Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My New Stress Reducing Basket!

I don't know about you, but I am forever losing my keys and phone at home. I usually have an armload of bags, mail and groceries and these small items are often misplaced in the busyness of unpacking from our working day.
I decided that I needed a better solution for this simple problem. This new white basket from Storage Box is it! Rosie and I were in Newmarket on the weekend and as soon as I saw this, I knew it would be perfect.
I have placed it on the hall table by our front door and as soon as we walk in, all small items are dropped in here on our way past. Taff puts his sunglasses in, I use it to store invitations I need to RVSP to (the phone is next to the basket) and I am amazed at how it has reduced the stress in the morning. No more searching for lost keys, phones and other small items, everything is right here in our basket.
I really think everyone needs a little basket like this. Even my husband, who rolls his eyes at my organising projects, loves it. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our Advent Calendar: Christmas 2010

This weekend I finished making our Advent Calendar for December. The kids have been excited about this so I am glad I got it finished in time!
We usually buy Rosie and Harry the chocolate calendars from The Warehouse but they actually don't taste very nice at all and they don't end up eating them.
This year I had grand plans to make 24 linen stockings with embroidered numbers...a little too ambitious for this time of year. :)
I did some research and found a great economical alternative for this year, which I could guarantee my kids would like. It was super easy to make and very inexpensive.  
While checking out Eighteen25 one night, I found a great link to a simple advent calendar which included a free printable set of numbers. It was perfect and just what I was looking for. Unfortunately I couldn't find a similar shoe organiser at any shops here in New Zealand so I had to come up with another alternative.
I picked up a selection of their favourite treats and bought some small cellophane bags from Trademe for $3.50 to package them up in.
I then printed out and laminated the set of numbers and picked up some wooden pegs from the $2 Shop.
I already had lots of small white paper bags on hand so it was simply a case of assembling them. After being inspired by the Christmas issue of Your Home and Garden magazine I also added a small length of ribbon to each one for some extra detail.
The bags are now all packaged up and ready to go! I haven't decided whether we will string them up with twine or just keep them in this basket as they are...I am leaning towards the latter option at the moment. :)
Rosie and Harry are really excited about the 1st of December rolling around and I am sure this will be a daily highlight for them in the lead up to Christmas.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Little Pirate

Yesterday Harry attended his good friend Luca's 5th birthday party.
As you can tell, it was a pirate party so we picked up a few items to complete the pirate look!
We found most of this outfit from Trademe but Rosie bought the hook hand for Harry and the hat was given to us by a friend. :)
Harry wasn't sure about the eye patch (it certainly didn't look comfortable!) but proudy trotted off to the party, ready for some pirate action.

Tomorrow I will be sharing our Advent Calandar for December. :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rosie's Dancing: 2010 Dance Inc Show

Rosie attends her Dance Inc. classes after school once a week and for the last few months they have been working very hard to prepare for their end of year show.
Rosie off to another Saturday rehearsal
The last show she did was for Toddler Toes but now that she is a big school girl, her rehearsals prior to the final event were more frequent. She spent many hours in rehearsals, but she was always very happy to attend and really enjoyed herself there.
The big day finally arrived and Hollie kindly did her stage make-up for us. She was quite nervous about the shows ahead, but also very excited too.
First up was the Pony dance, a well known song from the Wiggles. They had the cutest pony outfits for this, complete with swishing tails!
she was quite nervous about this performance as they combined with a class from another location and the group was quite big.
Despite her nerves, she did such a great job and we were super proud of her. Her Nana and Papa came up from Hamilton to see the show too so she was very chuffed to have us all in the audience.
There was just enough time to come home from the matinee performance, have a little rest (and a lipstick touch up, of course!) and then it was back for the evening performance. At the end of the day she was exhausted but said, "Mum, at the start of the day I was very scared, but I had such fun and now I don't want the day to end." Rosie is quite a shy girl but I think her dancing has really helped her confidence. Most days she comes home, gets changed into her dance clothes and dances the rest of the day away! I think she is looking forward to next year already...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Time to share my favourite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe!
I have tried many chocolate chip cookie recipes and I keep returning to my old faithful one, which I have been making for over 10 years.
Tui's Chocolate Chip Cookies
125 grams butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cup self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
125 grams chocolate chips
60 grams walnuts (optional)
Cream together the butter, sugars and vanilla until pale in colour. Add lightly beaten egg gradually, beating well after each addition. Mix in sifted flour and salt. Add chocolate chips and walnuts (if you have chosen to add them), mix well. Shape into small balls and place on lightly greased oven trays, allow room for spreading.
Bake at 180c for 10-12 minutes, or until golden.
These are well worth trying, I hope you enjoy them as much as our family does! :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Christmas Present to Myself...

Christmas has come early for me this year...albeit in the form of a gift to myself!
I have been dreaming of a KitchenAid for many months and due to the fantastic exchange rate at the moment, I was this close to importing one from the USA. Even though they were several hundred dollars cheaper than they are here in NZ, it was still a lot of money to spend on a mixer. I decided that my KitchenAid dreams will have to wait for now and decided to go for the far cheaper...
Kenwood Patissier. I used it for the first time today and I am in love! I had an old electric hand beater that has been thrashed over the years so using the Kenwood is bliss! I also love the retro look of it. I can't wait to whip up my DG cake and perhaps even trial a pavlova in it! I am a happy cook at the moment. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Scottish Cupcakes

Rosie had a shared picnic lunch at school yesterday and she needed to bring in food that represented something from her culture.
I wasn't sure that food from her Maori culture would be too popular, I didn't think many of her peers would enjoy pork bones and puha! :-)
Taff then suggested that something from their Scottish heritage might be an option. Taff's Nana is a Mackenzie so we looked up the traditional Mackenzie tartan and I made some simple cupcake toppers (made easy with my new Fiskar punch!) to pop into a batch of chocolate cupcakes. You can find the recipe here.
I made these late at night and was rather blurry eyed when icing them, but Rosie was happy with them and they were all gobbled up by her classmates. :-)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Photo Organisation

I am terrible at organising my photos and now that everything is digital, even worse at making sure it is all printed off regularly.
I am hoping that Project Life will motivate me to get some better systems in place for my photos, but in the meantime I have found these great inexpensive albums that I hope to use to sort out all our old photos.
This is a project that is certainly going to take me a while but I am adding it to my 'Holiday Jobs' list and am looking forward to becoming more organised in this area. Preserving memeries through photos is important to me but I have put it far down my list of priorities. I am hoping to change that very soon! :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Subway Art Print

I was searching through one of my favourite blogs, Eighteen25 recently and found a tutorial for some gorgeous glitter trees.
In the background of some of the photos was a gorgeous Christmas themed subway art print that I thought would be perfect to add a bit of cheer to our walls this December.
I printed it out and picked up an inexpensive white frame and mat from Factory Frames. It was a very quick project and I LOVE our new print. The colours are perfect for our freshly painted Resene Soapstone walls in the entrance of our house.
I have it resting on our hall table at the moment but I will be hanging it as soon as I decide on the right spot. You can find the link to this fantastic free print here. Thanks Eighteen25!  :-)
Well, I have come to the end of my week of Christmas preparation posts but I have a feeling it won't be the last one...but for now, back to regular posting from tomorrow. :-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas Letters to Santa

Yesterday afternoon we spent some time writing letters to Santa.
Santa has a hard time knowing exactly what Rosie and Harry would like for Christmas so these letters will really help him out. :-)
I found some gorgeous letter templates on the Martha Stewart Website  and we set about personalising them with our own details.
Rosie wrote out what she would like and filled it all in herself. The letter has a space where you describe the colour of your roof so Santa can recognise it. She and Harry ran outside and checked out all the details so they could give Santa as much information about our house as possible.
Harry can't write yet so I had collected some junk mail for a few days and he cut out the things that appealed to him and glued them to his letter. I helped him fill out the details by writing down the words for him.
We will be posting our letters this week and who knows, they may even get a reply. :-)
You can find a copy of the boys letter here and the girls letter here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Felt Heart Christmas Decorations

A couple of weeks ago I was in the mood for some sewing so I decided to make these very simple heart decorations out of felt and ribbon.
They were very inexpensive to make and were quite easy to sew, making them the perfect project for a couple of weekday evenings recently.
To start with I used this heart cookie cutter to create a template out of heavy card. I then used the template to trace six hearts on each piece of felt. Each piece of felt made three hearts.
I then sewed a piece of striped ribbon down the centre of each one and attached a matching loop for hanging the hearts. Placing the two right sides together, I sewed around the outside, leaving a 3cm gap on each one.
I then turned them right side out, filled them with wadding from an old cushion and hand sewed the gap shut. I made 24 hearts and they cost about 40 cents each to make so are a great inexpensive way of adding a personal touch to your Christmas tree!
Tomorrow I will be sharing our letters to Santa. :-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas Decoration Organising: Part Two

Welcome to Part Two of my Christmas organising posts.
Yesterday I shared my system for organising smaller ornaments and today I will share how I plan to store larger Christmas items this year.
I was in Kmart the other day and found these great large storage boxes in red and green.
They will be easily spotted amongst all the plain white storage bins in the garage and are the perfect size for storing larger items such as wreaths, Santa sacks, lights and other Christmas decor items.
I also found this cute wreath storage bag from Ezibuy and as you can see, it is huge and will fit several wreaths easily. It feels good to have tackled this project early and sorting through my decorations and organising them has really got me excited about the coming weeks!
Tomorrow I will be sharing my home made felt heart decorations. :)