My little family has been visiting extended family and exploring England and France over the past few weeks.
I really took the time to step away from my phone (and blog and email) and breathe. Travel is such a wonderful experience for kids. Watching Lottie’s face light up meeting her cousins in London for the first time, letting her hand her passport to the customs officers at the airport, and providing cuddles, encouragement and quick language lesson when the children in the playground in France couldn’t understand her asking to join their game – all incredibly special and memorable experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Now that I’m back I can’t wait to get back in the groove of blogging and to catch up on my WordPress reading!
It took its time this year but winter has arrived in Sydney. Along with the comfy knits, cozy coffee dates and sweet children in mittens comes sniffy noses, chapped lips and frozen little fingers on dreary days.
Here I’ve collected the recipes, patterns and ideas that get me and my family through winter that I’d like to share with others. All these can be found on my Winter Essentials Pinterest board which I love to add to whenever I come across something new.
I love the Burt’s Bees lip balm but hate the price tag. Although the ingredients to get started with this recipe can cost a bit they last and last. The ingredients for 2015’s Christmas presents lasted all through the winter and must have produced hundreds of homemade beauty products. I’ve found Karrie’s recipe sets in pots as well as cleaned out chap stick tubes.
We all reach for the Vick’s when the family is sick. I’ve joined the ranks of mums who swear by vick’s on a little one’s feet covered by clean cotton socks to stop night time coughs but there are two drawbacks to Vick’s – 1) price per jar 2) I don’t know exactly what’s in it. And with a husband riddled with allergies from dust to grass to shell fish, I’d rather I wrote the ingredient list until our little one is a little older.
Here is Everyday Roots wonderful recipe for homemade, all natural vapour rub.
Quick and easy is my favourite kind of crochet.These wide and warm headbands work up quickly in double crochet, are dead simple for beginners and make thoughtful little gifts. I made matching ones for a friend’s daughters (I’ll have to make another soon as she has baby girl #3 on the way!) and my own Little Lottie loves her blue ‘Elsa’ headband.
Crocheting mittens took me a bit of practice but this somewhat famous pattern that pops up all over Pinterest helped me out a lot. Brenda’s pattern comes in little kids, older kids and women’s sizes and once you’ve gotten used to it, is easy to customize.
Everything about this sewing pattern is a big YES for me.
Cheap? Yes. Easy? Yes. Quick? Yes. Can I do it in the Disney print my kid picked out? Yes.
You will have to register for email newsletters for the template PDFs but it’s worth it (and the newsletters are actually great). This pattern is by Denise, is great for keeping little fingers warm and it’s not a disaster if one is lost at preschool or the park. I fiddled with the wrist seam and added a blue ribbon drawstring on the last pair I did.
Of course my favourite crochet queen was going to feature on this list. The woman who’s videos reawakened my love of crochet and turbo charged my skills with her Youtube tutorials created perhaps the best video tutorial series on beanies ever.
This link leads to the 12 months – 3 years size beanie as that is the size I tend to make the most however she has written patterns for 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 3yrs- pre teen, teen – small ladies and also ladies to men’s sizes as well. You must register or log in to download the pattern or head to Laura’s youtube channel for the full tutorial.
Unfortunately I only found this pattern AFTER I had spent $10 on one very similar beanie in Cotton On Kids. So cute, not too fiddly and the colour combinations are wide. I already have a request for a purple and pink bunny (or a “Twilight Sparkle Bunny hat” as little Lottie put it).
I make my own little heart shaped fleece rice bags as hand warmers for our cold morning commutes. The best all round article on making your own can be found on TipNut.com. The lady behind TipNut doesn’t share her name but her site has been around for 10 years (!) and is a treasure trove of useful household articles.
Hot Toddies & Hot Chocolate
I got the flu the week before my wedding. An English friend took one look at miserable and panicked me and immediately prescribed hot toddies. The basic ingredients are simple; hot water, lemon, honey, brandy or whiskey, but everyone has their own variation. This is one version I whip up the most although if I have them on hand, mine usually includes cinnamon and cloves.
I agree with Elena who wrote this recipe 100%. Hot chocolate should be a rich indulgence that warms you to the very depths. Her recipe is everything I expect from a hot chocolate; thick, creamy, rich and topped with cream.
Lottie was the most unsettled baby I have ever come across. Her first flu at 7 months was a month long ordeal and taking her temperature was an epic task. She wriggled, kicked, bit and screamed as I tried to hold a digital thermometer under her arm for 30 secs and never got a decent reading. The tympanic ones that take temperature from the ear were no better and on the rare occasion she had dozed off and was lying still enough to try this method, she would wake up immediately when it touched her ear and we’d have to start again.
But then I found the VeraTemp no contact thermometer (home use version) at the Baby & Toddler Show 2 years ago and the chaos and exhaustion that comes with a sick little one was made that much easier.
The VeraTemp Home thermometer not only measures body temp but also surface and room temperature. I’ve measured bath water and bottles as well as feverish kiddos. Oli measured everything from the Xbox battery to his cup of tea when we first brought it home.
The VeraTemp is listed on the Australian EvoMed online store and at YourDiscountChemist however you can usually find it on eBay too. Stockists tend to vary.
This is not a sponsored post. A contactless thermometer is just one of the most useful tools I’ve come across since becoming a parent and I wanted to share it with others.
It’s just a simple wooden puzzle board with the letters of the alphabet but the effect on Lottie’s literacy has been instant and massive.
She’ll sit at the table and pick up each letter listing the words she knows that start with that letter – the friends names she learned at preschool and basic words from our books at home, arrange them to match small words like “Pig the Pug” and hand out the letters to visitors who’s names start with them. Auntie Kate gets a K, Daddy gets a D or an O for Oli.
We’ve come up with a few little literacy games, perfect for the evening while dinner is cooking or weekend afternoons.
Lesson #1 – Match the Letters
This is my favourite. All you need is one of your child’s favourite books. Boards books with few words and large print work best. We’ve been using a Peppa Pig one.
Just choose a page, ask your child what is happening in the story and then to pick a word on the page. They then choose the letters from their puzzle and lay them beside the word, sounding out the letters as they go.
Lesson #2 – Amazing Letter Race
This works best with two children but another adult can play along too. Pop all the letters from the puzzle in a bag, give each player a basket and then pull a letter from from the bag. Put 1 minute on the timer and race to find as many objects that start with that letter as possible. A calmer option would be to walk together around the house with the chosen letter pointing out all the things that start with that letter.
Lesson #3 -Alphabet Bingo
Always a solid choice, another game for 2 children or you and your child. Keeping the puzzle pieces in the bag, have a piece of paper with the alphabet written on it or the child’s name and some markers to place on the letters as they are drawn.
Slightly sick of years of paying $45pp for High Tea each May (and alarmed at a guest list of 10+) I decided to host my own this Mother’s Day.
It was our first event in our new place and was a complete success! Any one just starting life with marriage, kids and setting up homes will understand that things have always been a little too small, not enough chairs, ran out of plates, only Peppa Pug cups left – but not this time. This time was our chance to host a really great afternoon for our families.
(Lottie “helped” with the jelly)
Hubby’s mother made tons of finger sandwiches and his little sister made a beautiful chocolate cake. Tea and conversation flowed and Grandmother-in-Law declared my scones ‘incredible’! I loved seeing so many people we love (12 of us all up) so happy and relaxed. It was a perfect day.
The most perfect part of my Mother’s Day was sharing it with my little Lottie. Her cuddles, her stories and the cupcake she iced and decorated for me were the greatest gifts I could ask for.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mums/aunts/grandmothers/guardians who’s posts I read with interest, love and empathy.
Everyone said that flood was a blessing in disguise – and they were right.
As we settle into our second new home of 2016, the feel of everything falling into place, the warmth of our books and pictures everywhere, Lottie’s toys scattered lovingly around her room and finding all the little things – throw rugs, balls of yarn, tea cups – that have been hiding in boxes just make us happier and happier.
My husband and I catch ourselves wandering from room to room smiling at each other and utterly content with where we are.
I wanted to share some images of my favourite project, our library.
Lottie’s reading is coming along wonderfully. She recognises most of the letters of the alphabet, and runs to find the letter your name starts with when you come over to visit. She knows her friend Audrey starts with A and Beau starts with B. She ever spelled out ‘Pig the Pug’ after the story book they’re reading at preschool this month.
Reading brought me more joy than anything growing up and it still does as an adult. It’s wonderful to see my little one discovering that same excitement in opening up a story book.
The best part of the week is Saturday mornings. They’re almost magical. The cool breeze, sunshine, birds singing and dew drying on the trees and little Lottie holding my hand as we walk up the road to our new favourite cafe in our new neighbourhood.
The fresh flowers, the children running around, parents enjoying their time together over lattes and chia blueberry muffins. My lovely husband and I restocked our little cellar on Saturday. Sipping Merlot over homemade pizza after the little one goes to bed is just perfection. I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.
Like any other parent, I often find myself in crowds with my excitable and stubborn 3yr old who is a “big girl” and can “walk by herself”. Writing my phone number in Sharpie on her arm then spending the next three days after we’re home safe and sound scrubbing it off wasn’t ideal but it worked.
Of course I saw this brilliant idea of of phone number bracelet on Pinterest. I can’t find the original post but there’s dozens of variations out there.
I think it turned out great and Lottie likes it too (enough to keep it on her wrist).
I’ve been crocheting all my life on and off however the last 2 years of actively working on my skills has been helped so much by this website and Laura’s videos. I’ve made beanies, toys, play food and all sorts of things and I always know they will turn out perfect if she wrote the pattern.
Next I want to try another crochet doll. I wasn’t all that happy with my first attempt and I think I need something easier, a bit more piece by piece instead of working the whole body, head and legs in one. Any suggestions?