Organise & Declutter Part 10 - The Entry, Hallway and a House Tour

I have always loved red front doors, and a few years ago, even though our house was yellow at the time, I grabbed a roller and painted ours red! This was my first attempt at painting - don't look too close at this photo - but I hope I've improved since then! 

[Also, thank you to Kmart for my $10 welcome mat!]

Later on I will do an outside areas blog post, as we've done most of our renos outside. 

But for now, here is the entry and the hallway in our house, as well as a tour, just to wrap up the inside areas. 

This was the entryway to our house, however if you look closely, there is a security box on the wall across from the hat rack, and this makes this area very tight to get through. I absolutely love the old-fashioned hat rack, but we've decided that until the box comes off the wall, we've had to move it. 

I have instead just purchased a $30 Kmart hall table, and it is the perfect size for this small entryway. Don't you just love our beautiful real timber floorboards?!

This is how I've styled the hall table so far. The basket underneath has hats in it, and I think I will buy another for shoes. 

So as you walk in the front door, you turn left into the guest bedroom (you can see the edge of the bed in the above photo. 

And here is the guest bedroom. You can read the blog post here. It used to be the old main bedroom of the house. 

If you keep going past the hall table, you enter the master bedroom. It is painted green, and I've recently decluttered that room also. It used to be the old loungeroom, and so is very big, with built-ins. You can read that blog post here and here (there are 2 parts). 

We also have an ensuite. You can read about the ensuite and bathrooms in this post here

If you keep going down the hallway, you hit the linen cupboard. I have done a quick tidy up, although I clearly need to declutter my craft supplies down the bottom. 

Up the top are spare quilts, sheets and pillow cases. Next shelf down is hand towels, washers and bath mats. Third shelf down are towels. Fourth shelf is our swimming bag, and beach towels. I have to keep this cupboard very minimalist as it is very small. I have spare cushions and spare quilts in a blanket box in the master bedroom, and old towels in the laundry. 

I love photos, and I love displaying them on our walls. This picture below is as you are heading down the hallway. We have had 4 photo shoots now - our wedding, our maternity shoot, Miss M's newborn shoot and a family shoot. This frame is of Miss M's newborn shoot. I also have the same frame for 6 photos of our maternity shoot, and 6 from our wedding. 

With places like Big W selling cheap frames, and cheap reprints, it is so easy to be able to display the images you love. I like to keep all my frames down the hallway black so they all match (a little bit of my OCD coming through!)

The door you can see in the picture above is Miss M's room. You can read about her room here

Across from her room is the bathroom. 

More pictures on the walls as you go down the hallway. They are all 11 x 14 inches (the frames and reprints were on special a few years ago, and it's been great to be able to have the frames ready to go on the walls when I want to update my pictures). 

On the same side as the bathroom is the laundry. You can read about it here.  The door at the end heads out onto a deck and into the backyard. 

Then you enter the living area. This is what the hallway looks like once you get to the living area (though I've added more frames down the hallway since I took this picture). 

The door frame here is missing it's door, because when we knocked out the wall, the door had to be removed as it would have swung out into an open space. We have to now knock out the door frame and create another so that the door can swing into the hallway. 

Here is the living area - 

And across from it is the kitchen (one big room). You can read about it here. 

The window in the kitchen looks out into the sunroom/dining area. You can read about the sunroom here. 

The sliding door also heads out onto the deck (and the white door you can see in the picture above is the door from the laundry). 

And that's the inside of our house! 

Outside, we still have bits and pieces to do -

 - Make picket fence gates for the sides of our house
 - Finish painting all picket fences
 - Finish the railing and balustrade for the porch
 - Re-do the cement driveway
 - Revitalise the gardens (winter is cruel here!)
 - Create white frames around our garden shed windows so it matches the house
 - A few boards need to go on the outside of the deck
 - Paint more terracotta pots for the garden
 - Create an arch/awning for the guest room window (in keeping with the style of the house)
 - Clean out, declutter and organise the garage underneath the house

Renovating can be very exciting, but it is very tedious and can take a lot longer than you think! I'm very proud of all Brendan's hard work. I look forward to bringing you updates in future blog posts! 

Mummy stuff - Organising a baby shower

One of the most fun 'rites of passage' in a pregnancy and impending arrival of a little one is the baby shower! Even second-time mummies can enjoy a 'baby sprinkle.'

I have been to a few now, and as more of my friends and family have babies, I'm sure there'll be plenty more too! 

One of my special friends from high school recently asked me to host hers, and I was honoured to help her organise her special day, which we celebrated last Sunday. 

Here's a few tips in organising a baby shower. 

Firstly, decide on a theme. My friend had found out she was having a boy, and we went for a blue theme (similarly, I found out I was having a girl, and had a pink theme). The benefit in finding out is being able to be super-prepared, and that friends and family can buy you gender-specific items. On the other hand, receiving gender-neutral items means you can use them for subsequent babies, regardless of the gender. I haven't been to any, but I've read blog posts and seen pictures of 'gender-reveal' baby showers - where a host knows the gender, and is able to reveal to the expectant mummy the gender of her baby, often when she cuts the cake to reveal either pink or blue on the inside! 

In saying all that, you definitely do not need to have blue for a boy and pink for a girl. I love dressing Miss M in navy, and I think babies look very cute in greys and soft greens too. 

Other theme ideas might be a certain animal - I have ended up with an accidental owl theme for Miss M's nursery, just because there are lots of owl images/decals/toys around at the moment, and they are super cute! A friend of mine has an elephant theme, which is adorable too. The photo below was taken at her baby shower - 

Next, decide on the date, the time of day, and the venue. Most have their baby showers from about 34 weeks into their pregnancy, but there's no rules on this! It depends how you feel, and how your pregnancy is going. 

The venue needs to be able to fit everyone you are inviting, and make sure you have a wet weather alternative. There was a black out right before mine, and I had to move it inside as it was overcast. My house was not big enough for the amount of people I had! If a house doesn't suit, you can always reserve a large table in a nice cafe or restaurant, and then your food will be easy to organise too. 

Thirdly, design your invitations, or fill out ready-made ones. Vista-print is an easy site to use to design invitations, and can be as cheap or as expensive as you'd like. A friend of mine made mine invitations, which were really cute! Send these out with at least a month's notice, in case some have to travel. 

Next, decide on the style of your baby shower - will it be traditional with games, or a simple meal shared together with friends. This will help you decide what to organise next. 

If you choose to have games, the internet and Pinterest is a wealth of ideas! You could have between 1 and maybe 5 or 6 games, depending on who you invite (some people don't enjoy games as much as others - I love them!) If you have prepared a lot of games, just gauge everyone's interest levels - if they appear to have had enough after 3 games, it's better to just leave it there and let them enjoy the food and each other's company. Always ask the mummy though - she may want to play more games! 

At my friend's shower last Sunday we played 3 games - a 'guess the item' game where you wrap up 20 or so baby items, and guests have to feel and shake the packages to see if they can guess the item - no peeking! I've played this at 3 different showers, and it is always a hit, and is easy to do. Print out a table for guests to record their answers, and make sure to label each package with a number. Open the items at the end to reveal what was inside! 

We also played 'pin the dummy on the baby.' I printed out a baby on A4 paper and then blew it up to A3 at my local library. I also printed off a heap of dummies, which I cut out and stuck blu tack on the back of each. Each dummy had a number, and as each guest stuck their dummy on the baby, I wrote their number in that spot. You can buy cute ready made games like this on ebay. Don't forget the blindfold!

The last game we played was 'guess the nursery rhyme.' This is simple to print out, and guests of all ages seem to enjoy it. Some of the less common nursery rhymes can have people stumped!

Throughout the afternoon, guests were able to leave advice for my friend by writing on 'tickets' and placing in a jar. We also had a 'guess how many lollies in the baby bottle' game, and a guest book in the form of a tree print-out where each guest places their fingerprint on one of the branches. It looks really effective. 

Here's mine from my baby shower - I framed it, but unfortunately the paper has gone a bit crinkly. I still love it though! 

Another fun game is where everyone brings a baby picture of themselves, and you have to guess who each person is. 

At a friend's baby shower, we were able to peg our photos to this beautiful ladder. 

Other games include:

~ the 'handbag' game - each guest gets a certain amount of points for things they might have in their bags

~ guessing the baby's gender, weight, name, hair colour, eye colour etc. 

~ the 'alphabet' game - each guest has to name a baby item (or a boys or girls name) for each letter of the alphabet

~ the 'peg' game - each guest is given a peg (could be blue or pink or neutral to fit with the theme) and if another guest catches them saying the word baby, they have to hand their peg over. The person with the most pegs wins. 

~ designing a onesie or a bib, where each guest can use fabric pens or paints to create a personalised item for the new baby

~ guess the baby food - take the labels off baby food jars, and have each guest taste each with a separate spoon and guess what each is (you can play a version of this with diapers filled with various foods, e.g. nutella in a diaper)

~ provide guests with a paper plate and texta, and have them place the plate on their head and attempt to draw a baby. You can also play use this play dough to create a baby. 

~ guess the belly size, using a piece of string for each guest

~ unscramble the baby words (e.g. piesnap = nappies)

~ baby find-a-word - create your own, or use google to find an existing template

It's important to choose a host (or if you are hosting your own) who feels comfortable explaining and running games with a group of known and unknown guests. When organising games, make sure you keep a list of everything you'll need for each (e.g. print-outs, pens etc.)

Next, you'll need to decide what food to serve. This will depend on what time the shower is (e.g. 10am will be morning tea). You could ask everyone to bring a plate of sweet or savoury food, or get just a few friends to bake for you. You could stick to a theme for the food, or just choose some favourites. Finger foods are handy, but if you were having a BBQ lunch, that can be just as easy. Some ideas for a morning or afternoon tea might be:

~ brownies
~ cookies (you can buy cute cookie cutters in certain shapes (e.g. a baby carriage) from ebay
~ cupcakes
~ muffins
~ cake pops
~ lollies
~ bliss balls
~ mini pavlovas
~ fruit platter

~ mini quiches
~ zucchini slice
~ meatballs
~ mini pies
~ mini sausage rolls
~ frankfurts 
~ biscuits and dips
~ vegetable sticks
~ sandwiches
~ cob loaf

Next thing to do is buy supplies. This includes items you'll need in the games, as well as cutlery, napkins, cups, plates, bowls (depending on what food you serve) and decorations. Some ideas for decorations:

[Image by J. Cook]

~ bunting (we had pink bunting at my baby shower - see above)
~ pom pom balls (can make or buy ready-made)
~ balloons 
~ a poster for a backdrop for the table
~ mini blackboards to let guests know where the present table, food table, drinks table and games are (Kmart has cute ones for $3)
~ a mini clothesline using ribbons with baby clothes hanging up
~ decorations in keeping with the theme, e.g. elephants or owls

You might want to prepare a box of prizes for the games, such as chocolates and mini pamper items. There is also the option of creating party favours for the guests to take home. 

As far as presents for mummy go, some like to have a list of suggested items that guests can ask for when they RSVP, and others just like to be surprised. See my blog post for buying for baby for lots of ideas. I love to put together a hamper or gift bag of useful items for the baby, as well as some cute outfits (who can go past those tiny adorable newborn outfits in shops!)

On the day of the shower, make sure you have a rough timeline of when everything needs to be set-up, and what you need to do on the day. Besides food that needs to be made on the day (e.g. sandwiches), make as much the day before as you can. 

The timeline of the party might go:
~ arrival
~ eat and mingle
~ icebreaker games or introduce yourself (say your name and how you know the mummy)
~ host explains some of the games you might play while you enjoy the food (e.g. guess the lollies in the baby bottle, fingerprint guest book and advice for the new mummy)
~ play games together
~ more food and mingling
~ mummy gets to open her presents! (A good tip - get someone to briefly write down what each guest bought for the mummy on a piece of paper for future reference)

Right before the guests arrive, set the food table. Setting up the table is always a fun job. I love using fancy platters and cupcake and cake stands. 

On Sunday we had a separate table for presents:

And a separate table for drinks and tea and coffee: 

Once everything is organised and ready to go, enjoy the party! Aim for the mummy to be able to relax, and chat to everyone, which is why it's always good to have a host, and leave the games etc. up to someone else!

[Here's a very puffy photo of me at my baby shower :) Image by J. Cook]


Mummy stuff - being busy

Have you noticed just how busy we all are lately? I have been waiting for a 'quiet' week for about 2 months now. And it doesn't look like I'll get it any time soon! But is that my own doing?

I love being busy because it usually means I have a lot of fun things on, and it also means I become really productive. Since having a baby, I have learnt to just do the housework when Miss M is asleep. Because once she is awake, there will be plenty more to do - feeding, changing nappies, playing. Since going back to work, I have learnt to do everything on my days off. But it seems the more I do, the more there is to do! Or have I created extra work for myself?

A few years ago I remember mentioning to someone that I didn't know how to relax. It sounds silly doesn't it - don't we all know how to relax? But in my case, I always feel guilty when I lay on the lounge and watch a DVD. A million things fly through my head; things I 'should' or 'could' be doing. The same happens when I lay down in bed at night, when 'the list' begins... things I should have done that day, things I have to do tomorrow, things I have to remember for next week... When does it end?!

The thing is, the to-do list will always be there. There is always something you could be doing. There will always be something to clean, or declutter, or errands to run down town, or email inboxes to clean out, or messages to reply to, or grass to mow, or cars to wash. And we could spend more time exercising, or catching up with friends, or meal planning, or washing to do, or searching for new recipes to try. Even once you've cleaned your house, it will no doubt need a clean next week. Life doesn't stop. But rest is so important. And usually we learn this the hard way. 

I usually start to feel run-down, and feel a sore throat or a cold coming on. This is our bodies way of telling us to slow down, and to rest! I usually find I can shut it up with some more cleaning haha! 

We shouldn't feel guilty when we step back from the mess and take time out for ourselves. As mothers (and as women and men!) we NEED it! Believe me, I am the last person that wants to take this advice. Like I said, I love being busy, and it's almost like a medal you can wear around your neck after a productive day; something that will impress others. If I want to be a good mum to Miss M, and a good wife to Brendan, I need to be able to relax, and rest, and be refreshed so I am ready to go the next day. Especially when Miss M isn't sleeping through - I need all the rest I can get! 

So when the house looks like you've lost a game of Jumanji, and your to-do list is out of control....

~ boil the kettle and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee

~ pick out a favourite DVD or TV series and enjoy a few episodes

~ find an old favourite book and curl up in the sun

~ send a friend a message to meet up for a coffee

~ head out for a relaxing afternoon walk

~ put some music on and dance around the loungeroom!

~ spend time on a project or doing a hobby you enjoy 

~ have a nanna nap

~ spend time outside, laying on the grass, staring at the clouds...

And when you're done relaxing, throw the to-do list out, and just create a 'list of 3' - just 3 things you will get done each day. A long to-do list is far too overwhelming, but 3 things seem a lot more manageable. And once all 3 things are done, you can spend more time relaxing! 

Enjoy ;)

[For more, read Organising the Four of Us' blog post on 'Stopping the glorification of busy']

Mummy stuff - nappy bags

Who else's nappy bag is bursting at the seams like mine? I've come to the conclusion over the last couple of months that the bigger the bag you buy, the more stuff you pack into it!

A newborn needs a lot more than an 8 month old, and as much as I like my spotty green nappy bag, it is just too oversized for quickly chucking in the car or the pram to go places. 

Here is the contents of my bag, and a list of things you might like to pack for a newborn in your own nappy bag - 

I like to be prepared for anything, so in my nappy bag I have:
 - nappies (LOTS)
 - wipes (again, lots!)
 - a change mat
 - a sun hat
 - a beanie
 - a spare outfit (or two or three!)
 - spare singlets 
 - a love to dream swaddle/muslin wrap
 - disposable bibs
 - a spoon
 - disposable nappy bags
 - hair brush or comb
 - baby sunscreen
 - deoderant for mum
 - toys
 - teething rings
 - extra maternity pads and breast pads
 - extra socks
 - mittens
 - a re-useable shopping bag
 - tissues 
 - sanitiser
 - extra dummy and dummy clip
 - sudocream/nappy rash cream

Not shown - extra jumper/jacket and a blanket

Later on I will need to pack a drinkbottle with water and milk, and snacks.

Basically you just have to be prepared for the amount of time you are out - and any unforeseen circumstances. 

A friend of mine now uses a backpack for her 18 month old son, and it just works so well. I purchased this cute backpack for Miss M for $10 from Kmart, and it is my new nappy bag! 

I just pack nappies, wipes, a spare outfit, a spare dummy, a spare singlet and some toys. I now have room for my wallet and a drinkbottle, so that it is the only bag I need to carry. It is smaller, so I carry less, and I can put it on my back and save my hips and back from hurting from the strain of an overflowing nappy bag!


On the menu this week...

Monday - Tandoori chicken with rice and veggies (thermomix)

Tuesday - San choy bow with turkey mince  (thermomix)

Wednesday - Vegetarian quiche with veggies

Thursday - Sweet chilli breast tenders with salad in homemade wraps (thermomix)

Friday - Pesto pasta with homemade pesto (thermomix)

Saturday - Leftovers 

Sunday - Ham, cheese and tomato toasties (quick easy meal!)

[ Image from ]

Organise & Declutter Part 9 - The Guest Bedroom

The room I have always disliked in our house is our Guest Bedroom. It was the old Master Bedroom, and so is quite big (it could easily fit 2 sets of bunk beds) and has old fashioned built-ins (which actually have plenty of storage). However, the bigger the room, the more clutter it always seems to get! Often I refer to this room as our junk room. 

When we first moved in, the room was painted purple. I styled the room with a bedroom suite we were given, and it was a really lovely space. 

Last year Brendan painted the room grey. I like it, but this room always seemed dark (clutter tends to do that!), and so the grey has made a dark room darker. I was keen to fix that!

This is how the room currently looks. 

There is a large window on the right in this pic, and an ikea cube bookcase with way too many books, and some of my teaching resources on top. I plan to re-organise and declutter my teaching resources later on.

This is our old TV and a cheap cabinet we got to put the TV on for this room, however I think I have used it in here twice. I think the TV is worth keeping in storage, but I think we might sell the cabinet. 

Here are the built-ins (2 cupboards with hanging space, 2 cupboards above that, and 8 drawers under a desk/dressing table.

Here is the top of the desk - lots of teaching resources:

At the end of last year, Brendan got this bed frame for free, and painted it black. We are borrowing the mattress. Brendan's sister bought us the canvas from Bali, and I found the cushions on eBay to match the colours in the canvas. The quilt is from Target a few years ago, and the throw rug is from Big W. 

I plan to paint the hat rack in the corner white, and I think I might also paint the bedside tables (and leave the basket-drawers as is). 

Ok, now to declutter and organise! I always put this room really far down on my to-do list, in the hopes it will go away. Either that or I shut the door! 

First of all, I cleaned out the room. When I cleaned and decluttered, I had 3 piles - 

1. the rubbish pile
2. the donate pile
3. the relocate pile

The rubbish pile gets bagged up and put in the bin (or recycling). The donate pile gets bagged up and taken to Vinnies. The relocate pile gets taken to other rooms where they belong/to their new home. I ended up with 6 garbage bins to take to Vinnies, and numerous others were relocated or chucked out. It felt great to get rid of lots of items I hadn't used since we had moved into this house 2.5 years ago. 

Then I cleaned the whole room, and rearranged some items. 

I then purchased some new bedside tables, as the brown ones we had didn't go with the room, or any of our furniture throughout the house. I found these white ones with baskets from Kmart Armidale for $39 each. I sold the brown ones to a friend. 

I then purchased some white spray paint and sanded and painted the old wooden hat rack white, to be used for towels or coats for guests. 

Then I purchased some brushed silver dummy knobs for the wardrobe doors to replace the old fashioned gold and white ones. I had a few years ago replaced the little knobs on the drawers, but hadn't gotten around to the ones on the cupboards. I actually had to take the dummy knobs back and replace them for passage knobs, as the old ones wouldn't work with the dummy knobs. That was a bit fiddly for me, so Brendan did that. He also painted the cupboards and drawers a fresh white, as the previous coat had yellowed a bit. 

It took a few weeks longer than expected, and we still have some odd jobs to go. The door to the room is an old door (the rest of the house except for Miss M's door has been replaced) so that needs redoing, and we need to change the powerpoint covers to white ones (you will notice the old black covers). There is also a random button that needs removing, and we'd like to move the switch for the fan (you can see both above the bed in this picture). We are also going to purchase new curtains to make the room look a bit more glamorous, and the old verticals look a bit dated. 

Here's what the room looks like now!

My $19 Kmart trolley and $10 Kmart hamper are being used for stationery and my rolls of wrapping paper, and will be stored in the guest room, as we don't really have any other space for them!

I have tidied the bookcase, and sent some books off to Vinnies, but I still need to declutter and organise my resources more - look out for that in a future post!

How much more modern do the brushed silver knobs look? And the white painted doors look so fresh!

My friend gave me this beautiful jug for my birthday this year, and I've often had fresh flowers in it, but I purchased these fake tulips from Kmart for $3 each (I'll put fresh flowers in as much as I can though). I also picked up this pretty jar with blue dots from Kmart for $6. 

And just for fun, here is a $10 Kmart quilt on the bed, to really brighten it up! I'll change the quilts depending on how I feel! I am going to buy a plain white textured cushion for the bed though, as I think there is too much going on with the white and silver one. 

I'm really excited that this room is almost done! It has a much nicer feeling in here now, and I don't have to shut the door to ignore the mess anymore! 
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