Monday, 24 September 2012

Mama to two

It’s an interesting thing, being at home with two kids. I love it. Love it sooooooo much. And I’m learning how to balance my time so that my kids get equal shares of me, and the house keeps running, food keeps appearing… and I get a little bit of time to myself as well.

Mayana has been an absolute trooper since Reuben was born. When I was pregnant I was told plenty of horror stories about jealousy, and to be prepared for Mayana to really act out as she adjusted to this big change.

We have had a few rough weeks here and there, and there have been times when Mayana has tested my patience, but overall, Mayana has really taken this whole big-sister thing well in her stride. She hasn’t shown any jealousy at all really, and absolutely adores her baby brother.

That aside though, I know that she craves my attention, and I know that I could probably try a little harder to do more with her and make some wonderful memories for her.

Now that Reuben is sleeping predictably through the day, and his feeding has settled into a routine, I really want to make a conscious effort to devote more time to Mayana.. and one-on-one time when possible. It dawned on me last week that next year is the last year of Mayana being home before she starts school. That hit me pretty hard. As much as I loved working, and love that Pete got to have an awesome year at home with his girl, I feel like I missed a lot last year. The year that Mayana was two… it was really her last year of being a ‘baby’ and I missed most of it. If I’m being honest that does make me feel pretty sad. I don’t want to have any regrets about this season of Mayana at home. Especially since I have the opportunity to be at home with her right now. I want to make the absolute most of it, and have her look back on these days with a smile in her heart.

Mayana loves to make and to learn and to do things with me. Sometimes its as easy as pulling out her rice tub or getting into her play kitchen for some imaginary pancakes.. but she also likes to do craft (and lots of it) and other hands-on activities. I want to be able to provide some great experiences for her, and have lots of fun and do lots of learning in the process.

Pinterest is an absolute wealth of ideas and information (and a lot of fun and a little addictive), and I’ve been trying to use it more productively lately to find some fun things I can do with my girl.


The problem with Pinterest though is that you tend to find and collate all these fabulous ideas, and then they just kinda sit there, and you think, “Oh I was going to do something really cool that I saw on Pinterest… what was it again?”. So my plan is to not let that happen anymore.

I’ve made this cute printable to keep on the fridge. When we find things that look fun (Mayana likes to pinterest with me on the iPad), we’ll not only pin them, we’ll write them on our list. And when we’re looking for inspiration for things to do, we’ll know exactly where to look! If you like it, you can click on the picture to download a PDF file of it. You could even laminate it and use a whiteboard marker to write your ideas and wipe them off when they’re done.


I want to make Mayana a part of this, with her helping to choose the things that are on the list and then picking activities that interest her. I don’t want to structure our time or make any type of rigid schedule or to-do list, just a reminder of the things we’ve talked about and thought would be fun. Bringing pinterest to life! And having fun with my favourite girl in the process.


Can’t wait!

twenty| twenty-one | twenty-two


Week 20

Oops!! Must have been busy that week!


Week 21


Week 22

We have really had a busy few weeks… the 20 Day Challenge has certainly kept me out of mischief, and that’s without adding the mystery rash that saw us visiting hospital, the holiday away, and the coming back sick!So I’m running a bit behind I guess, but I hope you enjoy these belated Reuben updates!

Our little precious turned five months old last week… so a big Reuben post is on its way!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Pretty Things to Print!

I felt the need to do something creative today, and when I stumbled across the fabulous website, inspiration struck.

This is the first time I’ve played around with this ‘subway art’, and I enjoyed it!

I made some printables with some scripture and quotes that have been speaking to me a lot lately, and I’ve decided to share them with you here… so if they speak to you too, print them out and hang ‘em on a wall somewhere!

If you click on the pictures, it will take you to where they are stored on my Google Drive, and you should be able to save them to your computer. Let me know if you have any problems with downloading them!

don't worry

This is a quote I came across in a Joseph Prince devotion I was reading recently. I tend to stress about things that I really have no power over. And I’m learning just what a waste of time and energy that really is… especially when I’ve got God on my side!

God will take care of everything

Are you sensing a theme here?

i know the plans

This is a mash-up of a couple of scriptures… Jeremiah 29:11, Joshua 1:15 and John 16:33. They were all used in a sermon I heard a few weeks ago, and I love their encouragement!

Like I said, I’m only new at this, and I’m looking forward to practising a bit more and seeing what I can come up with!

If you want to see some other fabulous printables, check out A Step in the Journey, Arian Armstrong, and Everything Etsy’s list of 101 pretty printables!


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

a holiday for four

We had our first getaway as a family of four this weekend. It was technically our seventh wedding anniversary getaway, but we decided to bring the kids too. Peter took Monday off to make it a long weekend, and we hit the beach. We stayed in a beautiful self-contained two bedroom apartment with sea views and a spa and just worked hard at relaxing.

Indulge me on this trip down memory lane… I’d just like to pretend for a  moment that I’m back there, instead of here with baskets of washing and housework to do. K?


Ready to go!


Having some father-daughter quality time


The view from our balcony.


Towel, bucket, kite… ready to hit the beach!



It’s NOT cold Mama *shiver shiver shiver*


Reuben was captivated by the spa bath.


Sibling snuggles. Oh my heart.


Pete cooked me a delicious dinner… a replica of the first meal he ever made for me, one valentines day when we were going out.


One could become very accustomed to having that view at breakfast time!


You know you’re on holidays when your hubby paints your toenails for you!


Pool time!!!


Just chilling


Jumping castle!


Mayana thought our dinner was like a wedding, because we used these very fancy plastic cups.


Reuben is beginning to sit up independently. He will be five months old tomorrow!


Mayana thought this was just about the best playground she’d ever seen.


I wish I was back there still! I am consoling myself with the thought that we are booked in for a whole week there in December. And taking my family, so we’ll even have baby sitters should Pete and I get the urge for a dinner date.

Until then, I’m just gonna look at these photos and enjoy my memories for a while…

Friday, 14 September 2012

20 Days to Organise & Clean Your Home // Week 2

day six

Today’s task was all about bathrooms. We have two in our house, and while I keep them tidy I haven’t given them a ‘deep clean’ in quite a while. So I grabbed my trusty cleaning caddy and set to work.

I think I mentioned last week that I’ve been using a water and eucalyptus oil mix for a fair bit of my cleaning lately. This really does a great job in the shower. I spray it on, leave it for a few minutes, and with a bit of elbow grease it gets rid of all that gross soap and hard water build up very well. Plus it has the added bonus of clearing sinuses!

I’ve also discovered Aldi’s cleaning wipes. They sell at $2.49 for a pack of 40, and they have different wipes for general surface cleaning, glass and bathroom. The bathroom ones are flushable, and work brilliantly. I used these to clean my vanity and toilet, and to give the shower a quick wipe-over when I was done with my scrubbing. The glass ones also do a lovely job on mirrors.

IMG_1981Bathroom One

Mayana got involved in cleaning the bathtub in our second bathroom. She stripped off, and I gave her the Eucalyptus oil spray, a scrubbing brush and a pair of gloves (she insisted) and off she went. She definitely had lots of fun, even if I did have to give the bath another once-over when she was done Smile

Katrina also asked us to declutter our bathroom vanity and get rid of any products that were past their shelf life. We don’t really have much of a vanity but I did give our little bathroom cabinet a good once over and culled a plastic bag full of things I no longer wanted or needed.


day seven

Today was fridge day. I was actually looking forward to this day because boy did my fridge need doing! I pulled everything out of the fridge and and removeable piece came out too. I culled anything that was out of date or that was, you know, growing its own ecosystem. I washed every piece of the fridge with warm soapy water and scrubbed the inside of it so until it was sparkling clean and smelling pretty.

Then it all went back in, in a very organised fashion. I liked Katrina’s idea of not putting fruit and veg in the crisper. I’ve never found that our crisper lived up to its name to quite honest with you. I can’t afford schmancy tupperware containers, but I got myself some Decor fridge containers (half price at Big W people!) and am storing my veg in there instead. I actually had started cutting up things like celery and carrots when I’d bought them a few months ago, and found that they lasted waaaay longer cut up and stored in an air-tight container than they did in the so-called crisper.


I’ve always used baskets in my fridge so that things are easier to get to and I don’t have to reshuffle two thousand jars to find that pesky crushed garlic. I have one basket for condiments (sauces etc), one for things I use often in my cooking (garlic, tomato paste, hell sauce etc) and one for things I don’t need to use all that often (curry pastes, pickled ginger etc). That’s on the top shelf, along with the little deli caddy that comes with our fridge that is now being used for cheeses. Our middle shelf is for drinks that don’t fit in the door and left-overs, and down the bottom is now the home of my fruit and veg. As you can see I took this pic before purchasing my new containers. It looks so much prettier now. Oh and we have that deli drawer right up the top. That has medications and is the secret hiding place of a little box of treats (Mayana can’t reach that shelf!!).

In the door are our drinks, some sauces that are too tall for the shelves, Mayana’s lactose free milk and a shelf for Reuben’s bottles (did you know that current WHO recommendations are to make up your bottles on boiling water at the beginning of the day and refrigerate immediately, and reheat just before serving. You’re not even supposed to sterilise your bottles anymore.. apparently it’s pointless because the formula itself is not sterile.. hence the need to make up the bottles with boiling water in the first place!) Because we get three fresh eggs delivered to our door every day (literally, the chooks have taken to laying in a cardboard box outside the back door), there are always far more than would fit in the fridge. Plus I prefer to have them at room temperature anyway, and they live in a crystal bowl on the kitchen table. So I use the designated egg-spot for our butter and big block of cheese instead.

We were also asked to declutter our cookbooks today, but since ours live on a shelf on our pantry I had already done that as part of our pantry task last week. Oh, and we also had to do meal planning.. but I’m already in that habit as a part of my budgeting from the uni-bum days!

day eight

Today we were asked to clean a toy room, craft room, spare room or second living area. We have the first two of those in our home. The craft room is in a horrifying state, and I couldn’t face the thought of attacking that on my own with two kids in tow, so I chose the first one: the toy room.

I actually did a de-clutter of this back when we changed it from Mayana’s room to the playroom. It really just needed tidying and reorganising. Now that Reuben is showing a bit more interest in things, and I’m sure is only a few months off being on the move (eeek!) I wanted to make sure there was an accessible place for him and his things. A lot of the toys Mayana has will be for both of them, but I feel it is important for them each to have some special things that are just theirs.


Mayana helped me with this room, mainly by keeping her brother entertained, and it was greatly appreciated.


I also did a declutter and tidy up of the little end of our living space that serves as our ‘office desk’. It’s really my old dressing table from when I was a kid, but it suits the space and serves us well. You wouldn’t believe how much crap I got rid of from this tiny space!


This was the day that we got an awful letter in our mailbox, informing us that we will have to move out of our home in November as our owners are wanting to renovate and sell. It was a sad day, as we love this home and have lived in it for less than twelve months, after having this very same happen to us when I was pregnant with Reuben last year. We were pretty devastated and I considered giving up on this challenge as I felt that it was a waste of time and I had no motivation to continue prettifying a house that was no longer ‘mine’. After sleeping on it and coming around to the idea of moving though, I realised that I should definitely continue, because decluttering and cleaning our home in this two months is going to make moving and the bond clean a much easier and less stressful process.

day nine

Today I really had a bit of a day off. The cleaning task for today was ceiling fans, and the five minute task as to dust the lights. Our house has twelve foot ceilings, and I am five foot flat with no ladder, so this task was definitely not for me. Situations like that should definitely be left up to husbands!


The declutter task was to tidy a junk drawer. I don’t really have a junk drawer in this house – well aside from the drawers on my computer table that I had cleaned yesterday anyway I suppose.. so I decided to declutter the top of my ‘glory box’ cupboard that sits in our dining room. It had a lot of strange and random things on it and definitely needed a tidy.

The last order of business was the ‘organise’ task, which asked us to reoganise our diary or calendar for the rest of the year. Peter and I already have a system in place, using the Google calendar with our g-mail account, and have it sync with both of our phones, the iPad and our computers. It works so well for us – I would highly recommend it if you don’t have a system already!

day ten

I groaned when I opened up today’s task and saw a picture of an oven. Then giggled as I read Katrina’s words,  “I’m sure I’m hearing moans all over at the moment”.

I hate cleaning the oven! I’ve only ever done it with a commercial oven cleaner which absolutely made me feel ill. So I was rather relieved when I read on and discovered that Katrina had an alternative way of doing it, using bicarb soda, vinegar and napisan! (yes really!) Oh my word. I am never EVER buying that putrid oven cleaning chemical EVER again. Seriously. This way worked so well.. way better than I thought it was. It required hardly any scrubbing, and has left my oven looking pretty much brand new. I am so impressed.

While we were waiting for the bicarb and vinegar to do its thing in the oven, we were meant to declutter two of our kitchen cupboards. I actually did this recently – one cupboard a couple of weeks ago because nothing in it had any specific place it belonged and it was driving me CRAZY. And my ‘Tupperware’ (in inverted commas because I pretty much own maybe two actual Tupperware products) cupboard I did on the same day as the fridge, out of necessity… because you know all those ecosystem-growing-leftovers that I talked about? Well they were in plastic containers that wouldn’t fit in my cupboard no matter how hard I tried to force the door shut. So I culled and organised that then. Luckily really, because I ended up having a stupid crazy day with a son getting an awful allergic reaction and heading to emergency and all the rest of it. (More on that another day).


this week’s verdict

My house is looking awesome. The only rooms that are seriously looking left out are the kid’s room and our making room. The routines and new habits that I’m putting in place are doing wonders to the running of our household and to my peace of mind. I feel so much more relaxed in my beautifully clean home, and I love knowing what I need to do each day to keep things going. For the first time since I started maternity leave the washing pile isn’t overwhelming me. I like having a plan, and knowing that I only have to wash one load each day and it’s never going to end up on top of me if I just keep plodding along at it. I’m finding it all much easier to maintain now that I’ve gone the hard yards and gotten it to such a great point.

I’m so so so disappointed that I’m only going to be here to enjoy it for another two months or so. But like I said, I’m going to reap the benefits of this in our moving and cleaning too. And hopefully moving into a new home I can set things up in the same way from the get-go and we’ll not end up in that place with half-unpacked rooms and clutter and the rest of it. I’m trying to see the bright side here, okay?

Looking forward to seeing what’s happening next week!

Friday, 7 September 2012

20 Days To Organise & Clean Your Home // Week 1

Just a word of warning. This post is slightly epic. But I’m really proud of everything I’ve done this week, and I want to show it off!

day one

Our first challenge was the kitchen.  We needed to clean and declutter (focussing on the kitchen surfaces), and organise under the kitchen sink.

Pete and I actually had done a mini kitchen overhaul on the weekend, and gotten rid of a few things that we didn’t need anymore. The job still kept me fairly busy though, as I scrubbed and swept and got rid of even MORE stuff. It felt really good actually, and I was very proud of the end result.


Looking spick and span, and scrubbed within an inch of its life! (just FYI, I actually don’t keep anything under the kitchen sink except for the cleaning caddy I bought myself for this challenge so I didn’t need to do that part of the challenge).

Our five minute challenge for the day was to tidy one bookshelf. I chose the one that’s in my main living space. I was surprised how much I got done in the 5 minutes, including straightening things out and dusting my pretty things on top. It’s amazing how productive you can be when you give a set amount of time to it!


day two

Tuesday’s focus room was the main bedroom. Boy oh boy. This was one room I was seriously dreading. It was completely shameful. When we moved last year, I was still working and Pete did most of the unpacking and arranging of our home. Our bedroom got fairly left behind, and was never really unpacked properly. Then Pete started working full time too, and then Reuben was born.. and it just never got done, and it was really out of hand. I don’t think any of our friends have ever seen our bedroom, because I was too embarrassed to show them! So erm, there is no before shot for this room.

It was a big job. I got lucky, and both the kids had a HUGE day sleep, so I got almost three hours to just get in there and do it. I was actually surprised that that’s all it took. I must admit, I didn’t deal with all the clothes that were on the floor. They all got put in baskets and relocated for later. In fact, Pete has said that that will be his contribution to the cleaning of our room (suits me!). I got a broom and scooped up all the other clutter and stuff that was on the floor and under the bed and then I started sorting. I couldn’t get over how much of the kid’s stuff was in my room… clothes and books and toys. I don’t know how or when it got there, but I filled nearly two baskets with it! I also chucked away a heap of stuff, and did a whole lot of sorting. I can tell you I had mega hay-fever by the end of it. Again, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was able to get such a big task done when I just put my head down and went for it. I even vacuumed and mopped the floor. The task called for cleaning, decluttering of bedroom surfaces and organising the bedside table drawer. Our bedside tables don’t have drawers, but I did organise my dressing table drawers instead.


I think this is the first time since we moved into this house that you’ve been able to see the surface of my dressing table. It’s so good to feel organised… and to be able to find my makeup in the mornings!


The kids woke up just before I vacuumed, and posed for a photo on my freshly made bed (including washed sheets, thank you very much!). I later went and bought two more pillows and put on the cases that go with our bedspread. In today’s post, Katrina had suggested that decorative cushions make a bed look fabulous… but at $6.00 for two, a couple of extra pillows have done the job just as well! And she’s right, it does make a big difference!

day three

Today’s room was the laundry. I didn’t get to it until much later in the day, as I had a big and busy day with two appointments for Reuben – one was needles and he was pretty clingy for the rest of the day!

I got there eventually though, and the job only took me about an hour – including all of the times I had to see to Reuben who wasn’t handling not being held.

Our laundry is downstairs under our house. It’s the first place we’ve ever lived where the laundry wasn’t just a tap and a sink in a corner of the garage, and I love it. It sometimes feels inconvenient though, and I feel like it would be easier to pop in and get stuff done if I didn’t have to leave the kids upstairs on their own to go down or lug the baby and the baskets of clothes down when I want to do work down there. So it probably does get neglected a little.. though I have been trying harder to keep on top of Mount Washmore!

I am in love with Katrina’s laundry sorting system, and maybe one day when we visit Ikea or somewhere similar I’ll be able to implement something similar, but for now I’m going to have to go with a line of laundry baskets up against the wall.

I scrubbed the sink, wiped the benches, cleaned the floors and walls, and sorted my piles. I even found some linen for the cot that I thought I had lost! When I was done it looked like this:


The ‘organise’ part of today’s challenge was to create a laundry routine. I loved Katrina’s idea of having some wall art in the laundry room as a reminder, so I made these:


So I guess the ongoing part of today’s task is to stick to it, and keep that laundry churning baby. Maybe once I feel on top of that I’ll get brave enough to bring out my cloth nappies again!

day four

Today it was time to hit the lounge room. I had done a reasonable tidy yesterday in preparation for a house inspection, but I knew I did have to do some decluttering and dusting.

Once Mayana was at kindy, I popped Reuben in his Jolly Jumper and set to it. I moved furniture and dusted and polished and vacuumed (floors and couches!)… I couldn’t believe the things I found behind and under the couch! Seriously, I have found so many things this week that I thought were long gone – it’s been great! The only task that I haven’t been able to do in each room is cleaning the light fittings and fans. We have twelve-foot ceilings, and I am about five foot flat and don’t own a ladder. I’m gonna leave that to my hubby to figure out!

The biggest yuck in the lounge room was the weird corner I have between our two couches. We have our DVD cupboard in there, and it’s also where I keep Mayana’s crocodile beanbag, Pete’s heated throw, and let’s face it – a whole bunch of my crafting (crochet) crap. One of the goals that I had for this overall challenge was to organise my crafting supplies and get rid of excess stuff. I have a box in the lounge room that is meant to be for my current project/s (there’s never just one!), but of course it is always overflowing with other balls of wool that I ‘might use soon’. I do have a set of drawers in my making room that is meant to house yarn that is not being currently used for a project, but for whatever reason (presumably laziness) it never quite gets there. So today, I attacked that damn corner. I found partly finished projects, completed projects, wool that could go back to the making room (two plastic bags full!! eek!) and lots of bits and pieces that I really didn’t need anymore. Now I really do only have my current projects in my crochet box, and it’s the only thing in my corner … no more bags full of escaping wool.. no more mess! It looks great, and I feel more organised, and I guess that’s the point.


In case you’re wondering, the two black tubs in the corner of the top photo belong to the kids. Whenever I find anything of Mayana’s lying around the house, it goes in her crate. The idea is that she is meant to clean it out each afternoon/evening or whatever’s in it will mysteriously disappear (I’ve threatened the bin but that probably isn’t true). Reuben’s box usually holds only a couple of things that I use to entertain him when he plays on his mat through the day. As you can see both of the boxes are today overflowing with the things I have found in my bedroom and the lounge room that belong to Mayana. She’ll be going through that when she gets home from Kindy.


And there’s my previously horrid little corner. Cleaned out, vacuumed, dusted and looking spick and span.

day five

I can’t believe I’m one week through the challenge! It’s exciting knowing that I’ve got the weekend ‘off’ to spend with the family, and enjoy our sparkling home.

In between baking a cake to take to Pete’s work, I spent part of the morning decluttering the pantry. I actually did a major pantry overhaul only a few weeks ago, so really today I was just honing my storage system and doing a general quick tidy. I adore my pantry, and it feels good to have it neat!


Today’s cleaning task was the floors. Vacuuming and mopping. I have to tell you, that with a home whose floors are polished wood throughout, I was not so excited about this challenge. I’m not the hugest fan of mopping. I also had a few other things on today, and a baby who had decided after a fantastic week of day-sleeps that sleep is, in fact, for the weak. Fun times.

But after a healthy does of procrastination I bit the bullet and got to work.

I vacuumed the entire house first (well except the playroom. The playroom needs some work before it’s ready to see a vacuum cleaner… what was that about the weekend off again? *le sigh*). Vacuuming is an okay job with our fabulous Dyson. An added bonus was that the sound of the vacuum cleaner seems to put Reuben to sleep… and that’s a pretty good incentive on days like today.

For mopping, I used Katrina’s idea and used hot water and about half a cup of vinegar. I also added two capfuls of eucalyptus oil, partly because it smells flipping awesome, and partly because it gives a really nice shine to our polished timber floors. We for some reason don’t have an actual mop bucket (might have to rectify this) so I got creative and used the baby bath instead… whatever works huh?


So I mopped myself into the computer chair and I’m typing while the floors dry. Now the floors are shining and there’s a delicious smell of Eucalyptus in the air and I’m sweating like a pig and feeling like I just did a crazy workout but also very satisfied.

the verdict

I’m feeling really happy with myself and my house after this week’s efforts. My husband has been really impressed when he’s come home from work each day, and we’ve both looked forward to the afternoon’s emails telling us what’s on for the following day. I know some people have been after a list with everything that’s coming up, but I personally enjoy the anticipation of working day to day. I am really glad I’m a stay at home mum at this moment, I’m almost positive that I would not have the energy required to complete this task if I was working full time at the moment.

Even our three year old daughter has gotten in on the act, and has added a few new chores to her repertoire this week. Now not only does she help with unstacking the dishwasher, she also puts her own plates and cups and utensils in there after she finishes eating. She also now has the job of doing the dustpan and brush after I’ve swept. Today she even sat down next to me and helped me fold some of the clothes I’d gotten off the line! What a little star!

I feel like I’m doing a great job at maintaining what I’ve done so far. I’ve kept right on top of the kitchen and the bedroom and they look as good today as the days that I cleaned them. I’m also getting into the swing of my new laundry weekend.

I think this challenge was exactly what I needed to get motivated. Having this seemingly mammoth job of spring-cleaning a house broken down into daily tasks makes it seem much more manageable and less overwhelming. So thanks very much, Organised Housewife. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.


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