Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lah-Lah's Adventures Concert Ticket Giveaway!

Calling all Sydney-siders, calling all Sydney-siders!
I have an amazing DVD, CD and concert ticket giveaway opportunity for the amazing Aussie pre-school musical group Lah-Lah, who are touring Sydney throughout April in support of their new show Lah-Lah's Adventures.  How does that sound?  Fabbo?  Yes, so fabbo!  Check out Lah-Lah's YouTube video if you are not convinced, and the Media Release for more info and tour dates.  They are gorgeous and any little one would love to see them live. 

The prize pack contains a "Shake it Like This" CD, a "Making Music Lah-Lah's Way" CD, a "Lah-Lah's Adventures Brand New Day" DVD and a Family Pass (good for four) to the April 30th Casula Powerhouse, Casula NSW show.

If you haven't heard of Lah-Lah before (I actually hadn't) they are a band that introduces children to music and musical instruments through fun and entertainment. Based in Sydney (Australia), Lah-Lah features five wonderful expert musicians, who all love to share the joy of musicianship with little ones and their families. The group features a dancing double bass, singing saxophone and an accordion that sneezes when he squeezes.  I have been told Lah-Lah are Australia’s premier kid’s band.  Awesomeness!

The series follows central character Lah-Lah, who together with her buddy Buzz, the band leader, and their instrument character friends, Lola the double bass, Mister Saxophone, Squeezy Sneezy the piano accordion and Tom Tom the drums, explore a variety of musical styles from pop, jazz and world music, to a touch of Mozart.  So parents don't assume it will just be your kids who will be revelling in the fun, you too will be joining in, tapping and jiving to a whole new beat!

Thank you to Roadshow Entertainment for this really wonderful opportunity - one that I know your kids will love, enjoy and learn from.  If only we lived in Sydney ...

Enter below using Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 Good luck and please let me know how much fun you had if you are the "lah-lah lucky" winner!

Monday, March 31, 2014

(Giveaway) - Playschool, The Wiggles and Fireman Sam

Well, we all know how I feel about Play School, don't we?  It's a bit of a staple in our house and has been a part of my life for longer than I care to remember.  I was always going to jump at the chance to give away some Play School DVD's, and then put them together with The Wiggles and Fireman Sam and you've got yourself a bundle of TV watching joy - or at least your kids have. Well, and you, if they're the type of DVD's that float your boat.  I am a bit partial to Fireman Sam myself but then again it's probably just the uniform thing ...
So, once again, thanks to the wonderfully generous people at Roadshow Entertainment, I have 3 packs of 3 DVD's up for grabs : Play School In the Wild, Fireman Sam Hero at Sea and The Best of the Wiggles.  What a lovely, fun combination.  Here's the scoop:
The In the Wild series recognises that young children are curious investigators, who learn about the world around them as they play, discover and explore. In the Wild encourages a spirit of adventure as young children and their families are invited to share in a series of exciting escapades with the Play School toys and presenters. We explore wild places and spaces, discover wild animals and rare plants and play with the wild possibilities of imaginary worlds. Features Andrew McFarlane, Emma Palmer, Teo Gebert, Leah Vandenberg, and Zindzi Okenyo. 5 x 26 minute episodes.

Absolutely chock full of all the hits - Hot Potato, Can You (Point Your Fingers and Do the Twist?), Rock-A-Bye Your Bear, Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car, Wake Up Jeff!, Captain Feathersword Fell Asleep on His Pirate Ship (Quack Quack), The Monkey Dance, Get Ready to Wiggle, Go Santa Go!, Dorothy (Would you Like to Dance?), Ooh It's Captain Feathersword, Dressing Up, Move Your Arms Like Henry, Lights Camera Action Wiggles!, Do the Owl, Play Your Guitar With Murray, Rockin' Santa, Getting Strong!, I'm Dorothy the Dinosaur, You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, Monkey Man, Hot Poppin Popcorn, Do the Propeller, Ready, Steady, Wiggle!, Simon Says and 10 other songs.
The beaches of Pontypandy are packed with daring rescues as Fireman Sam is a Hero at Sea! During a trip out to sea with the kids, Charlie nets the biggest catch Pontypandy has ever seen but his boat is damaged - will they sink or swim? Find out all this and more in this collection of heroic adventures. 6 x 10 min episodes.

To win one of these fabulously fun bundles, enter using Rafflecofter below.  Go on, I know you think Fireman Sam's cute too! Good luck and happy watching! x

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Swimming Robe and a Sewing Retreat

 Are you a little nutso for sewing? Do you fantasise about uninterrupted sewing time or crave some much needed "me" time? Would you like to get away from it all, escape to the country, surround yourself with like-minded "nutso's", be fed and watered (and fed very well I might add) for a whole weekend without lifting a finger AND sew into the wee small hours should you so desire? Well, I've got a little secret to share with you.  You can. Yep.  I'm not lying.  Turn your fantasy into a reality and go on a Sewing Retreat!  They are the best. They are soul-replenishing.  They are a hoot.  They are rewarding.  They are a must! 

I've just returned from my second "Sew Along" retreat run by the gorgeous and mega-experienced (not to mention mega patient!) Jemima Flendt of Tied with a Ribbon and Claire Turpin of Claire Turpin Design.  They hold their weekend retreats at the Avalon Homestead in Toodyay, Western Australia - seriously the perfect location, only an hour from Perth, and set high on a hill overlooking the Avon Valley. It feels like you are far more than an hour from the city.
Avalon Homestead - source
Whether you are a beginner sewer (like me) or advanced, whether you're a quilter or more of a project sewer (like me), the retreat caters for all.  Jemima & Claire are on hand all weekend to offer advice, encouragement and mini workshops.  The retreat runs from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon and all meals are included - but be warned, dessert is served at every meal and it is very, very difficult to resist.  Also included is a "mystery project" which is normally the first project on the first night - a bit of an ice-breaker and a bit of easy fun - but it's completely up to you if you want to do it or not.  If not, you still get to take the mystery kit home to work on another day.  They also throw in two free patterns for you so not only do you totally get your money's worth, you're getting some lovely little extras.  It really is a well-run, well-organised, well-planned retreat absolutely choc full of creative goodness and oh-"sew"-fabulous people all wanting the same thing ... to sew, and sew, and sew ... and eat a lot of a bit of chocolate mousse in between!!

Last year, for my daughter, I made this "Living With Punk'sBookworm Skirt (I didn't blog about it but I did take some little piccies) and this year I made her a Swimming Robe made from bath towels.  I also made an Apron for my Mother-in-law (which is meant to be a surprise so I'm hoping she misses this post). 
The swimming robe was a "Dana Made-it" pattern which I came across via the Probably Actually blog.  Seriously, if you want to see sewing at its best then you must check out Gail from Probably Actually's blog - her stuff is drool-worthy.  To make the robe I used two bath towels from Target (2 for $8 - ha!), a really lovely organic fabric called Gumdrops Red by Monaluna for the hood (my favourite bit of the whole robe ... too cute!),which I bought from Lima Sews, and a green spotted extra wide bias binding from Spotlight.  The actual pattern is simple and would suit an experienced beginner sewer - it's really just the insane amount of bias binding that is a bit tricky for a newbie (I may have said a couple of bad words quietly under my breath, or out loud, I can't be sure).  But if you take it slow and pin, pin, pin like crazy, it can actually be quite therapeutic and if my machine hadn't been playing up (totally my fault - no service in two years!!), it would have actually been a fairly stress-free experience. I do think it's the bias binding and the lined hood that makes this swimming robe a total adorable winner so it really is worth going to the extra effort (just whisper the naughty words). The only adjustment I made to the pattern was making the hood a little bit longer as Gail had mentioned in her blog that the hood was a bit short for her daughter. I can't wait to road test it at the pool this Thursday!
For the secret-squirrel Apron, I used an organic floral voile from Spotlight (sorry I cut the selvedge off the fabric and I can't remember the name of it) and a pink polka dot cotton for the lining.  This is a super-easy pattern and is a good first project.  I used this pattern from Ink & Spindle which is free - yes, free!  Pretty great. Sorry, I didn't get a very good shot of the Apron - this one is me holding it up during "show & tell" at the retreat, which happens on the last day.  We all sit around and goo and gah at what everyone has achieved over the weekend.

So, all in all, a really fabulous weekend with an equally fabulous group of lovely women all passionate about sewing and creating.  Such creative love in one room ... ahhhhh, can we do it again next weekend?  Please?

Have you been to a sewing retreat or a creative-style retreat?  Did you love it?  Did your cup runneth over? Do share.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

It's not rocket science

I know this is not rocket science but it has come in so useful to me over the past week that I thought it would be worth sharing.
As I whinged about mentioned in my last post, I've been pre-occupied and busy around our home the past few weeks packing for our upcoming big move and because of that I haven't had much crafting or activity time with my daughter while my son is at school.  This never fails to make me feel guilty.  I decided I needed a "grab & do" something.  A something that involved no glue, no scissors and no box of craft supplies. I googled "Activity Sheets for 3 year olds", went to the first site on the list, "School Express", and began printing off multiple copies of the sheets I knew would interest her the most, and that had an educational slant (mainly to help with her numbers and sounds). I know there are literally hundreds of sites that offer the same thing but I didn't want to waste time searching and then become too bamboozled to make a choice.  School Express has over 17,000 activity sheets (plus a whole host of other stuff that I didn't look at - again, I knew I would get sidetracked if I checked it all out) covering everything from Numbers, to Sounds, to Classifying, to Letters to Social Studies - exactly what I was after.

I made up a file to keep the sheets organised and close at hand.  I found these very cute and colourful free binder cover templates at A Year of Many Firsts blog, which were perfect, and saved me from making them up myself.  The only problem was the files weren't editable (unless you had PowerPoint) and I wanted an "Activity Sheets" cover, so here's how I got around it.  And, by the way, if you know of a smarter way to do it, and I don't doubt there is, please make sure you let me in on the secret!   
  1. I downloaded the binder cover I wanted as a PDF (if I had Powerpoint then it would've been easy to edit, but I don't)
  2. Saved it as a JPEG and closed it
  3. Opened it up in Paint
  4. Erased the existing binder title with the eraser tool
  5. Saved it so that I had a blank binder label (to use next time for something else)
  6. Opened Word and inserted it as a Picture
  7. Inserted a text box and typed in my Title
And because I couldn't find tabs that were visible under the plastic sheets, I made up some myself using patterned paper and clear adhesive labels from Avery. The tabs do stick out the side of the file but that doesn't bother me - a little jiggle when I pop it away makes the tabs slide back inside.

So now when my daughter starts to get irritable or bored because she's tired of Mummy packing like a crazy lady, I can easily grab a few sheets and sit down with her for 15 or 20 minutes.  Not only has she been enjoying it, she's learning too and I'm spending one-on-one time with her with not a glue stick or paint pot in sight! It really has been very handy, and like this post title says, "it's not rocket science" but it's good, basic stuff which is readily available at your fingertips at no cost.  It's the simple things ...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

ALBOQ {Snapshot}

Did I tell you we sold our house a few months back?  Yes, we did.  I know, very cool. It all happened very quickly and it was snavelled up at the first home open, which was really very exciting, and also a little bit sad - we actually didn't expect it to happen so quickly.  Anyway, we will be moving out in the next 6 or 7 weeks and so I have been really busy focusing on "the move" and beginning the serious packing process - which actually translates to I stand there, looking around, rubbing my head pondering where on earth to start.  It's a very overwhelming feeling, isn't it, packing up a whole house? And what it also means is those "little bits of quiet" that I rely on each day (for sanity and sneaky crafting time!) don't tend to be as available as they were a few months back and my creative pursuits have had to, rudely, take a back seat, not to mention having zero spare time to write up a blog post. So - instead of writing up one long post for one particular thing, I'm going to be a little Cheater McCheatster and give you a "snapshot" of the little bits and pieces I have done over the past couple of weeks, between packing and my daughter sleeping.  How does that sound?  I hope it sounds okay because I really don't have a Plan B.  Let's play ...

Did I also tell you I gave up coffee 42 days ago? No? Well, I did and what an absolute crazy idea that was.  I know I've mentioned it here before but I LOVE coffee, it is my daily pleasure, my love, my sanity, my pure golden joy ... I LOVE THE STUFF, and I miss it every flippin' day.  But, I am persevering with my break and am really just seeing now how long I can go without caving.  I feel it will be soon.  Anyway, I needed an alternative.  I needed a frothy hot drink to soothe my heart and mind.  I decided my saviour would be Chai Lattes - they are frothy, they are hot and they are yummy, mostly.  I started buying one almost daily, and I was enjoying them, but I found that almost all of them were way too sweet and I never actually knew whether it was "real" Chai or just some pre-mixed, additive-loaded guk.  I had an ingenious idea.  I would make my own Chai.  I Googled for a recipe and I discovered that actually everyone was making their own Chai, it was easy and my idea was not ingenious afterall.  I needed a coffee after that little let-down ... but I stayed strong.  I looked at quite a few recipes but ended up using this one from Tasty-Yummies, I just adapted it to suit me.  I left out the sugar, did everything in a pot because I don't have cheese-cloth laying around, and I added the tea bags towards the end - I thought it might be too strong having the tea bags simmering for 20 minutes.  It really is very basic to make and because you make a big batch at once the leftovers go in an airtight container or bottle in the fridge ready for tomorrow's cup.  I actually made enough for about 5 cups so I was good for the week, plus I have enough left over ingredients to make it again, and again.  But the very best thing is, it tasted great, like real Chai, not too sweet and I know exactly what's gone into making it.  I am still missing coffee but I have found Chai to be a very close second.

One of my favourite things to do is make up necklaces for my little girl - they don't always work out but I just find the process fun, cutesy and soothing.  I had ordered some little crocheted wood beads to make flower necklaces for my daughter's birthday party, as favours for her friends, but the beads were coming all the way from Latvia (I know that sounds dumb but you know what Etsy's like, you just get carried away and end up buying beads from Latvia!) and didn't arrive in time for her party.  I decided to make one for her and, lo and behold, it turned out.  I actually love it, and did I say it turned out?  The beads are held together with hot glue which gives the flower a bit of flexibility - always important when a 3 year old is tearing wearing it - and I sewed a jump ring (I think that's what they are called, a little metal circle) on the back and threaded through some satin string.  I think it's so pretty.  What do you think?
I also participated in a really fun little challenge called "The Creative Exchange", where I was partnered up with a fellow creative on Instagram, and after stalking them on Insta and Facebook, I packaged up a little box of treasures for them, suited to their likes and interests.  Someone will be doing the same for me.  Do you get it?  Basically it's love in a box, from a stranger.  How cool is that? 
I'd better not say who my exchangee is, in case she's still stalking me, but she has an obvious love affair with cookies and so my love box was made up of a handmade tea towel apron (oh my goodness, this is such an easy pattern, and so cute!), a pink spatula, a heart cookie cutter, a star cookie cutter, "You're One Smart Cookie" stickers (to be added to gifts), some pretty recipe cards and a cookie tin.  I really hope she likes it.  The Creative Exchange was hosted by the lovely and super talented Sam at Dunne with Style.  Thanks Sam - it was a whole lot of crafty fun!
The crappy looking wooden spoon and the pink spatula were not part of the gift - they were just for modelling purposes!
I also made some chocolate on Valentine's Day - y'know to show my love 'n all - but only 50% of my family liked it.  Both the males in my family thought it was "disgusting", but us females scoffed the lot.  I used the Natural New Age Mum's recipe which has been very slightly adapted from Sarah Wilson's "I Quit Sugar" book.  The Natural New Aged Mum said to give it to your Valentine and then "prepare for smooches" ... but that didn't happen in my house.  Perhaps it will in yours. :)
And last but not least (well, actually, it probably is least), I was so very excited when my gorgeous little furry felt balls arrived on my doorstep that I dived into making something for my daughter's bedroom.  I wanted to make a felt ball covered heart to hang above her bed, it was going to be adorable, it was going to be charming, it was going to be made with love ... well, it was at least one of those things.  It didn't turn out as I imagined and if I could've been bothered I would've pulled it all apart and kept the balls for another rainy day.  Instead, I showed my daughter, she said it was "coot" so I hung it on her wall and left it at that.  It is made with love and she calls it "her love" so that's enough for me.
And that, my friends, is my "Snapshot" - a rather lengthy snapshot but once I get started it's hard to stop.  Now, I really MUST get back to packing!  Catcha soon, I hope. x


Friday, February 7, 2014

Floral Friday - "Something Romantic"

I can't believe a month has gone by since my last Floral Friday post.  Wow, that four weeks certainly flew by.  This month's Floral Friday theme is "Something Romantic", as set by Trishie of Under Lock & Key, and while the reason for my flower this month isn't exactly what you would call "romantic" (a 3 year old's birthday party!), the flower itself fits the romantic tag perfectly and in fact is a big favourite for wedding bouquets - the most romantic moment of all!  So what did I choose this month?  Say Hello to the oh-so-delicate, oh-so-delightful ...


What is the name of this flower?
Lisianthus but also known as Prairie Gentians or Texas  Bluebells (commonly referred to as "Lizzies")

What is its Botanical name?

Where did I find them?
At my local florist - love that place!

What was I doing when I found them?
Looking for peonies for my daughter's garden tea party

Do they remind me of anything?
Yes! They remind me of a Hamptons-style country home, an old-fashioned high tea or a beautiful, romantic wedding

How do they make me feel?
Lighter, softer, feminine.  They are so pretty and delicate and are a joy to have in the home

Do they have a scent?
They look like they would have a beautiful scent but sadly, no fragrance

Where do they grow?
They grow natively in warm regions of southern United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and northern South America.  I wish they grew in my backyard (like last month's post)!

How ADORABLE are those buds?
Doing the perfect job at the tea party!
So, although my first choice for my daughter's party would have been Peonies (I missed the season by one week), the "Lizzies" did not disappoint and were the absolute perfect complement to my daughter's very girly, very pretty, very feminine little party.  And, I have found a new favourite flower!

There are quite a few other bloggers joining Under Lock & Key's Floral Friday challenge so please do take a moment to check out the links below to see what the other lovely bloggers in this series had to say about their "something romantic" flower.

Floral Fridays is a monthly photography project with different themes each month. This series is about fun and taking time out to smell the flowers. To play along, please email Trishie for next month's theme.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Garden Tea Party

We celebrated my daughter's 3rd birthday last week and the theme was "A Garden Tea Party".  Her last "big birthday bash" was when she turned one so I thought it might be the right time for another little celebration, something small, sweet and focused on her.  We don't do big birthday parties every year (which I've blogged about before, here and here) and even when we do have a party, it's usually a small affair with just a handful of kids.  This year, for my daughter, I wanted it to be just her little friends, not siblings of friends, not older kids and not her brother's friends.  Just a small few that she sees on a regular basis.  There were 5 gorgeous little ones in total - and it was the perfect amount.
They drank "tea" together, from real tea cups, they played together and they crafted together, making themselves a very flash garden tea party hat out of a paper plate and a paper bowl.  Such clever little beans.  And at the end of the party their little party favour was their very own, super-girly, super-cute, super-special tea cup.  It was the perfect morning and a really lovely setting for a little girl's party.  Here's a little look at her special day ...

Sneaking in a bit of drinking practice

Even big brother wanted in on the action

Our very own Alice in Wonderland
Let the hat-making begin!

Not quite how it should be worn
The perfectly floral and girly teacup party favour

Adorable teapot and teacup cupcakes.  Sooooo cute.

The End.

What special party theme's have you done for your kids? And have you enjoyed the day as much as them?  I certainly did and would say it was my favourite theme yet ... but who knows what future birthdays will hold!  Any suggestions?