19 December 2014

Merry Christmas / Season's Greetings / Happy Holidays

For me Christmas is not just about the presents and Santa, although it's all very nice, its about spending time with the people you love. Sharing food and some wine, telling stories, enjoying each other's company and making memories to look back on over the years.  

Merry Christmas!

I will be taking some time off over the Christmas/New Year break so won't be blogging for a few weeks, as I will have my hands full with my two girls. I am looking forward to spending some quality family time with Hubby being on holidays, and will be busy planning Popette's upcoming "Frozen" birthday party. I can't believe she is turning 6!

I want to take this time to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and happy holidays. If you are spending time with family, like we will be, I hope you make the most of your day. We have a yummy lunch planned at our place with our Mothers and Hubby's family. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be a nice Summer's day (I don't want to say it too loud, but it always seems to rain on Christmas day here) and we get to enjoy eating outside.

See you here again in 2015!

10 December 2014

My guiding words wrap-up for 2014

This year has gone by so fast. At the beginning of the year I picked not 1, but 3 guiding words, Positive, Savour and Reclaim. 3 words...what was I thinking!?! Probably not the best idea I've ever had, but I gave it a shot! 

My guiding words for 2014

Positive - As a worrier and a complete stress-head, I find being positive can be difficult at times. This is a work in progress for me, but the good thing is that I am noticing when I'm feeling negative and change my mood. I also try to remember (even if I don't always post about them here) things that I am grateful for.

Popette playing keyboard at her first ever performance

Savour - I have been savouring time spent with my family this year. With Popette starting Kindy, I was also very fortunate to attend many of the school events and help out in her class with reading groups. Watching Popette play keyboard at her first concert performance was a highlight for Hubby and I. Popette has only been learning since Term 4 and played wonderfully. Moments like these have been a joy, and something I will always savour.  

A photo of my gorgeous family taken on our 18th wedding anniversary day out

Reclaim - I spent a little time on reclaiming my art & drawing this year, as well as got the sewing machine out and made a dress for Popette. I hadn't sewn anything in such a long time, so I felt rather proud of myself in completing Popette's Queen Elsa (Frozen inspired) dress. While its not the same as ones you buy in the shops, I like to think of it as a "Special Edition" as it's the only one of its kind.

Popette in her Queen Elsa dress

I failed with decluttering the house and getting fit & healthy. I really need to make a go of the gym next year. I started off well, but then we had months of sickness, old injuries flaring up, and Hubby coming home late from work which gave me an excuse not to go! 

Hopefully I can sort through more of the clutter over the holidays. I have made a few donations of kids clothes, toys, and baby stuff to the local Op shop, but still have to empty out the buffet and pack some things we no longer use or need and drop them off to the Salvos or Vinnies.

Next year

I have Cherub starting preschool 2 days per week next month. I’m still unclear on what I want to do work-wise, and when I will return to work. I'd so love to find a job in a creative area, or something that I can do from home.

I still haven't decided on my guiding word for next year....so stay tuned. 

If you had a guiding word, did you get what you wanted out of it?

03 December 2014

Christmas craft & recipe link-up

Over the past couple of years the girls and I have made quite a few little Christmassy craft projects. This year I have been a bit slack, and haven't prepared many crafts for them leading up to Christmas, so off to Pinterest I go in search of some inspiration!

I don't have any new Christmas craft too share at the moment, so thought I'd link up to ones that we have created in the past as well as some of my yummy recipes that are always nice to create for loved ones at Christmas. 

I hope you enjoy them :)


My girls love to help make the gingerbread men


My yummy shortbread

***Christmas craft***



Toilet roll reindeers

Folded paper Christmas tree

Recycled Christmas card tree

P.S. If you are a bit late in getting together an Advent Calendar. Check out this cute cotton wool ball Santa we found on Pinterest, which Popette did a couple years ago. All you need is a printer, glue and some cotton wool balls! :)

27 November 2014

Creating our advent calendar

This year instead of buying one of those licensed advent calendars filled with cheap chocolate from the supermarket, I wanted to create a calendar filled with special outings, craft activities, treats and other fun things the girls could do together. I also wanted to avoid them fighting over who was getting the chocolate from the calendar. Which then would make me feeling guilty for not buying two calendars!

I originally thought of making my own advent calendar, but when I weighed up the cost to buy all the pieces I needed I found it cheaper to buy one instead. So off I went in search for the perfect advent calendar. 

The calendar I was searching for had to be festive, have little pockets that could be filled with treats or notes, and something that was long lasting, so we could use it over and over again. We found this cute little Christmas tree in Myer, which the girls love and can't wait for it to be pinned up Monday. 

To get you in the Christmas spirit, I've jotted down 25 ideas that we've come up with to fill the little pockets of our advent calendar.

  1. Write a letter to Santa {Its never too late - here you can email the Jolly Old Fella or complete a letter online!}
  2. Spend the day Christmas shopping
  3. Play Christmas carols on the iPod, keyboard and have a sing-a-long
  4. Wrap up Christmas presents
  5. Buy an ornament from the Christmas shop {Our girls love the Christmas store at Myer}
  6. {Special Outing} - Catch the train into the city to see Christmas tree in Martin Place and visit Santa’s Cave
  7. Pick out the Christmas tree & decorate it {We buy a freshly cut tree from the local RFS, who receive the proceeds}
  8. Make & decorate a gingerbread house
  9. Create a Christmas ornament out of craft
  10. Watch a Christmas movie with a hot chocolate
  11. Create Christmas cards & wrapping paper for the grandparents presents
  12. Get a photo taken with Santa
  13. Make & decorate gingerbread men
  14. {Special Outing} - Watch the Christmas Carols 
  15. Make a sign for Santa and post out the front of the house
  16. {Treat} Christmas stamps (from art shop)
  17. Borrow Christmas book from the library
  18. Write and handout Christmas cards 
  19. Put on a Christmas puppet show
  20. Send a letter to a friend to wish them a Merry Christmas
  21. Skype with a friend to wish them a Merry Christmas
  22. {Treat} Christmas stickers
  23. Make some Christmas craft
  24. Go and see the Christmas lights and displays    
  25. {Treat} Candy cane   

Hubby & I have been coming up with ideas for the calendar while the girls are in bed, so not to ruin the surprise! We hope they enjoy it.

Do you use an advent calendar?

Do you make your own or buy a licensed calendar from the store?

What ideas have you included in yours?

13 November 2014

Making time count

I've been a little quiet on the craft front this year. Popette was my crafty little sidekick (get it) and loved getting her elbows deep into the gloopy glue, pom poms and pipe cleaners. She loved it when I came up with something fun to make, and couldn't wait for her little sister to have a nap so we could make "something special" together. Those days are unfortunately, not behind us, because I know she'll want to make something in a heartbeat if I ask her, just not as frequent as they once were.

Popette making the masking tape mummy

Now that she's at school the only time we have left for making craft is after school or on the weekends. Most afternoons are busy with keyboard practice, keyboard lessons, reading home readers and sight words, doing the grocery shopping, or taking the girls on a play date or to the park. I'm so tired by the end of the day, so don't really feel like pulling out all the craft stuff. That time together is something I miss with my big girl.

Cherub is slowly showing more interest in craft, but prefers painting or drawing. My 3 year old seems to have the attention span of a 2 year old at the moment and only lasts 2 to 3 minutes at any one thing. Today she went from wanting to do drawing, to blowing bubbles, playing in the sandpit to playing dress-ups and dancing within 5 minutes (ok it was probably longer), some days I can't keep up with her or the housework.

Popette used to be much better at sitting down and entertaining herself for longer periods then Cherub. I used to not feel so guilty if I had to spend an hour or so getting some cleaning done as she was happily playing. With Cherub on the hand, it's totally different. I seem to spend a lot of time cleaning and tidying the house these days. There's the odd day, when I think stuff it and couldn't be bothered doing any cleaning, but then I end up with a bigger mess that takes twice as long to clean up the next day. So I feel guilty again for not spending enough time with her.

Cherub painting her dinosaur mask

I miss that time when I would just sit and play with her, or we'd paint or create something together, and I didn't worry as much about the housework.

I remember writing once "I'd rather spend time with my daughter playing or watching her play, then stress about the cleaning", but two mess-making daughters later my opinion has changed ever so slowly.

I guess I need to make time for what's important. While having food in the fridge, clean clothes, and a clean-ish house is important, being in the moment with my two girls is also something that's important to me.

Having fun creating with me is something I want my girls to remember when they are older, and not of a Mum who was too busy tidying the house and couldn't make time for them.

What do you need make more time for?

03 November 2014

Spending time with my favourite people

It always makes me happy when I spend time with my favourite people. Like yesterday, in the morning we went to a birthday party for one of Popette's friends. It was held at a miniature train yard in the lower mountains. The girls had lots of fun riding trains, playing with friends and stuffing away the food.

Popette was quite proud of her attempt at stuffing eating 6 small-ish meringues, as well as a cupcake, watermelon, chips, mini quiches in the two and a bit hours we were there. I had visions of her throwing it up on some poor person on the train, or worse in our car. Thankfully it stayed down! She even managed to eat lunch and an ice block and chocolate later on....I know, what were we thinking giving her more sugar!

In the afternoon Hubby and I took the girls for a drive up to Katoomba. We visited a hardware store (our favourite type of store), then drove up to Echo Point to see the Three Sisters (which thankfully are still standing!). While taking in the gorgeous view we ate our ice creams, and explained to Popette what the Three Sisters are and spotted the walkers on the little bridge.

Ice cream, ice cream we will all scream for ice cream!

I love the mountains. Its so beautiful don't you think?

How do you spend time with your favourite people?

30 October 2014

Craft: Masking Tape Mummies

This week I was in charge of craft at playgroup. While I love making craft with my girls, I can find it a bit of struggle to think of things to make for a group of kids (hello Pinterest!). And then there's the pressure of everyone liking it. I am such a sensitive soul.

Since it was the day before Halloween we decided upon a Halloween craft that was easy for the kids *ahem* adults to make!

So after a couple minutes searching Pinterest (okay more like couple of hours, I do love Pinterest!) I found this great mummy activity. They looked a little ghoulish and would make a fun activity for the kids to make.

I first gave them to Popette and Cherub as a test run, so after getting the thumbs up from them, I knew that the kids at playgroup would love them too!

Serious stuff making Mummies
Cherub sticking it to the Mummy
The girls finished Mummies - Popette's left, Cherub's right (see her little hand)

All you need is:

Masking tape
Cardboard, Card or Construction paper
Googly eyes
Black texta

On a piece of cardboard I drew a picture of a Mummy, which looks a little bit like a gingerbread man, but not to worry.

Then we cut the Mummy out and stuck pieces of masking tape around the Mummy's body to give the impression of bandages. For the eyes you can use googly eyes or draw them on like Popette did. And that's it!

Happy Halloween!!

27 October 2014

Craft: Folded Paper Christmas tree

This week I have another little Christmas craft for you. Its a very simple and easy to make Christmas tree made out of paper.

Popette loved making this craft, especially when it came to using the scissors and hole punch. We made a couple last year and had them sitting on our fireplace with some other little Christmas decorations we had (like the Toilet roll reindeers) floating around. I hope you like it!

All you need is: 

Wooden skewer
Single Hole punch
Square coloured paper
Sticky or Washi tape
Egg carton
Star stickers


To make the Christmas tree fold a square piece of paper concertina-style, then cut it into the shape of a Christmas tree. Using a single hole punch, punch a hole in the middle of the folded paper, then feed a wooden skewer through the holes. We stuck the tree to the skewer with a little tape, then cut out a single egg carton which we used as the stand. Finally we added a star sticker to the top, and voila there’s your tree!

To make the tree more Christmassy, you could decorate it with stickers or ribbons!!

Our trees and a reindeer we had made

24 October 2014

Recipe: Gingerbread men

A couple days ago the girls helped me make some gingerbread men.  We love gingerbread. I love the burst of ginger with the crunch of the biscuit, its so nice with a cup of tea! It always remind me of Christmas and the cute little gingerbread houses.

Popette & I made a store bought gingerbread house last year for the first time, but I'm thinking that I might try baking the house myself this year. How hard can it be?!?

The girls had fun helping me in the kitchen although Popette was a little disappointed (or should I say devastated) that we didn't have any M&M's to decorate these cute little guys. Not to worry, they were still very tasty!

Popette weighing the flour
125g butter (room temperature)
100g or 1/2 cup (firmly packed) brown sugar
125ml or 1/2 cup golden syrup
1 egg, separated
375g or 2 1/2 cups plain flour
1-2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda


Preheat oven to 180°C degrees and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl and beat until pale and creamy.

Beating the butter and sugar
Then add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat on low until combined.

Stir in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda.

Cherub adding the dry ingredients to the mixer
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.

Knead dough into a disc and cover with plastic wrap, then place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

Rolled and ready for the fridge
When rolling out the dough, I found it best to place it between 2 sheets of baking paper so it's easy to roll out. You will want to roll them out about 4mm thick, too thin and they will crack and break off. 

Rolling out the dough
Use a gingerbread man cutter to cut out shapes. 

Place on trays about 3cm apart. Repeat with any excess dough.

Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes or until brown. 

Remove from oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

#This recipe was adapted from a recipe found on taste.com.au.

Do you like to bake with your kids?
Have you made a gingerbread house?

20 October 2014

Craft: Toilet roll reindeers

Can you believe Christmas is only 5 weeks away! It's scary how fast this year is flying by, I haven't even started my Christmas shopping. I thought to get everyone into the spirit of Christmas I'd share some little Christmas projects I have up my sleeve. 

{If you downloaded my Christmas Craft eBook last year, you would have spotted them in there}

Popette loved making these cute little toilet roll reindeer's.

All you need is:

2 toilet rolls
Stick-on googly eyes
Long pipe cleaners (3 x large + 2 small)
Small pom-pom for nose
Paint brush
A selection of water based paints
Sticky tape


Popette & I first painted the toilet rolls in the colours we wanted our reindeers, Popette decided on a rainbow reindeer, whereas I was a little more traditional.

Once the paint dried we stuck on the googly eyes and pom-pom nose on to one toilet roll which created the head.

To create the antlers:

Using scissors on the ‘head’ toilet roll, cut a small hole towards the back. (see a.)

a. Hole for antlers

Then fold a pipe cleaner in half. At the fold, twist a little, then feed through the hole to form the antlers. (see b.)

 b. Pipe cleaner twisted at top - used for antlers & legs
Along the bottom side of the ‘body’ toilet roll cut 2 small holes (1 at the front and 1 towards the rear) these are for the legs. (see c. & d.)

c. Holes for the legs
d. How the legs should look
To create the legs: 

It’s basically the same as the antlers, just fold over a little at each end to form a hoof. On the top of the same toilet roll, I made another little hole, this is to feed through a small pipe cleaner for the neck which holds on the head. Its quite wobbly, so I used a little tape for extra support.

You will need to create a matching cut into the ‘head’ so you can feed the neck through.

If you have a small piece of pipe cleaner you can stick that on to form a tail.

17 October 2014

Being grateful: For my Hubby

This week I am grateful for my Hubby. He is my biggest cheerleader. He is the one person who will stand up for me, and be in my corner when the going gets tough.

He is the reasoning voice in my head, and the smile on my lips. He is the person who reminds me not to think the worst of people (which I am sometimes guilty of doing).

We have been together for 23 years (18 years married this Nov) so knows me very well. He can tell if I'm stressing (I am such a stress-head), and knows when I'm over analyzing something that has happened, or worried about something we have planned. I told you I'm a stress-head.

A couple nights ago we talked about me returning to work. After 6 years of being a full-time stay-at-home Mum I didn't think my heart was in the type of career I used to have.

I told him of my career dream and how I wanted a job that makes me happy. How I want something that fuels my creative mind, and flexible so I can still be there for the girls. I had created two mindmaps, one with the type of things I love to do and the other listing what sort of job I wanted.

He listened to me and gave me ideas of what I could do and how to make my little idea work. He didn't say I was silly thinking of doing something different, he let me believe that I could do it.

I'm very lucky to have my Hubby. I know somedays I can take him for granted, or I don't thank him enough for what he does for all of us.

One thing's for sure though, and that is I am so very grateful to have him as my Husband, as our children's father and for him to be in my life.

Is there someone in your life who you are grateful for?

What have they done to make you feel grateful?

13 October 2014

Craft: Bubble Wrap painting

Its been a while since I got my craft on and published a kids craft post, so today I'm linking up to an old post on Bubble Wrap painting. Hope you enjoy! 

Popette and Cherub love painting, so today I thought I'd introduce them to some pieces of bubble wrap cut into different shapes which we they could paint and press on to paper.

The girls love painting!
Popette loved it and came up with a picture of Ariel ("The little mermaid") in some bubbly water. I helped Cherub with some shapes and fish, but she was more interested in using her brush.

Cherub painting her picture

Popette's painting of Ariel
All you need is:

Bubble wrap
Marker pen
Paint brushes

Suitable age group: 3-5yrs
Estimated time: 10-15 mins (if Mum or Dad helps cut out the shapes)
Messiness factor: high (remember wipes to clean little hands!)

07 October 2014

Getting help

After my Dad passed away (it will be 2 years this Christmas) I went through a depressive state. Losing my Dad was one of the toughest experiences I've ever had to deal with. During this time I struggled to be happy, I felt tired all the time, unmotivated, and snapped at the people I loved. 

I didn't have the energy to do things that often made me happy nor did I want to go out and socialise with friends. I wasn't looking after myself or cared what I thought of my appearance. I just wasn't myself.

Me and my Dad
As a result I lost some good friendships. I put it down to me being withdrawn and not wanting to socialise at the time. But I now think there were friends who couldn't cope with me being depressed, so found it easier to turn their backs and walk away rather then be there for me. Its times like these when you find out who your real friends are.

I can still remember one friend telling me if I continue to push people away (I didn't realise that I was at the time) then I will lose friends. I guess it was her way of saying, if you don't ask me for help I will just leave you to it. It took me a long time to say that I wasn't handling things, and to realise I was unhappy.

While she is still a friend today, she's distanced herself from me and I don't see her as much as I used to. Unfortunately we no longer call each other like we used to. 

It would have been nice to have had a friend be there for me and ask me “Are you OK?”, “Are you coping?”, “Is there anything I can do for you”. Sometimes all you need is a friendly face, and someone to chat to.

Luckily it didn't take me long to realise that something was terribly wrong with me. I opened up about my feelings with my Hubby, and spoke to my GP. I am okay now, but there are days I still miss Dad and think about him. 

October is mental health month. If you know someone who is going through a rough time take the time to check in with them and ask them "R U OK?". 

If you are experiencing a personal crisis and finding it hard to cope see your GP or give one of the support centre's like Lifeline (131114) a call. 

If you liked this post you may like:

*This is not a sponsored post* 

29 September 2014

My blog has turned 4!

As we are in the second week of school holidays I thought I'd take a little break from the blog. Of course I forgot all about this post, and that my little blog had turned 4 over the weekend, so thought I'd be sneaky and quickly get this post published before Hubby sees me on the computer!

Sooo I just want to take this time to very quickly thank everyone who follows me here on the blog or over on my Facebook page.

Over the past four years I have formed some lovely friendships with other bloggers and readers, and have loved connecting with my readers and other like minded people.

I never started Off to the park in the hope that I'd become a big-time blogger with hundreds of followers, so just to have the few readers who do come by and comment on a post, or drop by and say Hi means a lot to me.

So I just want to say thank you!!

Right, now that I've got that off my chest, I will continue on with my little break and hope to see you back here soon.

{Just a quick note: You currently won't be able to see or access my blog's Facebook page as I have deactivated my personal page which also deactivates the blog's Facebook page.}

24 September 2014

Wordless Wednesday | Let's go to the Zoo

Yesterday we had an awesome day celebrating Cherub's 3rd birthday at Taronga Zoo. It was a spectacular Spring day in Sydney the perfect weather for a visit to the Zoo to see the animals. The girls loved the seal show, and the trip on the Sky safari (cable car) the best.

What a day!

Me and the birthday girl on the Sky Safari

The giraffes - love them

Baby chimp

I think the elephants have the best view!

Meerkat - Popette's favourite

Mumma and her baby