Saturday, 12 August 2017

Making dinner time easier!

How do you simplify dinner time, especially when the afternoon and evening can be such a hectic time for us and our kids? 🍝 

Here's a few tips that work for us: 
🍴 Meal plan: write out all the meals you plan to have for the week, then list all the ingredients and shop from your list. Get your family involved and ask them what meals they would like, or make a list of 31 meals and choose the number meal that corresponds with the date that day (eg. 1 = Spag Bol = 1st of the month)

🍴 Have themed nights each week, eg: - Meatless Monday: eg. quiche
- Taco Tuesday: mexican, eg. Burritos 
- Wordly Wednesday: international dishes, eg. Thai chicken cashew stir fry 
- Try-out Thursday: a new recipe 
- Fun Friday: eg. Pizza, burgers 
- Slow-cooker Saturday: eg. Corned beef 
- Serve-yourself Sunday: get your own meal! 
(For more ideas and different names for each day of the week, check out a blog post I wrote last year click here

🍴 Use your slow-cooker: this can be helpful if you are working all day and have commitments in the afternoon - how nice is it to come home and dinner is ready? 

🍴 Freezer meals: Cook a double-batch of dinner where you can and freeze. Something I always do is make a double lot of rissoles, and then we can use them for burgers the new day. Once a week or once a month set aside a day for a big cook-up of freezer meals, or get some friends involved and each cook a freezer meal and share! 

🍴 If you are bored or stuck for ideas, choose a receipe book and cook your way through it. We are doing this at the moment and it's been fun trying out new meals, and it takes all the guesswork out of what to have for dinner!

🍴 If there is a time during the day that is less hectic for you, prepare as much for dinner as you can, eg. chop the veggies/salad, or if it's something like a lasagna, you could prepare and cook ahead of time. This will save you when 5/6pm rolls around! 

🍴 Save time where you can: buy frozen veggies, pre-cut veggies & salad items, use your microwave & choose to have salad instead of veg if you need to get a meal on the table quickly. If it helps and you can afford it, consider companies who make meals for you and deliver to your door, eg. Lite n Easy. 

🍴 To help with the actual eating part of your evening: keep to a routine so the kids know exactly when they will be eating. Get the kids to set the table (if they are old enough - this will save you some time!) Sit at the table and eat as a family, with no distractions such as TV, and encourage conversation, while role modelling appropriate dinner behaviour. We love our family dinner times! 

More helpful past blog posts: click here and here.

Do you have any extra tips that work well for your family? 🥗 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Organising a nappy bag for 2 children

I'll admit, organising the car and my nappy bag (or handbag) has never been my strong point! My nappy bag usually has way too much unnecessary stuff in it, and I can never find what I'm looking for!

Last year Leanne from Organising the Four of Us wrote a blog post about how she organised her handbag using 'Bellhop Files.' I loved them, but it wasn't until she showed us in a live video in Project 14 3.0 that she still uses them 18 months on, that I was sold - I've just purchased my own set, and they arrived today in the mail! (Click here to read Leanne's blog post).

My nappy bag is a 'Designs by Emma' plastic coated bag which I love! Make sure you like her page on Facebook, she is very talented! (Click here to read my reviews on my bags)

These are the 'Bellhop Files!' They come in a pack of 4 (I chose blue), with tabs at the top and labels, and mesh so that you can see what is inside each one. Unfortunately, the company is going in a new direction and are no longer selling these, and I was fortunate to buy one of the last sets for a 40% discount. BUT I think this style of file/bag is a fantastic idea for organising items in your handbag or nappy bag, and when I googled 'bag organisers' heaps of options came up for similar things, and for a similar price (with postage mine were approx. $31).

Here is what I have packed in each file: In the ESSENTIALS file, I have deodorant, sunscreen, Panadol, hand cream, tissues, my glasses, lipgloss, a comb and 2 hairbands.

In the CHANGE file, I have nappies, wipes, nappy bags and sanitiser. The beauty of these files is that they all clip together, or you can unclip just the file you need at the time! Perfect for when hubby offers to change the girls nappies!

In the SNACKS/TOYS file I have a bib, a snack for Miss M, a coffee sachet for me, a toy and a set of Peppa Pig cards (which will be handy to keep the girl's occupied if I am waiting at a doctor's office for example).

In the PERSONAL file, I have sanitary items and a change of clothes for Miss O.

In my nappy bag I also have formula and a bottle of cooled, boiled water (I make this up fresh before we leave the house though), a drinkbottle, hats for the girl's and this cute little kids first aid kit.

I made the first aid kit up with all the essentials the girl's might need (the little bag was originally for baby items such as nail clippers, comb etc.) and it is perfect to chuck in the girl's suitcases when we travel.

It has teething gel, antiseptic cream, Euky Bearub for colds, sanitiser, sudocream, bandaids, Panadol with a syringe, saline solution & a snot sucker, and stingoes. This has saved me numerous times!

I am excited to use my new nappy bag system, as it already looks so much neater, and is so much organised than my old method (which was to chuck it all in and hope for the best!)

Friday, 4 August 2017

Making Birdhouses!

This month, we decided to treat the kids to an excursion to the pet shop as part of our themed craft/baking mornings. We found a cute idea on Pinterest for an easy-to-make birdhouse using a milk carton to tie it in with our excursion. 

I purchased a couple of cartons of milk, and thoroughly washed and dried them once they were empty. I opened the top fully to be able to wash them out. The kids painted them in lots of different colours. 

While we let the cartons dry, we headed downtown to the pet shop! 

Mr 3.5, my Miss 2.5 and Miss 18 months all loved the puppies the best (I carried my Miss 9 months in a carrier as she is walking and already likes to escape!)

They were also mesmerised by all the different coloured fish (and the big ones and the ones with funny eyes!)

There were lots of cute birds making loud noises too!

We also saw some guinea pigs. 

When we arrived home and the paint had dried on our cartons, I taped the top of the carton back together, and then cut windows for the birds to get in. I created two holes and threaded some ribbon through to hang it up, and then added some bird seed. 

They turned out great! The kids are loving seeing them hanging ready for the birds to come and feed! A fun and easy craft activity to compliment a fun excursion to the pet shop. 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Winter Fun!

Each month, a friend and I love to treat our kids to a craft and baking activity based on a certain theme. This month the theme was WINTER!

With the fire going on an overcast day, the kids did a winter craft - we made a snowman!

The snowman craft idea is from Pinterest. Using a blue background, I drew the outline of a snowman. The kids stuck on a top hat out of black card (Miss M's is upside down haha!), some googly eyes, a green ribbon scarf, and then some cotton wool for the snow on the snowman's body.

Then using white paint, the kids painted snow around the outside!

The finished product is very cute!

The kids also enjoyed an indoor picnic on the loungeroom floor using Miss M's new Kmart kids picnic set!

On a separate afternoon, we made special milkshakes using whipped cream (to mimic snow), marshmallows and sprinkles (for winter normally this would have been a hot chocolate, but Miss M dislikes anything hot!) They turned out super cute!

My friend also made the kids pikelets with jam, cream, marshmallows and sprinkles (just because they are delicious, and to use the whipped cream while we had it!)

And some for the adults as well!

Winter is such a versatile theme with endless possibilities - thanks to Pinterest for the ideas!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

IKEA & Kmart Trip!

Earlier this year, my sister-in-law, best friend and mum decided we'd do a trip to IKEA! The nearest one is 5 hours away, and because two of us have kids, we decided, why not be a bit crazy and do the whole thing in a day!

So on Saturday, 3rd June, we left our hubbies with the kids, and hit the road at 5am ready for a big, but exciting day! With 4 drivers, the driving itself wasn't too bad at all.

We obviously had to fuel up along the way... with lots of coffee stops!

Including Maccas for breakfast...

We arrived at about 10:30am at Logan IKEA.

No IKEA trip is complete without staged pics in the showroom right?

I had been to IKEA only twice before and both times were very brief. To make it a real experience, we obviously had to have lunch in the restaurant - Swedish meatballs of course!

I had made a list of things I wanted to buy, but of course there is always so much more I want to buy! We had fun playing tetris getting all our boxes into Mum's car, before we were off to our next stop, KMART!

At about 3pm we were fueled up and hitting the road, ready for the 5-hour trip back home. We were all exhausted! We had to have dinner at Maccas on the way home of course, just for good measure. Actually I don't think anything else was open haha!

The next day, the fun bit began - putting the flat packs together! Mum had purchased a Kallax unit with doors and drawers to make a kids toy area at her place.

She also bought a kids kitchen for my girls for Christmas, but of course we couldn't wait that long! We got the utensils and saucepans as well.

I absolutely love the white pantry tubs I bought, and wish I'd purchased more!

The kids picnic table is so cute, and was only $59!

I bought the MALM dresser for the girls, and I just love how nice it looks!

I bought 3 of these - 1 for plastic bags, and 2 for my wrapping paper!

I also bought some more 79c mugs, some $1.99 straws, snaplock bags in 2 sizes, and a tub that sticks to the bathroom wall for our kids toys (we no longer have a bath in our rental so we've culled lots of bath toys).

Mum bought these cute corner hands ($7.99 for 8) so that my kids don't hit themselves on the corners of her furniture.

I love the kids bowls, plates, cups and cutlery, and Mum also bought a $2 sippy cup.

At Kmart, I purchased:

 - clipboards for the kids artwork ($2.50 each)
- wooden ice cream set ($8)
- Kids headphones ($10)
- wire blackboard baskets ($5 each)
- wire wastepaper basket ($4)
- 2 waterbottle covers ($4 each)
- purple pencil case ($3)
- 2 sets of 3 pairs of socks ($2 each)
- Frozen stationery set ($5)
- Elastics game ($3)
- Bubble machine ($6)
- Candles ($1)
- Flannelette PJ's ($10)

How good does the kids artwork look on the clipboards on the wall of their room?!

The trip was a great success! I stuck to my budget and got everything I needed and wanted! Hopefully it can become a yearly event!