself what the heck the password is!
  • Frequent flyer and shopping rewards programs
  • Toll pass / e-tag
  • Email accounts
  • Social media accounts
  • Government websites such as Centrelink and Medicare
Warranties/Receipts/Instruction Manuals
There's nothing worse than having to replace something that cost a small fortune. Wait there is. When it's still under warranty and you can't find the proof of purchase. Crap! 
  • Keep big ticket item receipts in here along with instruction manuals and warranties. You'll never be amiss again!
  • And lastly, this is where all the other random things which don't have a home will be stored. Things that you need to keep handy, but don't necessarily require their own section.
Lastly, once you finished making your organiser, you might want to create a slip-cover for it so that it looks little more interesting and enticing than boring oldoffice stationery.  I just created one simply using the measurements of the folder.

Happy planning lovelies!

Monday, 30 April 2012

How to host a successful garage sale

We just held a massive garage sale yesterday and I have to say it’s the best one we’ve ever hosted.  We usually hold a garage sale every 2-3 years to purge all of that accumulated stuff we no longer need; followed by a trip to our local op shop to off-load things which haven’t sold at the garage sale.  It’s such an incredible lightening feeling to purge and clear out unwanted clutter.  It’s like a fresh start!

As this weekend’s sale was such a success for us, I thought I’d share some tips on how to host a successful garage sale of your own. For our friends in the USA this is what you refer to as a Yard Sale.

First things first.  Decide on a date and trading times for your sale!

Check to see if there are important events on your intended sale date as this will mean less potential customers.

Work out whether a Saturday or a Sunday will work better in your area.  For instance we live in an area densely populated by Jewish families so it wouldn’t make sense for us to hold our sale on a Saturday as Jewish people celebrate Sabbath (day of rest) on Saturdays which means they aren’t allowed to buy anything.  So we made our sale on a Sunday in order to not exclude the Jewish customers in our area.

Or maybe you will hold your garage sale over two days if you’re really keen and have heaps of stuff to sell.  But in my experience you won’t get as many customers on the second day, so weigh up your time and effort to run your sale over two consecutive days.

It’s one thing to have a bunch of great stuff to sell that people would be quite happy to take off your hands, but it’s another thing to actually get bodies to your sale.

1-2 weeks out from your intended garage sale date, look at placing ads on a mix of paid and free online sites which are either dedicated to advertising garage sales or have a specific garage sale category for you to post your ad within.

Here are a couple of sites which are great and worked well for us (please note these are Australian sites):

What Garage Sale – PAID – for a small price of $5 you can advertise your garage sale. Weekly on a Friday morning they send out an email to their database of subscribers who have opted to receive a list of garage sales in their area.  I’ve been a subscriber for a couple of years now and regularly attend garage sales I’ve found out about through their emails.

Gumtree – FREE – I’m sure you’ve heard of Gumtree if you live in Australia.  They have a Garage Sale section under their ‘events’ category.  It’s free to advertise with them which is very cost effective as a complimentary ad to a paid one elsewhere!

Facebook – FREE – set up an event for your garage sale and invite your (local) friends.  Make sure you set it up as a public event so that other people can not only view it, but can opt to attend and share it with their friends.  Post photos of some of your items for sale.  This will start getting people excited about what you’ll have on offer on the day.

Twitter – FREE – Start tweeting details the week leading up to your garage sale.  Include a link to either your Facebook event page or one of your paid or free online ads so that people can add it to their list. You can also tweet photos of items that will be included in your sale.

The night before or the morning of the sale, stick up some signs around the neighbourhood on light posts and anywhere that is legally ok.  Check with your local council if you’re not sure.  The last thing you want is for a council fine to eat into your profits!

Make sure your signs are clear, easily readable by passing-by traffic and include the basic details of how, where and when people can find you.  Make sure at the very least to include these things:
  • The words “GARAGE SALE”
  • Date
  • Time
  • Address
My suggestion is to type up signs in a word-processing program in a simple font (try to only use one if you can) as some hand-writing can be difficult to read, especially if you’re a passing-by-car.

Create a few different versions with directional arrows pointing in the direction of your sale so that when you stick them on poles of the nearest intersections, people know to turn to find you!  And if your lungs are feeling up to it, blow up some balloons and attach them above the signs to attract attention.

I’ve included a link to a template of the sign which I create for our own garage sale to make things easier for you.  Feel free to use this as is (with your own details of course) or amend it as you wish.

You’ll also want a big sign out the front of your place to alert passing-by traffic and neighbours of your sale on the day.  This can be a poster, A-frame sign or anything you can find to write on in big letters.

My husband and I love stopping at garage sales to see if we can find a bargain. But gone are the days where you can find a bargain easily.  Remember that a garage sale is a cleansing and purging experience for you just as much as it should be a bargain for your potential customers.  So price things wisely.

Be prepared to accept less than the asking price, especially if a person is purchasing multiple items.  Remember that you are trying to get rid of these things rather than hold onto them and that they are the ones who have to lug things home with them – especially if they are purchasing a large item.  So make it worth their while and price it accordingly.

Also consider offering a multiple same-item discount on DVD’s, CD’s, books and clothing.  So you might price things at $2 each or 3 for $5 thereby enticing customers to purchase multiple items at the same time giving them a discount.

And make sure everything has a price sticker on it.  You don’t want to miss out on a sale because you have not made it easy for a customer.  In some instances people will be too shy to ask in case it is more than what they are prepared to pay.

Remember the key word here is: BARGAINS!

Think about how things are laid out in shops.  They are generally in sections such as clothing, shoes and accessories grouped together.  Toys, baby and kids stuff together.  Kitchenalia all displayed together.

This is how your sale tables should be set up so that people who are interested in tools are not looking through handbags and ladies torture implements (read: eyelash curlers).  Make it easy for your customers to shop and they will purchase more.

Also, if you find that once you’ve priced your items you have many items for 50c, $1 and $2 consider creating a bargain table and putting up a sign that reads “everything on this table under $2”.  People will flock to it, so position it at the back of your set-up to ensure they are not just looking at the bargain table and leaving without perusing all the other goodies.

Make sure you give everything a good dust/clean.  There’s nothing more unappealing than picking up some grimy filthy item which could have been cleaned in a couple of minutes.  It will greatly improve the chance of a sale if it’s in good clean working order.

Lastly, try not to clutter your display and tables too much.  If people have to look at table with too many things on it, they might miss the treasures!  Leave enough room in between items so that people can clearly identify what it is that they’re looking at.

Here’s a little checklist for what to have ready for your big sale day:
  • Signage – put up around the neighbourhood before the start time and out the front of your property
  • Change – make sure you have plenty of change to give out – coins and small notes are key!
  • Money pouch – don’t leave your money unattended. It’s best to have it on you at all times in the form of a money pouch or fanny pack
  • Music – create a friendly environment by providing some music for shoppers.  Just make sure it’s not offensive and appeals to the mass.  One suggestion is to pop on a local radio station. That way you don’t have to monitor what’s being played for offensive language
  • Bags – have a bunch of plastic bags on hand to place multiple customer purchases in
  • Newspapers – these are handy for wrapping fragile items before you bag or box them
  • Price stickers – have some of these on hand just in case you’ve missed pricing any items
  • Marker – also handy if you need to change any pricing signs or mark things down
  • Have your happy pants on!  Nobody likes being served by a grumpy looking person
So that’s it.  My tips on how to host the best garage sale.  I hope this helps you to host your next sale or maybe it’s even given you the courage to host your first?  Go on, you know you will feel better purging all that clutter.  And the money you make can go towards that next coveted purchase!

Whether you’re a seller or a customer just remember to have fun with the garage sale-ing!

And if you’re not one for having strangers rummaging through your goods, you can try your hand at picking up some bargains of your own.  Check out the Garage Sale Trail which is taking place this Saturday 5 May around Australia.  At the time of publishing there were just over 4,800 garage sales registered to take place on the one day!  I can just smell the bargains!

If you have any handy tips to add, I’d love to hear them and I’m sure others would too. 

Monday, 23 April 2012

Nuffnang Yoplait Family Picnic Day

For our little family there’s no greater pleasure than spending time together in the surrounds of nature.  So it was with excitement that my 6 year old and I were looking forward to the Nuffnang Yoplait Family Picnic which took place on Saturday.  Unfortunately my husband work’s Saturdays so he couldn’t join us, but the 2.5 of us had a ball nonetheless.

My son and I are already fans of Yoplait yoghurt and it’s not often you open the fridge and don’t see a great big tub of Yoplait in there.  I like to eat it for breakfast with some Vanilla and Almond cereal instead of milk.  We love it as a snack or a less-naughty instead of a sweet treat. It’s good for any time of the day really.  And with the tiny human growing inside me god knows I need a lot of nutritious snacks.
I ran into Renee from About a Bugg and her family, which was a nice surprise as neither of us knew that the other was planning on going.  And as the day was warm and sunny we got to relax on our red and black tartan picnic blankets (part of the lovely picnic packs we received from Yoplait) while the kids ran around from magician to jumping castle to petting zoo to mobile arcade games with a spot of Frisbee-throwing in there for good measure.
It was the first time our kids had met, but Poss and my kiddo hit it off immediately and spent the whole time running around together from activity to activity.  It was really nice to see them take a liking to each other and of course the possibilities of play dates were raised by them.
We ate lots of yummy yoghurt, crepes, baguettes and chocolate croissants.  I also ate my son’s croissant while he was off playing (but don’t tell him that).  And when we got home, the kiddo asked if he could have some more yoghurt.  The citrus one is his new favourite flavour.

I also got the chance to catch up with Cinti from My Poppet who was there with her colourful and independent almost-three-year-old. It’s nice to see the kiddo interacting with kids much younger than him and he was certainly attentive to Emma. Just a preview of what he’ll be like with our new baby.

A really big thanks to Nuffnang and Yoplait for bringing so many wonderful families together in the lovely surrounds of Windsor’s Chris Gahan Reserve for the day and for supplying us with so many lovely treats and activities to wear the kids out.

P.S. thanks to the petting zoo, the kiddo now wants a pet bunny rabbit.  It was all I heard about for the rest of the afternoon and all my husband heard about when he got home from work.  Renee’s Poss has a pet bunny so we’re going to visit for a play date.  But with baby’s arrival less than 3 months away, I’m reluctant to add another pet to our family as I know I’ll get stuck with the clean-up despite the promises of it being otherwise.

Have you got a pet bunny? If yes, how do you find it as a pet?

Monday, 16 April 2012

I remember

I remember a time when I had... time. Time and energy to write blog posts. Why, that must have been, let me see, back in February. And now we're in April. Gosh that seems like a long time ago.

I must admit I have missed it a bit. But other things have taken priority and I went through a few weeks of forgetting I even wrote a blog. How does that happen? I am not even sure myself.

But I'm back here now. And with 14 weeks to go until I'm due to give birth to my baby girl I am certainly not making any commitments to the frequency of posts you can expect to see from me.

I have a lot to catch you up on so I will spread it over a few posts.

But for now here's a little photographic update on the last few weeks by way of visual aid.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Melbourne: mark your diaries

Get your diaries or virtual planners ready. It's time for an important entry. The Finders Keepers marjet is on again in Melbourne on April 20-21.  By far my favourite handmade / designer market in Melbourne, it's well worth the visit as it's only on every few months and attracts massive crowds.

New venue this time though.  It's been at Docklands in the past, but this time it will be hitting Carlton. Probably a good thing as it will be a little warmer at the Royal Exhibition Building.

P.S. how awesome is the flyer?  The artwork is by Magic Jelly

For more info Finders Keepers

Will you go? Have you been before? What's your favourite market?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

paper aeroplanes

Meet my weakness: paper-ANYTHING! 
I love making cards, I keep travel scrapbooks, I collect pretty pictures and cuttings from magazines, vintage books and newspapers and store them for that "perfect" project, I cut up scribbled-on Golden Books, I transform boxes into collage masterpieces, I collect security envelopes, I make art books and basically adore any type of paper project.
I love the tactility of paper and that it can be torn, cut, pasted, hole-punched, stitched, embellished and transformed into something magnificent.
So it's only natural that I have a magnetic attraction to vintage ephemera.  It is so versatile, can be used on many different paper projects and is so pretty and interesting to look at.
I found Paper Aeroplanes on etsy and could not resist their Fantastic Big Vintage Ephemera and Paper pack at a mere US$11. It's an assorted pack of 70 scrummy bits and pieces of paper ephemera varying from stamp size through to A5 size sheets. What is even better is that they are based in Australia, so no waiting for weeks for my package to arrive. It was in my letterbox within days of making my purchase.

There are postage stamps, cigar labels, vintage story book pages, tickets, board game pieces, playing cards, foreign language texts and an assortment of other various treats. And each pack is different. So you could order 2, or 3 or more!
So if you're anything like me and can't resist treasures of the paper kind, head over to Paper Aeroplanes and check out their delights.

P.S. All images used in this post are of the 'Fantastic Big Vintage Ephemera and Paper' pack which I ordered from Paper Aeroplanes.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

drinking whilst pregnant

full story in Herald Sun
So I made it onto page 5 of The Herald Sun today (our Melbourne newspaper for those reading this over the waters). It's a story about the risks of drinking whilst pregnant or breastfeeding. 
Personally I believe there's not enough research or proof surrounding alcohol consumption when pregnant so my view is not to risk it. Simple as that. I could never forgive myself if my baby was born with health issues. I would be left wondering whether it was that glass or two of alcohol I drunk those few times. It's really not worth the stress.

The topic, along with gay marriage and abortion gets people very emotional and heated so although I encourage comments on this post (and any others), please keep any comments friendly.  If you want to get heated on this particular topic, feel free to comment on the online story in The Herald Sun.

Also, for those who may be interested, the dress worn in the photo is a Miss Scarlet dress by Melbourne label Rummage Style and the brooch is by Little Shop of Handmade both available at Betty's Place!

Monday, 30 January 2012

family outing: melbourne museum

This is a Product Talk by Nuffnang which means that I was given complimentary passes to the Melbourne Museum in exchange for an unbiased review.
Yesterday I found out that I weigh as much as a freshwater crocodile. Comforting? Not so much. But fun? Indeed!  

We were lucky enough to score some free passes to attend Melbourne Museum as part of their school holiday program which included watching a performance of Tiddalik the Thirsty Frog.

I was a little concerned that Jaxon would be bored with the performance, but he giggled and participated throughout the entire 20 min performance. And my husband and I walked out of there with grins on our faces - enjoying just as much as our 6 year old. The two Aboriginal performers were engaging, funny and highly entertaining as they narrated, danced and joked their way through the family-friendly story.
watching the entertaining performance of Tiddalik
Unfortunately, Tiddalik the Thirsty Frog is only running until this Tuesday the 31st of January, so if it's something you think the kids will be interested in, I recommend scooting along to check it out before it wraps up.

After Tiddalik, it was time for a bite to eat. Being pregnant I was wary of whether the museum cafe would have some safe and friendly options for me (not being able to eat pre-prepared fruit salad, sushi, salads and deli meats). I was sure my options would be limited to one or two unsavoury menu items. But I was wrong. 

As tempting as the cake display looked, I opted for a spinach and ricotta pastry which was delicious. Jaxon was satisfied with a dinosaur kids pack which contained a vegemite and cheese sandwich, pop-top fruit juice, sultanas and caramello koala. And the husband? Well he went for a meat pie. Perfect! Lunch sorted. Onto the rest of the museum.

Where to start? There's so much to see! With my baby-brain (read: lack of common sense), I let the husband take charge and he suggested with start down one end, and make our way through all the galleries on that level before proceeding onto the next. That made sense.

penguins floating through the foyer

tiny fish surrounding a large fish
There is so much to see that you can quite easily spend half a day at the Museum exploring, eating and enjoying watching kids faces light up as they see things they've never seen before.

Jaxon spying some birdies in the Forest Gallery
I lost count of how many times Jaxon screamed "mum, dad, look at this... mum dad look at this" whilst at the museum. We would barely get to where he was and he'd be off to the next thing screaming it out again.
wouldn't you love to have a pet dino?
just like a crystal pom pom!
this crystal formation looks like it's out of a sci-fi flick
We definitely didn't get this level of excitement from him last time we visited Melbourne Museum. So it just goes to show you that you shouldn't discount it if you've been before. This time around, it was a whole new experience. Not just for him, but for mum and dad (that's us) also!
the chimney reconstructed in the rainforest following Black Saturday
stands as a symbol of the devastation bushfire can cause
up close and personal with a room full of amazing animals
you wouldn't get to see this gorgeous creature up close in real life
the boys wishing we could ride a tram like this one!
I saw so many things that I don't remember seeing last time around. It could be that I wasn't paying as much attention, or that I was paying too much attention to where Jaxon had run off to and didn't get to experience it properly last time.
colourful tapestry adorning he museum walls
enchanting illustrations in Cole's Funny Picture Book
It's definitely fair to say that we all had favourite parts in the museum.  Jaxon's was seeing all the creatures (dead or alive) up close in the Science and Life Gallery. Mine was also the animals, but I also quite enjoyed a trip down nostalgia lane with the historic installations in the Melbourne Gallery. 
goofing around in a pyramid of mirrors (Children's Gallery)
vintage advertising
more amazing tapestry
couldn't resist this 'typewriters through the ages' installation
just one more colourful tapestry
So if you haven't been to Melbourne Museum before, or haven't visited in a while, I highly recommend that you re-acquaint yourself with all that it has to offer. It really is a great day out for the whole family. And adult tickets are only $10 PLUS kids are FREE!

Now listen up my lovelies. I have one FREE Melbourne Museum adult pass to give away. And remember, kids are free so it means that you can take yourself and the kids along for zilch (parking and food not included)!  The pass is valid until 30 June 2012, so you'll have plenty of time to take advantage on a weekend or even the next school holidays.

To enter, all I need you to do is leave me a comment on this post. I will randomly select a winner this Friday the 3rd of February. You have until 8pm on Friday to leave a comment.

Thanks for all your comments. This competition is now closed!


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