Thinking outside the box.

The sun came out today after four days of rain and storms. So I did what people all over Sydney were doing – hung some washing out on the line. I wanted to wash the winter blankets before putting them on the beds, to get rid of that cupboardy odour. They now smell like fresh air and sunshine!washingpowder

As I scooped the washing powder into the machine, I thought about how I love the green colour of these containers. (Yes, it was a bit of a slow day around these parts). I started using these vintage canisters to keep my washing powder in after I began making my own. Even when I buy my washing powder ready-made, I still pour it into these canisters, because they are so much nicer to look at.dogfoodtin This is the old bread bin that I keep our dry dog food in. Molly the collie recognises the sound of the lid being opened, and rushes into the kitchen whenever she hears the clang.toothbrushesI keep our toothbrushes and toothpaste in an old Stilton cheese jar that I bought in a Scottish op-shop for £1.washingupbottlesThis is our washing up liquid and surface spray (I just use diluted washing up liquid in the spray bottle). I bought the original cleaners from Aldi ages ago, and covered them in some contact from a roll that I bought at a garage sale. When they are empty, I refill them using a bulk bottle of Aldi washing up liquid.

I love using old, repurposed or decorated containers to store my everyday things in. It is a lot more aesthetically pleasing, reduces the need to buy new storage items, and also means that you can often buy in bulk, which cuts down on unnecessary packaging.

Do you tip things out of their original packaging, or use unusual containers to store things in? I’d love to hear any ideas.

 

Pumpkin Soup

The morning air is crisp and cool, the magpies are chortling in the big gumtree outside and I’m in the kitchen making pumpkin soup. I love Sundays like this. I’m using a whole butternut pumpkin that my dad bought at the Kangaroo Valley farmers market when we were there last week. I’ll take it over for lunch when we visit my mum and dad later on.oil on veges

I use this recipe from Donna Hay. The thing that makes this recipe so marvellous is the roasting of the vegetables- no having to hack away at difficult-to-cut pumpkin. You just slide it out of the skin and into the blender.

roast veges

pumpkin

Look at all that lovely, roasty goodness!
sproutsI found two little sprouting seeds inside the otherwise-perfectly-fine pumpkin. They looked too full of potential to throw away, so I’ve planted them outside, underneath my tomatoes that are just about finished. We’ll see what happens.

planted seeds

You can just about see them here. They look like two little white worms.

cucumber

While we’re out here, check out my cucumber!! I’ve never grown cucumbers before, and I’m almost reluctant to pick it. 

soupHere is the finished product. Mine wasn’t as thick as I like it this time, so I added a few potatoes, which worked perfectly. Next time I’ll remember to pour in the chicken stock a bit at a time.

Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend. It’s the last day of the school holidays tomorrow, so we might go and see Cinderella.  I think I’m more excited about that than the kids!

Do you have a good recipe for pumpkin soup?

Ever grown cucumbers?

Garage Sale Goodies

Well, I struck garage sale gold this morning. I hadn’t even planned to go, but with an hour to spare, I decided to have a quick look on Gumtree to see if there were any sales close by, and luckily for me there were two, one in the street behind our house, and the other a five minute drive away.

cotton

These cotton reels were just some of the sewing supplies I picked up. I don’t think I will ever need to visit Spotlight again! It was like travelling through time as I looked at these treasures – baby layette patterns from the early 1900s, buttons from the 40s…the lady who had owned these had obviously been a very keen seamstress.
garage sale

These buttons remind me of the dresses and cardigans that my Nanny (grandmother) used to make for me. She always used to add specially chosen buttons to match the clothes that she had lovingly made. blue jug blue dish This Depression-ware dish sparkles like a jewel.greendishA green glass Pyrex dish with a lid that will be great for cooking vegetables in the microwave.cornishjug This Cornishware jug was only $2. Lots of crazing, but no chips.

Looks great on my dresser.hookandeyes ribbons These very old reels of ribbon are fascinating. Obviously chosen very carefully by their original owner, and probably quite expensive to purchase back then. I wonder why she never used them?dinnersetA gorgeous dinner set. I also bought the matching serving platter.Will be perfect for Christmas lunch.pot A little Bakelite (I think?) trinket box.rikrak An old biscuit tin filled with bias binding, rick rack, etc…..garden poem I have put this framed poem on my desk. It is very soothing to read.patternsLook how well worn these old patterns are.

I had such a lovely time when I got home, rummaging through all my treasures. It was like Christmas morning. Nothing cost more than a couple of dollars, so I feel that I have kept to my thrifty principles. (Well, only just!)

I think the ladies who had owned these items would be happy to know that they had ended up with someone who would love and appreciate them.

Ephemeral Art

Have you heard of ephemeral art? It describes art that is non-permanent, short-lived and transient.

Some ephemeral artists use mainly natural materials:-

leaves_byandygoldsworthy

via

Others use man-made materials in a temporary way:-

Christo

via

Because of its emphasis on the process over the finished product, it is a perfect art style for young children to explore. Think of chalk drawings on the footpath, sand castles at the beach, pictures drawn with a finger on a steamy rainy-day window. Children love these activities, even though (or because?) there is nothing to hang on the wall when they have finished. If they are not happy with what they have made, a quick swipe of the hand and it is gone!

Here are a few examples that my children made last year. I love how they used the things they found in ways I never would have thought of.

Have a lovely weekend!

Moments in Time

IMG_2095

Happy Easter everyone!!

We have been having such a relaxing time of it these school holidays. After a few days away at Kangaroo Valley, we are now home again and have been very busy doing nothing much at all.

There has already been much chocolate eaten (I keep promising myself that after Easter I will start eating better!) and I suspect there will be lots more consumed before the weekend is over.

We went for a walk yesterday, to get out of the house and enjoy the beautiful weather. The kids and Barry kicked the soccer ball, while Molly the dog and I kept a more leisurely pace, and watched the birds diving for fish in the water.

Every now and then, one small, warm hand would find it’s way into mine, and a little person would chat away to me about this and that.  I drink up these moments, realising how fleeting these early years are. When they were very little, it seemed that we would never emerge from baby/ toddlerhood. I was so consumed in the day-to-day, that it didn’t occur to me that one day we would leave this stage, never to return. I now make a point of savouring the little things- tying shoelaces, brushing hair, listening to rambling tales about their day, tucking them into bed, because what seems permanent now, is merely just a moment in time.

While walking, we were also looking for ‘the perfect branch’. One that had fallen from the tree, just the right size, spreading twigs- perfect for our Easter tree. Just when I was about to give up, I saw it, and it now stands on my kitchen dresser, festooned with ribbons, tiny birds, and coloured eggs. It makes my heart sing every time I look at it. It is just so pretty!!

Do you decorate an Easter tree?

Do you sometimes wish that you could slow down time?

Are you planning on eating too much chocolate this weekend?

IMG_2068

IMG_2073

IMG_2077

 

IMG_2086

IMG_2064


 

 

One person’s trash….

Exciting times are upon us folks….it’s council clean up week!! I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this concept, but in our city, twice a year, households have the opportunity to place their unwanted goods out the front of their house to be picked up by the council. The sort of stuff that you can’t throw out in your weekly rubbish eg. mattresses, fridges, broken toys etc etc. In amongst the genuine ‘rubbish’ are lots of perfectly good things that people no longer want or need. Hence, the treasure!!

When we were kids, ‘throw out day’ was the highlight of our year. One time my friends and I discovered a whole box of high heels. We immediately put them on (of course!) and teetered all the way home, feeling ever so glamorous. On another occasion, a discarded pram provided hours of entertainment, as we pushed each other up and down the steep hill where we lived.

I am not ashamed to say that clean up week gives me the same thrill now as it did when I was a child. I love going for a quick stickybeak around my local area to see what gems I can uncover.

Speaking of gems……

edited teaset2

Can you believe it?! They’re old, and gorgeous and look perfect on my dresser. I am in love! Especially with this wee fellow..

jan 2014 139

My other find was this lantern below. Swoon!! When we (I took my kids along with me for moral support) walked around the corner, I spotted it, in the hands of a man who looked suspiciously like a second-hand dealer. He was holding it, turning it over, this way and that, while I silently willed him to put it down. Luckily my telepathy worked, and as soon as he had put it back and driven off, we swooped over and grabbed it. I gave it a wipe down and put a chunky white candle inside, and it now looks tres elegant on the table on our back verandah. Happy days!

jan 2014 128

Over the course of the weekend, we also managed to acquire: two basketball hoops, a hot pink office chair, numerous brand new board games, a wooden garden bench, a set of vintage Christmas decorations, a Pyrex pie dish, three boogie boards, and a hand-knitted blanket. I have meticulously washed and cleaned all of these things; some I’ll keep, others I’ll donate to our local charity shop. I just hate to see waste, and I would much rather these things be given a second chance, rather than end up as landfill. It also gives me a bit of retail therapy without actually parting with any cash!

As Lucie said yesterday…”Mummy, this has been the BEST day!”

The homework station.

homework trolley 020

If homework at our house was a book, it’s title would be ‘100 ways to procrastinate – the ultimate guide to putting things off’.

The conversations go something like this – “I need the scissors”, “I can’t find a pencil”, “Where’s my homework book?” and “I left my pencil case at school”.

In an attempt to eliminate this daily struggle, I have created a homework station, which contains everything a little person could possibly need to complete their dreaded homework. I used this trolley, as it is bright, has three levels, and is on wheels. We keep it next to the kitchen bench, which is where the children do their homework. I like being able to keep an eye on them, and be close enough to help when needed.

Pencils, textas, crayons, scissors, eraser, sharpener, ruler and glue sticks live on the top level; homework books are in the middle; and spare paper is kept at the bottom. I try to keep it looking tidy so that the children can get straight into their work, without having to hunt around for what they need.

homework trolley 007

homework trolley 003

homework trolley 008

I use silver plant pots to hold the pencils, so the children can move them to where they are needed. These pots also help to keep everything organised. I find that the easier it is for children to put things away, the more inclined they are to do so.

I deliberately made the area as inviting as possible as I want homework to be a pleasurable experience, not something to avoid. (hmm..we’re still working on this!) I know that when my office desk is neat, clear and organised, I do feel more motivated to begin work. We also try to stick to a routine when it comes to homework. After the children have unpacked their bags, changed out of their uniforms and had something to eat, they do half an hour of homework. I like to get it out of the way, so they then have the rest of the afternoon to relax and play.

Having all of the drawing materials in the one place also means that quite often, the children will just grab some paper and the coloured pencils, and sit up at the kitchen bench to draw a picture while I am making dinner. I love chatting to them about their day as they draw and colour and create.

homework trolley 044

homework trolley 023

What tips do you have for getting children to do their homework?

Are you a procrastinator, or do you just get stuck in?

Do your creative juices flow when you see a row of perfectly sharpened, coloured pencils?