Ronda’s homemade flower brooch

This just arrived in the mail, a special handmade gift from Ronda, an old friend of my mother’s!

Ronda saw a photo of the first tea cosy I ever made on facebook and asked me to make her one, so I made her one and posted it to her. My second go at a tea cosy was a bit fancier, it was a reversible two way tea cosy with a Lady Grey side, and a Ladybird side. Ronda liked it so much she sent me a present back, which included her home made flower brooch!

How sweet, now I just have to find a special place to put it. I’m thinking my favourite sun hat could do with an embellishment like this!

Advertisements

My Ten Essential Baby Items

We’re not planning on having another child, but if we change our minds it won’t be before 2 more years as I don’t want 2 in nappies at the same time. So I’m selling my baby things now because I don’t have room to store things we probably don’t need.  If we change our minds I will just buy the few essential things we need. At least now we know what to buy, and what not to buy!

There are lots of pages on the net that list the ‘essential baby items’ you need as new parents. On all the ones I saw they always listed many more items than you actually need, it’s almost as if these sites are sponsored by these products and just want you to buy extra stuff! Having a baby is worse than a wedding in this way, they see you coming and try and sell you all sorts of junk you do not need. I want to list here the things we think we do need, just in case we change our minds about another baby.

1. convertible car seat
This of course is a no brainer, they say they won’t let you leave the hospital without one in your car. Although no one checked our car when we left the hospital with our son! The question is, do you get a convertible or one with a detachable baby carrier? We got a convertible so it will last us for 4 years, these things are pretty expensive! The detachable baby carrier would be really nice but you can only use it for about 6 months so its very expensive, although you can hire them for a lot cheaper.

2. bassinet on wheels
I just loved my love n care bassinet (sorry for the free advertising there). I got white so it’s nice for both a baby boy or girl. It had wheels so I could move it easily around the house as I needed, you can also detach the bassinet from the stand which I rarely did as I didn’t want to wake the sleeping baby while I did it. You only use this for a few months though, until they can sit up or roll over. Our son was premmie, so we got to use ours for a few extra months than usual. It makes it so much easier to put your baby down and pick him up, if he is in a little bassinet. If I have to buy another one, I’ll just get it second hand from ebay.

3. convertible cot
Again we got white, which is good for a boy or girl, we got the 3 way kind which can not only be used as a toddler bed, but also as a little sofa. We will get years use out of this cot even if we only have the one child.

4. high chair with wheels
You don’t need a high chair until they are 6 months old, but I must remember the next one we buy has to have wheels! If we have to buy another one, it will be a good one as you use this for quite a while.  I’m always moving Thomas around in his high chair, but the one we have now is a cheap plastic one from Big W without wheels, so I have to lift it to move him around. Also this one is not easy to clean even though it said it would be, but I think all high chairs are probably hard to clean. A baby eating is a very messy affair!

5. reversible, light weight pram
I had a romantic vision of carrying my baby around in a sling all the time, so we bought 3 slings. We weren’t sure we even needed a pram and waited until after he arrived to see. But our son was premmie and too tiny for the slings as it turned out. I still remember the relief I felt the day we finally bought a pram and were able to go shopping without carrying him around. We got a wonderful reversible pram where you can choose to have your baby rear facing or front facing. We had him rear facing for most of the first 12 months, it was so nice to be able to see him sleeping happily in it while we had some time out at the shops. I practised folding it up and putting it up many, many times in the shop before we left so I was sure  I could do it. It’s not too big to be too clumsy, just big enough to do the job. The only difference I would make would be to have more room underneath for my bags, and a drink holder in the handle.

6. a wooden rocking chair
I was lucky enough to borrow an old fashioned, wooden rocking chair from a neighbour. This turned out to be a god send as it was the only thing that would help my baby to sleep for many months. Surprisingly, I found you don’t need one with padding, so you can rule out the expensive upholstered breastfeeding chairs with stools. I was rarely in the chair for very long, as my baby nodded off so quickly, it worked so well. An old, second hand one would work just fine.

7. baby bag or similar
I resisted buying one of these for a lot longer than I should have, using a simple bag crammed full of the stuff you need to carry around with you when you have a baby. I thought they were unnessecary. Reality taught me that this is a very handy thing to have, and I love the cheap one I picked up from K-Mart. It has a little change mat that folds out, but I have only used that once or twice. It has compartments that make finding things easier, so a similar bag would be fine, just a one compartment bag was not good enough. Also, it has a good handle with extra padding which is important because it can get heavy and sometimes you are carrying it, but thankfully not too often.

8. portacot and portable highchair
Thankfully these things have been borrowed, and were useful when we had to do the obligatory visiting rounds of the extended family at Christmas. The portacot is also now getting used in the office as an extra playpen. I can pop him in there if I don’t want him crawling around in the pc wires.

9. pull apart play pen
This has also been borrowed, and is useful pulled apart and set up in different places in the loungeroom to keep Mr Crawler away from the TV. Also, we use it to close off the loungeroom area when I don’t want him in the kitchen.

10. safety gates
We are just using these now as my son is big enough to crawl around and explore the whole house. These are especially important because we live in a townhouse with stairs, so we have them set up to stop him from escaping up them without us being right there.

And I’ll tell you what you don’t need, you don’t need a change table, nor expensive matching furniture. I just use a $20 plastic change mat on top of what will become Tom’s study desk. We’re keeping one sling for when we go to the markets which is a place you do not want to take a pram, despite some people insisting on it. The other two slings I’m trying to sell as we’ve never used them. You don’t need fancy baby shelves or baby drawers and you certainly don’t need to paint your nursery! How ridiculous is that, painting a room especially for a baby. Paint your walls off-white once a decade or two, save your time and money, and it goes with everything! I bought some small and cheap $2 baskets to keep his clothes in, which I can move around to his change table, laundry and some old shelves I have in his room. I also keep some toys in these baskets as I got half a dozen and they’ve been really handy.

A bouncinette was handy, but only usable for a few short months. When he flipped it over it was time to put it away. And when they can’t crawl you can just put them on the floor. I don’t think we really needed the play mats either, certainly not two, you can just use any rug or pillow. Although the a-frame was used for several months before he could crawl so maybe another one of those would be good. We were given so many clothes, it was unbelievable, we didn’t buy any clothes for months and months, and when we finally did we didn’t really need to, we just wanted to. And the same was for toys. Whenever possible I choose unisex colours, so the clothes and toys can be recycled for any baby. I think that’s much better for the environment, it increases the chance of things getting used by another baby. Maybe it will be ours!

The Wooden Blocks Pa Murphy made

Here are some simply delightful wooden blocks, and a special red and green wooden train made by Pa Murphy as a gift for Thomas!

Isn’t this collection of wooden toys just lovely? Its so much nicer than the mass produced blocks you buy from the store. All the more special are these toys because they were made for Thomas by his grandfather. These are something you would want to keep and treasure, and hopefully pass on one day, because no one has anything quite the same as these wooden toys. I’m not sure where the wood came from originally, but I think these are at least some what environmentally friendly because they were made from scraps of wood from Pa Murphy’s workshop. For something like this you really shouldn’t buy any wood especially, as any tiny bits of left over scrap wood of any shape will do. These were lightly coated with vegetable oil so a very nice, environmentally friendly toy for Thomas!

Another reason why I like these toys is because they are a classic and timeless toy that doesn’t have the branding you see everywhere nowadays. As much as possible, I’d like to help Thomas learn the true value of things, and not according to if they have some recognisable logo or image on them, as hard as I know that is going to be!

Definitely an addition to my collection of hand crafted family heirlooms! Thankyou Pa Murphy ❤

Five dollar limit on gifts a Great Idea!

There are so many cute little gift ideas under $5, especially for babies and young children, there’s no need for the gift giving ritual to be excessively expensive!

Now I’m a mum I’m making more of an effort with Christmas this year. Granted I could make more of an effort than I have, but this year I’m just warming up! Next year I’ll be even more organised! Today I brought in our living Christmas tree and decorated it, it does look a little small, scrawny and sad, but not as much as last year! And next year, if all goes well, the Christmas tree should look better and bigger after a year of growth. I couldn’t put much decoration on it at all, it started to lean over so much, so I could only put one small star on it, and the love heart garland I made last year.

All the gifts I’m giving this year, or should I say Thomas is giving this year, cost $5 or less. As much as I’m actually not that keen on Christmas, I don’t want to be the mean spirited parent who makes my son miss out on something that is an undeniably big part of our culture. So Thomas is giving everyone a small gift this year, especially considering all the generous gifts he got from them when he was born! But I do wish others were not so extravagant with their gifts, because we can’t afford to reciprocate. But there are so many cute things you can give for just $5 or less! Some ideas for this year include books and a toy car I found on special for the kids, gluten free chocolate biscuits for my coeliac brother and framed photos of Thomas for the grandparents. I prefer to buy children’s books second hand from the charity stores, as they usually only cost 50c. Sometimes I can pay $2 for a second hand book, which is still a lot cheaper than most new ones, but I found some nice ones for $4 at the department store.

Its not hard, and when Thomas is older I hope to teach him some graciousness when it comes to gift giving, even if his mum is clearly lacking in that department!

Homemade Gift Tag for a Young Child

I love this home-made gift tag made by our friend Lyndal for this year’s Secret Santa!

Isn’t technology great? To make this simple gift tag, perfect for a young child, all you need is a colour printer and access to the internet. Lyndal found a picture of Thomas on my facebook page, and printed it up along with a picture of her daughter, Isabella. And I just love the cheeky grin in this photo, when Thomas has chocolate custard smeared all over his face! This kind of gift tag is perfect for young children who are learning to read.

Thanks for this wonderful idea Lyndal, I think I might just have to use it myself this Christmas!

My Early Ebay Adventures

There’s so much I’m doing at the moment that I’d like to blog about, but time is so precious right now, it’s been a matter of choosing between the doing or writing about the doing, so the doing has been winning out!

When Thomas was still in the hospital nursery, David and I decided we needed a new mattress on our bed, as my old one was starting to feel uncomfortable. Looking back, I don’t know why we didn’t take the delivery guys offer to remove the old mattress! Why did I think I still needed the old one? We had no room for it, so for the next 10 months, it stood up on it’s side in our spare room which cast a very gloomy atmosphere over it, and it couldn’t have been doing the mattress any good leaning up against the wall like that. I couldn’t think what to do with it, as most charities say they don’t like to accept donations of mattresses, so would they come and pick one up? Like most things around our small rented 3 bedroom town house, our possessions seemed to be taking over, crowding me in. I just didn’t know what to do with all this extra stuff we had accumulated over the last 4 years. Then it finally occurred to me that I could try and sell the mattress on ebay.

I had bought a couple of things from ebay in May 2010, including a beautiful cane doll’s furniture set that has featured on my blog before. But I had never sold anything. My overwhelming feeling was that I was too afraid to sell something in case the buyer would be unhappy, I imagined them harassing me for their money back, which would make me feel terrible! This was yet another avoiding behaviour of mine, while living like a hermit for 3 years, hiding from the world. But ever since David and I decided to start a family in early 2010 I’ve been getting braver, so I’ve been changing the way I live my life, the benefit of my child being the main motivator. So I had a go, and listed the queen size mattress on ebay!

I started bidding at $0.99 thinking I really just needed someone to come and pick it up. Oh, please won’t someone come and take our old mattress away? And sure enough, bidding started that night, and by the end the auction closed at $10.50! More than I expected, that’s for sure. And the sale went just fine, the lady came and pressed the money into my hand and took the mattress away in the back of her station wagon. We were worried that she didn’t have enough room, she had 2 teenagers with her, and one had to crouch down below the mattress in the back seat! And then later that night, I had some positive feedback! I was on my way to becoming an ebay seller!

Since then I’ve sold David’s old fish tank, which sold at an amazing $52 from a starting bid of 99c, a near new blender for $16.50, a wok for $5.50 and a plastic cheese grater for $3! Its surprising when these people came to pick up their items that most were under prepared. The fish tank ended up being put on her sons lap! But I’ve also made a couple of reckless purchases which I now regret and promise to be more careful of in future! I got it into my head that I wanted to buy a doll that I had from my childhood that I had lost. I saw a picture of her on facebook, and now I knew what her name was so I could find her for sale, she was a Beauty Secrets Barbie from 1979. I saw a listing for a group of 8 dolls, most I didn’t recognise, but there she was, as well as the Ballerina Barbie from 1975, which I also had as a little girl. So I bought it, and after postage, it cost me $51.56! /gasp! But it gets worse, I also bought some doll furniture which I recognised, which included some dolls clothes, for about $55! So feeling guilty, I now need to clean it all up and sell it, to try and get my money back for making such frivolous buys! Oh, ebay how yee tempts thee!! I hope to find more time soon to blog about what I’m doing with these vintage dolls and clothes from the 1970s, and the journey I had learning to identify them!

My goal at the moment is to get rid of possessions we no longer need or use, which in this place we just don’t have the room for. I’ve now learned its far better to offload these things sooner, rather than to keep carting them around from place to place for years just in case we might need them one day. I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel that was an incredibly disorganised and cramped house. Now I dream of a streamlined, Spartan home that is easy to clean, and most importantly, easy to move when the time inevitably comes to do so.

Colourful ABC 123 Cube for a Baby

Here is an upgrade of my first attempt at a baby block. This one is for a gift, as we are part of a Kris Kringle this year. This cube has numbers and letters on it, as well as a bell inside to make it jingle!

I find our culture of gift giving at times very challenging. I’d rather give gifts as a matter of course, when things arise that someone needs or wants, then you give it to them if you can. I don’t like having to wait for a special occasion, then there is this culture of having to give a gift,  giving gifts the receiver does not need or want. This, in turn, increases the consumerism and rubbish that piles up on our planet. But unfortunately, I am a social creature, being a mammal and all, so I’m compelled to participate in this ritual and not cause offence to my friends and family. But sometimes I just wish we would get more practical with this gift giving thing! I think even gift vouchers are better than an unwanted gift, but for some people this is not in the spirit of it, and they don’t like it. I just loathe to see people on modest incomes waste their money on expensive gifts that are not needed.

A month or so ago we had a hail storm here in Brisbane, which caused some damage to the roof of my friend’s house. She lost her potted basil plants, so a perfect gift for her (I think, anyway), is a new basil plant! I took a cutting from my youngest plant, and put it in a vase on my kitchen sill. Now it has lots of nice new roots and is ready to plant in a nice pot. I just have to get some more potting mix and it will be ready for its new home.

Yet another Christmas, here we come!

Previous Older Entries