A Quilt for my Little Man

After making a few quilts for friends having babies over the last few years, I was excited to get stuck into a cot quilt for my own little man recently!

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I made the quilt top out of scraps I already had, and had my first attempt at patch working blocks. I love the traditional patchwork style and I’m keen to try some more like it.

I’m pleased with the end result, and I’m now looking forward to using it as inspiration when planning the new nursery.

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24 weeks along now, so only four more months until we meet the little man and I can snuggle him up in his new quilt 🙂

Abby xx

 

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Money Saving Strategies: Part 2

 

This post is a Continuation of Money Saving Strategies: Part 1. Find it here.

More money saving strategies we use:

Baby Stuff

Babies are expensive creatures!

  • I buy the cheap supermarket brand disposable nappies for use during the day, and only use the more expensive brand overnight. This would save us about $20 a month.
  • We only use wipes for number 2’s, and again I buy the supermarket brand. Number 1’s are cleaned up with tissues and sorbolene cream, not only is this much much cheaper, but much kinder on little bottoms. Those wipes have a lot of nasty chemicals in them!
  • We have one of those fancy nappy disposal bins that seals off each nappy, trapping the smells inside. It’s a brilliant contraption, but each cartridge costs at least $10!! So we only use this bin for stinky number 2’s, and have a separate bin with a bin liner in it for number 1’s. The number 1 bin doesn’t seal the smell in as well, but we just make sure we empty it more frequently.
  • When we were at the puree stage, I made all of Miss E’s purees and froze them, and used jar food only when we were out and about for ease and convenience.
  • I buy formula, nappies, wipes, baby food and anything else I can in bulk, only when they’re on special.

Clothes

  • I make do with what I already have far more often than what I used to and now try to buy pieces that I know will be worn over and over again. I try to buy lots of neutral pieces that will go together with different outfits, and buy end of season clearance stock when I can. A tip I picked up recently was to choose a signature colour (in my case blue) and build your wardrobe with pieces in shades of this colour and neutrals, that way everything will go together nicely, and you can create more outfits with less pieces.
  • For Miss E and the little man joining us soon, I’ve barely paid full price for a single item of clothing they own. Again, I buy end of season stock ahead of time. Miss E is currently wearing size 1, and so when I see a clearance rack, I’m looking ahead to pieces in size 2 and 3. For the little man I’m buying 0000’s, 000’s, 00’s, 0’s and 1’s when I see them cheap at the moment. With summer drawing to a close I bought 8 separate swimsuit items off the clearance rack for Miss E and the little man for a total $22.50, with their original price totalling $82! We’ve got enough bathers to get us through the next two summers now!
  • I repair and alter what I can instead of throwing it out. Fixing a hem or sewing a button back on takes all of 15 minutes, and doesn’t cost me a cent.

Other strategies

  • I never carry more than a couple of dollars in cash. If the money isn’t sitting there in my purse, I’m not likely to spend it on a soft drink or snack here and there. This is as good for my health as it is for my pocket!
  • I don’t browse or window shop anymore. If I don’t know it exists then I won’t want it.
  • I save up the things that I ‘want’ but don’t ‘need’ for gift suggestions when it’s my birthday, Mother’s Day or Christmas, i.e. new handbag, sunglasses, books etc.
  • If we can make it ourselves for cheaper than it can be bought, then that’s exactly what we’ll do. This goes for baby items, house renovations, pasta sauces, anything within our capabilities.
  • We’ve made a conscious effort to turn off lights in the rooms we’re not in. If there’s no one in that room, there probably doesn’t need to be a light on. We also don’t have a dryer, and dry all our clothes out in the sunshine, or inside in front of a window if it’s cold and raining.
  • We watch the fuel cycle and buy when it’s cheap, using discount vouchers when we have them. I say we, but really Matt just takes care of this and I don’t have to think about it!

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I think one of the key things to remember when you’re trying to save a few dollars is to treat yourself every now and then. Have a fancy dinner every now and then, buy that killer pair of heels, just don’t do it all the time 🙂 Life gets a little boring if you only meat from the clearance section!

Take and adapt whatever works for you, ignore what doesn’t and please share any great money saving strategies you use to get by!

Abby xx

A baby girl quilt

 

A good friend of mine had a beautiful little baby girl a couple of months ago, and I whipped up a cute cot quilt for her.

I’m disappointed by the quality of the photos I took, as they really don’t do the colours justice.

girl quilt 1

This is the quilt I mentioned way back here. The first quilt I completed with a mink backing. I was told it couldn’t be done, but I did it!

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girl quilt 2

I hope it’s new owner will get plenty of use out of it as winter rolls around 🙂

Abby xx

 

I’m Back! With big news!

Sorry about the rather long unexplained absence.

I’ve been busy baking…

baby boy

a Baby Boy!

I disappeared at first because Morning Sickness and Miss E were sapping every little bit of energy I had, and then just took my time wandering back.

But I’m here, and excited! I’ve so much to share and catch up on 🙂

I look forward to sharing more with you soon.

Abby xx

A Baby Boy Quilt

I was so excited to give this beautiful baby boy quilt to it’s new owner on Saturday.

baby quilt

(got to love this photo with the very glamorous shed in the background, and unfinished pizza oven in the foreground!

The little man hasn’t arrived yet, but I hope he loves it!

I had so much fun making it.

baby quilt cotWe’ve a few more friends having babies soon, so the baby quilt production line continues 🙂

It’s just lucky I love making them.

Abby xx

 

Cooking for those who hate cooking

You’ve probably picked this up by now, but I’m not a big fan of cooking.

I’d rate cooking as being about as enjoyable as ironing, cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn. Unlike ironing, cleaning the bathroom and mowing the lawn however, I have to cook every day. Ick.

I’m amazed by the number of cooking shows on tv. Is it not enough that we have to cook everyday? We have to watch other people on TV doing it too? I’m waiting for the launch of MasterLaunderer. A show where contestants compete in stain removal, brightest brights and making your clothes feel like you’re wearing a million baby duck feathers. I would watch that.

Oops, went off on a bit of a tangent there…

squirrel-up-dog-gifSo,

I’m very lucky to have a husband who enjoys cooking and does it well. In the past he has taken on the lions share of cooking, but now that I’m home most days, I’m cooking a lot more. When Matt’s away with work, all cooking responsibilities fall to me, so I’ve had to devise some ways of feeding myself and Miss E, without having to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

One of my strategies is to cook during Miss E’s nap times in the middle of the day, when I’m not worn out, and still have a little enthusiasm to bring to the process. If I cook just before dinner time I’m usually frazzled by the million other things going on at that time of the day (Miss E waking from her nap, then having her dinner, bath, bottle, bedtime story and bed, as well as Matt coming home some time in there, all in the space of an hour and a half). If I can avoid cooking at the same time, I’m sure I’m far more pleasant to be around.

I start off by cleaning any dirty dishes, clearing off benches and making sure the dishwasher is ready for a load of dirty dishes.

I then start preparing several meals at once. If I have to be in the kitchen, I make it worth my while and do as much as possible in one hit.

A few days ago I had an hour of power in the kitchen and whipped up some puree’s, some play dough, and a few freezer meals at the same time.

banana and strawberry puree 1As we get closer to the end of the week, I look through the fruits we seem to have an abundance of and make up some puree’s to freeze. This lot is a punnet of strawberries (they were cheap this week) and two bananas.

banana and strawberry puree 2and because I already have the stick mixer out, I make up some peach and apricot puree’s out of some preserved out of season fruit I had in the pantry.

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IMG_5367I freeze ready-made baby meals in a Heinz freezer tray. After 24 hours in the freezer I pop them out, and put the cubes into ziplock bags in the freezer.

In between batches of puree, I made some stir fry and rice.

stirfryIf you don’t have a rice cooker, get one. They’re pretty cheap, super simple to use and wash, and they make life much easier!

riceI made up some freezer meals, and the next day’s lunches.

stirfry 2and while waiting for the stir fry to cool, before I put it in the fridge and freezer, I made a batch of play dough as well.

playdoughThen when it was all done, I put as much as I could possibly fit in the dishwasher and set it going, then cleaned up. Apart from our good knives, anything that fits goes in our dishwasher, if it can’t go in the dishwasher, it can’t live here. I have a similar policy for clothes and the washing machine.

So that’s that. An hour of pain in the kitchen, for a few days gain 🙂

Do you have any other fabulous techniques for making cooking quick and painless?

Abby xx

Mess free painting with baby

Miss E painted her first masterpiece!

baby painting finalWithout a big mess to clean up! Hurrah!

Here’s how we did it:

Materials

Washable kidsafe paint (I used Crayola)

Cardstock for painting on (I used paper and it fell apart once soggy)

A large resealable plastic bag (e.g. glad bag)

Sticky tape to tape to the floor (optional)

 

Before I let Miss E at the paint, I dolloped a few different colours on the page, and then carefully slid it inside the bag and sealed it up.

baby painting 1

baby painting 2Once all the paint was safely sealed inside, I put the page on the ground so Miss E could ‘smoosh’ all the paint around.

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baby painting 4

baby painting 5She had a lot of fun with this, but it was a challenge to keep it out of her mouth. Next time I’ll be taping it to the floor.

baby painting 6When all the paint has been sufficiently ‘smooshed’, carefully remove the page from inside the bag.

baby painting 7Between Miss E’s scrunching and the sogginess of the paper, I found it very difficult to take the painting out without tearing the paper. Next time we’ll use some heavier card stock.

Leave the masterpiece out to dry, and label once dried.

baby painting finalThen proudly display it on your fridge!

baby painting fridgeLots of fun and no mess!

Abby xx

 

Motherhood

I’m going through a Jodi Picoult stage at the moment. I’m currently reading Perfect Match and have just finished Vanishing Act. They’re a nice simple read and I always get hooked quickly, then read the whole book in a few days.

When I came across this paragraph in Vanishing Act, I had to capture it. It’s exactly right.

book quote

It made me think of those first few days after I had Miss E, when I realised that I would never again, for the rest of my life, stop worrying about this little person. The thought was so exhausting on that third baby blues day, that it made me cry.

Exhausting as all that worrying is, and will be, it’s absolutely worth it 🙂

Abby xx

 

7 Baby Play Ideas Using Everyday Objects

baby play collage

Sometimes the best toys are the everyday items that already live in your home. With a little imagination, the simplest of items can provide hours of entertainment.

Here are some of my favourite play ideas, best suited for 6 months and up.

1. Mirror Play

Sing ‘Heads & Shoulders, Knees & Toes’ with accompanying actions, first on you, and then on your baby.

Play peek-a-boo, popping your face in and out of the mirror frame.

Allow baby to explore their own reflection.

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2. Mixing Bowl Drums

This one’s fairly self explanatory. Pull out all the pots and pans for a full drum kit, and/or give baby a mixture of drum sticks to use, i.e. wooden spoon, metal spoon, plastic spatula.

It gets pretty noisy, so I wouldn’t be trying this one out when you need a quiet moment.

We now have a mixing bowl permanently in the toy box. Miss E has discovered she can put things in it and tip them out, and that if she drags it around on the ground or kicks it, it makes cool noises too.

mixing bowl drum

3. Balloon

This one’s an absolute hit! Until it pops, then it might be scary. Unless you’re Miss E, who’s not fussed by a popping balloon at all!

Balloons are great for tapping back and forth. They move slowly, allowing baby more time to get their hands in place to catch it, and if they miss and it plonks them in the face, no tears!

Also, lots of fun for Mum and Dad making hair staticky 🙂

Just be prepared to get in there quick and grab the popped balloon before it’s shoved in the mouth. We learned that lesson with our dog…

balloon

4. Ice

Playing with ice is an interesting sensory experience for baby.

We tried this out in the middle of winter, so I covered Miss E’s lap with a burp cloth to keep her dry and then let her go for it.

Add some food colouring to your water before you freeze it for added interest.

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5. Gel Bag

Grab a sealable sandwich bag, tip in some cheap hair gel and a few interesting objects (I used foam shapes and beads). Then seal it up. If you’re paranoid about hair gel going everywhere like I am, double bag it.

To stop it sliding around on your highchair tray you could either tape the sides down, or as I did, put a few drops of water on the tray to make the bag stick. As soon as Miss E starts picking the bag up and trying to put it in her mouth, it’s game over for us.

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6. Muffin Tray

Put a collection of balls, blocks, cars, toy animals or whatever you’ve got at hand in a muffin tray, and let them at it.

Baby will have fun tipping everything out, putting it back in and in Miss E’s case, kicking it repeatedly to make rattling sounds.

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7. Laundry Basket Ball Pit

Again, pretty self explanatory.

I find that Miss E often gets frustrated with her balls because they always roll away out of her reach. By containing all the balls (and the baby) in the laundry basket, all the balls are close at hand and fun to explore.

Be mindful of the sturdiness of your basket. Mine is pretty rigid, but I was concerned that if Miss E leaned back into it, she’d tip the basket, herself and all the balls over onto the floor in a spectacular fashion. So I pushed the end she was sitting at, up against the side of my couch.

Also be wary of any small holes in your basket, that little fingers, arms or legs might get stuck in.

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Who needs real toys?!?!

What other everyday items does your baby like to play with?

Abby xx

Books for Babies

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I’m a bit of a book nerd, and Miss E is well on her way to becoming one too. Our Children’s book collection is a little crazy, between my love of picture books, my old picture books, the books I’d collected as a teacher and the books Miss E received at our BaByQ / Book Shower, we’ve got just a few.

There are these in her bedroom:

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and these in the lounge:

lounge books

and then the novels that are a bit beyond her at the moment, are in the spare bedroom.

We like to read together snuggled up together on the couch, or both laying on our bellies with the book spread out on the floor in front of us, and sometimes we lay on our back and I hold the book open up above us. I don’t think it matters a whole lot how you read to your baby, just so long as you do.

We aim to read one book a day with Miss E, though it’s often more than that. Matt reads as many books to her as I do, because we want her to see that it’s important for everyone to read. We’ll probably make an even bigger deal out of Matt reading to the kids if and when we have a little boy one day, so that our little man grows up knowing that reading is just as important for boys as it is girls.

Amongst the many books we own, these are the ones that we read over and over again:

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Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd.

This was one of my favourites when I was little. I can remember it being the first book I ever borrowed from the school library, when I was five years old. Miss E loves it too. I think it’s because it rhymes, is repetitive and Hairy Maclary and his pals are dogs, and she loves dogs!

Each time we read this book, we talk about the dogs, and how Penny is a dog too. Babies learn so much from talking about what is in the book, as well as reading the story. We’ve now come to the point where Miss E looks to Penny continuously when we’re reading books about dogs. She’s made the connection between books, and real life!

The next three books are board books. I find board books are great with Miss E, because I’m not precious about her bending or tearing the pages, and if she wants to put the corners in her mouth she can go for it!

wonkey donkey

wonky donkey open

The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith.

I think this one might be just as fun for Mum and Dad to read, as what it is for little ones to hear. Another repetitive, rhyming book, The Wonky Donkey is also great because it’s silly. Our copy also came with a CD with the story recorded in song. Bonus!

i went walking

I Went Walking by Sue Williams.

This is a nice quick book. The illustrations are simple, and the text is repetitive. It talks about common farm animals, so we talk about the noises those animals make, and show her any stuffed toys that match. Perfect for little people!

Again, this book has a dog in it that happens to look a lot like Penny, so maybe this is why Miss E likes it as well!

where is the green sheep

green sheep open

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox.

Rhyming, repetitive and silly, this book has you looking for the Green Sheep the whole way through. Miss E loves the illustrations in this book. We have a fluffy green sheep toy that we play with after reading this book, and sing ‘Baa Baa Green Sheep’ and ‘Mary had a little lamb (whose fleece was green as grass)’.

Yes, we definitely love our books in this house, and we’re so happy to see our little girl following in our footsteps!

Abby xx