Wednesday, 28 January 2009

this week why don't you... this (well a similar one)...

After buying some stationery from Little Brown Pen last year, I begged them to design something our readers could download for free on the website - they graciously agreed, despite my continuous annoying emails. And now you can download a bright and cheery pinwheel garden stationery set right here. And of course there are a gazillion more gorgeous designs to choose from at their Etsy store, like the dandelions we featured in the March issue (pictured. No image of the pinwheel garden, sorry - looooong story, but it's adorable!). And if you're after a unique Valentine's Day card, look no further than their very cool range. So big, big thanks to Evan and Nichole who have just moved to PARIS. Lucky things.

...high-five this...

Good old Bonds have answered my prayers and designed an organic line. It was only a matter of time, of course, but how cute are these leggings?? I think Miss L might be getting a pair in every colour... Cute tops available too - perfect for upcoming winter, which is ridiculous to even contemplate when the weather forecast for the week starts with a 4 most days... Available from Baby's Got Style

...try this...

Next time you make spaghetti (so, possibly sometime this week, right?!) add about two thirds a cup of tomato sauce to the bolognese mix and a teaspoon of sugar. I use this instead of tomato paste for a slightly runnier, sweeter taste. It's YUMMO and makes my homemade lasagne extra awesome as well. this...

I realise school has started back already, but if you hadn't got around to all that labelling of the lunchboxes and school bags and books and clothes, go to Bright Star Kids! My friend Lou told me about these the other day and while I'd heard about them I didn't realise they also did wall decals, clothing labels, kitchen labels, bin labels - labels for everything! Lots of yummy colours and too-cute designs to choose from. this...

Ever seen ecostore in Woollies? I first noticed them while looking to try a new washing powder (my son has eczmea and so everything is a drama!). Then I noticed they did soaps as well and one sniff and I was in love. Seriously the yummiest soap I've ever smelt is their Lemongrass one. Coconut comes a close second... But aside from the delicious smell, they're good for you - no scary ingredients, artificial colours, preservatives or perfumes make them great for sensitive skin. Z loves to open the cupboard and take a big whiff! They've also got a great baby range - I tried the body wash and NO reaction! It's the only one he hasn't had a reaction to and he is a different boy since using their washing powder - eczmea has barely made an appearance, even with the crazy hot weather. I'm hooked. Check out the full range of their products (shampoos, cleansers etc) as well as where you can buy near you (they sell internationally too) on their website.

Friday, 23 January 2009

sneak peek: real living march issue

March 2009: it's all about pattern on pattern on the cover

I know what you're thinking: it's still January and the March issue is hitting shelves on Monday? Ker-azy! Good for you readers who get another issue filled with goodies, but horrid for those working on it who had to work over Christmas to get it to the printers on time. Hopefully the April issue is a longer deadline... Here are a few pages to take you into the weekend. A little bit teasy, isn't it? Unless of course you subscribed - my mother-in-law got hers on Tuesday!

Tie-dye is, erm, leaving its mark on homewares

Office spaces you'll want to work in

Small-space tricks and plenty of eye candy

I didn't post too much exciting stuff this week, so apologies. I've been working crazily. But I have a few projecty things to show you soon. And if I can ever get hold of my builder, we should have a kitchen reno happening SOON. Hooray! Have a great weekend and happy Australia Day for Monday!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

did you guess?

Anyone pick what was unusual about my little hair makeover? Am hoping not, because that means I did good job! The whole thing was DIY: the colour and cut. And yes, this deserves its own post because it's hard work cutting your own hair without making it look like you cut your own hair. To be honest, there are a few floaty longer bits that Steve needs to tidy up for me, but overall? I'm rather thrilled. Haven't been to a hairdresser for about 18 months - Steve and I usually play hairdressers on the deck every few months. But I just might go soon and get them to do the colour properly. This is a wash-out, because there was no way I was braving anything longer than a week or so first time around! So yes, all that back-patting you hear is coming from me! And thanks for compliments! x

morphing into christy turlington

I'll have this cut and colour please. Christy images from Elle magazine via here

Oh ok, not so much. Although I'd very much like to! But I've loved her hair in this photoshoot since the mag came out. In 2002. I've taken a snap to the hairdressers pretty much every time I've been, but it never made it out of my bag. I always chickened out. But the past year I've worn my hair a little shorter, still never past the shoulders, and I thought it's not that much further up the hairline. And it will grow back. And my hair is dark blonde so a darker colour shouldn't be tooo scary....

So, seven years is a long time to make a decision about a haircut and colour change, but I finally did it. I realised I had no major plans for the next while so if it turned into a disaster, noone would see me anyway because I'm always at home and if I did go out, I'd don a hat.

Practically twins! That's me on the left (ha!). Side note: if you're ever feeling too good about yourself, place a pic of yourself next to a supermodel. It's guaranteed to knock your self-esteem down a few notches!

But happily, it's not a total disaster and I love it. More and more every time I look in the mirror. I even want to go darker! There is a (small) point to me posting a pic of me and my hair. I did it for work. The beauty feature in the March issue (out Monday) is all about beauty sceptics. I wondered what I'd do on the web to relate back to it, so figured I'd write about my own little makeover. So, can you guess what I was sceptical about? And what is a little unusual about the process?

A side view. Never had hair this short before. Or dark. Feel like a whole other person! Z even told me "cool hair mummy". He's hilarious.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

icy treat #2: freezies

It was soooo hot today, this was pretty much liquid after the photo was taken.

For as long as I can remember, I've been addicted to slurpies. The petrol station near my home would see my every day in summer (and every third day in winter) when I was growing up. And I'm now McDonald's biggest fan since they brought in their Frozen Cokes - don't even have to get out of the air conditioned car! But my absolute favourite frozen drink is the one I do myself. Could not be easier. If you hate it when your soft drink goes flat towards the end of the bottle, throw it in the freezer. Once frozen, take the bottle out and smash it hard on the ground - it's a very violent game this one - to loosen it up a little and then shake, shake, shake the bottle until it's all mushy. Then squeeze it into a glass (you might need to do some more banging and shaking here - a rather good workout!) and eat with a spoon. Yum. The good thing is, the fizz of the soft drink (even the flatish stuff) means it doesn't freeze as hard as ice and so breaks up nicely to make yummy slurpies. And you know it's not half water, like the shop ones are! My fave is the Deep Spring Orange and Mango Mineral Water. Mmm. Or plain Coke. There are three things I will never, ever buy cheapie homebrand versions of: toilet paper, tissues and cola. It needs to be Coke - or nothing!!

And for the bubbies...

Sassy Teether Feeder, $7.95, Baby Nest. You can also get something similar from Big W.

Can't forget the babies. Miss L is starting to teeth and is chomping down on anything and everything. The ice ring teethers are good, but this is even better: I pop an ice cube (or two) into this mesh feeder, smash it up with a heavy spoon and let her at it. She gets to suck and bite on the ice and actually get a result, something the teethers don't do. But boy you should see the tantrums when the ice runs out! These are also great for messy fruits like mango and banana. Oh and a tip on ice. I've found out (by accident - we have no cold water tap in the kitchen at the moment. It's literally falling apart, hence the need to get on with the reno!) that by freezing warm water, it breaks up itself into nice little bits when you crack it out of the ice tray. Good for little kids who like to eat ice as a snack (or is that just my children who do that?)

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

little peek: kids' rooms by pottery barn kids

Chalkboard paint rules. Really want to find plastic cookie jars like the ones on the bench. Anyone?

I was returning a book I'd bought my husband that he already owned (note to self: check bookshelf before buying classics) and instead of buying him something else he hadn't actually read before, I spotted this book and bought it instead. Most of the rooms aren't my taste at all, but I did like the way it was written and that the ideas are all doable. And if you just put your creativeness to good use, you can adapt the projects and ideas to suit your own style. Here are a few fave pages and ideas to steal from them...

Love this playroom: the table was a regular sized table but the legs had been chopped off so it's now child-sized.

I'm desperately seeking library-style book racks like the one next to this bed to pop at the end of my new kitchen bench (which is still in a box in my bedroom...) for the kids play spot I plan to create. Might need to get them built. Or maybe adapt a good-sized spice rack, perhaps!

Nice wall graphics (on right) and to the left is the back of a home office area that incorporates the kids and keeps them busy while you're working. Can't see any ideas to stop tiny children from demanding the "bunnies" (Sony Bravia playdoh bunnies commercial) on Youtube every time they see my laptop open. Damn. And damn me for introducing Z to Youtube.

Cute little crafty zone. Reminds me of my mum's preschool. The pegs and corkboard double as a drying rack and art display. And does anyone use wooden pegs to hang up clothes anymore?

This room I loved. World map murals look great in kids rooms. You can get one here from The Map Shop. And you can get similar box shelves from Big W. Yes, Big W! I think it's about $20 for three-different sized cubes for memory.

Sweet ways to display the plethora of books kids accumulate.

Shared rooms. Cute pic of the kids on the floor. Reminds me of when my sisters and I used to bunk together with our same-striped bedspreads mum made in our chosen colours. Mine was always lilac, Kristie was yellow and Gretchen was of course pink.

Monday, 19 January 2009

this week, why don't you... this...

Make your own library-like cards by simply filling in the boxes with text here. Great for blog to-do lists or unique messages. I thought I'd fill mine with some funny things Z has done in the past few weeks. this...

This lovely lady is called the Molly bag and is, like all her Louenhide sisters, going for 50% off at Real Shopping until January 29. Also, must check out pretty new cushions - might need to put the Paris one on my wishlist... And don't forget: free delivery for any purchase from this site. this...

Yes, even if you don't know children, Rafferty's Garden Apple, Pear + Cinanamon puree should be put into your shopping basket next time you get to the supermarket. Because if you heat it up a little bit and squirt it over a bowl of ice cream, you just might experience heaven. Also good without ice cream. My sister is a pilot and takes these with her so she has yummy healthy snacks at all times (cause we all know how good airline food is!). I'd love to see her co-worker's faces though when she whips out a pouch of baby food! Speaking of baby, no added anything and just what it says in the title also makes it good for the littlest ones. Miss L gobbles these down regularly. Oh, the site has great baby recipes too.

...join this...

Design, make, sell, buy, write about or do anything else that involves kids or kid's products? Join this brilliant online community - Skout - for all kinds of advice, friendship and networking. It's a great way to get your stuff known globally or just pick the brain of like-minded people. this...

I had a flick through Oliver Heath's new book Urban Eco Chic on Saturday and was thisclose to buying it. Only reason I didn't was because I was looking for something specific and had to save my pennies in case the next book shop had it (it didn't, but anyway... ). But it did look lovely - lots of great pics and a heap of info on living a stylish, but greener, life. So I had to check out if he had a website - of course he does! Some lovely pics and info on his site and blog.

Friday, 16 January 2009

ice treat #1: rocket ice blocks

I tried to get Z zooming it around, but he's not a very pilot. Oh wait - astronaut, right?

Apologies to those of you rugged up in your woollies watching snow fall outside, but over here, we've been sweltering in close to 40C heat. And nearly have to eat the entire contents of one's fridge and freezer when all the air conditioners in the area overload the power and cause a blackout. So to celebrate this typical Aussie summer, I thought I'd share some yummy icy treats we've been making in our house. It seems my love of frozen things has rubbed off on my son. He's obsessed with ice blocks, ice, frozen peas... So much so that the first thing I hear in the morning after "Hi Mum, I see Daddy and L?" is "Ice block? Please?" When I say no, he asks for ice. And damn our upside-down fridge, because I quite often find him sitting on the floor attempting to break up the ice cubes himself (cause they're too big for his mouth!). Anyway, Santa heard about this ice block obsession and stuffed his sack with these cool rocketship moulds from Chalet, $14. And here is what we fill them with...

Tingly tangly rockets
1 large orange, juiced (I do it by hand)
1 melon, chopped
1/4 fresh pineapple, chopped
Throw it all in a blender and whip up until smooth. You might need a dash of water to thin it out a tiny bit. Then pour into the moulds and freeze

Berry nice rockets
Half a punnet of strawberries
1/2 frozen raspberries
A nice large scoop of vanilla ice cream
Whip up in the blender, add some milk to thin if you wish then pour into moulds. This is a really yummy smoothie too, just add more milk.

These make six rocket ships. And one word on these Chalet moulds: the sticks that come with it catch all the drips, which is good in theory but in reality, it just means messy spillage when little kids zoom their ice blocks around. Also makes it impossible to eat the bottom of the ice block cause the stick is wider than the rocket. Annoying. So I just stick in some normal paddle pop sticks - the mixture is so thick, they stand up halfway despite them being shorter than the mould. And yes I know all this because I eat more of them than Z!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

cute project: customised book covers

Penguin Classics had a huge success with its orange, black and white covers this year. (They even let you design your own cover. How very cool.) But wouldn't you rather see the classics looking like this? Image via The Names Agency

This idea is possibly only for people with lots and lots of time on their hands, but I do love it so. I have a thing about paperback books. Of course I buy them because you're not exactly going to get The Devil Wears Prada in a hard cover coffee-table style are you? But I don't like how they look: all weird colours and slightly different sizes and widths. Brown craft paper is a popular recovering option, but I love this one the most. If I had a spare three years to recover each and every novel, travel guide and dictionary with pretty paper and uniformed custom-made book labels, I so would.

Even though it's a highly impractical idea for your entire book collection (unless yours is, like, seven), it would work well to hide the really butt-ugly spines or hardcover books you'd like to use to bulk up your coffe-table display but just aren't pretty enough. Or just with a small collection you'd like to pop on a display shelf or buffet top.

But I could especially see it working as a gift. Say you bought your sister all of Candace Bushnell or Jodi Picoult's books as a collection - how much would she love unwrapping it and seeing the books looking like this? The hardest part would be getting the spine labels the right widths, but you could always cheat and do it the other way, in which case you'd have more room to work with. Oh and did I mention it'd be a GREAT thing to do with leftover wallpaper? Because it would. And I don't often mention wallpaper, do I??? Ha!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

hip hip hooray!

Lovely Brooke is slaving away for me on a new blog header - yay!

For me! Because I was lucky enough to win the blog design giveaway at ohbrooke. Weirdest thing: there I was clicking through a few of the nicely-designed blogs I read trying to work out if they were wordpress or blogger (oh the exciting life I lead) when I decided to peek at Making it Lovely's blogroll. First one I clicked on was ohbrooke and I had a little read and there was this giveaway (I blogged about it briefly on Monday) for a blog design. Could it have come at a better time? Especially when I was so jealous of Lisa Tilse winning a blog design over at The Red Thread and thinking what an awesome idea it was for creative types to do and then I stumbled upon this one! So I entered, thinking "I'm going to win this on". And I did! I also had that feeling with the La La Lovely comp too where I won a Made By Girl poster. So, anyway, I sent through some ideas to Brooke today and hopefully it won't be too long before all is revealed! But if you want a redesign, she's posting her price list soon - and good news: it won't send you broke! Plus, if you put her ad up on your site, she'll give you a discount.

tiny chairs are taking over my house

I can just see L all dressed up in her pretty yellow frock rocking away in here clutching a doll or some sort and sipping a pretend cup of tea. Cu-ute!

It's true. Soon, they will out-number adult-sized chairs. At the moment, we have 8: a Stokke Tripp Trapp (with another one to come soonish), two wooden Ikea ones that came with a mini table, a child-sized green suede armchair, a little wooden antique chair painted turquoise, a purple Bumbo, a black bouncer and now this little wooden rocking chair - my fave! I just need a baby-sized Cape Cod chair to match my own one and I'll be happy. Oh and maybe a tiny Eames rocker - anyone know if they exist?

But back to this little rocker. I'd just spent a few thousand at Harvey Norman on kitchen appliances when I decided to pop into a cute little baby store around the corner from it. This was the first thing I saw. I ooohed and ahhed, but decided I couldn't really hide it (as, um, I often do with some purchases. Then when the hubby finally gets around to noticing it I can say "had it for aaaaaaaaaaages". Naughty.) and told the lady so. But then she knocked off a huge chunk of the price and I practically robbed her at $60. How could I say no? Especially when you compare it the last purchase's receipt! The store is a must-see if you're on or near the central coast - it's called Blossom Bubbas (ph: 02 4367 6900) and stocks a beautiful collection of children's decor, clothing and gifts, including Oobi Baby and Lilly & Lolly as well as local crafties who've started their own lines and are just adorable like Four Little Cupcakes and Little Buddha.

And just because little baby wardrobes are too cute, here is the contents of L's. She likes to shop at Country Road, Pure Baby, Oobi Baby, Cotton On Kids and Pumpkin Patch. Well, her mum and aunties do anyway. The little yellow cardigan was made by my Nana. I "bagsed it" years before I even fell pregnant the first time with Z!

The chair has since moved into the already-overflowing-with-chairs living room because from lunchtime yesterday, this same space now looks like this:

My new kitchen - you like?

Oh yes, my kitchen cabinets, benchtop, sink and tap arrived. Fifty two boxes. The poor guys couldn't fit the truck through the gates so had to park in the street and walk alllll the way down the driveway, and then along the obstacle course of a deck into our bedroom where they're being stored until it's ready to go (hopefully a couple of weeks only). And it was HOT. So anyway, there were two young, hot sweaty men in my bedroom for a while yesterday. How horrid for me!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

milk + cookies

The aftermath: not too bad for a two-year-old!

In between the ridiculously hot days we've been having here, we were thrown a rather cold 17C day last week. Seeing as it came straight after a 40C day, I considered it freezing and was expecting snow. So, being all overcast and uninspiring, I decided it was a good cookie day. And just to blow my own trumpet here, my choc chip cookies are the yummiest. Look hideous, taste heavenly. Anyway, Z and I whipped up a batch and gathered 'round the coffee table to scoff them down, perched on my Chrissy presents from Steve (that I bought! And my gift to him was clothes that he bought! We don't really like surprises). Aren't they lovely? I'd been searching for these poufs for what seemed like forever. Well, I knew where to get them, but I was after a bargain. And finally - finally! - I found one. Bless eBay.

So, here's what you need to know. Even with the crappy Aussie dollar, each was $150 (inc postage from the UK), which is a good $50 less than the next best price I found for something similar. They're new, leather, handstitched in Morocco and are sold unstuffed to keep postage costs to a minimum. Stuffed, they stand at about 30 centimetres and are 50cm in diameter. They're perfect for the kids - Z has taken up residence on the one at the end of the table for lunch, drawing, reading and just hanging out. But don't let their size fool you - these things are bottomless pits of storage space. In one there is a sleeping bag, queen-size woolly mattress protector, two good-sized garbage bags filled with baby clothes and there is still space for more. The other has another two bags of old clothes, a doona and some of Steve's old shirts. Great storage for old stuff, but be warned: they do smell rather yucky on the inside so don't put good stuff in there in case it doesn't come out in the wash!

Want one? You can get them here: Leather World Shop. They also come in a range of other colours like maroon, fuchsia and turquoise. I know what my sisters are getting for their birthdays this year!

Monday, 12 January 2009

this week why don't you... this...

My latest blog obsession is Inchmark by a former Martha Stewart Weddings and Kids graphic designer. Everything is beautiful, the ideas are unique and you can tell special thought and love go into everything she creates. If there is such a thing as a blogger crush, Brooke Reynolds is mine at the moment! I'm going to steal this idea (above) to make door plaques for my kids' room. this...

It's fab! It's funny! It's free! The ever-popular Stay Calm and Carry On poster has been spoofed and shrunk into a greeting card. Download it here from Creature Comforts and print onto card. Or you could probably even print out on A4 size card and frame as normal.

...cook this...

Make these yummy blueberry muffins now in time for your 4pm sugar hit. And if you do all that mixing by hand, the exercise will cancel out the bad stuff you consume!

...try this...

This pretty light started out as an odd little froggie lamp from Ikea's children section, can you believe it? Nicole from Making it Lovely shows you here how to glam it up easily. Oh look! Another use for wallpaper. Is there anything it can't do?

...enter this...

Blog in desperate need of someone to wave their magic wand over it? Leave a comment on this post at Oh Brooke and you could be lucky enough to win a blog redesign by the author/clever creative designer. You have until today (Monday, Jan 12) but luckily, we're ahead of the States, so even if you don't read this until Tuesday morning, it'll still be Monday over there! Tricky! Great blog too with all sorts of handy decorating tips and tricks.

welcome back!

How I spent my holidays: lazing around home chilling out. Only not quite so glamourously... Maybe next summer when I get a daybed! Image via The Names Agency

How was your break? I'm happy to report I pretty much did absolutely nothing and barely crossed a thing off my to-do list. It was heaven being so lazy. I'm not one for making new year's resolutions, so none of that here, but I will take this opportunity to tell you a little about where I'm headed in blogland. I've been thinking recently about what direction I want to take with my blog. It started out as a record of my renovations and attempts at creating a home, but as I'm sure you're aware has taken off in different tangents at times. Then I started mini meez to satisfy the mum side of me, but I'm finding more and more than I really want to merge the two a little and focus on family/home life. And seeing as I'm also now going to be partly looking after the Real Living blog also, three is way too many for one already-busy person! So, as of today, I'm not writing mini meez anymore. I'm also going to be making a few tiny changes here in terms of content and eventually - if I get my act together - I'll be redirecting you to another blog altogther which I really hope you'll continue to read. But until then, I'll do my best to stay true to the title and post pretty pics, ideas and of course my never-ending renovation. However, they might be a little sporadic (what's new!?!) - between the blogs, the website, writing for the mag, looking after the bubs and renovating, my time is greatly stretched. I do see a light though - the kitchen cabinets are being delivered tomorrow, the electrician is upgrading our power box Wednesday and the appliances will be here within the week. Hoo-bloody-ray!

One more thing: if you've been re-reading older posts, you might have noticed the pics of kids are missing. I'd love to continue to share them with you, but I was always a bit nervous about posting them and then lately certain things have happened, certain thoughts have crept into my mind and certain people have helped me decide that it's time to keep them a little more anonymous. The baby pics are still there, but everything else I've taken down. They'll still make appearances, but I'll just have to be a little more creative from now on!

Ok, seriousness over, let's blog! Bx

Thursday, 8 January 2009

pssst: a few more pages from the issue

Love the nursery - my collection of driftwood was (previous post) to make a mobile but seeing as I left it on the beach I'm sure it's drifted back off to sea!

Happy new year! I'll be back properly from Monday, so until then, drool over these. Or just look at them! I posted them on Deb's blog today, which by the way will be updated more regularly this year - our new year's resolution! Bx