Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some soul searching ... what really matters ...

Don't you love it when God leads you and your man to the same conclusion at the same time?

Especially when it happens before you have even breathed a word of the idea to each other?

I love it when God puts husbands and wives together on the same page.

Just before we headed to the muster, I mentioned to Paul that I thought it was time we put some limits on technology. We do use the computer a LOT (have you noticed?)

The funny thing is - he had been listening to a podcast and was thinking the same thing.

And although we don't watch a lot of TV (none during the day ... and not every night), we rarely watch the same shows so are often in different parts of the house.

Not to mention how invasive mobile phones can be when we ARE out having fun as a family.

We aren't going to ditch technology completely (hey - I love how this blog keeps me accountable and in touch!), but we are going to put real limits on things.

There are some changes to be made, and honestly - I can't wait to make them.

Monday is our start date. We want to go into this with a plan in mind. Even the planning is fun.

After all - when it comes down to things - this is what matters. Time with my God, Time with my husband and girl, with my family and friends.

More moments like this - doesn't it melt your heart?

More time to dance. Can't wait to see how this choice is blessed! Come and keep me accountable!

Organised camp cooking ... the dream pot

I so wish I had a better picture. Check out the website Dream Pot for better pics.

Basically, reminiscent of the old hay box cookery theory, the dreampot is a thermal cooker. You start the cooking on a stove/fire/gas burner, get heat into it, then put it into a big thermal container for up to 8 hours while it cooks.

It's like a slow cooker without the electricity - but better! No burning round the sides like a slow cooker (cause there is no heating element). And the flavour is better. More like the flavour of something slow cooked in a slow oven for hours on end.

We made stews, a mexican mince dish, with a side of brown rice, baked custards and creamed rices.

It was perfect to help us eat healthily, but not waste a lot of time cooking.

And yes - after 8 hours it was still PIPING hot.

I loved this! So much that I will keep using it at home. Watch this space, I'll post recipes as we try it!

For the kids ...

I love a place that caters for my girl. It makes my day so much easier if she can have fun first!

I really love a place with makeshift instruments for her to play ... thought I would post a few pics for ideas ... I'm thinking of making some for home!

But what I really really love is this!

A grandy who would make a lagerphone for his little Miss E.
So country. So aussie. So much love in it.

Miss E told everyone "Not everybodies grandy loves them enough to make them a lagerphone!"

The old timers loved it. She jammed around a few campfires.

And I think it brought back memories for some bush poets that lived close by.

It made our muster really special

Of course ...

Some people go completely over the top.

The infamous Swill Hill!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pack well!

We don't have a big car. In a campsite that is over run with 4WDs and motorhomes, our car is a bit of a novelty. (actually - our car IS unusual here in Australia, and it IS a novelty!)

I know it amuses my parents every time we pull up in our overrun car, but trust me ... it IS organised!

There is a place for everything ... and as long as I pack the car then I know it can all be found if and when we need it. And I am getting closer to getting it right. We used almost everything I packed this time.

My greatest compliment this trip was from an old bushpoet who we sat around a campfire with on the final night.

He said "you rolled up in this funny car and dragged the tent out ... and we thought we'd get a laugh at you city folk. But then it was like MAGIC. The tent went up ... and everything came out. It was magic."

He went on to say "And the next morning you and your daughter got up and I realised you even packed the gumboots and you somehow had room for them!"

I laughed. It's gympie. When it rains it turns into a mudpit. Of course we packed the gumboots.

Muster On!

We love the Gympie Muster. Think 6 days ... 13 venues ... 79 acts of country, blues, rock, dancing, comedy ... and quite a bit more.

It is an amazing project put together by the Gympie Apex Club. This club of young volunteers (they get kicked out at 45!) put this on as their major (actually their ONLY) fundraiser of the year.

Every year the club takes one month off ... then preparations begin for the following muster.

Some of the biggest artists in Australia hit the muster every year, but it's not just the music ... it's the spirit of the muster that keeps us coming back.

Some people go a little overboard with the muster - some pretty impressive campsites eventuate ... like this (and this isn't even an impressive one ... but I couldn't believe they took the pool table!)

We however try to keep things simple. We are really only at our site for breakfast and to sleep ... so there is no point getting too elaborate ... we are quite comfortable tho thank you ;)

Anyway ... all this to say ... that I thought I'd do a few totally self indulgent posts on our few days away. I'll share a little wisdom of what works for us ... but mainly share some of the things we love.

The muster gives us time to reconnect as a family, and as a couple. We get away from it all, get to do something we love, and take time to talk and make plans.

And make plans we did. There will be a few changes in our home and a few new projects for the blog! Exciting times ahead!

We are HOME!

It's been a fun, cold, warm, dusty, dusty (did I say dusty?) week with just a little mud thrown in for fun.

Where from? The National Music Muster in Gympie!

I'm tired and just veging out tonight (while doing copious loads of laundry) - but I can't wait to share our adventures ! (and some tips while I'm at it!)

Be back tomorrow with the goss!

Getting ready for camping - Tip #14 - TEST IT out!

NEVER. I repeat NEVER take new equipment camping without testing it first.

Trust me - arrive late to a campsite and have to put a new tent up in the dark or the rain and you will believe me!

Test every piece first - and if it's an old standby you haven't used for a while - check it again before you leave!

Getting ready for camping - Tip #13 ... be ready for laundry!

You know you will have laundry. After a week camping in the cold, the heat and the dust we get LOTS of laundry!

I cannot stand clean clothes going in a bag with dirty laundry - even if it is in a separate bag.

I use the Super sized storage bag from Clearly Organized bags.

It held our whole families laundry for a week, and meant I could get a load on easily the second we walked in the door.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Getting ready for camping - Tip #12 -Plan where to unpack

You know when you come back you will be tired, dusty and wanting to just jump in the shower and ignore the mess.

Before you go, plan where you will unpack. Is there a space in the shed/garage/attic where the camping gear lives? Plan to put it straight there and avoid double handling.

You will be over run with laundry, so have your washing up to date, and dryer and washer free so you can throw loads in the machine as soon as you get home.

And plan an easy dinner. Or takeout. No one is going to want to cook.

A bit of planning now will minimise the pain later! And make sure your WHOLE family is in on the plan and knows - car unpacked first - no exceptions

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Getting ready for camping - tip #11 - plan for your drive

Activities for kids - check!
Water ? Food? Check!

Pillow for my back ? Wouldn't be without it!

Something else I've planned this trip is to download an audio book for us all to listen to ... Charlie and the Chocolate factory - here we go!

Ipods are updated with our fave music - I think we are SET!

Getting ready for camping Tip #10 - go for a test drive!

Unless you are camping just down the road ... while you are doing that final check of the house send your better half (and the kids!) for a test drive.

Get them to turn the radio OFF and listen to any clangs, bumps or other noises, and check for items that shift in transit.

Better to find out now than when you are on your way! (plus it will give you 5min peace to get your head together!)

Getting ready for camping - tip #9 - Recharge stuff

Mobile phone?
Video camera?

OK - you don't need all this stuff - but some of it is great for the drive ... some for creating memories ... some for safety .. some just cause.

Don't forget to charge it! And make sure there is room on your camera etc!

Getting ready for camping - tip # 8 - my backpack

(this is my beautiful pappilon. Obviously he is worried about being left behind!)

My backpack is my handbag when camping. It's my go-to emergency kit, and seems to have everything I need ... wet weather gear, hats, sunscreen, meds, panadol ...

To keep everything in place I love these organising bags from Clearly organised bags. They are reusable, strong, have a zip and a clear front so I can see through them to what is inside ... and play a small part in reducing my ziplock bag addiction.

I have one bag which is a mini first aid kit (meds, bandaids, panadol etc), one for a notepad and pens (does anyone else get their best ideas when they are away from home?) and one with essentials for a day out (sunscreen, insect repellant, hand sanitiser, loo seat covers etc!)

Add my phone, a book and my wallet, a few snacks and a waterbottle and we are set to go!

Getting ready for camping - Tip #7 - Packing FOOD!

Not every storage solution has to be expensive or elaborate. I pack our food that doesn't need to keep cool in these reusable grocery bags. They are structured enough in shape that I can pack them well, but small enough that they fit in the odd spaces in my car.

But the best bit is, as we eat the food, they fold up into taking practically no space at all, or can be used for other purposes.

I find this so much better than using a plastic box for food, as it gives me extra room on the trip home (and if I end up packing wet camping gear I will need every bit of that extra room!

Getting ready for camping Tip#6 - prepare meal packs ahead!

We don't sacrifice flavour when we are away. One thing I like to do is prepack all the spices and dry ingredients for the meals we will be having in individual bags. This saves taking bulky spice jars, and also means you can pre measure ingredients at home.

These are the beginnings of a slow cooked red lentil dahl. YUM!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Need to get a wriggle on today.

New washing machine arriving at 1330 today!

After factoring the estimated cost of repairs (Heck - even the cost of getting someone here to LOOK at it!) we are upgrading.

So I have 3 and a bit hours to clean my house for the delivery guy! (is that wierd? - well - I also want it clean in general - but since I can't help the camping gear in the loungeroom I am hoping the rest of the house shows we aren't total slobs!)

So today I am bringing back the "Aha! List!". I'll post what I got done later!

Getting ready for camping - tip #5 - PRACTISE packing

If you have a tight space like me, or are trying something new, get all you things together - mark out a space similar to your boot (trunk) and practise. See what will fit and what you need to leave behind while you are not stressed and thinking clearly.

For the first time ever we are using roof boxes on roof racks to make more packing room. Even in this brief practise I am amazed at how much we can fit in them!

Disaster! (well - not really - but very very annoying.)

Not only has my printer gone on a paper jammed strike ...

BUT MY WASHING MACHINE IS BROKEN! I am going camping shortly - and not only need to WASH MY CLOTHES, but I will be returning with several days worth of dusty and possibly muddy gear.


Kudos to my amazing man. He has spent all night on google and has been checking more pipes, and drains and tubes and things than I ever thought possible are clear.

Is it bad to ask you to PRAY that my machine works ... (or the other solutions don't drive me broke)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Getting ready for camping Tip #4 - check the weather!

We live in the age of google!

At our fingertips are long range weather forecasts for up to a month in advance. Not always accurate - but a week is normally relatively close.

Check the weather! Plan for all eventualities - but if I know it is going to be wet wet wet I might change plans - or at least pack more indoor activities!

Getting ready for camping tip # 3- Pack in STATIONS

Just like I use stations in my home, I am using them with my camping organisation.

A station is where you place all the items you need for particular tasks together so they are there in one spot.

I am using these 8.5L decor buckets as they are waterproof (ish), and will keep a lot of the dust away. And they are a great size without being too big.

Pictured are our personal hygiene bucket and cleaning items/misc kitchen bucket. To give you an idea what we have in them I have copied my lists below the photos. Other buckets we have are things like kids distraction items, cooking utensils, dry foods, wet weather gear. At the end of the trip I will just tidy the buckets, replace what we have used, and store them ready for our next trip with a list of the items inside.

Cleaning products/ misc kitchen bucket

Dishwashing liquid

Scouring pads

Rubbish bags


Freezer bags

Bag closure clips

Ziplock bags

Disinfectant wipes

Disinfectant spray

Laundry detergent


Hygiene bucket

Disposable loo seat covers

Pocket Hand sanitiser x 2

Facial wipes and Wet ones


Loo paper

Insect repellent (x2)



Instant ice pack

Spare toothbrushes

Tooth paste sample

Kids Panadol


Hand cream

Lip balm





Getting ready for camping - Tip #2 - Lists part 2!

You know I love LISTS!

As I pack I am jotting down what I have packed and where.

Then I am typing it up quickly in a word file and printing two copies.

One will be laminated and will go with our gear.

The other will create the beginnings of our family camping MANUAL! Everything we need to know and have done before at our finger tips!

There are a hundred ways I could dress this up, make it prettier or better but I am keeping it simple to keep it fast and not overwhelming.

Easy, quick and FUN!

Getting ready for camping - tip #1 - LISTS!

Right now I am not only planning this camping trip .. but also thinking ahead to how what I do right now can make future trips easier. The goal ... is to be able to have the camping gear organised and ready - with simple checklists ready to help us camp throughout summer with the hard work already done.

Tip # 1 - you need a LIST!

I wish I had a photo of my dad's camping book. Every year we would camp for a week at my grandparent's old farm with ALL our extended family. Dad had a small book for each year. And in that book he had lists - what to take, what we would eat, recipes, menus ... they became a mini bible for him in organising these trips ... and they amaze me now at the planning he did.

I'm trying to get together an organisation manual for our trips. Lists are my friends. They mean I can make sure we have everything, don't forget anything, can review what worked and didn't, and help me refine what to do next time.

The great thing for me is now I have one thing dad didn't have. GOOGLE. Google is your friend! Search "camping gear list" and an endless number come up. Print a few off. Don't use them as an ultimate guide, but use them to give you ideas and work out what your family needs. Add and cross off as you go. Half the hard work is already done!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer fun organising - picnic hamper!

Summer is all about randomness for me! One of my favourite parts is making a decision, hopping in the car ... and seeing where you end up.

Another favourite part is sampling the local produce along the way. We live in a fantastic area - wineries, olives, cheese, great bakeries and the most fabulous berries and fruits and vegetables.

Getting ready for camping I took the opportunity to update our picnic items, so they are all in one spot, clean and ready to grab as the whim takes us.

I am so happy with the result. The bright colours will be great for helping me to identify any stray items as we pack up ... and they just SCREAM summer to me!

And the reusable plates and cutlery is so much better than all the waste of disposable items.

Now all I need is a cute (cloth!) table cloth - and I'm set!

Ready for FUN!

Dear aussies ... it's election day!

Don't forget to VOTE!

(of course - my smug self voted early in the pre polling so I get to avoid all the cues today! Cool!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting ready for camping! Organising for summer fun!

Spring is almost here! It is so close I can almost taste it! And on days like yesterday I got a sweet sweet preview of it. I can't wait!

The warmer weather for us is time for days out. Picnics, bushwalks ... and for once I am hoping, time to get camping and relax as a family!

The thing about all these things is they cause me stress when things aren't clean, packed and ready to go.

In exactly one week I plan to be camping with my family (and around 20,000 other people) and listening to some of the best country, blues and roots music in Australia for several days.

So this week I am planning, preparing and getting ready ... not just for this trip, but putting systems in place so we can be ready to go and enjoy the outdoors any time we get a day off together and the weather is FINE!

To start things off ... my solution to my pet peeve of camping.

You can't deny it - camping can be dusty, and dirty. And I hate that part of it. I like hands clean, faces washed and ready to go each morning. And I like to feel a little bit civilised each day.

In the past I have used a bucket for our family's hygiene needs - but I don't like it. Enter - my repurposed family camp bathroom!

Take one clothing hamper in a state of ruin.

Cut off the mouldy torn hamper part and be left with this fantastic collapsible frame!

Secure it with a repurposed waist belt off a bag. Add the green IKEA hanging storage, a handbasin (clearly marked HANDWASHING ONLY!) and some cool towels, toothpaste, sunscreen, soap etc ... and we are set to go!

I have a few more tweaks I may make to this ... but I love it! Totally free, and easy to collape and store!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Choc Cherry Ripe Slice - and it's NO BAKE!

Recipe from the bridal shower ... because I was asked to share!

You need
1 packet plain sweet biscuits - crushed (I used arnott's Marie biscuits)
125g melted butter
250ml (ish) condensed milk
2 cherry ripe bars chopped (OK I used 3 king size bars)
250g melted chocolate

How to
Mix all ingredients except chocolate
Press into lined slice tin
Pop in fridge for about 20 min and chill.

Melt chocolate and pour over slice. Chill till set

Cut with hot knife into pieces


Saturday, August 14, 2010

It so better be sunny on Saturday ...

It's election day ... but more importantly for us ... YARD SALE DAY!

I have spent all day with my husband in the shed. It is gross. I don't have pics because it was too gross to even think about remembering my camera.

And it reminded me of something I had forgotten ... men don't like women throwing things from in their shed!

But Saturday is garage sale day. All proceeds are going towards my new bathroom to be ...

It better not be raining.

Organising fun! My baby sis's bridal shower!

I wish I could say it was all my organising ... but then again I don't! The best things happen when a great team work together on them!

Take a beautiful bride to be ... who is willing to have a lot of fun ...

Add a touch of glamour ...

Great guests!

A touch of romance ...

And a party atmosphere!

And you KNOW you are going to have a great night!
Hey baby sis! Hope you had a ball! It ws so much fun to do this for you!

And a MASSIVE thanks and shout out to mum and Renae for helping me! Renae has a fabulous bridal business on the gold coast and some great decorating ideas ... expect a post soon linking to her website!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tax time....

Yep - I hate it. I do our tax. I guess it makes sense - I know how (benefit of flatting with an accountant in my younger years and having her advice on tap)

But I hate it. So much.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Oh Aldi ... how I *heart* you!

Sometimes you find the best storage solutions when you least expect it.

Laundry takes over my home every day. I just can't seem to help it!

On a GOOD day sorting laundry looks like this ...

with baskets on every available surface. (and trust me - this is a TIDY day!)

Which of course means the couch is out of comission until I put all the laundry away ... AND my laundry baskets are being used.

But today at Aldi I found THESE!

And they are fabulous! (shhh - I bought two!)
Two trolleys means four baskets - one for each of us and one for the linen closet.
They are strong, tidy, and can be wheeled from room to room.

Plus they don't look too bad!

Makes me smile!

(and if you like them ... rush to aldi! I bought the last two at our store! )

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Super organisational FAIL!

I normally do so well.

Got Miss E to school this morning, and just as we drove in, she said "Why is she in normal dress?"

Then my heart sinks. Jeans for Genes day. Free dress. UGH.

I am so lucky I live in a small town. In Brisbane I would have just been the forgetful bad mum.

SO in the car, and home again, change, and back again. One happy girl, but one very flustered mummy. Not how I need to start my day.

I have a diary. It usually works. But this didn't. I feel like I need a more in my face solution than my diary for school things .... and a way to sync it with Paul.

Just not sure what.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tell me,why is life so busy???

This is my day.
Slept in till 6.30 (truly a blessing after a month of 5.30am starts!)
Get up, get breakfast, check emails, do banking, make lunches, do load laundry, pack dishwasher, get child dressed (actually - she did that! She has to be self sufficient in this house), get to school drop off ...

Do drop off, liase with parents on costume, pick up coffee (YES!), drive an hour,

Drop last of course work off, visit my mum and dad (best part of day!)
Do a little shopping, lunch with mum, wedding and bridal shower talk (for my sister)

Drop into spotlight. Discover they have nothing for the shower, drive an hour home.

Go to post office and chemist. Almost get to school on time for pick up. Make calls.

Dress for ballet and take miss e to ballet.

Go pick up ribbon for athletics tomorrow.
Feed chooks. Clean bathroom. Tidy lounge (playdate tomorrow!), unpack dishwasher, make dinner.

And I still have laundry to fold and streamers to make for athletics day tomorrow! Oh and bake for the cake stall. Forgot that!

I need another hour in the day.

Le sigh....

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Shout out to READING EGGS! - Things I LOVE

We LOVE love LOVE !reading eggs!
This is an online program of games, phonics learning, sight words and FUN for ages 4-8.
Miss E loves it - and is on the last map. My school teacher sister loves it too.

Reading eggs rocks and really has helped my girl be a better reader!

Right now the annual "Great literacy challenge" is on, and you can try FIVE weeks reading eggs for free! No credit card needed to register.

I really recommend it - give it a go!

(and how does this relate to organising? Well - miss e is allowed a game a day ... and while she is playing it I am attacking our clutter box of a garage/office