Mother's Day + a word of encouragement




Hey fellow mums. 
How's your Mother's Day going? Ours has been eventful with a morning in the accident & emergency clinic with a very sick little boy, and an afternoon of sitting in the rocking chair in his nursery with him dozing on me. Josh has been totally out of it and concerningly dopey today, but tonight he *thank God* bounced back and is *hopefully* asleep in bed right now. I'll be honest, I loved having him sleep on me. Even if it came at the price of 4 loads of spew-laundry that got all over me and many other things.

I just wanted to quickly share this precious verse I came across this week on a insta-friends feed. I never paid much attention to this one before, but it's a reminder of this promise to us mums of little ones, and a reminder that we can be gentle on ourselves too. I tried to make this a PDF that could be downloaded and printed but blogger is throwing me off so... here's a jpeg. #itried.
I hope this encourages someone out there!

Happy Mother's Day.





Baby essentials

NZ Baby Essentials 2018: feat. Babu, Woolbabe, Nature Baby

I love baby things and I get a kick out of keeping our baby stuff organised and in check.
It's taken me a while to figure out what we really use and what the best systems are for us. Everyone has their own idea of the real essentials, but I wanted to show you what I consider my essentials and things that I have used and loved through 2 babies. I still consider Josh a baby and we still use most of these things :)
There are also a couple of things I didn't get but wish I had, so I've included them here. So without further ado.... here are my personal faves:






We got 2 of these for Josh when they were on sale and they're great. They hold up well after washing and come in 2 colours (grey and white). We've given both our kids a 'cuddly' to create a sleep association and it seems to have worked well for us. The minute I give Josh his bunny he snuggles into my neck and relaxes. 

Socks are so practical for little feet as they stay on, and merino is the perfect warm layer that doesn't make the feet clammy. These ones look from Nature Baby look cute.

We didn't have these because they were too expensive, but I always saw others babies wearing them and thought they would make the perfect warm footwear for a winter baby, especially when you're out and about. They look SO snuggly and well made.

We were given some of these as a gift (and my MIL also sewed some wraps for us) and they were so useful. Particularly with my summer baby. I still use Josh's all the time for covering his buggy while he sleeps or as a nice lightweight blanket/sun protector on long car trips. They are so soft and cosy.

Merino bodysuits and pants were pretty much all Josh wore as a newborn and they are still handy now. We got ours at Farmers whenever they had a sale, but you can get them at so many places depending how much you are willing to spend.

We love our Woolbabe sleeping bags. After hearing awful stories in the media about babies getting blankets caught around their necks, I find it's just peace of mind to have a sleeping bag. And of course the more obvious reason that they can't kick them off and get cold! We go for the front-zip ones - I had a side-zip one with Ella but it was less practical. A friend gifted me this Tide coloured duvet sleepbag (so generous) and it's perfect for winter.

I love supporting NZ mum businesses and this one makes really cute dribble bibs. My kids seem to start excessively dribbling from 2 months old so these are so handy to prevent the every-2-hours outfit change when they have drenched their top and got cold!

I am only just realising the benefits of these. When your baby has a cough it's so helpful to turn this on and let some of the mist (not steam because it's not hot) into the room to ease congestion. I bought this one because you have the option to put essential oils in it and diffuse them. Obviously you must research about safety of essential oils with babies, but a drop of lavender oil in a ventilated room can help aid sleep.

I'm a fan of this NZ company because we use their 'De-Stuff' remedies for colds for both us and the kids. This baby balm is all natural and would make a good gift. (For everyday nappy changing, I just use "Castor Oil plus Zinc" barrier cream from the supermarket.)

The oil of sleep! I actually use this for myself and have been sleeping amazingly. 

It has to be gentle, natural and fragrance free for me to use it on my babies. I don't think new babies necessarily need soap - but Josh has a head of hair that he rubs food in so it's very handy now ;)

We had a really hard run of feeding issues with both kids and I ended up having to bottle feed both my babies. We landed on Dr Brown's both times as the best, and now I see they also have a glass version. The more I read about plastic and what it does, the more the glass version appeals to me. We currently have plastic, but if I could go back in time I think I would have got this to start with.

It looks good in the nursery, it's soft, and we'll probably have it for years. This is my fave baby + toddler brush.

Ok so, what are YOUR essentials? 
Which of these would you NOT use?
I love hearing what works for different people! 

I would have to add in the SillyBillyz elasticated bibs with long sleeves from Moore Wilson's  - the only bib that actually keeps their top clean when eating.
AND, Fess "Little Noses" spray. This is often the only relief you can a small baby when they are sick and it works a treat.




Handmade goodies from Happyful

Happyful NZ peg dolls


We recently received the oh-so-cute goodies you see above from New Zealand (Wellington!) mum business Happyful NZ. I love finding mum-trepeneurs to support!

If you want some Happyful goodness too, you can use the special discount code BEHAPPY20 for 20% off... especially for readers of this blog. Thanks Viv!

Happyful NZ peg dolls

We got the sweet little butterfly peg dolls, some hairties that I'm going to steal, butterfly hairclips and a panda necklace that is so dainty and perfect for an almost-4-yr old! 

Happyful NZ peg dolls

To wear over her grubby sweatshirt, of course ;)
Happyful NZ necklace

Aren't they sweet?
Happyful NZ peg dolls


And the packaging is pretty too, if you want it for a gift.


Thanks Viv! Check out other Happyful products here - they also have charming art prints from Michelle Stanich, keyrings, and more peg dolls sets & jewellery. Don't forget the discount! (Code BEHAPPY20)

Autumn home tour 2018


Well, that makes it sound fancy...

Alternate title: it was sunny today, school holidays are finally over, the house was partially clean and my baby was sleeping so I quickly took some photos.

Something about Autumn always gets me into nesting mode and thanks to 2018 being such a happier year this far I've had the energy and snippets of time to actually do some creative things. My budget is $0 so I've basically just gone through the house rearranging everything. Pretty sure the hubs thinks I am a bit strange for doing this, but when your place of work is also your home there is REALLY something to be said for creating a change of scene with what you have.

Let's start with Ella's room. Last year it was like this (below) but I was never able to shake the feeling that the bed looks wrong and this room just never had any sort of cosy vibe. This Autumn my life's goal is to create a cosy vibe everywhere I go.

...So we ended up just moving the bed around, and it immediately felt cosier. Something about feng shui? It feels better now! The funny thing to me was that she was SO into the whole process and followed me around adjusting things like the mini-Amy that she is.

She even went so far as to pick some flowers out of an existing bouquet in the dining room and put them in her drink bottle next to the bed. She's 3.



 New bed orientation:


The little wooden school desk was an op-shop find for $5 accidentally one day. It literally says "Ella's desk!" on it in graffiti. It was a sign ;)  I have/had plans to sand it back etc but for now it works.

Well, I kind of hate the weird green glow that shows up in photos of this room (below) from the reflection of our backyard (grass, trees, hills etc) - it's actually a warm off-white almost-beige colour.


The quilt is just an extra winter layer I added to her duvet for warmth - I have PLANS to make her a quilt this year but oh my goodness... I need to write a post about all my unfinished projects.

It's hard to see but that ball-type thing on her drawers is the beginnings of a hot air balloon! After she saw the one I made for Josh, she decided she wanted one too. Unfortunately I didn't use a pattern and thought I could just wing it on the sewing machine.... so it's pretty wonky.

If I had another blog, it would probably have the word impatient in the title because everything I make gets rushed!



In our lounge, I did a bold move and covered up our huge ranch sliders with an equally huge couch. Our couches are custom made to be ginormous enough for a 7ft man to lie down on and have back support in. I don't think the pictures really do it justice, but for example my feet can't touch the floor if I sit back in them properly! (And I'm about 5'10"). I love that we have them so my ex-pro-baller husband can lounge around to his heart's content.... but I kind of don't love how much floor space they dominate.
So, because of their size, the only way to get a different configuration in this room was to cover the ranch sliders. We decided this can be how we have them in Winter. The room actually gets too hot from all the sun so I'm not bothered about losing some of that! I didn't want it to seem like all the furniture was gathered around the TV but you know what, it feels so cosy in here and when we DO watch tv it's nice to have a straight-on view.


I just moved this bookcase down from the corner where the door is and laid it horizontal. (See the before in the second pic here) I like horizontal lines - they make a room look bigger and mimic the natural landscape. Of course, this bookcase is a flimsy veneer piece which, if you look to the left of it, has a base that shows it's only meant to be placed upright. So sad, too bad. I have to work with what we've got!


Looking toward the dining room is the TV area I don't love but at least it looks better without the tall shelves next to it. That freed up that corner for our rocking chair which I'm sitting in now while I type!
The yellow cushions were sewn by my mum WAY back before I was pregnant with Ella and we had them at our last house. At the time I was selling cushions as a little business.



The dining room is much the same as before. We got cheap chairs from Kmart before hosting on Airbnb last Summer. I kind of strongly dislike the dark grey especially when paired with the brown floors that I love to hate....BUT they are an improvement on our last ones that the upholstery was literally falling off of. (I still have those chairs, and still plan to get them reupholstered! But until then.)

I fantastize at least once per day about getting the colours in this room sorted. I know the wall colour (Dulux Benmore Half) and the chair colour (a light stoney beige) and floor type (honey hardwood) that I want. I also know those things are not in my very near future. So I try not to look too hard.
On the positives, it's a sunny room and I love our table that my husband salvaged when we first moved here. It was previously a dark coffee colour all over, all old and dented up, and he and a friend sanded it right back before varnishing and painting the bottom white.


Ella's play kitchen lives in here and gets played with so often. It's nice being able to see the kids while I'm cooking in the kitchen.


Josh's room:

I think the is the final room that I've done some little changes in. I've wanted a shelf for this wall for ages. You know when you come home from being away and see your home with new eyes? I walked in after being away all Summer and knew I wanted some white horizontal shelves to go on this wall and create some order. About 4 months later I finally spotted these on Trademe for $30. Ella lost no time in arranging them!

I spend a lot of time sitting on the floor in this room playing with his toys with him or just being nearby while he plays, and these shelves are just right for his toys and books. Finally having a HOME for things always makes me happy. There are so many things that still seem to be floating in our home without a system, but getting things in order just feels great. 
This is the room before shelves (phone lighting, sorry). It was looking pretty sad with the rocking chair moved to the lounge and nothing else on that wall.


Josh loves his shelves and I love HIM. So scrumptious.



So there you go. Some little changes around here formally documented on the internet for all to see and care about. Or not. But I'm stoked so that's the main thing. 😄

Hope you are enjoying this crazy sunny golden Autumn as much as I am! (Or whatever season it is where you live).






    

Two simple DIY home cleaning recipes I use [one step closer to being a hippy ;) ]

Who knew that making your own household cleaner was so simple you could do it with your eyes closed?! I recently decided to have a crack at making my own Spray-n-Wipe type cleaner. There really is no 'con' with this - only pros. It's probably easier to make this than it is to go out and buy another spray-n-wipe. It's also cheaper, smells way better, and is chemical free. Chances are you may even have the ingredients on hand right now. And you get to feel really smug that you're now environmentally conscious, a little more self-sufficient, chemical-free and all those good things. I'm sure I don't need to mention it being free from all the extra rubbish they put in chemical cleaners e.g. blue colouring and ingredients you can't pronounce. Not to mention the wasteful plastic packaging. 

1. All purpose household cleaner
I use this for:
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • All hard surfaces that need wiping
  • Mirrors (use a fine micro fibre cloth)
  • Windows (use a fine micro fibre cloth)
  • Floors

What you need:
  • 4 parts water (distilled if your water is not pure)
  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 4-5 drops Tea Tree essential oil (antibacterial)
  • A few drops other essential oils of your choice, for scent (optional). I use lemon and lavender


DIY natural multi-purpose home cleanerDIY natural multi-purpose home cleaner

That's it! Mix them in a spray bottle for easy cleaning. 
The vinegar and tea tree oil give this antibacterial properties, and although the other oils are completely optional I have to say the fresh clean scent they make is addictive, without that cloying synthetic fragrance of other cleaners. 

I use a micro-fibre cloth for cleaning surfaces. A fine micro fibre cloth gives a perfect finish on glass. I have a bunch of different colours for different areas (everyday surfaces, bathroom surfaces, glass, etc) and throw them in the wash after use. I don't spend loads of money on fancy ones - these are from the supermarket.

DIY natural multi-purpose home cleaner


2. DIY Laundry powder
Once I got brave enough to give our own laundry powder a try, I was so glad I did. It was simple, it works, and it will last us a long time.
Easy DIY natural laundry powder detergent nz
My husband has sensitive skin and I had been trying to use Soap Nut Liquid (a natural soap alternative) but then I read people saying it was amazing even tho it made their clothes dingey over time. It made their clothes dingey? And they kept using it? Clearly some people are not as super fussy about perfect laundering as I am?!

So I decided to go the whole hog and make an actual laundry powder myself.
I actually went to Bin Inn for these ingredients and it was like a whole new world of natural alternatives. I was surprised to feel so excited about all the things they stock for make-your-own type products. (They are not paying me to share all this, but they should, because I'm so into them right now!)

What you need:

[If you want to make less (or more) than the 2.5 kg I made, the ratio is 2 parts borax: 2 parts washing soda; 1 part soap. Adjust the volume accordingly].

To make a whopping 2.5kg (approx) of washing powder, free from fragrances or fillers or any other rubbish, I used:

  • 4 cups borax (I got mine from Bin Inn, but you can get it from the supermarket or hardware places)
  • 4 cups washing soda
  • 1-2 bars of a natural soap. I used organic goat's milk soap from Bin Inn for $1.20.
  • A grater or food processor you don't mind getting soap in
  • (Optional: few drops essential oil for scent)

DIY natural laundry powder detergent nz

Method:

  1. Grate or food-processor the soap, and mix it in a large bowl with the washing soda and borax.
  2. Store as you usually would
  3. Use 2 Tbsp per load
DIY natural laundry powder detergent nz

Easy DIY natural laundry powder detergent nz


Easy DIY natural laundry powder detergent nz


That's it!

It's fun and educational for kids to help with this, although obviously you don't want them inhaling or eating the powder so be careful about that. Borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) is a naturally occuring mineral but that doesn't make it safe for using beyond what it's meant for. I let my daughter stir this but not get it all over her hands. Just like I wouldn't let her play, breathe-in or ingest any other detergent or cleaner ingredient.

I enjoy knowing I made this and that it's virtually a waste-free product for our household. Also, it works just like any other laundry powder that you buy! Without fragrance, fillers, or wasteful packaging. Did you know that Bin Inn give you a 5% discount if you bring your own jars or containers?! (The packaging you see in the pictures above are my own fault for forgetting to bring containers with me.... but now I know for next time.)







    

Winter bucket list 2018

It's getting slowly chillier down in these parts as we head into Winter, and with daylight savings ending next weekend I've been starting to piece together my survival plan for the gloomy cold days ahead.

1. Make our living areas cosier with better lighting
We have overhead lighting and it's so bright and glarey. I'm halfway there as I found this unused lampstand at my parent's house and added a shade to it. 


2. More cushions/throw blankets
I made this 'Home' cushion the other week on a total whim (it started out as a way to practice very basic quilting) and it made me realise how cosy cushions and throws can make things look. We have ginormous blank couches and sometimes they make the whole room feels quite stark. (We also don't have a rug or coffee table, so that doesn't help, but they're not priorities in our budget and with little kids sometimes it's easier this way.). One day I'd like to get all our cushions etc sorted out and coordinated instead of the random mix we currently have.

3. Plan a trip away
Fiji would be great... but realistically we'll be staying closer to home this year. Something for when we're at least halfway through winter should make that second half not drag quite so much.

4. Make these peppermint marshmallows and hot chocolates again.

Husband requested it!

5. Family Night
A couple of times now we've had a Friday night family night where we do something together, beyond what we normally do. The first time, I managed to convince everyone to make donuts with me (based off a recipe from the Farmer Boy book in the Little House series I read as a kid) and it was so different for us to cook all together (minus Josh who was in bed asleep). Ella was really excited by it which made me chuffed. We often do outdoorsy things together ('family adventures') but doing an actual activity together is pretty new for us. Another time we took a soccer ball to a field we've never been to before and kicked in around in the howling gale, getting absolutely freezing with all our noses running. It was memorable tho.
Other ideas we had for this were: a scavenger hunt; a board games night; doing a fun science experiment; making something together; etc.

6. I was going to write embrace the slow-cooker but in all honestly I'm still tired of slow-cooking from last winter! Or am I just tired of all cooking? Hmmmmm...........

7. Make a quilt + other projects
I'm trying to get started on making:
- a quilt for Ella's room (the planning is hard!)
- a rag doll for Ella (I'm up to embroidering the eyes and it's looking so creepy with my novice embroidery skills)
- a wooden bear name sign for Josh's room (it's cut out, I just need to stain it and paint the name on) 
- maybe a top for me? Something long sleeved in a pretty fabric, but a basic cut.