Books, food, parenting and healthy living

20 Days To Organise & Clean Your Home Challenge Part 1

I’m beginning the Spring-Cleaning season by joining in the “20 Day Challenge” run by The Organised Housewife. There were a few days of pre-challenge tasks, which included beginning a Folder for tasks, and setting some goals.

One task was to answer the following questions (my answers are in bold).

  1. I want to feel SERENITY while I’m at home.
  2. I want to spend more time COOKING REAL FOOD.
  3. I want an area of the home where I can READ & PRAY.
  4. I want to organise MY PAPERWORK.
  6. Something that I don’t need anymore , but am having trouble parting with CLOTHES I DON’T WEAR ANYMORE.

I’ve also begun to think about what my ideal morning and evening routine would be. I prefer the word ‘ritual’ over ‘routine’, as it is not confined to a certain time or order of events, but I’ll use the word ‘routine’ during the challenge.

I’m currently working on Day 1’s challenges. Luckily I don’t have a dishwasher (hmmm.. that’s the first time I’ve been thankful forthat!!) so I was able to skip right over step 1 😉

Today I have:

7. Cleaned the overhead cupboards (this involved more vigorous scrubbing than dusting..)
8. Cleaned the cupboard doors
9. Cleared the kitchen benches and returned only what is necessary and functional.
10. Cleaned the benches and splashbacks.

Wish me luck with the rest! Are you joining in? Share with me if you are 🙂

Building a house

The last few months seem to have flown by. We are in the process of building our first house, and it’s very exciting but it seems like we’re making decisions constantly. We had our own plan drafted, so right from the start, we were choosing room dimensions, window sizes and spacing, and the arrangement of the bathrooms and kitchen.

Here are 10 things that we have had to choose – some decisions have been very quick.. others involved weeks (or months!) of research!

1. A builder! We had quotes done from more ‘project style’ builders in our nearest major centre (100km away), but in the end went with an independent local builder. Some of our friends have built with him a few times, and recommended him, and their house was a recommendation in itself. He has consulted with us throughout the process, and has given us creative freedom in nearly all areas which has been great.
2. Bricks – we choose Ember Glow from Warwick Brickworks. They are individually made and fired, and we love the unique appearance, and high quality of these solid bricks. Check them ourhere
3. Kitchen – ‘Flint Crystal’ Formica (the budget didn’t stretch to granite benchtops!) with  Polar White Laminex cupboards (these are being installed today!!)
4. We picked up a couple of bargains – a Smeg Rangehood on clearance for what I think was less than 20% of its original retail price.
5. Our oven is a double Omega one – so we have quite a range of appliance brands in our kitchen!
6. The Blanco ceramic stove top is very similar to this one, and we also found this at less than half the retail price. It’s still more than we had planned to spend, but I love the large double burner, so I think it will be great. 7. We have chosen a shade of grey from the Wattyl Interior Design paint range for our internal walls. I was concerned about VOC emissions, and this seemed to be a good choice, and the Wattyl ID website says that the paint has no odour or irritating chemicals, and is certified as environmentally preferable by Good Environmental Choice Australia.
8. And then we did the ’tile selection’ through Andersen’s.. decisions, decisions, decisions! We have chosen silver/black/blue as our colour theme, and I’m in love with some of the little feature tiles we’ve chosen for the kitchen splashback and bathrooms.
9. The carpet is a Burba one, in a dark blue fleck. I wasn’t able to do as much research into VOC’s as I would have liked, but hopefully in choosing a wool carpet, we have made a good choice.
10. Similarly, we did ‘selections’ through a local plumbing store for taps and sinks, and a ‘light’ selection from the electrical store too – fans, room lights, downlights, featurelights.. My head still hurts thinking about it..!

There seems to have been a hundred other little things that we have had to look at along the way, which hasn’t been easy with a 20 month old in tow.. I’ve been very thankful to my husband for making a lot of decisions without much help from me. The house is being bricked today, and it feels like it’s all coming together! I’m in cleaning and sorting mode in our current house now, in preparation for the move. I’m starting the 20 Days to Organise & Clean Your Home Challenge today. It might seem a bit crazy to be doing it when we’re about to move, but I’m hoping that by having sorted and tidied this house now, that packing and cleaning as we leave will be easier.

Any tips for making decisions? Or for packing and moving?!

Reusable food storage.

I’m always looking for new ways to cut down, or even eliminate, plastic usage in our kitchen, and when out and about. I’d love to never have a single-use plastic bag in the house again, and even better, so have all our food storage in glass or stainless steel. Here are some of my favourite finds.

  1. 4MyEarth has just released their new food covers, I’d love to get some soon.
  2. I love my wraps and pockets from 4MyEarth too. I was given some for Christmas, and have since purcahsed more.
  3. I just discovered Harvest Haversack through a giveaway at Tooodayi. *Be quick, the giveaway ends on 31st July! *  The Bread Bag would answer one of the problems I was contemplating in my last post..
  4. I keep all my glass bottles to put pantry staples in, but have to say my Nuigini Coconut Oil ones are my favourite.
  5. I have 3 different sizes of Ecotanka stainless steel drink bottles, and love them both for home and travelling.
  6. My daughter has a Kiddie Concepts drink bottle, just like Mum’s Ecotanka!
  7. My little bag of Onya Weigh bags are great for buying fruit and veges without the plastic.
  8. I found a Foogo on special while shopping one day, and have loved having an insulated container to keep food warm or cold while out.
  9. I have 3 of these Lunchbots containers, which I love for going out, as well as serving and storing snacks in at home.
  10. And of course, reusable shopping bags are great. I have a light weight basket which is wonderful for taking to the Farmer’s Market, as well as a variety of lightweight bags that fold up and clip onto a keyring.

What are your favourite reusable food storage items? I’ll be back soon with a post on what’s been happening for the last couple of months, and some goals for blogging in the future.

Searching for reusable alternatives

Help me out.. what can I use instead of these disposable, single-use items?

  1. Dental floss
  2. Cotton buds (mainly used  for drying ears)
  3. Freezer bags – for separating bulk lots of meat to freeze
  4. Something to put meat in when buying it from the butcher/supermarket other than plastic bags
  5. Bread bags when buying fresh bread from places like Brumbies
  6. Paper towel – to cover food when reheating in the microwave
  7. Batteries – I need to invest in some rechargable ones. Do they come in sizes other than AA?
  8. Plastic cutlery when eating takeaway – I’ve seen little cutlery sets that clip together in camping shops, maybe I should get a set or two for my handbag.
  9. Plastic bags for bin liners (I’ve run out at the moment.. using strange bits and pieces like the carrot bag..)
  10. Razor – yep, probably should get an electric razor for my legs?

Jobs I’ve had

  1. Piano Teacher
  2. Accompanist 
  3. Background musician in restaurants
  4. Applied Behaviour Therapist with a little autistic child
  5. Vacation Care childcare worker
  6. Trainer at Curves Gym
  7. ‘Research Assistant’ (fancy title for one of those people who accosts you in shopping centres to do a survey..)
  8. Foodcourt cleaner (never EVER again!)
  9. Currently..? a housewife..
  10. And a mother!

Slings, wraps and carriers

  1. Ring Sling – my first sling, purchased from markets at the beach before my daughter was born. It was bright coloured with yellow, red, orange, pink and white stripes. I couldn’t work out how to use it, until a wonderful friend showed me how when my baby was about 5-6 weeks old. And I’ve been baby-wearing ever since! This one is now with a friend up north.
  2. HotSling – I bought #2 and 3 when my daughter was about 3 months old using credit from an online store (I’d bought two nursing tops that exposed your stomach when you tried to access the ‘discreet feeding panels’.. the store wouldn’t refund me the money, so I choose to buy carriers rather than risk money of terrible clothes again. I’ve had other nursing tops that were brilliant, so it was just this particular design). The HotSling was mainly used for quick trips, such as getting the mail.
  3. Sleepy Wrap – I used this wrap from about 3-10 months, and found it great for long periods of time, and breast-feeding on the go. The only downside was that I really had to tie it on before I left home, as I didn’t like letting the fabric trail on the ground in the carpark as I was tying it. 
  4. Ergo carrier – I’d been unsure about how I’d find structured carriers, as I’m fairly short, until I was able to try an Ergo on at a shop while away on holidays. I ordered one as soon as I got home! We’ve been using it ever since, from 10 months to now, and I’m sure we’ll be using it for much longer. In the past 7 months, I’ve actually been baby-wearing more than with a young baby, as I gave up on trying to get my daughter to sleep on her own during the day, as she’d always wake after 20-40 minutes. She now sleeps in the ergo during the day, and mostly has a much needed 2-3 hour sleep. 
  5. Second sleepy wrap – I bought this second-hand off a local sell/swap/buy site, with the intention of it being a back-up when purposes of being able to lend it to anyone who asked about mine, and also as a back up if I’m privileged to have another baby down the track (my first often did little sick-ups in the ring sling, and I’d be desperately waiting for it to try so we could use it again!). I didn’t realise how many more I was about to acquire.. I now lend this to anyone who asks about baby-wearing for them to try.
  6. Peanut Sling – Bought second-hand from the same sell/swap/buy site. I leave it in the boot of the car, incase I somehow forget to put the ergo in.
  7. Baba Sling – another second hand one, sent to me by a generous person after I saw one second hand and asked about it. I need to find someone who’d like to borrow this one?
  8. Catbird Mei Tai – I was the lucky winner of this one through a giveaway, and it is what I reach for when the Ergo needs a wash (which it needs regularly.. but gets rarely!). I prefer this one over the Ergo for back carry, as I can tie the straps how I like, whereas the Ergo seems to pull on my stomach (suggestions anyone?)
  9. Limited Edition AngelPack ‘Natalie’ on its way once released – I could not be more excited about this one..!! AngelPack and their Australia distributor, Ninky Bear, ran a competition to select a fabric for a LE AngelPack, and not only did my choice make it to the 6 finalists, but won! The print is a black and white paisley, and will go with everything – I’m planning on using this as my ‘going out’ carrier, and keeping the faded ergo for farmwork and home. 
  10. I was going to say my husband’s shoulders and my hip for this last point.. but I’ve decided to leave it open. One day soon I’d love to make it to a sling meet and learn how to back carry with a Woven Wrap. I think I’d then have to buy one of my own..
What slings/wrap/carriers do you have? And what’s your favourite?

Things that make me sneeze..

I’m sitting here sneezing and coughing, and hoping like crazy that this cold builds up my immunity for the rest of winter. I’ve been washing some much appreciated hand-me-down clothes today, thought I may as well sneeze from them at the same time that I’m sneezing from being sick. I used to get hayfever constantly, and never knew whether I had a cold or hayfever. I’m aware of most irritants now, so try to avoid the ones I can, and can at least identify what’s causing the problem when I’m out and can’t control the environment.
  1. Cats, houses where there’s been a cat.. and people wearing clothes they’ve been near a cat in.. 
  2. Horses
  3. Dust (outdoor, especially grain/hay dust)
  4. Dustmites in houses – carpets, blankets, clothes in storage (even washed jumpers in zip-lock bags.. don’t ask me why)
  5. Papers (newspaper print, tissues..)
  6. Perfumes
  7. Aerosols (especially deodorants and insect sprays)
  8. Most cleaning products
  9. Regular laundry powders
  10. And at the moment.. even sifting flour..!! Arghhh

Books we’ve been reading together since newborn days

  1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?
  2. Australian Babies (Magabala Books)
  3. Farm Book – Lamaze
  4. Touch & Feel – Steve Parish
  5. The Very Busy Spider
  6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  7. Time for Bed – Mem Fox
  8. My Nursery Rhyme Collection
  9. Nicola Tuxworth picture books
  10. Hop on Pop

10 signs that your newborn is super smart

Baby Einstein already? from

via 10 signs that your newborn is super smart.

Reusable cloth products

  1. Modern Cloth Nappies (MCN’s)
  2. Cloth wipes (for baby’s bottom) 
  3. Wet bags (to bring home wet nappies, to store nappies in until the next wash at home, and much more)
  4. Change Mats
  5. Menstrual pads
  6. Breastpads
  7. Handkerchiefs
  8. Facewashers (for sticky fingers, and any other time disposable wipes might be called for)
  9. Dish cloths – for the sink and benches
  10. Cleaning cloths – for everything else, including floors, windows, dusting.
 #1-4 are washed together and the rest go together in the normal washes with either clothes or towels. 
I’m a bit particular with my cleaning cloths, so the dishcloth is often replaced a few times a day!

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