Baking with kids - Making chocolate chip cookies

We enjoyed some baking here this morning! Miss M loves to bake, just like her mum. She has her own little apron and insists on wearing it (which is handy to keep her clothes free from spills!) I always have the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies, and this recipe has always been my go-to!

I'm not sure where the recipe came from but this version has been typed up in my recipe folder (click here to read about how I organise my recipes) so I can't give credit to anyone unfortunately! I choose to melt the butter in this recipe because it's a lot easier and quicker!

We added sprinkles today, just for fun! Miss M helped pour ingredients in, and stir, and she attempted to roll balls of cookie dough to put on the tray, but ended up eating a lot instead! That's always the most fun thing about baking - licking the bowl or spoon!

These cookies only take 10 minutes in a 180 degree oven, and I pull them out before they look done, because they continue to set once they are out, and this ensures they won't burn!

Yum! Time to enjoy one with a cuppa! Warning - these are NOT healthy, but are extremely addictive!!

Creating a Dress-Up Station

Miss M (2 years old) LOVES dressing up! I had an old-towel rack in storage in our garage and I had an idea just recently - I would repurpose it to create a dressing-up station for her! Brendan removed one of the rails for me so dresses would fit better, and I added some hooks to the end, and I was ready to find some dress-ups for her!

I found this awesome doctors kit for $12 at Target (which also has a stethoscope which isn't pictured) and a doctor's uniform for $9 at Kmart.

The red dresses were in Miss M's wardrobe, and the fairy/mermaid outfit was $1 from an op-shop!

The yellow dress is Miss M's favourite! We were given both of these dresses.

I found these cowboy pants for $1 at an op-shop, and the Frozen dress was given to us.

Miss M loves handbags (just ask her daycare mum!) - I found the beige one for 50c at an op-shop, the pink one was one of my old handbag's, and the flamingo plastic-coated bag was one of Miss M's Christmas presents which was custom made by Designs by Emma!

The fairy wings, wands, gloves and tutu were cheap items from a $2 shop, the shoes and tiara were from Kmart, and necklace and bracelet were from Best n Less.

Some more random dress-up accessories - a Police hat, bow-tie, braid-headband and black glasses are from $2 shops, the Emma headband was from Target, and the Peppa Pig mask, and fun glasses were from Coles. I keep all loose items in the basket shown at the back.

The bags hang on the end of the towel rack on the hooks, all the dress-ups are hung up using coat hangers, and the loose items in the basket sit at the end. This all lives behind the door in Miss M & Miss O's room. For a cheap project, it has worked out well! Miss M certainly loves it!


A new loungeroom!

Last year Brendan and I decided we would have a look at a few furniture shops for some new items for our lounge room. Our current furniture was all second-hand and was starting to look dated. We found a beautiful package deal at Fantastic Furniture called the 'Sorrento' which is a beautiful range which is white with a dark wood top. We didn't end up buying it then though, as when it comes to big decisions we are often quite indecisive! We still liked the range a few months later, and have recently taken the plunge and bought it! 

We decided on the 'Tivoli' 2-seater lounges in stone, the 'Sorrento' TV unit & coffee table and Brendan found a rug from Kmart which works perfectly. We are using a second-hand white table that we already had as a lamp table with a Kmart lamp, a second-hand butler's tray & table with a fake plant from Kmart, an existing vase with fake Kmart flowers, and some other Kmart items (noughts and crosses set & another fake plant) on the coffee table. The cushions were purchased from Pillow Talk before Christmas. We are so happy with how it's all come together! The last photo shows the before picture - it is now so much brighter and fresher! Perfect timing for when we put our house on the market soon, and then we can take our beautiful new items with us when we move!

It's so much fun doing a full room makeover! As much as I will miss my beautiful house (and my very first home, and the one I brought my girls home to), it will be fun to redo our rooms when we move!


We are moving!

About 2 months ago, my hubby Brendan received a call offering him a permanent teaching job out west. It was a very small village of 300 people and not close at all to anywhere, and because we have two young kids and for a few other reasons he turned it down. We were happy with our decision.

Imagine our shock then, when on Thursday, 9th February, he was offered another permanent job (to put this in perspective, I was offered permanency down south in 2012 but haven't had another call since) only an hour and a half away from where we currently live with a population of about 7,500 and in a really great school! We took a quick trip there on the Friday and after checking out the school and a bit of the town, we accepted!

We will all be moving soon, which is both scary and exciting! I moved to Newcastle in 2008 for uni, but came back to my hometown which I love, and didn't think I'd move again!

This will be the first time I pack up an entire house - with kids! We've lived in our current house for 4 years (settlement was Valentine's Day 2013 and we moved in on our wedding day, April 27th) and I just cannot believe the amount of stuff we've accumulated in that short amount of time. Even though I declutter regularly and the house and cupboards are neat (and now finally the garage too!) there is more decluttering to be done so that there is less to pack. I'll be documenting my moving journey on the blog and on my Facebook page - stay turned!


Valentine's Day Fun!

A friend and I are enjoying organising craft and baking ideas for our theme days for Miss M who is 2, and my friend's son who is 3. After Australia Day, Valentine's Day was next! We had a look through Pinterest and decided to get the kids to make a card for each other, and to decorate some cookies!

We kept the card basic. On a white piece of card, I drew the outline of a heart and wrote 'I love you to pieces!' on the front. The kids loved using gluesticks to glue the little heart shapes I cut out of coloured and patterned papers. We wrote on the inside for them and they handed it to each other - super cute!

My friend pre-prepared some cookie dough prior to us arriving at their house. I found some very cool cookie cutters in the shape of an 'I,' a heart, and a 'U' at Coles for only $3. While the kids made their card, my friend cut out the shapes and put them in the oven. Once the cookies had baked and cooled, Miss M and Mr E iced their cookies with light pink and dark pink icing, and then decorated using little hearts and silver balls.

They turned out super-cute!

The kids loved eating their cookies - they tasted like caramel!

At home, Miss M and I experimented and made some heart shape pancakes using the heart-shaped cookie cutter. I also made her some pink milk using a drop of red food colouring in normal milk. Very sweet and very tasty!

Check out Pinterest for more Valentine's Day fun ideas!


Why me-time is so important {Self Care Ideas}

One of my personal goals for 2017 is to make sure I schedule time for me every single day. 'Self-care' is something that I not only love since beginning to practice it (since doing Project 14 last year) but I actually NEED it!

When I had Miss M, the thought of putting myself first at times and looking after myself seemed selfish. I thought once you had kids, they had to come first and the parents got whatever was leftover in day. The thing is, that after awhile I began to burn out. I craved time to sleep, sit and eat a proper meal, have an uninterrupted shower and just relax! I absolutely need me-time for my physical, mental and emotional health.

One of my favourite quotes is: 'You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.'

It's like when you're on an aeroplane and they explain in the safety presentation that in the event of an emergency, you must put your oxygen mask on first before you begin to assist others, even children. This is obviously because you are no use to anyone, if you can't breath yourself! It's exactly the same with life with kids (or in your job or any aspect of life) - if you are giving and giving all day long with no time to replenish and rejuvenate yourself, it's only a matter of time before something's got to give.

Self care isn't selfish at all, it's necessary. It's all in the word: taking CARE of yourSELF. This may look like different things to different people. Five minutes once a day may be all one person needs to keep going, and another may need a whole day a week. I'm a whole day a week kind of person! And there's no point judging another (I get asked SO often on my day off "Where are your kids?") because self-care is personal and individual, just like each one of us.

Practising self care tells others and ourselves that we matter, and that we want to take care for ourselves so that we are better resourced to take care of others. I'm a big believer in promoting good mental health, especially as I've suffered from depression in my life, as well as post-natal depression after Miss O was born.

It might take a bit of practice to let yourself have some me-time each day. I suggest scheduling it in, but being flexible as obviously life with kids is never predictable! In my Leanne Baker Daily planner, there is actually a spot to write what I have planned for self care each day, and this is just as easy to write into your own planner/diary, or to set a reminder in your phone.

I actually do several things each day to recharge:
~ I make sure I sit down to eat my breakfast and enjoy a hot cup of tea. This means setting an alarm if I need to be somewhere early on a certain day, so that I don't miss breakfast. I give Miss M her breakfast and I feed Miss O hers, and then they are usually satisfied while I sit and have mind.
~When Miss M has her nap at 12, the first thing I do (after Miss O has been fed if it's time for her feed) is sit down and have a coffee. I then have lunch a bit later. Sitting and having my coffee first ensures I get to relax and not rush off and do jobs while she's asleep. It's not necessarily that I need a coffee, it's more that I enjoy doing it!
~ When Miss M goes to bed at 7, I sit down and enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit. This is sort of like my dessert, and again, forces me to sit and relax before I get started on any jobs I need to do before bed.

Each week I like to:
~ Head to the gym 3x a week, including at least one class. This not only gives me time to myself, but it ticks off the necessary exercise for each week, it helps me to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and I really enjoy it! My husband works shift work so I have to schedule in different times each week, but we make it work!
~ Every Tuesday Miss M is at daycare, so I'm able to get lots done around the house, plus take some time for myself (usually while Miss O is asleep).
~ My mum quite often takes both girls for half a day, and I usually give myself a time limit to clean and tidy the house (e.g. an hour) and then I spend the rest of the time for myself.

Here are some ideas for self-care. Some are short, 5 minute things that can be done at home, and others will need to be scheduled in without kids. Find something that makes you happy and sparks joy in your life! It will refresh and rejuvenate you.

~ Enjoy a coffee or tea
~ Read a book
~ Watch your favourite movie or TV series
~ Enjoy some time doing your hobby (sewing etc)
~ Bake something just for fun!
~ Treat yourself to something you've been eyeing off at a shop, or a new item of clothing
~ Wander around the shops by yourself
~ Go for a walk
~ Listen to music
~ Go to the gym
~ Have a bubble bath
~ Go to the library
~ Feed the ducks
~ Go Grocery Shopping alone
~ Take a long lunch with a friend
~ Visit a friend for a catch up
~ See a movie
~ Pamper yourself: get a manicure/pedicure/massage/facial or do one yourself at home!
~ Get enough sleep (either the kids could stay the night somewhere or maybe hubby will get up for you one night!)
~ Spend time outside
~ Connect with family
~ Write in a journal
~ Have a nap
~ Learn a new skill (youtube is great for this!)
~ Practice deep, calm breathing
~ Eat the last piece of cake!
~ Enjoy a good stretch (again youtube is good for this!)
~ Make yourself a platter to enjoy or even a chocolate fondue!
~ Wash your face
~ Have a long, hot shower
~ Get your hair cut
~ Have a mini declutter session
~ Burn your favourite candle
~ Buy some balloons or flowers
~ Get into your pyjamas and watch some daytime TV
~ Try a new recipe if you enjoy cooking
~ Have a girls night in (or out!)
~ Paint your nails
~ Turn off your phone and enjoy the quiet!
~ Have your favourite dessert (guilt free!)
~ Go for a drive
~ Volunteer or help someone out or buy someone a gift
~ Sit and plan your week
~ Write an old-fashioned letter or thank you note to someone
~ Call a loved one
~ Sit and read the paper one morning
~ Wander to the bakery one morning to buy some fresh bread for breakfast
~ Spend time with a pet or take your dog for a walk
~ Do some art or craft
~ Do a random act of kindness (eg pay for the person's coffee behind you in drive thru)
~ Take some photos outside
~ Diffuse essential oils
~ Drink a green smoothie or make yourself a healthy lunch/snack
~ Scroll through Pinterest
~ Lay in the sunshine
~ Go on a picnic
~ Go for a swim or a bike ride

Another cool thing you can do, if you are a list-maker like me, is to make lists when life gets overwhelming, such as the following:

Hopefully some of these things will inspire you to enjoy some me-time! Self-care is so important - make sure you take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, and fill your cup each day so that you can fill your families as well!

[All images from Pinterest]

Organisation ideas that work for us

I thought I'd share some organisation systems around our house that have been tried and tested and work really well for us.


I use this $12 Kmart basket to store the cushions we take off our bed each night. I use another basket to store a few throws/blankets in the living room for when it turns cold at night.


I use these $10 Kmart plastic drawers to store our medicines, and they are super easy to access. They live in our laundry cupboards, up high and out of reach.


I use another $10 plastic Kmart drawer to store small snack packs, for when I need something for Miss M quickly.


I use this $9 Kmart shelf with hooks that I painted white for my sunscreens, insect repellent, hats, and old sunnies that I use to hang out the washing. It lives near the door in the laundry.


I use these $2 Kmart plastic tubs to store fruit and veg in the bottom of my fridge.


I use these $3 Kmart plastic containers with a handle for easy access to the sauces at the top of my fridge.


I use this $7 Kmart cutlery/utensil divider to keep my second drawer in my kitchen tidy.


I've used more $2 Kmart tubs to tidy up under my kitchen sink.


I love Kmart 'fake tupperware' pantry containers to keep my pantry items neat (and fresh!). They come in a pack of 4-6  (different shapes/sizes) for $9.


I use this $4 container (from a local $2 shop) to store batteries, child locks, hooks and small screwdrivers. It lives in my kitchen, and is super easy to access for when I need to change the batteries in the TV remote or in the kids toys.


I use more $2 Kmart plastic tubs to store Miss M's small toys, such as cars, dinosaurs, animals, duplo, small books etc. She can take one tub out at a time to play with. So far they have worked surprisingly well!


I've used these $7 fabric baskets from Big W to store different items in our ensuite and they fit well in this white cubby-unit.


My $5 Kmart hairdryer rack has been super-handy to keep my hairdryer out of the way and easy to access in our ensuite.


I use this $40 bamboo ladder from Myer to store my scarves - I've used this for a good 8 or 9 years and it has always worked well! This is in our master bedroom.


I use these $10 Kmart hamper to store my wrapping paper in our guest room. This has worked well for almost 2 years now.


I was gifted this bath toy holder which suctions to the wall in the bathroom. You can remove the net and scoop the toys back up after a bath.


I use this Kmart 'bits and bobs' metal container (I can't remember price sorry!) to store my cleaning products, and I carry it around when cleaning which is super helpful and easy. It lives in my laundry cupboard.


I use these $4 spice racks from Kmart in my laundry pantry cupboard for my spices and they have worked a treat since my brother installed them for me! It is handy to have my iron up high and out of reach too (ideally I wouldn't have it in with the spices, but we are very short on space!)

Hopefully some of those ideas help with organising your own home!
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