Starting THE ELF ON THE SHELF – Everything You Need to Know

Every year I am bombarded with questions on how to “do” the Elf on The Shelf.  It is such a hard question to answer as their is no “right” way to enjoy the Elf On The Shelf.  But to get you  started and get your own ideas in motion everything you need to know is right here! In ONE post!  Follow these 6 Steps to begin your ELf On The Shelf memory making!


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What is this crazy thing I keep hearing about? A Joyful Christmas Tradition


Our favourite place is The Book Depository.  Mainly because they almost always have stock and quick and affordable shipping.


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Get some inspiration and see how other people use the Elf on The Shelf. The Elf On The Shelf in Our House, The Elf on The Shelf In Real Homes


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Be organised! It’s a busy 25 days!  Plan ahead using a FREE PRINTABLE Elf Antic Planner


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 So now you are ready to start, how ill the Elf Arrive?  Some ideas on introducing him to your children and a free printable letter from Santa to help you on your way. IDEAS on How to Introduce The Elf, FREE PRINTABLE Letter of Introduction From Santa


 Use the Search Bar >>>> to search Elf On The Shelf and My Christmas Elf

and uncover photos, FREE printables, educational activities, clue cards and


What I learnt the day my blog broke.

As a mum of three you think I would be use to things being broken.(remember the broken Angel?) Once the baby Hurricane entered our lives it has been an endless stream of broken phones, label makers, calculators and vacuum cleaners.  (Do you sense a pattern there?  If it has buttons and makes noises this kid has to have it and “tinker” with it.)

I still remember so vividly in my own childhood the despair over my brother and sister constantly breaking “my” things.  As the eldest of four, and a collector of random things, it often felt as if anything special to me ended up being destroyed by them.

And yet it still didn’t prepare me for the day my blog broke.  Oh she was long suffering and since her last cosmetic makeover has succumbed to a series of glitches but nothing a quick google couldn’t fix.   Then one day a reader sent me this…..

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I see red, I see red, I see red. (Sing it with me)

I studied enough random theatre and literature subjects at university to know that red symbolises evil, danger, stop, BAD BAD BAD!

I sent out my problem into the hands of the blogging world in the hope someone could explain.  Rather than an explanation I got lots of  what seemed like dire predictions that this would not be pretty.

After much consulting, and swearing (which I never do) and googling and crying I wondered if it was all worth it.  I am busy.  Kids, work, house, husband, projects, a side job, social media, kids activities…Do I really need a blog as well.  So I walked away.  Itbwas hard but it had to be done. She sat abandoned whilst I continued running the social media channels.

Who needs a blog anyway!  Well actually I do.

It’s cathartic, reflective, motivating and mine.  My little pretty and positive pocket of the internet to unleash the random nature of my mind onto others.   A place to indulge my varied loves of houses and organising and teaching and parenting.  I suddenly realised that after nearly 5 years of blogging it has become a part of my identity. I can not go a day without seeing something that I want to share with others.  I constantly format posts in my head.  I talk, I ramble, I write.  It’s just me.

But how much is that part of me worth?  To fix it will cost money, time and patience none of which I have in an abundant supply.  If this is just for me maybe I am best just to leave it be and keep a diary. Done.  Decided.  Walk away from the red screen now.

and then….. whilst the blog sat unattended it continued to be viewed and shared.  The emails continued to come in, including this one…..

“After the birth of my little one (14 weeks ago) and his diagnosis you have inspired and helped me get everything sorted. From Mr E’s medical records and appointments to dinner planners and weekend ideas (I’m even recovering our couch and redoing our bookshelves)
When ever I feel out of it a little I have a look over your blogs. Thank you, you are helping me when I have those moments of feeling out of control of my life.”

Cue tears.  Seriously?  Someone is reading?   It’s not just about me?

and like the world often does, signs appeared in the most random of places.  A teacher on playground duty, the lady at Gloria Jeans waiting in line, the Mum in the school car park.

“Oh you should see my Quiet Critters!”

“Where do you buy the Borax from for the Christmas decorations?”

“Your blog is down and I need to print off your meal planning template!”

When did this happen?  It was supposed to be my little secret.  I actually went for two years before I even told anyone I had a blog. Turns out, it may be a part of me, but it’s not ABOUT me.  Whilst I write about the musings in my head it’s relieving to know they are also the things in other peoples head.  I would never have predicted that something I was selfishly doing for myself may be something that other people could use.  Bingo. That’s what this blog is about.  It’s about sharing, supporting, motivating and inspiring myself and others.  I need my blog back.

and so I am back.  After pondering and saving and spending and fixing and way too many conversations with someone techy on the other side of the world in the middle of the night as we try to get off the google blacklist (I didn’t even know such a thing existed!) and deleting 1 million spam comments and malware….

I am back.  Well actually I was always here but The Organised Nest is back.

And she is her pretty Mint and Pink and glittery gold self with nor a trace of google blacklist or red to be seen.


Give The Gift of an Experience

This is a Sponsored Post in collaboration with Adrenalin

After 11 wedding anniversaries, 9 Father’s Day’s and  countless birthdays I was well and truly running our of gift ideas for my husband.   The kids always contribute with their boundless amounts of homemade cards and artwork but I love for him to know how much he is valued and appreciated by the way of a gift.

So this Father’s Day I searched a little further than the department store junk mail for a gift he would remember.  A quick google of “Experience Gifts” and I hit the jackpot, “Adrenalin.”


With 100’s of experiences to choose from I left it to the kids to pick! One loved the idea of Parasailing but he has already done that!  Another (can you guess who?) loved the idea of Daddy driving a Race Car.  I could only wonder if that is a reflection of his everyday driving skills?  Keen for him to not just be a passenger but to experience the thrill of actually driving the car we signed him up for 6 Laps driving a V8 Race Car.

As excited as he was approaching the Race Track he admits he was slightly daunted when he realised just how fast these machines went!  He had a choice of cars, a quick safety talk and off he went.

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To say he loved it is an understatement.  He grabbed a video of the experience on a usb to bring home and we all loved watching the Spedometer to see how fast he was going and the expressions on his face!  He loved to talk us through what he had to do at each part of the track and raved about how heart pumping it was.

Honestly, the only negative thing was why didn’t I think of this sooner!  To think of all the hours wasted shopping for a present that was then going to sit unused for the rest of the year, when I could have been giving a gift of an experience.

Best of all it was great to see how much our children loved to watch Daddy taking a risk, experiencing and learning something new and that sometimes the best present are not material items but experiences and memories that will last a life time.

3 Ways to Improve Your Home’s Landscaping

When we built our current house, landscaping wasn’t part of of our “Build Package” and it has literally taken years for us to finish it off! Now as we begin to prepare our house for sale we have been paying particular attention to making our yard look it’s best.

Landscaping is an integral part of your property and can either enhance or detract from the overall appeal of your home.  In addition to adding valuable outdoor living space, a nicely landscaped home also has better ‘street appeal’ and will increase the value of your property. If your outdoor areas are looking somewhat shabby, here are some ways to improve your home’s landscaping.

1. The Grass Is Always Greener…

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A lovely lush, green lawn is often the envy of neighbours in many suburban streets. Not only is it visually appealing for any home; it also adds value to your property and, most importantly, provides an inviting outdoor living space to use and enjoy. Unfortunately, lawns are often the most overlooked element of many gardens. The wonderful thing about turf, however, is how quickly and cost-effectively it can be used to completely transform a tired, under-utilised outdoor area. ‘Hard landscaping’ options like pavers require a great deal more labour, materials and cost. An area can be quickly prepared for turf laying and, if you call in some help, this could be done in a day. By using a turf specialist such as Hancey’s Turf for preparation and installation, you’ll end up with a better quality lawn that is easier to manage and looks sensational. They will also be able to provide invaluable advice on the best turf variety to use at your home and the best ways to maintain it.

2. Does Your Landscape Have a Theme?

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 It might sound like a funny question, but one of the governing principles for good design in any setting is consistency.  We failed dismally with this one when we started and ended up with a real mismatched looking garden.  A theme is a great way to achieve this and can provide cohesion and balance to your landscaping. There are many different types of landscape themes to choose from including native, cottage, tropical, Mediterranean, ‘dry-spell’ and contemporary.  In fact, some new housing developments insist that you plant a certain amount of “natives” within their covenants.

Before you rush into choosing a theme, however, the most critical thing to think about is your location. Plant selection needs to be determined first and foremost by the climate and soil type of your home. There’s simply no point spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a garden makeover with plants that aren’t suited to your location and will end up dying. There are ways to overcome this in some instances, but it will require a lot of time, effort and probably money to make it work in the long term.

3. Landscaping Must Complement Your Home

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Another major consideration for any landscaping project you undertake is the vintage and style of your home. It’s important to base your landscaping choices around this and to make the two blend and work well together. For example, an ultra-modern landscape design against a 1960s or ‘70s house is not likely to look great. Cross the street and look at your property from some distance away. Then try to visual what type of landscaping options will complement your home. If you’re unsure, grab some landscaping magazines and get some tips and inspiration for how to transform your garden.

Improving your home’s landscaping is relatively easy to do once you understand the principles of good design. Depending on the options you choose and whether you call in expert help, improving your home’s landscaping might be easier, faster and more affordable than you think.

Any suggestions on some hardy plants that will survive my kids? 

Reader’s Organised Nest – The Wardrobe

After almost 5 years of blogging about Organised Spaces, I am still constantly searching for inspiration on how to maintain an organised home.  It is easy to get caught up in the Pinterest and Instagram homes and their meticulously organised spaces. But there is still nothing better than seeing a “real” space, to motivate you to get organised and provide you with fresh ideas that have a realistic price tag and practicality in their perfection.

So without further adieu I would love to share an Organised Space of one of our readers.  Alicia’s Master Wardrobe caught my eye with its uniformity, dual purpose (dressing area as well as wardrobe) great storage options and it simple yet beautifully styled practicality.  She recently shared her space with me and how she made it happen.


Who uses this space?
As the main wardrobe for both myself and my husband I had always dreamed of something classy yet that still appeased my long suffering husband and his fears of when I go on an organisation bender. Cue disgruntled remarks, “Where are my undies now!” On that note I knew keeping it as simple as possible and yet still stylish was the key when organising this space.

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Why did you choose this space to organise?
I’m a firm believer of ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’. Being a space that I visit frequently each day I knew that I wanted my wardrobe to be a place that made me feel good about myself every time I got dressed. So when I found myself having to wade through a sea of floor clothes to get dressed each morning I knew that it time to make some changes.

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How did you tackle it?
To tackle the problem head on the first thing I did was purge, purge, purge! I sorted through all of our clothes, keeping those we actually used and either donating or binning the rest (some rather holey ‘lucky’ shorts may have been smuggled out in the wheelie bin).

What products did you use? 
The bones of the closet were created using the Bunning’s Clever Closet system. This was originally purchased as a cheap alternative with dreams of custom cabinetry for the long term however I have fallen in love with the simple elegance of the system (and also the price tag – the whole set up cost only approximately $200). I created specific zones for both mine and my husband’s clothes to make it as functional as possible. The system is completely customisable enabling me to take full use of just one wall of hanging space.

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The white chest of drawers were a previously owned item but I kept with the crisp white colour pattern to make the space feel bright and clean. The white baskets were an awesome find from Woolworths – I seriously have about twenty of these babies all over my house. They come in white or black and two sizes. I used these to store all of our less commonly used clothes like jumpers and my husband’s insanely large football hat collection out of sight.

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The dark stain timber coat hangers were my splurge item, however to ease the cost I slowly built up a supply over several months. They were from Howards Storage at $32.95 for a pack of 18. But any matching hanger will create the same effect and make the space feel more put together.

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Any tips or tricks?
I love how by just making everything uniform a space can really feel finished and together. By just having the same repeating white basket and matching hangers it creates a feel of harmony.
How is the end product working for you now?
I absolutely love this wardrobe now! My hearts sings a happy little organised song every time I glance it! And no more cries of lost undies from the hubby to date!

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Thanks so much to Alicia for sharing her space with us.

 and check out her Pantry!

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Have you got an organised space you would love to share?  We would love to see it!  Email

Creating Calm Bathroom Routines

Brought to you by Johnson’s and Nuffnang


Bath Time! Whilst pregnant with our third baby, bath time was one of those parts of our daily routine that I was stressed about. We were finally at a stage in our lives, where both children could shower or bath themselves with only supervision needed to make sure they didn’t flood the bathroom and were actually washing themselves! Now we were throwing a baby into the bath time mix. (ok not literally, I assure you there was no throwing of the baby)


Of course in the end, I had nothing to worry about as our bath time routines were so habitualised, adding a baby was more fun than chaos.

How we create calm, happy and healthy bath times……..


Routine, Routine, Routine

We have always followed the same routine. Now the baby joins in the routine too! We have a cute little routine chart in the bathroom just incase anyone gets sidetracked or carried away with mucking around when they should be getting ready to have a bath! It has both pictures (for non readers) and words to help remind them of the order in which they do things at bath time.

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By following a routine, everyone knows what they SHOULD be doing. It also ensures that some practical and safety aspects of bathing three children occur. For example, going to the toilet before you get in the bath ensures that you don’t need to leave one child in the bath to take another one to the toilet or have wet slippery children attempting to walk across the tiles to go to the toilet.

One In All In

This is one of those practical, bathing multiple children tips. I find it easiest to have the one bath time for everyone. Luckily for me, our main bathroom has a separate toilet, vanity area, shower and bath. Plenty of room for 3 kids and an adult! First I run the bath for the baby and Little Miss A (5). Once the bath is full, Master O then has a shower.


Splish, Splash, Learn

Bath time is not just a fun time and a time to get clean. It is the perfect opportunity to encourage learning!

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  • We don’t have your traditional rubber duckies but instead lots of empty shampoo, and baby bath containers! The most fought over are always the pump action ones. Playing with items like these is a great way to introduce new vocabulary and concepts like empty and full, sink and float, heavy and light.
  • Little Miss A (5) also loves to teach her baby brother how to wash himself. “This is the way we wash our belly/legs/face” she sings and demonstrates!
  • SINGING! Incy Wincy Spider (complete with water falling down!) Rub A Dub-Dub, Wet Washing Hanging on the line (using a wash cloth) are bath favourites.
  • Sensory stimulation. Water is a great way to stimulate senses, so are bubbles! We love to create a bubbly bath (using the Johnsons top to toe bath so it doesn’t sting their eyes) and then use the bubbles to blow at each other, create Santa beards or shark fins! You can also smear some shaving cream on the tiles and let them squish and finger paint with it!


All of this language, sensory stimulation and modeling is important for babies development and gives older siblings a great opportunity to bond with the baby!


Safety Sensibilities

I make sure the dinner has been turned off, the phone is off and I have all my attention on bath time. Before anybody gets in the bath we check we have towels, washcloths, soap, pajamas at the ready. This allows me to NEVER leave a child unattended in the bathroom.

Wash Up, Clean Up

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Cleaning up after the bath is all part of the routine. Putting away toys, putting lids back on bottles, hanging up towels, emptying the bath, putting dirty clothes down the laundry chute and drying the floor, all encourages cooperation amongst siblings and makes sure the bathroom is left clean, safe and tidy ready for the next day.

It Never Ends

Our bath time routine doesn’t end with the bath. Afterwards we brush our hair, moisturise (poor Little Miss A is especially prone to dry skin) and our Little Hurricane gets his nightly massage. For a child that is never still, a massage has him chilling out! Studies have shown that routine touch and massage can lead to improved physiological, cognitive, emotional and social development. Specifically, routine baby massage has been shown to improve cognitive performance and increase alertness and attentiveness. I just love massaging those chunky arms and legs!


With a few simple routines in place, a few great products and some organisation, bath time can be a calm and happy time that stimulate the senses, promotes growth and development and special bonding time with even the smallest member of the household.



Finding The Perfect Floor Plan

What Type of Floor Plan is Best for Your Home?

We were lucky enough, many years ago, to build our own home.  One of the biggest deciding factors for us to build and not just buy was that we would get a floor plan, perfectly suited to our needs.  Once we found a block of land we found that our floor plan needs changed.  Not only would it need to fit our lifestyle but it had to fit on our block!  With a narrow lot we opted for a two storey design, in order to fit more house on our land and optimise space for a backyard.


Like houses, floor plans come in all shapes and sizes. The best one for your home depends on a range of factors such as your budget, block size, as well as your design preferences and size requirements. When building a new home with  a builder such as Coral Homes, there are a number of different house designs and floor plans available to choose from.



Single Storey Floor Plans

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Single storey floor plans are the most commonly chosen floor plan for newly built homes. From a building perspective, they are often the cheapest to build as they suit many blocks of land. Because of the number of designs available, there are both large and small single storey plans with different layouts. Designs vary from simple rectangle floor plans, which may be small or large based on the amount square footage and the number of bedrooms required. Complex single storey floor plans may have separate wings extending from main part of the building.


Narrow Block Floor Plans

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As their name suggests, narrow block floor plans have a narrow width. They are primarily used on small blocks and those with a narrow street frontage, often in inner city areas. They usually have a sun room, front or rear porches, and almost always have a hallway. Because of their limited width, double garages may be difficult to accommodate in the floor plan on a narrow block. Depending on the overall size of the home, they may be more affordable to build than some other floor plan styles.


Split Level Floor Plans


Split-level floor plans are used in homes that have multiple floors but don’t necessarily have the same amount of space on each floor. Split-level homes are often well accommodated on sloped blocks, working with the contours of the land. On a block that slopes gently upwards, the lower level including laundry, garage and spare bedroom can partly be built into the hill, providing much of the support for the upper level. The majority of the living space is then accommodated on the upper floor. Split-level floor plans are often more expensive to build, especially if extensive earthmoving and site works are required.


Double Storey Floor Plans

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Double storey floor are often popular with larger families and those with older children. A complex double storey floor plan may have separate entrances on each level, as well as kitchen, bathroom and bedroom facilities to make each floor fully self-contained. Because of their size and the amount of materials used, double storey floor plans are always more expensive than single storey homes. It is a myth, however, that they are double the price.


Wide Frontage Floor Plans

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Wide frontage floor plans are suited to large and wide blocks of land, including corner blocks that allow two street entrances, as well as acreage or ranch style homes. Because of their size, they may be a long rectangle or U or L shaped. Wide frontage floor plans are suited to large families and those that like a lot of space.

The dimensions and size of your block will likely dictate the floor plan that you choose; however, within each category a number of different options and layouts are available. When choosing the right floor plan for you, it’s important to consider the position of certain rooms in relation to on another, their location on the lot, and their size.


Once you have a general idea of the type of your home you wish to build you can start considering other aspects of the floor plan.  How many bedrooms?  Bathrooms? Bedrooms to the rear of the plan?  Outdoor living space off the kitchen?  The possibilities are endless!

What would you prioritise in a new home floor plan?

All plans and images were taken form the Coral Homes website.


Baby Food Recipes Your Toddler Will Love

……….and the rest of the family will LOVE too!

Brought to you by Heinz

Can you believe the youngest member of our family (The Hurricane) is now 15 months old?

He is fast, agile, never sleeps and eats like a champion!  In a busy family he has no time to be fussy and eats what we eat.

Now I know you are really here for the recipes but first a few things about meals for our youngest member.

  • He has 14 teeth (so even chunky meat is a breeze)
  • All recipes have to be great for the whole family as I don’t cook him separate meals.  He eats what we eat, when we eat.
  • Majority of meals must be able to be eaten independently using either a fork, spoon, or fingers. This encourages fine motor, hand eye coordination and speech skills (little speakers grow strong jaws and agile tongues when they are eating chunky foods)

So what do we eat?  Here are some of our favourite Toddler approved, family friendly recipes.



Oven Baked Salmon with Asparagus and Broccolini.

Salmon is one of those wonder foods and “the hurricane” can’t get enough of it! Bake it in the oven over some slices of lemon and covered in foil.  Steam broccolini and asparagus.  These are two easy vegetables to cook and for little hands to hold!


Pumpkin and Tuna Penne

Grate Pumpkin.  Sauté it in a fry pan with some olive oil and then add a tin of tuna.  In a pot boil the pasta.  We choose Penne as it is easy to stick a fork into or if all else fails, fingers!  Combine the Pumpkin and Tuna mixture with the pasta,  squeeze some lemon over the top and a serve with a bit of chopped parsley.


Ravioli with Meatballs

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This is one of my favourite last minute meals.  I always keep a container of ready-made ravioli in the freezer.  You can actually cook it in the pot from frozen, no defrosting necessary.  I also make a double batch of meatballs (pork mince with fennel is our favourite) and keep some in the freezer.  Cook the meatballs in some crushed tomatoes and here is the trick, add a jar of Heinz Beef and Vegetable Casserole.  Trust me it’s delish and a great way of adding some hidden veggies!

Beef Burgers

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Who doesn’t love a burger!  We love to have a “create your own burger bar” with everyone choosing their own toppings!  The hidden secret is in the muesli!


  • 200g lean beef mince
  • 2 Tbsp Farex® Muesli with Apple
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated onion
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated carrot
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated peeled apple
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 egg



Combine Ingredients to make small patties and fry or BBQ.

Sandwich Sushi

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Great for our bento lunch boxes and snacks on the run the sushi sandwich options are endless! Simply cut the crusts off bread, give it a quick roll to flatten.  Lay out your ingredients on the bread, roll and cut!   It looks fancy but it really is not.  These are great bite size snack for a toddler to grab but also fit perfectly in a school lunch box.


Banana Pikelets

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After school and on the way to extra curriculuar activities or even at home in his high chair whilst Mummy has her coffee, Banana pikelets are a winner.


  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • ¼ tsp bi-carbonate of soda
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup natural yoghurt
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 banana, finely sliced
  • 1x 120g pouch HEINZ® Strawberry & Vanilla Custard


  1. Combine flour and bi-carb in a large mixing bowl. Add milk, yoghurt and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  1. Pre-heat a frying pan over medium low heat. Spray with oil and spoon tablespoons of mixture into pan. Place a slice of banana on top of each pikelet. Cook for 3-4 minutes each side.
  1. Serve pikelets with a dollop of Heinz® pouch and favourite soft fresh fruit.


As much as we encourage independent feeding for our toddler sometimes circumstances call for a quicker, cleaner option.  Especially for on the plane (oh boy, feeding children when travelling can be a thing of nightmares) I love the baby food pouches especially ones filled with ingredients I wouldn’t normally buy like a great way to explore some new flavours without the mess and fuss.

With a little preparation and creative thinking feeding a toddler doesn’t have to be stressful and messy! With a few key ingredients it’s easy to create meals that your toddler will eat and the whole family will love. Check out the Heinz website and Facebook page for more tips and recipe ideas!

You can also find our list of 100 Kids Bento Lunch Ideas HERE

Image Credits – (Pikelets and Beef Burgers) (Sandwich Sushi) (Ravioli)

5 Tips For Renovating Your House

…….without tearing it down!

Last year saw big changes for our extended family.  We have had both our parents downsize and move into new houses.  Funnily enough, in two completely different states and towns, they both made a similar move.  Downsizing the size of the house, but also upsizing the size of the land.  For one family it was so that they would have room for a shed (to house retirement hobbies) and a For the other it was for more room to accommodate our grandparents.


For both families it meant one thing, RENOVATION!   So what can you do to bring your home into the 21st century and make it suit your needs? Before you bring in the wrecking ball, follow these five tips to help renovate your home without starting from scratch.


1. Create an outdoor living space

Oh how I dream of an outdoor Kitchen

Oh how I dream of an outdoor Kitchen!

Building a dedicated area for you and your family to enjoy the outdoors adds another space to entertain, relax and spend time in. You can lay concrete and cover it with a shade cloth to create a patio or erect a deck to overlook your backyard. An outdoor area that connects to your home creates a highly sought-after indoor/outdoor lifestyle that will add significant value to your home. Its also the perfect place for those big family gatherings and celebrations.


2. Add extra living space

Teenage Retreat? From Pop Blocks.

Teenage Retreat? From Pop Blocks.

Many homes have unused backyard space that can fit a separate area to work, live or even sleep in. For growing households, or those with a number of generations living under the one roof, modular buildings such as a granny flat can add significant living space and even be rented out separately. Expert companies such as  Pop Blocks  can erect a modular granny flat and other self-contained living spaces on existing land, adding much-needed square footage.


3. Renovate the kitchen and bathroom

Paint your tile splash back.

Paint your tile splash back. Great how to post HERE

For dwellings that need major renovations, the best rooms to start improving are often the kitchen and bathroom. These rooms have more utility per square metre. This means that your kitchen and bathroom may become tired looking faster than the other rooms in your house. Think about replacing old, peeling or dated bench tops and cabinetry with new doors and easy-to-clean surfaces. New tiles and splashbacks can also go a long way to make your rooms feel fresh and new.


4. Update your window furnishings

White Plantation Shutters, if only they weren't so expensive!

White Plantation Shutters, if only they weren’t so expensive!

It’s time to tear down the tired curtains or dusty roll-a-blinds and invest in some fresh, new window furnishings. Venetian blinds come in a variety of colours and materials, including timber, PVC and aluminium. Thick curtains afford privacy, and transparent window shears filter light into the room. Windows can make or break a room, so remember to match the window treatments to the style of your home and its existing decor. Always consider installing new window furnishings if existing options are damaged, faded or dirty.


5. Repaint

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Often your home gives away its age most in its paintwork. A fresh coat of paint can take years off and help to brighten both indoor and outdoor spaces. A more contemporary colour scheme can bring your home into the modern era; replace those oranges, browns and olive greens from the 70s with something fresh and current. In fact, after a real estate agent recently went through our own home (which is only 10 years old) she recommended we update our walls from cream to white as it was ageing our home!   Here I was thinking we were going for a classic look!
If the structure of your house is sound, the good news is that renovating your home really can be a delight—just like the real estate agent said! Happy Renovating.

5 Weekend DIY Projects

…… and the lessons they will teach your kids!

Sometimes there’s nothing better to do on a weekend than fixing up a tired old piece of furniture, or maybe building some storage racks that you’ve been putting off doing for a long time. Maybe all you need is some wood, a can of paint and a power tool or two to achieve a little bit of weekend DIY glory. The hardware store is your friend. But better yet, there is more to backyard DIY then getting handy. DIY is a perfect time to involve your kids in some hands on educational activites.


Here are five ideas for DIY projects that will keep you busy between Friday and Monday.



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Kids love swings, so why not build a set that they’ll cherish for years ahead? For a basic A-frame set, all you’ll need is the timber, some nails, paint, wood glue and chains. A power drill might help as well when you need to attach the chain to the cross-beam and thread the chain through the seats to secure them. Get the kids involved too.  Ask them to draw a plan of what it is they want, give them th tape measure to measure out the area and involve them in decisions regarding cost and even safety. In fact making deisions about their safety is part of the old Early Years Curriculum Guidelines!



Remember that old buffet that’s been gathering dust in the garage for years? Maybe it’s time to give it new lease on life with a clean-up and a coat of paint. Years of neglect probably mean the surface is rough, so it will need to be prepared before the paint goes on. If you don’t have the patience to sand by hand, head to your local hardware store to see their selection of sanders. Popular brands such as  Ryobi manufacture a range of quality tools for any need. Find one that suits your needs and sand away the years in readiness for a fresh coat of paint. This is a great lesson in recycling and those little hands love to paint, strengthening fine motor skills.


You’ve had the idea in your mind for the last four years but just never got around to it. Next weekend the weather is predicted to be fine. You have the plans and measurements for the materials, and the tools. All you need is the timber. No excuses, this weekend is the one when you’ll finally build that deck.   Once you’ve chosen the location ask the kids to help with the measuring and recording of numbers. Draw simple plans together and for the older kids get out some graph paper and let them create some scale drawings of the deck plans.



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If you’re living in an apartment, or even have a tiny backyard like us, DIY decks and patios are obviously not possible. But if you have a balcony with enough space after the clothes hanger is set up, why not consider a few plants? They can provide extra shade in summer, give you some free tomatoes, and their green leaves are easy on the eyes. With plant nurseries scattered liberally across the suburbs, you’re never far from one and plants are surprising easy to care for. Just ask any cactus owner.   Ask the kids to map the backyard and then record where the sun hits at different times of the day. With this data they can research (or even just ask their local nursery) what plants will suit which areas. As they watch the plants grow they make valuable predictions on how long they will take and what factors influence the growth of different plants.  Whilst they are in the backyard they can use berries, leaves, twigs and stones to play their own cooking games!


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Cleaning doesn’t really need to wait until spring; why not do it this weekend? Most of us view cleaning as a chore on which to procrastinate, but few would argue that the effort isn’t worth it once the job is complete. Windows, walls, gutters and architraves sometime fall victim to unintentional neglect, so why not give them the love they deserve this weekend? Give the kids a spray bottle of water to spray the plants or a bucket of water and a paintbrush and get them to “paint” the fence or cubby house.  If you are game give them the hose to play with! It keeps them occupied whilst you get busy!

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Have you got any ideas for Weekend DIY projects?