Thursday, 31 October 2013

Hocus Pocus!

Sisters, All Hallow's Eve has become a night of frolic, where children wear costumes and run amok!

As a child I always wanted to trick or treat and dress up for Halloween. When I was younger Halloween wasn't something that was really thought about or done here in Australia. It's only been the last couple of years that it's started to become a "thing".

I have never told Leo about Halloween, he has learned about it through watching shows like Yo Gabba Gabba. We have the Disney Junior channel so for the last few weeks he has been watching all the Halloween specials. We haven't gotten to the stage of trick or treating just yet... Where we live really isn't a great place for it. I'm sure when we move it will be something we will have to think about. No complaints here! (Mums are allowed to dress up too right?)

I thought about carving a pumpkin but still think he might be a little young so this year we made our own out of paper mache clay.

Paper Mache Pumpkin:

We started to paper mache a balloon that I had shaped into a pumpkin with string. This was a little bit too much for the monster as he has the attention span of.. well a 3 year old. I had a little mummy only outing to Spotlight last week and found this great paper mache clay and thought it would be perfect!

We shaped it into a little pumpkin, gave it a face and left it to dry for a day. Leo was able to look at pictures of jack-o'-lanterns and did a lot of the molding himself.

He then had to remember what primary colours made orange and green and paint the pumpkin with my help. We painted the inside black and popped a battery operated tea light in it and before you know it...


And no special event is complete without Leo and I getting out my mixer and making cupcakes! Gosh I love cupcakes.

Have a happy and spooky Halloween!

(PS: Happy 1 year wedding anniversary to my bestie Sarah and her husband Neel! xx)

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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Keep Calm and....

My poor little blog. So neglected.

I think these photos of my little girl pretty much sum up how I feel lately.

I have had barely time to fold a basket of clothing, let alone sit down and type out anything. Well that is my excuse for the two baskets of clothes that have been sitting in the hall for a week. I say it at least once a day, but I'm struggling to keep up with all my responsibilities at the moment. I am feel so overwhelmed by it all that its starting to seem like everything I attempt to do is only half done. It's like building a wall out of badly made bricks and no mortar. Sooner or later the whole thing is going to topple. Something is going to give. At the moment, unfortunately, It is my blog which I love and the clothes that need to be put away.

Do you know the feeling? It's absolutely horrendous feeling like nothing is working out. I know i've been hard work to live with and I can see it affecting Jason. He tries to tell me to calm down, that certain things like the washing not being put away, the beds not being made and the piles upon piles of "stuff" that accumulates in our room isn't the end of the world. I can't see that though. I start to think about everything that needs to be done and before you know it, I am rubbing my forehead and feeling sick to my stomach.

And it's not just the simple things like chores, I think about everything that is due to happen over the next few months and BOOM! Brain explodes and Laura is one bubbling mess of stress and doubt.

I have joked in the past about needing to plan my day down to 15 minute intervals. I know this is impossible. I can, however, not beat myself up about things being left out. I can decide whats important to do and what can be left for another day. I need to be a mother first, my children need me to play and sing with them. My course work needs to be done as it is what will give my family a brighter future. I also need to find the time for myself and this I think is just as important as housework. If I can find an hour a day to write a blog post, crochet a few stitches or bake a treat for my husband I know I won't feel like my life is a routine of get up, stress about everything that needs to be done, not really accomplish anything, put the kids to bed, stress about course work, go to bed later then I should and then repeat it all the next day.

So heres to positive thinking, time management and leaving the washing to another day.

(I've been watching The White Queen on the SoHo channel. Can you believe this is Jeremy Irons son? Fangirl crush. Sorry Jase xx)
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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Happiness only real when shared

Jason has a much needed weekend off. When working in hospitality this is a rare thing indeed and considering how the days have just been flying past full of monotonous routine we needed a day to just spend time in each others company and enjoy our family and this beautiful city we live in before our adventure north.

Today my sweet girl had her first train trip, her first outing in the city and tonight, her first taste of mushy vegetable puree (which she LOVED). She then pooped in the bath for the third night in a row. Bless.

Slow down mouse, you are growing too fast.

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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Watching the sky - NSW Bushfires

Today was another hot windy day here in Sydney. Perfect condition, unfortunately, for bushfires. It's been a fair few years since fires have turned the sky around where I live a rainbow of colours. It's breath taking and horrific all at the same time.

The last time the sky had this look was back in January 1994. On my 10th birthday, I remember walking down to my aunts to go swimming and having ash fall on us from the fires burning around Sydney and New South Wales.

It certainly has put things in to perspective. Today Jason and I had a really horror of a day. I was angry at him, at the bank, at the kids. It was a bad day...

Today hundreds of people have been left homeless and everything they owned engulfed by flames. People who live barely an hour's drive from where I was cursing about a bad day.

My heart and thoughts go out to those who have lost their homes, to the firefighters who will continue battling blazes through the night and to the people in shelters who still don't know if they will have a home to return to.

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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Plastic Sandals and Day Dresses

I suck at time management. I am so swamped at the moment with my course and dealing with two munchkins each with their respective wants and needs that I am missing my blog and my hobbies. It sounds lameo supremo but I feel a little lost without that time to make and read and do. Time management. Poo!

I am currently procrastinating... I should be tackling one of the three assessments I have due in, oh about 3 days, but that would be sensible and sensible is hardly ever much fun. Instead I have made a little shopping wish list for Spring.

October Wish List

1. Play House Dress from City Chic
2. Bernie Dexter - Rose Dress from Miskonduct Klothing
3. Bernie Dexter - Bookshelf Dress from Miskonduct Klothing
4. Real Living Amber Rose Quilt Cover set, European cases and Cushion from Target
(This one is already on layby! YAY!)
5. Botanical Border Dress from City Chic
6. Jacquard Spot Skater Dress from Target
7. Sapphire and Latte Twist from Mox
8. Clear Sparkles Jellys from Jelly Beans
9. 50's Troppo Dress from Crossroad

Totes Adorbs!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Goal 14: Paper Plate Tambourines

We have missed a couple of weeks of Leo and Mummy craft time due to our holiday so I had planned to make it up this week with a big paper mache project. I had planned to start it today until...

Spring threw a 40ºC (104ºF) day at us! Holy blazing sun, Batman! There was no way we were going to be able to play outside with floury paste, it would of dried before we even put it on the paper. I had promised the monster we could make something. I needed an idea and it needed to be quick.

Paper Plate Tambourines

I won't go into specific detail to explain this one. It's pretty easy to figure out.

Take two paper plates and decorate how ever your little heart wishes.

(we used my new japanese crayons, some water colour paint and ribbons)

Fill the centre with something that rattles.
(we used dried pasta)

Staple around the edges to stop the rattly things from falling out and...

Make as much noise as possible shaking the thing!

Quick, Easy and using items most people would have around the house. Leo has been using it to sing "Jingle Bells. Batman Smells" all afternoon(Hey! he asked me to sing him a batman song and that's the only thing I could think of besides "nanananana BATMAN!")

Now everyone awwww at the sibling love:

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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Happy Birthday J-Cheese!

Today is my husband Jason's 38th Birthday and so gives me full rights to brag about how lucky I am to be married to him again. What can I say? He is my better half.

From the photobooth at our wedding 10/03/12

It's actually hard to believe that we have only had 5 birthdays together. It seems such a small amount of time and yet we have shared so many other experiences in those years. I can't remember life without him, nor do I want to. From the night he charmed me for my number, everything changed and even when things haven't been easy there has never been anyone else that made me feel as secure and happy as he does.

Taken at my best friends wedding 31/10/12

The support he gives me, the absolute confidence he has in me helps me to believe that I can be a mother to two little ones, I can study, I can do anything I want. He accepts me for everything I am and that allows me to dream of becoming more.

Happy Birthday Babe! and thank you for being the man that you are. I love you more each day x

(Seriously, these cupcakes are pretty damn delicious! Will post about my awesome box cupcakes soon! and yes those are dinosaur sprinkles. The monster decided that Jason LOVES dinosaurs and made it a running theme. He truly is my son.)

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Saturday, 5 October 2013

Book Review - Longbourn by Jo Baker

If 10 cats are sitting in a boat and one jumps out how many remain? none because they are copycats. I use Grammarly's plagiarism checker because I want the damn boat!

• Pride and Prejudice was only half the story •

If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.

In this irresistibly imagined below stairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own.

It always astounds me that there are authors out there brave, or foolish, enough to tackle the story of Jane Austen’s "Pride and Prejudice". I have read and seen countless adaptations, sequels, prequels and modern retellings over the years with very few, in my opinion , doing justice to this absolute beloved novel. Jo Baker’s “Longbourn” is one of a handful that I have not just enjoyed because it was about characters that I love like family, but loved for its story in its own merit.

“Longbourn” is a retelling of "Pride and Prejudice" though the tale has been taken down under the stairs to the servants quarters. Our female protagonist isn’t the brazen Elizabeth Bennett, dealing with issues of manners, morality, education and marriage at the turn of the 19th century. Instead we are introduced to the Bennets housemaid, a young woman named Sarah whose world is all chilblained hands, aching limbs and (in stark detail) the Bennett girls dirty laundry. She is certain that there is more to life then soaking mud lined petticoats.

The arrival of a new footman to the house is a welcome addition, appreciated by the status loving Mrs Bennett and daughters and to the servants who appreciate an extra pair of hands sharing the work. With the exception of Sarah, who is certain that there is more to the man then he is letting on. We soon learn of James (the footman) feelings for Sarah and his history as the viewpoint switches between Sarah, James and the housekeeper, Mrs Hill, who has some secrets of her own to keep.

It took the few first chapters for me to let go of the characters I know so well. Austen’s characters are recognisable as they flit in and out of the story, All the names and details are still there, but things are slightly different then we remember from Austen’s novel. The Bennets, even my beloved Lizzie, seem selfish, pampered and their little dramas trivial. Getting dressed to go to the ball no longer seems as wonderful as I had always pictured it as the author brings to our attention who exactly has to trudge into town for shoe roses, get the girls all dressed in their finery and then wait until they come home to give them supper.

Jo Baker weaves a story so well that by the end, you actually like Mr Collins, one of the most irritating of all Austen’s characters.

Some ugly truths are tackled in this retelling that you would never hear detail of in one of Jane’s books, though they are ground breaking in their study of strong intelligent female characters. Subjects such as the brutality of war and being a solider, the ghastly truth about the slave trade, the perversity of Mr Wickham and his preference for younger girls and what an unwed mother would really have to cope with are written about in a frank and historically accurate manner. It lends a new dimension to the world that Janeites like myself dream about and reminds us that the world of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy was not all parlours and dances.

Jo Baker’s "Longbourn" takes the ghostly characters behind the scenes and brings them to the light as completely involving and intriguing beings that you can’t help but like. If you are after a retelling of "Pride and Prejudice" to hear more about the love affair of Elizabeth and Darcy, then this isn’t the novel for you. To be frank - Their love affair, which has made so many women sigh over the years, is treated with complete indifference by the lead characters. It goes to show that this novel isn’t just another rehashing of a story well known by so many. This is a new novel and a new story that stands on its own two unfashionable but completely practical leather boots.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads

I was given the opportunity to trial Grammarly - a writing enhancement platform and I am absolutely won over by it. The grammar corrections it can catch compared to your basic old spell check is unbelievable. I think what I like most about it, is that it explains to you why what you have written may be wrong instead of just putting an ugly green wiggly line underneath and confusing you. You also have the choice to chose how grammar nazi you want the checker to be, which means you can use it for a casual blog post and then turn around and use it for a university paper. The site also has a plagiarism checker which is a great application. There is no excuse for bad grammar any longer! I recommend using Grammarly to anyone who blogs.

This post has been sponsored by Grammarly, but the views are my own.

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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A Day at the Fair: Mattara Festival

A new craze has hit the little monster of late.

Before going away, I innocently bought Leo a Batman wallet. Leo had heard of Batman but there was no real love there... yet. I simply chose it because the only other one was Ben10 and that show confuses me. I liked Batman as a kid so I thought what the heck... Little did I know what I had started!

Yesterday, We went to an indoor play centre for the morning and then to the shops for some retail therapy. At the play centre there was a face painting pirate. Which meant by the time we got to the shops our boy was no longer a little boy. Now he was...

Na na na na na na BATMAN!

So the obsession list now is: Cars, Toy Story, Peter Pan, Dinosaurs, Crocodiles, Pirates, Trains AND Batman. Sigh.

Today we went to the Kids Carnival Day at the Mattara Festival, A Spring festival that's been held at Nobbys Beach every year since 1961.

Leo fed the Clowns...

Rode some teacups...

Was unimpressed by the little Merry-go-round...

Had his first taste of Fairy Floss (He didn't like it!)...

Got a Batman (Sigh) Tattoo...

And slid down the giant slide!

Zoe hung out in her pram, no doubt dreaming of the day she too can run amok at a fair with her big brother.

Today is our last full day of our trip. This time tomorrow we will be home in Sydney. I am going to miss Newcastle. I love it here so. It's the people, The lifestyle, The beaches... and Big Dog on TV saying good night at 7pm.

Thanks for the adventures Newie! We will be back!

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