Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas: Not quite two turtle doves but say hi to our new budgie loves.....

When I was growing up we never had cats or dogs, but over the years we did have fish, crayfish, turtles and birds. We had several budgies when I was a child and we even had a cockatiel at one point. I always enjoyed having birds as a kid, I liked rubbing their little chests and letting them out to fly around and teaching them talk.

All of this year Ben and I have been talking about adding to the family with members of the animal variety. Cohen is obsessed with animals and loves a bit of bird watching, to be honest we all enjoy it as a family.

So unbeknownst to the kids this past weekend after the kids had some quite rest time we took a drive ten minutes away from home to a local breeders house I have been speaking with for a while. We told the kids what was happening and that if we liked the budgies we were meeting today they were going to be an early Christmas present for the whole family to enjoy. I bought a cage about a month ago that I have had hidden, waiting for this early Christmas surprise, because you can't time budgie bubs being ready for Christmas Day.

Our new little feathered friends are brother and sister and have been named Cheepie and Flappie, they're eight weeks old and have been hand raised and are very settled and content. We're all enjoying time handling them and enjoying their company, it's very sweet hearing the occasional little cheeps filling our home.

It's a lovely time to have them join us as the school holidays approach at the end of this week and with Christmas around the corner. The kids will have more time at home getting to know them whilst Cheepie and Flappie are young and can build bonds with them. 

Speaking of having more time, I also want to mention that I'm also going to be taking a little time with the blog too. What I'm mean to say is that I'm going to be loosen the schedule at this time of the year (as I have been doing recently, it's been a tricky year) and post when and where I can over this festive period. In the new year there's going to be some major changes in routine on the home front, which many positive things for our family and for me and my dreams. These changes will allow me to sink time into my passions......my business, blog, creating, making, collecting and more. So after a juggle of a year this year, the new year will be bringing lots of wonderful things.

Between now and the new year I'll be popping in and sharing fun and random festive goings on and I hope to get around to seeing what everyone else is doing. Let me know how the festive season ahead is going to look where you are. Will there be any additions to your family of the animal kind?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tips from Volunteers for your Pre & Post Christmas Op Shop Donations.....

It's official it's December and I don't know about you but if you haven't given Christmas a thought yet you probably will be soon. If you have children you might also be thinking like me, that a bit of a spring summer clean and toy cull is imminent before your home is filled with guests and gifts in a few weeks time.

I've been speaking with some of my op shop volunteer friends and how it gets to be an incredibly busy time for many op shops. Not only are people trying to find items to gift others for Christmas but often at this time of the year donations increase significantly.

The wonderful volunteers in the community working in our op shops see some pretty amazing things when sorting through donations, but they are often confronted with frustrating situations as well.  So some of my op shop volunteer friends have given me some insight to things that would help if you're planning some pre-Christmas donations.

Doing the Cull at Home

Before you sweep everything into garbage bags and boxes and head straight to the op shop, if you can do a pre-cull at home volunteers would be so appreciative. Sue who is the manager of Living Rivers Uniting Church Op Shop at Coomera on the Gold Coast says that if we are donating items we should ask ourselves:

"Does this item work? Is it usable for someone else and has it been looked after and respected?"

"It you have large items to donate, please make a phone call to your local op shop first, so they know to expect it it or to make room on the shop floor. Not all op shops have massive storage area like some of the major chain op shops."

Some Helpful Packing Tips Before You Drop Off Your Donations

Angela of Living Rivers Uniting Church Op Shop who is acting second in charge says that the following can be really helpful things to consider when packing items to donate and reduce risk to volunteers and damage to items your donating.

* Pack breakables separately from clothing, volunteers frequently have glasses and breakables fall, break or shatter whilst sorting when items have been packed up in bags of clothes, this issue often presents a safety hazard for all involved.

* Wrapping knives in paper reduces potential injuries and accidents occurring to volunteers.

* Packing or bagging toys and playsets and other items with loose components together is fantastic, to assist volunteers in discerning what belongs together and will assist in pricing items fairly.

When to make your donation

Both Sue and Angela asked to please, please give thought to when you make your donations and where, and this goes for any donations to any op shops. Thief of kindly donated items is a major issue reported from all op shop charities around the country. When and where possible they say to make donations within store hours and directly to a volunteer or to deposit them in donation bins where and when provided. 

Donations made outside of business hours and left at a shop front doors have an 80% chance of being rummaged through and stolen.

When donations are stolen they are often being sold to line the pockets of the thieves rather than assist the charity in help genuine members of the community. It also results in less quality items for charities to offer their customers. Not to mention the state in which items are left in after they have been rummaged through, are often an eyesore and in some cases present a public hazard. Once again when these things occur it is unpaid volunteers who are presented with hazardous situations to clean up.

At the end of the day Sue and Angela say that they are always so grateful and overwhelmed by how generous people are with their donations, if it wasn't for thoughtful donations shops like theirs and many other charities wouldn't be able to operate and help the communities they are in.

Do you do a pre or post-Christmas op shop run with donations?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Wednesday Style Collective: In short I'm making more time for me....

I'm sure we've all experienced life being busy and getting carried away and as a result we let the little bits of self care slide. As much as I try to make an effort with my outfits each day, it's been some time since I've taken the same care each and every single day with my make up.

I've always taken care of my skin but I haven't indulged myself with time for make up on a regular basis since having Cohen. Sure when I have had a rare night out I've made the effort or I've had some extra time on random mornings I've done something a little extra but it's been far from consistent until recently.

For the last three months I've been forming new habits and routines and have been stealing more time for me each morning and evening to take that extra bit of care and pampering and getting back into wearing makeup again. I feel all the better for it too, and my efforts feel matched by my effort in my outfits.

Plain Black Tee - op shopped
Polka Dot Shorts - op shopped
Beads - the sweetest bird of them all
Painted Natural Bangle - by me at the Annie Sloan Unfolded Cocktail Event at ProBlogger
Shoes - retail

I often have people comment on my choice outfits in my day to day running around of errands or at school. The comments are always positive with people saying that they think I always make an effort to look nice. It's nice to hear but there is one thing is for certain and that is I certainly don't dress like most other school mums or most people on the Gold Coast. I always try to wear combinations that are versatile during the day for school drop offs and pick ups, errands and meetings. So the above outfit would see me ditching the heels and slipping on ballet flats to navigate around three kids, car parks and school run.

I've found it funny lately how others have started to notice the effort I've been putting into my make up and making what is a big bold move for me to wearing lip stick rather than playing it safe with glosses. With the kids all getting a little older despite still being young, things are starting to get easier and it's nice to feel more of me emerging again.

Have you always taken time for you?  Have you little the little things slide from time to time or because of children? If you're reading this and you have, take it from me steal some time starting today......even just a few extra minutes and indulge you......you'll feel all the better for it!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Summer picnic days with the kids.....

This post is in collaboration with Crazy Sales.

If there's one thing my kids love in summer it's a play in the yard in the late afternoon, water fights and requesting a picnic afternoon tea or to eat dinner alfresco. Fortunately our yard and entertaining area is shaded in the afternoon so hot lazy afternoons are frequent.

With Christmas some thirty-four sleeps away, if you've caught recent posts you'll know we've been spending a lot of time outdoors tending to our yard and garden getting it ready to host Christmas dinner here with Ben's family. But unbeknownst to the kids we are also getting our outdoor area ready for the influx of kids outdoor toys and play equipment that we have planned with the big man in the red suit this Christmas.

Despite the fact that they have no idea what we have planned, they love their outdoor play and we know they're going to be thrilled with new outdoor toys and equipment to play with and to stimulate them. If their excitement over this kids picnic table with umbrella is anything to go by we are going to be hitting a home run come Christmas Day. Crazy Sales were wonderful to us and heard about what we have planned for the kids this Christmas and sent this bright and colourful set our way.

It literally took Ben one minute to set up the kids picnic table and to have it ready after a lazy weekend nap as a surprise for the kids. Its bright colours and umbrella were an instant hit with the kids and the first thing that was asked was if they could eat dinner at the picnic table that night. Lucky for Cohen and Sarah I had two of my homemade Lemonade, Pear and Ginger Ice-blocks in the freezer to indulge them with for afternoon tea instead. So they dragged the picnic table over beside one of their favorite trees in the yard, by our hibiscus tree where they often find interesting bugs and insects and set themselves up.

Although there was no bug spotting, all three kids enjoyed sitting at their new picnic table taking in the afternoon and making a right old sticking mess out of their ice-blocks. The sticky mess was an easy fix with a squirt of the hose within seconds.

The table is a perfect addition to our yard and the kids play, it's already become a conversation pit where they're enjoying sitting and chatting and telling jokes, it's set to be getting a lot use this coming summer as we've had requests every single afternoon so far for us to allow them to eat their afternoon tea or dinner there.

Let the Summer and festive celebrations begin. Do your children enjoy a bit of picnicking at home?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Wednesday Style Collective: Round Tablecloth Skirt.....

I have had the biggest mending and projects pile happening for the longest time, and there's been several times I've looked at it all and thought it was a lost cause and I'd never get onto doing any of it. But about a month ago I was utterly frustrated with not getting any down time that I unashamedly let the kids run crazy for the morning so I could tackle my pile for while.

I mended a few pieces, turned a maxi dress into a maxi skirt and finally converted a round fringed tablecloth into this awesome circle skirt.

Skirt - made by me from a op shopped tablecloth
Singlet - old retail buy
Belt - op shopped
Shoes - op shopped

Yep I'm sufficiently pleased with it and myself, despite what is really questionable sewing techniques and skills. But the result is I have a wearable skirt that is colourful and certainly one of a kind.

There are still more items in the mending and project pile but at least I've started now. How's your pile looking at the moment? What's the longest job you've had sitting there, this tablecloth to skirt conversion has been in my pile for a good 18 months I think.
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