Category Archives: Blah Blah

Homemade Easter Baskets

easter basket1With the school holidays leading up to Easter this year, it has given us plenty of time for crafty things. I wanted the kids to make their own Easter baskets for their Easter hunt this year and I found this great tutorial for homemade Easter baskets on the Internet.

The kids absolutely loved this. I had a stash of fabric remnants I purchased a year ago for some sewing project that never happened. The kids chose their favourite colours and we got busy gluing them to the balloon.

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I decided to make my own glue from flour and water so that we didn’t have to leave the house. The first part of these baskets were made in our pyjamas before 9am. If I had have waited until we were dressed and ready to go and buy glue, it would never have happened!

I hung them outside to dry, and brought them inside late in the afternoon. They were already dry by then but I kept the kids waiting overnight to finish them, because stretching one craft project over two days takes care of two days worth of activities and is winning.

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Because the glue was made from flour and water, it kind of exploded everywhere when we popped the balloons. Like a cloud of dandruff. Everywhere. Hilarious.

I think they turned out pretty cute. If I was going to do them again – which we may do next year – I would probably trim off the black sharpie line that transferred to the fabric from the balloon. But apart from that, I love them and the kids are super pleased with their Easter baskets.

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Grampians – Camping in the Rain

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So we did it. We packed our tent and headed to the Grampians. The weather forecast said not to, but we couldn’t change the dates our dog was being looked after so instead of cancelling, we soldiered on with gumboots and brollies packed and hope in our hearts. That dog is holding me back from my travel dreams and I blame him for all my woes. All of them.

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A three hour car trip demands in car entertainment and these seat back activity packs were a winner.

We arrived and chose a camp site close to the playground. Everything was puddles. And mud. And Kangaroo shit – but that is always there – not just when it’s raining.

The kids like jumping in muddy puddles, so they really enjoyed it for the most part. I threw my toys when the tent started leaking and we changed our accommodation to something warmer and drier – and less muddy. I’m so glad we did otherwise it would have been a very unpleasant – and damp – night.

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Thumbs down to rain inside the tent!

The kids loved the adventure of packing the car and finding our new accommodation in the dark and rain.

The lovely Michael at Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist park was so nice. He helped us find alternative accommodation close by (as their own cabins were all booked out) and he also refunded our camp-site fee which was unnecessary but much appreciated.

The next morning, Darren went back to get our very soggy tent while I stayed in the motel with the kids which was definitely the better part of the deal.

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Kangaroo at our motel

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The kids insisted on having their photo taken with the big ice-cream

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Waiting for breakfast

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Chocolate pancakes with ice-cream!

After a delicious breakfast, and a visit to the fudge shop to stock up, we drove into the mountains and into the clouds, turning back when we could no longer see the road ahead. With nothing left to do that didn’t involve more mud, we went home a day early. :(

The Grampians are still gorgeous in the rain, with low clouds making it look all the more magical. The weather stopped us taking any of the walks which was disappointing but we will be back… in the less wet months.

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Camping at Castlemaine

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I totally forgot to blog about camping. Our little family went camping for the first time back in January.

We have had the tent since Millar was a baby, but never taken it further than the backyard, and have never spent the night in it.

We decided to stay close to home in case it all went pear shaped and we needed to come home. Castlemaine is only an hour away from us, so we booked into the Big4 for the weekend, loaded up the car and off we went.

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Our trip was almost over before it began when a tent pole broke. But a trip to the local Bunnings to purchase the fix-all duct tape and cable ties made it all better (but I think we’ll get a new one before our next trip).

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The kids LOVED Camping. The novelty of sleeping in a tent was awesome.

The jumping pillow at the big 4 was awesome. The kids in the tent next door who were the exact same age and had cool toys were awesome. Everything was awesome.

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The first night was hideous where sleep was concerned. Xanthe kept waking up and crying and we did not get a lot of sleep. But the kids STILL loved it. We stumbled through the next day and went to local Australia day celebrations and had a much better sleep on the second night.

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Overall, we had an awesome time and the kids declared it the best weekend EVER!

With the kids occupied and happy, jumping on the jumping pillow which we could see from our tent, Hubby and I even got to relax a bit which was great.

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We cant wait to go camping again and have booked into a camp site in the Grampians during the upcoming school holidays. We are all really excited…. However, I checked the weather forecast and it is not looking good at all!

We are in for a very wet camping experience indeed! There may even be thunder and lightning! this could completely change the way the kids feel about camping. This may be declared the worst weekend ever.

Gumboots, raincoats and umbrellas are now on the packing list, but I really hope the weather changes its mind for us.

I’m trying to keep positive. Perhaps the kids will love it anyway.

Have you ever taken kids camping in the rain?

Tightening the Belts

piggybank

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Seven years ago, when hubby and I first moved to Australia, we both had full time jobs and no kids and we had money coming out of our ears. We were spending it as quickly as it came in though. It all went on cigarettes and alcohol, nights out and fun stuff. Those were the days.

Things changed dramatically when Millar was on the way. We had to stop all of our partying ways, not just for the health of the impending baby, but also for our financial health. We had to learn to live on one income once the baby came.

We were surprised to find we were actually pretty good at it. This new budgeting thing was a bit of a fun game for awhile and we enjoyed the challenge and I do love a colour coded budget spreadsheet! But we also came to enjoy pay rises and new jobs that bought in more money. A bit of part time work for me, a move to the suburbs and life became much easier financially.

Pretty soon, the budget was out the window and we were spending money quicker than it came in again. This time, on school fees, ballet class, clothes, toys and stuff that our now two kids required.

We had made it this far without using a credit card but the move to India in 2012 made a credit card a necessity, and one that we didn’t cancel upon our return to Australia.

The credit card was quite handy for those extra expenses when we were buying this house too!

But now, as home owners with rates and water bills, and back to one income, we have gone back to that colour coded spreadsheet and our belt tightening, money saving game face is on! One of the first things we did, after looking at our budget, was organise a balance transfer for the credit card. Credit card companies and banks often offer low or 0% interest on balance transfers for 6 to 12 months to encourage you to join them. We decided to use this to our advantage. We transferred what we could afford to pay off within that 0% time frame. So far it’s going well and we are getting back on top of the finances without having to sacrifice any of the extras we’ve gotten used to. YAY!

It’s like magic money juggling. If you want to have a go yourself then you can find out more about what a balance transfer is here.

It also means I don’t have to put Xanthe in daycare and Millar in before and after school care and go and find a job. I don’t know if there would be much left after all the day care fees anyway. It’s a huge juggle to make this stay at home with the kids thing actually work! But this way works for my family.

Sometimes all it takes is a bit of money juggling to make the belts a little less tight.

But if you do know of a job that I can do from home while still interacting with my kids and that pays heaps of cash for about 2 hours work a day – let me know!