home and family

Back to school, back to reality

I always love the return to the school year.  My boys don't get quite as excited as I do about all their new stationery and fresh notebooks.  I guess it's not a boy thing.

My head is spinning though.  Normally a long, lazy January at the beach gets me ready to start February with a bang.  This year was very different because of our very special European Christmas.

The coat I made for Adelaide came in extremely handy.  She wore it every day we were out and about.

Europe Eiffel Tower

We loved showing the children the famous sights.

Europe family Eiffel Tower

Anything with an engineering angle was of great interest to the boys.  Things like the Eiffel Tower, the Tower of London or Venice stirred their curiosity and led to hundreds of questions about how things were built, why, who, when.  Nothing like seeing things in person to awaken an interest in history and languages.

Europe San Cassiano

Travelling with four children can have its challenges.  Not everyone is up to queueing for three hours to see a famous painting.  So we packed our trip with lots of skiing which was so much fun.

Europe skiing

We've returned home with some fabulous memories and a list of favourite places that one day the children might be lucky enough to return to.

Europe Trento

But that won't be happening anytime soon. We've told them they'll be lucky if they get to eat out at the Flinders pub next summer.  I've certainly had enough German sausages to last a lifetime.

A new house for Townmouse

Friday 8th March was the sixth best day ever.  Up there with getting married and the birth of our four children is the day we bought our new house.  I still can't believe that our search is finally over.  As well as huge excitement, the other emotion was one of relief - relief that we don't have to house hunt for at least another 20 years.  This is the house Will and I will become 'empty-nesters' in.

Our new house has the perfect floor plan for a family of six. The children will finally have their own bedrooms.


This lovely space is a retreat area upstairs for the children. Max and Tom's bedrooms lead off it.  The house was built in the 1930's.  It's red brick, with white window trims and a black front door with wisteria growing around the door frame.  It's very symmetrical from the street, which I like, and quite English looking.  Although the floorplan is brilliant, the kitchen and bathrooms need an update, so that is what I'm now thinking about.

And so begins the process of renovating.  I am madly pinning and using lovely pictures like this one as inspiration.

Kitchen inspiration

I have started a new Pinterest board with all my favourite interiors images.  This has been sent to the architect so he knows what I like.

And speaking of the architect, have a look at the dreamy house on his website.  How stunning is that roofline?

The only thing our new house doesn't have is a studio space for me.  So we are looking into the possibility of building an attic studio in the roof, complete with dormer windows to the north.  

Attic studio

A few pins like the one above have gone into my new Pinterest board.  Now that's one space that I am particularly excited about.

So the severe lack of blog posts here can be blamed on big projects going on in the background. There's been a big tidy-up at our current house too.  Although we don't plan to sell until our new house is ready, a persistent agent has brought a couple through for the second time.  The bright side of that is that I now have an especially tidy house, right down to the Lego drawer in the boys' room.

And, well, I may as well put it out there: if anyone's looking for a family home in Malvern with a 9 month settlement, let me know.  Don't know if anyone's ever sold a house through a blog post before - but you never know.  Come to think of it, I'm not sure that I ever linked to the feature on our house that appeared in The Design Files.

Term time

Well hello there!

Wow I still can't believe we're back into term time.  As I stood at the kitchen bench in front of the school lunchboxes the night before school started, I couldn't quite believe I had a whole year of making school lunches ahead of me.  And this year I have to make four.  Best not to do the calculation.

Kindy girl

This little minx started kindy this morning.  Following which we (she) had a nasty meltdown in Country Road which stopped a few people in their tracks.  We're going to have a little bit of a focus on manners these next few weeks.  I suppose it was a tall order to take her shopping following her first morning, but there you have it.

Although I'm determined for her not to be the spoilt youngest child and over indulged daughter I don't think her brothers got that memo.  Really, they all dote on her, it's ridiculous.  I have to keep reminding them that they are creating a monster.  "Just wait til she's ten and expecting you to jump to her every command, then you'll be sorry", they hear me say.

Anyhoo, time to do the school run and collect the boys.  Swim lessons and taekwondo tonight, tennis tomorrow, sailing and more taekwondo the day after.  Yes, it's all started.  And for me?  Well hopefully a little sewing time in the weeks to come. Will have to show you some projects I have on the go in the next few days.

Time to wrap some gifts

There is a fab Australian business called The Wrapping Paper Company.  I've ordered giftwrap from them in the past. This morning I was suddenly inspired to lift my game in the giftwrap department so I jumped online and placed an order that we then picked up from their warehouse (because I just couldn't wait for the post and I had left my run so late).


They make these narrow strips of giftwrap they call Belli-bands.  I like the way they dress up a plain roll of brown craft paper.  It's also an affordable way to get a number of pressies looking different and interesting as a group.

Wrapped gifts

They also have  pretty and affordable ribbons and cards.  Got to love that.  The big one at the back is Will's birthday present and I love the Ikat print on his. He gets to unwrap that this evening.

Now I'm good to go.  Bring on Christmas.

Scooter rides, ice-cream and fabric

Yesterday was Max's twelfth birthday.  In the morning we took a scooter ride to get ice-cream at the local Trampoline.


We take the backstreets, as these four tearing along on their scooters can be a little intimidating to a tentative octogenarian out buying groceries.  (When we get to the shopping strip they have to go at a walking pace in a straight line.)

While the children sit outside the store eating their ice-creams, I duck next door to a conveniently located fabric store.  

Last time I visited this fabric treasure trove the owner said as I walked in the door, "I knew I'd see you today."  "What do you mean?"  "I just knew this morning that I was going to see you today."  This was somewhat curious because it had been several months since I'd last visited, and even I didn't know I was going to visit until I walked past the door and went in on impulse.  I love this sort of stuff.  A conversation involving ghost sightings and intuitive friends ensued.  Intriguing.

Happily this time they had a recent shipment of beautiful Italian cotton shirtings - my favourite kind of fabric.  This is what I came away with.

Shirting in pink

Shirtdress number two is already cut out and ready to be sewn.

Beautiful storage jars

Don't you love beautiful storage options?


These jars seem wonderfully old fashioned to me.  My mother has a whole set of jars very similar to this that came from her mother's pantry.  Original and stunning jars with bakelite lids from decades past.  I think these jars are in homage to those.


I was very excited to find these online a while back.  I ordered lots of them and they sit two deep in my pantry.  We don't have a large pantry in our current kitchen - just a cupboard.

I dream of having something like this in our next house:

Perfect pantry storage

So I'll be at the ready with my set of lovely jars in our next house (I have a few more jars in storage in the garage waiting for a bigger kitchen - call me crazy).  On top of my wish list for our next house is a blow your mind pantry and laundry.

But for now, opening my little pantry at home and seeing these jars makes me happy.

(Above photo from my Kitchen Pinterest board - image source located there.)

So, this is our table

Who would have thought a new table would make us all so happy.


It took a little bit of getting used to.  Anything new and different in a space takes a bit of adjusting to. Henri and Adelaide immediately wanted to get out their paper and pencils and do some colouring.

When we sat down to a family dinner last night we all loved it. We all raved about how good the new table is - even the children.  Spaces and objects that bring family together are so important in a house.

This morning I dropped into the florist and found these interesting branches with little rust coloured buds on them - the perfect colours for the space.  The table top is so large compared to our old one that I felt it needed something on it, and something a little more contemporary at that.  It will all be good until one of the children snags a branch and my laptop gets drenched....

Rural escape

We have just spent the weekend at a rather pretty country house.


This property was bought last year by an overseas business colleague of Will's.  Will is helping with the management of the property - putting staff in place to run the farming side of the business, and ensuring that the house and garden are in good care while the owners are overseas.


The gardens are spectacular in a "Wow that's stunning.  I'm glad it's not mine to maintain" kind of way.


These espaliered trees were a rather impressive sight.


We stayed in the stables, which have been converted into further accommodation; and very comfortable accommodation at that.


Most importantly, there were yabbies in the dam, a pretty river running through the back of the property, and a farm 4WD to explore the paddocks on.  The boys weren't swayed by the showy garden, but they can't wait to go back with yabbie bait next time.

Term time

Well hello there.  It's been a while.  2012 is ticking along and I've been busy settling back into the term-time routine.  Things are a little easier this year, as all the boys are now at the one school.  Tom is our new boy this year and, so far so good. They are all happy.

And I'm happy too.  Happy just pottering around at home. Buying and cooking delicious food.  Trying new recipes.  

Did you know you can measure your happiness?  Here, take the test.  How did you go?  

Life's keeping me busy enough and I haven't ventured into my studio at all yet.  I find it takes a good four weeks back at school after the long summer holidays to get back in the groove and on top of things.


Do you like my vintage typewriter?  This belongs to my grandmother.  I think it belonged to her parents.  I learned to type on this beast. And beast it is - it weighs a whopping 15kgs.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.  I would have typed that 1000 times.

A treehouse party

Henri turned 7 yesterday.

Party Henri

We gathered a few of his friends who were also holidaying down our way.  With siblings this resulted in a casual treehouse party for 12.

Party treehouse

The older boys organised a treasure hunt which led the children to the treehouse.  Once there, a game of pass-the-parcel was orchestrated in the enclosed part of the treehouse on the second floor, again by the older boys.

Party pyramid

After a main course of BBQ sausages and lamb chops, impromptu pyramids were constructed and wheelbarrow races run.

It makes me immensely happy to see children enjoying the great outdoors and creating their own fun.

Hide and seek took place, and Max hosted some running races for the assembled two year olds. Meanwhile we adults enjoyed a catch up and a glass of wine as the sun set.

Party pavlovas

Birthday cake was individual pavlovas.  Notice how Adelaide has her eyes firmly on the prize.

Party Adelaide

This one loves her food. I'd go as far as to say she is a little glutton. She polished off this rather sizeable serve of pavlova with no second thoughts.

Party Max

Lolly bags were given out a little early by enthusiastic Henri, so there was even more sugar consumed before the party came to an end.  It was only the dropping temperatures that called an end to proceedings.

All in all, it was a very happy night, and the children had lots of fun.

Green Smoothies

Since returning from Gwinganna in mid September I've changed my diet quite significantly.  This is partly necessity, and partly because I felt so healthy I wanted to keep feeling that way.

Necessity because I was told that my liver is/was quite fatigued.  Worn out trying to process the foods I'm intolerant to; like dairy, and sugar-rich foods.  (And I don't even drink - how sad is that?)

As well as switching to an organic diet I've cut out gluten entirely.  By removing bread from my daily ritual of breakfast it also removes other bad stuff like butter, vegemite, and jam - all things my body gets angry about.  But probably the best thing I've discovered is this:

Green smoothie

Green smoothies seem to be part of my personal zeitgeist at the moment.  They keep coming across my path from unexpected sources.  Gwyneth's talking about them, a friend of mine who doesn't have a particularly healthy lifestyle talked about The Raw Food Family.  And the subject has been popping up on various blogs that aren't always health related.  

In answer to your question Jane, here's a raw treat I can recommend.  I have this for lunch most days.

Blend (don't juice) 3 kale leaves with an orange, some ginger, a kiwifruit, fresh pineapple and a cup of water. This kale smoothie tastes like a fruit drink, but has the goodness and fiber of the kale.  

These must be good for weight loss too.  On the days I have a green smoothie, I'm always lighter on the scales the next morning, even though what I've eaten the rest of the day varies.  It's filling and you don't feel hungry for hours afterwards.

Corrie, you might like to give this a whirl in your Thermomix. It might be the more healthy, wholesome answer you've been seeking.  You can even get a Green Smoothie app for your iPhone.