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!


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