Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Our greatest blessing

It is with the greatest humility, love and pride that we welcomed our first child into the world on 3 May 2013 - our darling little Harrison. Born at 5:35 am, weighing 3.1 kg (6.8 lb) and 51 cm long.

He has changed our lives in ways I cannot yet put into words. He is so precious, so beautiful, and I am still in awe that he is all mine. This is such a beautiful and incredible journey, and I learn so much about him, and myself, every day that he is with me.

I have heard people speak these words many a time without fully understanding their gravity. What can I say, other than it is an awesome force. You do not love your children - you fall in love with them, and they change you forever.

As I navigate motherhood with my precious boy and continue to build the life that my husband and I are still building for ourselves, I wanted to share this journey with the world. Like so many parents, I am immensely proud of this beautiful little human who learns and discovers life at an incredible rate, and awestruck that we are so blessed to have been given this opportunity; not to mention a completely happy and healthy baby.

With love and light,

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Another new chapter

Good morning all,

Remember that two bedroom cottage we wanted on the semi-rural property?

We got it :)

We are moving to a new (old) home. A charming two bedroom cottage surrounded by cattle breeders and horse paddocks. We even have our own paddock, and gorgeous views of peaceful trees and rolling hills. I will have my vege patch and stretch of garden. We will have a cosy little nook to live together and be happy, and it will be our space with our things. We will be paying almost half of the rent we currently pay, so we'll be saving precious dollars; always a bonus in today's world.

So what is the catch?

We knew from the get go that there was a lot of work to do on the house. For one, the outside was in desperate need of a repaint, and the garden was sorely neglected. The paddock hadn't been mowed in goodness knows how long, and there were several pieces of tin and old wood "fixing" the holes in the fence.

Then we walked inside.

The previous tenants were moving out, and they obviously had lower hygienic standards than us. Again, we knew we would need to work on the place A LOT but were taken with the location, the views, the size of the actual house, and the price tag. We were prepared to sacrifice a few luxuries to save our pennies so that we would become closer to owning our own home and leave the land of renting forever.

But saving money, like everything else, comes at a price

The carport alone looked like it housed all of the rejected funnelweb spiders within a 20 km radius.

The bins were full of foul smelling rubbish and hadn't been left out to be collected, so the full Australian summer sun had done it's work and made it smell even more pleasant.

The carport was so filthy and thick with dust that it took me over an hour just to sweep it out!

The outside walls were so dirty they made the house look light brown. It is in fact white.

The guttering was so full of leaves and filth that they were completely blocked, and there was no avenue for the rain-water to refill our water tank. It should also be noted that this was completely empty - no running water until we could get some delivered. That meant limited cleaning options.

The entire house stank of filthy wet dog - the previous renters owned three large dogs that lived inside - all the time. Judging by the stains on the carpets, it was also their lavatory.

The spiders that were not welcome outside had decided to move their residency inside the house - in the windows, curtains and door frames, that contained webbing so thick it resembled Santa's beard.

The windows didn't even shut properly - unless they were the ones that were painted shut.

The inside needed repainting too, despite the fact that the current paint job is only three years old. This is because the previous renters apparently liked to throw things, including darts at the walls and doors.

The sinks were all putrid.

The oven was deperately unclean. Inches, unclean. The stovetop burners are not all working either. We've decided to ditch it and just buy a new one.

The bathroom was left black and brown in places with scum and filth - they didn't even bother rinsing out the bath after the dogs had obviously been washed in there (apparently they did clean some things).

The toilet was black. Yes, I said BLACK.

The first thing we did was let of 6 bombs in the house, and shut the doors for 2 hours whilst we decided our course of action. We returned with vacuum, brooms, mops, rake, bucket, and every type of spray, bleach and disinfectant we had in our current house. We opened the windows and doors to try and allow the house to breathe, and proceeded with the extermination of unwanted guests.

After two days of cleaning and exterminating, we tallied up 32 confirmed dead funnel web spiders and countless cockroaches, moths and flies.

We are still clearing the windows which are impossibly clogged and difficult to reach at times.

We've also been accepting generous "home" donations from family... And now have some lovely shadecloth on the side of the carport, and some on the back of the house shading the living room (this room gets horribly hot in summer). The cleaning is never-ending, as is the burning of incense and lighting of scented candles to try and rid that horrid smell from the house. but I think it's slowly working.

I'm also treating the house to some lovely NEW curtains from IKEA. First thing is first - don't want strangers peeping in on us!

So that's how the house is coming along in the first week. It's been mostly cleaning. We've managed to start moving some furniture in too, but we're not sleeping there until we've fixed a filter onto the water tank (now about 70% full), the black-mould issue is addressed in the main bedroom, a cleaner is called to fix the kitchen, laundry and bathroom, and the carpets are replaced. These are all health hazzards.

Aside from that, we're pretty darn happy. We have made so many improvements in the last week alone... Imagine after a month! All it needed was som TLC. I'll have to upload some before and after photos, but until then I'll leave you with this one... Look who we found swimming in our guttering enjoying the downpour we had over Christmas?

One of our friendlier neighbours :)

Ta-ta for now!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Look who's back :)

Hello everyone! Did you miss me at all? ;)

As per my last post, which was a disastrously long time ago (just over 6 months in fact) I disappeared for a short while. What happened? As is usually the case; life happened.

Now, the original reason I created this blog was to document some of my more creative endeavours, and also as a bit of an outlet for my grief following the early departure of my longest and dearest friend and mentor.

My beautiful mother.

I'm looking at the date as I type, and it has been 12 months and 15 days since she has passed away. I cannot believe it has been that long. I can't ever remember most of the past year; it is a haze.

Sadly, we're still sorting and downsizing all of her precious belongings which have filled a four bedroom home and a double garage (as well as the single garage of my inlaws too). It's such a horrible task. I start on it some days and I just don't know what to do, or what box to open first. I'll then leave it for a long time. Other days a frenzy takes over and I'll empty 10 boxes in a single afternoon and can't rest until I've met some sort of quota for the day.

I can't say I've been consistent in the task, because it's incredibly depressing and emotionally, very draining.

I've now gotten to the point where I'm donating A LOT of items.

I'm also having to discard A LOT.

Some days, this breaks my heart. Everything meant something to mum, even items that others might regard as trash. The number of half-finished or not-even-started craft projects and broken items she had intended to fix that I'm coming across is astounding.

One saving grace has been a dear friend who is a primary school teacher as a local school. This is one of those schools that doesn't have a great deal of funding available. As is the case with most schools, when there is a reasonable amount of expendable income, it goes to the library, or to the purchasing of new equipment for the children. The arts and craft departments are not priority. I have donated about 6 boxes of items to the school so far (with more to come), filled with items ranging from coloured glues and papers to stickers, beads, sequins, pipe-cleaners, paddle-pop sticks, foam shapes, christmas ornaments to be decorated... From what I hear, the kids are almost fighting each week to make sure they're able to part-take in the now-awesome craft afternoons leading up to Christmas.

This has made me glow, and has made my task just that little bit easier :)

Mum was a very giving person, and whilst a part of her would be devastated to see her beautiful glittery and shiny "treasures" leaving the house, she was ever the spirit of generosity, and I think she would be happy to see everything being loved and appreciated by others. If a small child was admiring a trinket of hers whilst she was out and about, mum wouldn't hesitate to offer it. She did this many times, followed by my being a little bit cranky with her for constantly giving away things to people she didn't know.

But that was who my mum was :)

I've also been taken over by a new incentive. We want to downsize, and have "a home" again, not just "a sorting ground". Despite my best intentions, we never really settled into that house. It never felt like home. It never really was. The move to that place was under such depressing and unhappy circumstances - it was a move that I never really wanted, but was driven to out of sheer necessity.

We have found a very worn, but very cosy little two bedroom cottage in a semi-rural suburb near to where we are living now... And if all goes well, we will find out today if it is ours. But I can hear your concern... How does one simply move from a four bedroom home with a double garage to a two bedroom cottage?

With no garage. And no storage.

Answer: one downsizes like a mo-fo.

I feel like a possessed demon. In the horribly hot and humid weather, I can be seen downstairs from early in the morning on weekends going through more boxes, creating more piles in the kitchen: "donate" "school crafts" "disposable" "keeping (for now)".

After one week, I have completely emptied 25 boxes.

I am also donating 2 craft boxes, 3 linen boxes, 5 kitchen boxes, and several items that are still in the original box. Unopened.

That is more than 35 boxes worth of items in one week.

I have lost count of the number of bags and boxes I have filled with rubbish. Because of the volume, we're topping up our bins at the end of each week. It's slowly taking over my kitchen...

And I'm not finished. I'm going back for more tonight - my deadline is two weeks from now.

It's on like Donkey Kong!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Keeping Warm in Winter

Well... Didn't I just drop off the face of the planet for a short time :)

What can I say? A lot going on at the moment (so what else is new). I guess blogging just had to take a back seat for a while. I have lots of exciting things to share with the world. Some of it is still a wee bit of a secret, but here are the highlights that I can share with you:

1. My beautiful and amazing husband of three years (as of tomorrow) and I are finally going on our honeymoon at the end of this year! We are going to America for almost three weeks, and squeezing in every theme park and magical escape that we can. Think Disneyland, Hearst Castle, Sea world, Lego World, Downtown Disney, Notts Berry Farm... You get the picture :)

2. I am writing my first book :) More on that to follow at a later date!

3. We moved house over the weekend... Opening up a plethera of exciting home decorating opportunities that just have me giddy with excitement!
Now I don't really have much time to share with you today, but I was doing a wee bit of research this morning in relation to point #3, and thought I might as well share my findings with you. Today being the 5th of June is now the 5th day of winter here in the lovely city of Sydney. Having recently moved into a small castle of a home with twice as many rooms as our last one, we're finding it considerably colder! I guess it doesn't help that we haven't got everything set up yet either.

So I got to thinking... What are some of the things I can do to make the house warmer? Here are the things that I am going to try :)

Keeping the House Warm in Winter

  • Mats in the bathrooms (all three, in our case!)
  • A large rug for underneath the table in the dining room. Otherwise it's a very large room of cold white tiles. Hrmph.
  • Draft stoppers for the front and back doors. Stop those cold drafts breezing their way into the house :)
  • Thicker curtains across some of the windows? Not sure if I'll try this one yet... It might come last on my list as we have verticals on all the windows. Maybe just the bedrooms - but we'll see
  • More home cooked meals! Once upon a time the kitchen (or rather, the stove) not only provided food for the family, but it was also the heat source for the colder months of the year. What better way to keep warm than to fire up the oven or stove top, and then enjoy a glorious hot meal afterwards? I'm thinking soups, stews, slow-cooked roasts... Oh yes :)
  • Hot drinks. As per the point above, filling our bellies with something hot is a sure fire way to keep warm. I've recently fallen in love with Lemon Syrup (see my earlier posts) which my husband uses to make lemonade. I use it for hot lemon tea with a dash of ginger and cinamon. Not only is it comforting and festive, but it's kept both of us from getting the sniffles so far *and-fingers-crossed-it-continues-to-work!*
  • A couple of blankets and throws - I'm going to invest in an additional one for the living room. Hubby and I love snuggling together with a lovely movie when we can, and I'm a bit of a sook in the cold anyway (suffering from low blood pressure doesn't help) so these are always handy! This means another trip to IKEA for the OFELI throw blanket! :)
  • Keeping dressing gowns near the bed. Hopefully this makes it a bit easier getting out of that toasty warm bed of a morning!
  • Burn more candles. It actually does make the house warmer... And I love candles. I really don't need to build a case for this one. At all :)
  • Electric blanket. I was trying to find non-electrical ways to make the house cosier, but this is a bit of a no-brainer. We took this off the bed when spring came around, and we've survived autumn without it - but it's time to go back on the bed I think!
  • Hot water bottles. A less expensive alternative to the electric blanket, and portable :)
I love textiles... So I'm all for blankets, pillows, fluffy rugs, door stoppers, even fabric drapped along a wall instead of opting for wallpaper or paint can be really effective. Have you seen some of IKEA's fabric selection? (Yes yes, I know I'm plugging them quite a bit!) For me, it really does create a feeling of warmth in the home.

What other suggestions do you have to cosy up the house?

Lots of love, and hopefully you'll hear more from me tomorrow :)

Love Laura

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Parcels

Would you be happy to receive one of these?

I have just finished popping together a few little treat bags for some colleagues for tomorrow, before we separate for the Easter long weekend. It is almost midnight here.

Talk about last minute :)

Hopefully, you are more organised than I am and have already started to prepare your little parcels, baskets, egg hunts, cards, and other wee little treats you have planned for this festive occasion.

I got this idea from Tara Dennis's Easter page. She has a number of really cute and relatively frugal ideas for gifting during the Easter season. I saw her little "Bunny Bags", and thought that it seemed like just the thing for me. Of course, I never follow recipes or instructions to the letter, so added my own little spin on it.

First of all, you need to get your tools and bits-and-bobs together...

For the parcels:
Decorative paper
Cellophane bags

For the tags:
Black card (pre-cut into tags shape of your choice)
Hole punch
White-out pen to write name
Cotton/twine/ribbon to tie tag

Once you're organised, measure the size of your cellophane bags and cut out squares/rectangles of paper large enough to fold around the bag. I folded mine in half and glued the sides together to make little pouches - think envelope without the flap.

Next, you'll want to get your sweets ready. Because I'm making about 10 of these in total - some for work and a few for close friends, I wanted the portions to be even. I divided my sweets into 10 cups to make sure everything was correct, and so that eggs didn't go rolling about all over the place.

Once I was happy with portions, I placed one of the cellophane bags inside my paper parcel.

Fold the open edges inside - staple the cellophane bag closed if needed, and punch with a single hole punch. To make sure the contents don't go spilling out, make sure you pierce the cellophane bag as well as both sides of the paper wrapping.

Thread with cotton/twine/ribbon and tag, and you're done!

Oh yes - but make sure you label your tags first. It might be a bit tricky once you've already tied it to your little pressie :)

And the lovely thing is that you can apply this principal to gift wrapping for any occasion. I just love these little tags and use them everywhere. Take a look at what I've used them for in the past :)

Well, given that the clock is just ticking over to midnight now, I'd say I'm done! I've got a few posts planned for the weekend; we've been very busy at home these last couple of weeks and I've got quite a few things that I'm eager to share with you! :)

Have a wonderful Easter, but most of all stay safe and enjoy the time with your family and loved once.

You never know when you might be enjoying precious time with someone dear for the last time.

Lots of love,

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Loyalty and Love

I have been really sick the last few days with a viral infection. This has left me feeling pretty yucky, and I've had all the charming symptoms of being sick - loss of appetite, nausea, dizziness, headaches, and running back and forth to the loo. Needless to say, I wasn't too happy. I spent most of my time in bed napping, trying to get rid of a constant headache, and trying to relax with some Frasier.

Everywhere I went, I was accompanied by my true and constant furbabies. Sleeping at my feet, curled up near my tummy, or just trying to squash me in general :)

Aren't they just precious?

And such good friends...

I love our little furbabies :)


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Project Autumn-Cleaning & Project De-Clutter

Well... I just can't tell you how lovely it is having some space back in our lovely home. For quite some time now, we've been jam-packed in with boxes, bags, baskets and JUNK just falling down around our ears. I really shouldn't call it that... I'm just stressed. It's all of my beautiful mum's beloved treasures that we have rescued from being thrown out and sold. My "inheritance" that I am having to fight for, or what's left of it anyway.

It all needs to be sorted, cleaned, and assigned a new purpose - does it stay or go? If it's staying, where will it live in the house? If it's going, will I donate it, give it to friends, sell it, or is it really just good for the bin?

This is tiring.
And I've been doing it for the last four months :(

So naturally, I'm very excited now that our living/dining room is now void of these boxes...

And these...


And these too...

I've lost count. In the last few weeks, I must have thrown out upwards of about 50 boxes of junk (and that's an approximate figure, not an exaggeration). I call it junk because it was everything from badly aged artificial flowers, magazines, newspaper clippings, small fabric scraps, broken toys... And more. Stuff that was intended to be sorted and fixed eventually, but no-one ever got around to doing it.

You can't even begin to imagine how heart breaking this is for me.
So many precious things.
Once cherished and loved.
Reduced to nothing but recycling and land-fill.

I have to keep reminding myself that I can't keep everything, and these weren't really the things that mattered to mum anyway. As it turns out, we've got space once again in our pretty little apartment, and it is filled with light once more...

Our entrance and dining area.

The lounge/living area.

Just a pretty little feature, inspired by our beautiful close friends who have regularly checked in on us and kept me distracted when I needed it.

You have no idea how wonderful this is. It was seriously so bad that we could barely walk around. We were even considering moving to a larger place just so we would have room to sort, because there wasn't even room for that! I got through it by just forcing myself to sit up at night and go through everything, one by one.


So, did you spot that fabulous grandfather clock in the entrance way? My Bisou spotted that baby on Gumtree some weeks ago.

Would you believe it was only $60??

The poor bloke who bought it originally paid a few hundred for it, but apparently his wife made it very clear that she didn't like it and it wasn't staying... Troy snapped it up, and we love it. It's not working at the moment, but my clever little Bisou has been doing some research and thinks he can get it going again. So when I treated my Bisou to a couple of lovely new jumpers for autumn (and he treated me with some gorgeous new boots), I couldn't help myself but take a photo of him looking so debonair in front of our beautiful new time piece.

One of the things I love about us, is that between the two of us we have so many skills that there isn't much that we can't do together.

Oh yes.
I love Troy to bits :)

So that was one project out of the way. The other...?

I kind of had no bedside table for a while. Well, to be accurate there was a table...

This has been mum's kitchen table ever since I can remember. I love it. I couldn't part with it, but when we rescued it there was no room for it except in the bedroom! Once my bedside lamp got put on there it was destined to be around for a while, but because of its sheer size it meant that other stuff was just piling on top of it too...

Just awful :(

So... We didn't have the money to go out and get a couple of nice matching bedside tables, and it wasn't bothering Troy that he didn't have one for now anyway, so what was I to do? I had to do a swap somewhere around the house...

And then it hit me.

We don't use the table outside all too often because we find it a bit small, and we generally don't spend as much time on the balcony as I'd like either. I'd just have to clean it and paint it before it came inside.

Paint paint paint...

A bit of de-cluttering and getting rid of things that didn't need to be there...

And here's the result :)

A much much happier (and less cluttered!) bedside space.
Oh yes, I painted the chair too. I like white :)

I must admit, it's prone to change again sometime soon as this is by no means a permanent solution, but it is far nicer and much more liveable than it was before.

On my bedside is one of my most treasured photos... This has been next to my bed since Troy and I got married in 2009

My beautiful, gorgeous Bobby.

Another of mum's beloved little treasured. A dragonfly pin she used to wear as a brooch from time to time. Her little "libellule".

I love and adore you immensely my Bobby.
I miss you everyday.
I hope and pray that you are safe and happy.