I’m grateful…for the boy with a big dream

A long time ago, in a land far away, there was a boy.  To others he may have seemed ordinary but his extraordinary dreams would transform the lives of all those around him.  I say boy as he was just a teenager, but a man by the standards of his times as he was independent, working and already planning for his life ahead.

With his heart full of hope, his head full of plans and pockets aching for a few dollars he boarded a ship for a land across the sea.  A land full of promise and opportunity.  A land free of war and persecution.  A land called Australia.  It was rumoured that this foreign shore held streets paved with gold.  That any one prepared to work hard would find fortune and happiness.   He was not alone.  Many had gone before him and many would follow and yet on this voyage he stood by himself.  A boy with a dream.

He landed in Australia, the sea journey over but the new journey towards a new life had just begun.  He travelled to far north queensland where he did as many migrants did and worked the land.  By day he cut cane under the hot Austrlian sun and by night he rode his bicyle to school to learn English.  

It was a year later when a new chapter began and yet another person boarded that ship from the “old” country bound for the “lucky” country.  But this time it was a girl.  They had been married a year and yet they had never met but already they had so much in common.  Bravery, tenacity, courage and hope for a new life together.   They settled into married life in a tin shed on a cane farm.  Times were tough but they were tougher braving cyclones, cane toads and the struggle of living in a country where you don’t speak the langauage.

They went on to raise four girls.  Returning a few times to the “old country” but always returning via that ship to their new home where life was good was flourishing.  The years went by, they sold their prosperous cane farm while prices were good and moved to the “big city”.  The dreams of the boy were now in full flight as their life bloomed with friends, children a new house and a new career.  

Long before wealth management companies and real estate investment strategies he had an idea.  To buy what was so plentiful in this new country, land.  and turn it into the great Australian dream.  Houses.  So he bought and sold. Bought and built.  Bought and renovated.  A house turned to units.  Along the way he named each new unit development after those that fed his ambition his family.   A little piece of Australia named just for them.  

This good fortune gave him more than his own footprint on the land but it now gave him time.  Time to fish, to cook, to bottle wine, to make tomato “salsa” and his own sausages.  Time to travel the world, to visit his grandchildren and now great grandchildren.  Time to spend playing practical jokes and sitting at the table throwing some nuts sneakliy at each other and drinking wine and just listening to the dreams of others.

For a man that had nothing, arrived to nothing, and knew no-one last week celebrated his 80th Birthday in a room surrounded by his ever growing brood of family and friends.  His little family of two has expanded to four daughters, 13 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.  

I am grateful to be one of those grandchildren. I am grateful to have grown up influenced by his unconditional love and constant support.  I am grateful to have a man as amazing as him in my life and my children’s life.  I am grateful for everything he taught me.  To laugh, to cook, to work hard, to cherish your family, to never stop learning.  But mostly I am grateful for he taught me to take risks, to believe in myself and to dream.  Dream Big.

The image is taken form the NSW Migration Heritage Centre website.  To find out more about our country’s migrant heritage please click the link.


Certificates, Birthday Cards, Artwork our home is full of them without Master O even having started school!!!  Naturally my organising gene is already kicking in and I found this amazing product to keep all your children’s pieces of paper in order, in the one place and protected for life………..

The SmileFile.  This is more than just a box with folders in it.  This is an organisation system.  The sysytem involves 5 plastic storage folders.

1. Certificates/awards & sports ribbons/medals
2. Photos & digital materials
3. Paintings & drawings

These three are purpose designed folders that contain plastic pockets inside.

SmileFile ~ Certificates and Awards Folder

 Then there are 2 Document boxes for

1.Special events and memories
2. Report cards and special projects

These are larger than the other folders and designed to hold bulkier items such as cards and projects.The Starter Kit also comes with one each of 

  • A3 pockets for paintings & drawings
  • A4 pockets for certificates, photos & paintings
  • A5 pockets for certificates & photos
  • 6 x 4” pockets for photos
  • Purpose designed CD/DVD/USB pocket
  • Purpose designed sports ribbon pocket
The rest is up to you!  More pockets are available and the kit also comes with some great labels to help keep everything categorised!  
How we will use it……”The Smilefile” outer box is huge!  It has to be to hold ALL of your childs items.  For this reason we are storing our in our store room.  We already have the “School Folder” in our Organisation Station.  Once items come into the house they go into this folder.  Then at the end of each month I will transfer all these items into the “SmileFile” where they can stay until next time we need them!  
I have been asked if you could just make this yourself.  Yes if you had a lot of time, money and space.   But the simplicity of this system, the way it is all stored so beautifully categorised in the one place is what appeals to me.  You simply unpack it and use.  No printing of labels, creating folders and sourcing boxes to put everything in.  
This product is just not about organising.  It is storing those tresured memories in a way that we can enjoy them all!
“Smilefile” is available from Smilefile and the “Starter Kit” retails for $89.90

My hair un-style, to match my doormat personality.

Let me start by saying I am new to the world of professional hair colour.  I have always coloured my own hair at home, and yesterday I remembered why.   6 weeks ago I scored what I though was an awesome hair colour deal on one of those “daily deal” kind of things.  Half a head of foils, toner, style cut and blow dry for $69.  $69 is already strecthing my hair care budget, my usual box of Napro Country Colour sets me back around $10.  But I want something different, I want something sophisticated and stylish maybe a bit lighter than my usual “Brazil” dark brown/black.  Maybe like this….

Because you know that I will totally look just like her if I have that hair colour….

Perhaps the tacky decor or overly pierced hairdressers gave it away but instead I ended up with this….

Ok so not quite that bad but basically I didn’t get what I asked for.  I wasnt asking for a whole hair transformation just something a bit more Jessica and a bit less Christina. This is where I mention I am a people pleasing, door mat.  Not only do I fail to mention to the hairdresser that I don’t like it, but I smile, say I love it and book another appointment.  

I must admit, 6 weeks later the colour has faded and I have sort of gotten used to it.  I still had no intention of ever returning to this salon until….an email!

“We have a great deal!  For $89 you can have half a head of foils, cut and blowdry. ” 

You had me at deal.  I am in.  So it’s now $20 dearer than last time but still half the price of every other salon in my area.  This is where you write SUCKER accross my forehead.

SO I go to the salon that I don’t like, where I got the last hair cut I wasn’t happy with and ask for the $89 deal please.  IN DENIAL.  Maybe this time will be different? All is going well.  Colour done and now over to the basin for your toner.  Toner???  

I ask if that is included in the $89 plan. No it is not AND it will be another $34.95.  

So me in my nicest possible voice “Well I will have to skip the toner this time as I just want the $89 plan.” I am not a confrontational person.  I may as well have said pretty please with a cherry on top. 

Hairdresser: “Sorry but we cant do your colour without a toner.”     Me: Well I can’t afford a toner so show me what does it look like?

Me: “Alrighty, well it looks like you need to fix it.”

Hairdresser: “Well that will cost you $34.95 extra for the toner.”  

Me: “Fine.  Just do it.” (I am sure this is not the conversation NIKE had in mind when they invented that slogan)

 So I do what all people do in this situation, tweet about how unhappy I am whilst continuing to smile and nod at the hairdresser.  So quite deservedly my hair now looks like this

A lovely, boring, plain, unstylish shade of doormat brown.  To match my personality.

So what do you do when you are not happy with your hair colour?  What should I have done?  Am I a door mat?  Be honest people, I promise to not get angry and tweet about you!

Back to School – The Booklist

The Booklist.  That little piece of paper either brings out feelings of love or loathe. It’s that time of year again.  You are just getting your head around the Christmas Concert and wham, you now have to think about next year.   This week we received our booklist for 2012.  MY FIRST BOOKLIST EVER.  I have written them, advised parents about them, but this time its all mine to buy.  The reality has hit.  My baby is starting school.  I am all about planning ahead and lists and obviously this is no exception.  So here we go…


What to do NOW.

1. READ IT. Read the list thoroughly.  Especiallay the bit where it says what you have to do with it!  Does it have to be returned to the school?  Does it have a closing date?  Look for other details such as how items are to be named.  You may order $50 worth of name labels for Christmas only to find that all items go into a communal container to be shared with the class!

2. COPY IT. Photocopy it.  Or even better scan it. You will thank me in January or when step 3 fails.

3. SAFE PLACE. Put it in a safe place. (Also part of step 2!)  You do not want to loose this list in amoungst the Christmas Cards!  For me it is going in my Smile File!  As soon as it arrives!

4.  PLAN OF ATTACK.  I know it is only November but generally you will have to decide NOW how you want to order your books.  Most schools have three ways of ordering. 

 1.  The no brainer

Fill out the form with your credit card number and the school does the rest.  Nearly all schools now offer this option.  If they don’t, you will usually find a local newsagency or book store who will do this for you.  This is the option to go for if;

  •  You are time poor
  •  You hate shopping
  • The list is very specific
  • It’s your first child starting school so you do not already have any of the items.
  • You want your child to have the same as everybody else
This option WILL cost you more as you can’t shop around and elbow youre way to a bargain at the back to school sales.  It also means that if you have more than one child you will receive a truck load of supplies, all at once usually at the last minute, leaving you and your dining table up to your elbows in contact, labels and markers. But you will get exactly what you need, with no naughty note form the teacher telling you you bought the wrong books and you haven’t even touched a shopping trolley.
2. The 50/50.
This way you order some items through the school but shop yourself for the rest.  If your school has the previous option they generally offer this option.  You just tick off the items you want the school to source and purchase for you.
This is the option if
  • Some items are specific but it is generally your usual stationary, pencils etc.
  • You are keen to get a bargain at back to school sales
  • You already have some of the items 
  • You have a bit of time to shop around
  • You would love for your child to have a few special/personalised/choosen themselves items.
This is probably the approach I will be taking.  If you do the 50/50 my advice is have the school order the books and texts.   Generally these books are pretty specific and the school is probably getting a better deal than you are because they are buying in bulk. Buy the stationary (pencils, crayons, glue etc) yourself.   I used to love picking out my own pencil case and erasers etc.  Now that schools have become so uniform, it is the only thing kids can have that is individual!
3. D. I. Y  
This option is best if
  • You are a skilled and experienced shopper
  • You have more time than money
  • You don’t need to buy texts or specific items.
  • You are crazy
Sorry but I don’t recommend this option.  By the time you chase up 10 bookstores searching for that Year 1 Picture dictionary your child will be graduating.   Even exercise/writing books are generally very specific and there is nothing more annoying (for both teacher and parent) when you buy 10 of the wrong kind of book.   If your provides all texts and books and you are only required to buy the stationary this is a great option and by far the cheapest.  My advice is to not buy items yourself just yet, come January the stores go back to school crazy and you can pick up an amazing bargain from a HUGE range!
Oh and give your school a pat on the back because they have just made both your jobs so much easier! 
Ask your child’s current teacher if any items from this year can be used next year. Most schools and teachers are happy to send home anything that did not get used this year!  This could include, 
  • Scissors
  • Dictionary
  • Atlas
  • Calculator
  • Sharpener
  • Plastic Folders
  • Art/Sketch Books
  • Scrapbooks

This will save you both time and money!!!

I am a stationary addict and love back to school shopping, lucky for me I have been at school for the past 27 years in one form or another!  This time I am excited to experience the thrill of picking out a squeaky new pencil case for my little man!  Perhaps I could get two birds with one stone and get him one for Christmas???

How do you do your back to school shopping??


Menu Plan Monday ~ The Asian Edition

We are huge fans of recipes coming from Asia.  Hubby (who does most the cooking in our house) lists Luke Nguyen as his favourite chef.   Maybe it was our honeymoon in Malaysia and Thailand or maybe it’s just that it is healthy AND delicious! The one catch is, Asian cooking can be expensive.  My suggestion is to once a grocery shop stock up on the basic sauces.   Coriander is easy to grow and used in a lot of asian recipes.  Grab some ginger when you grab your potataos and onions.  Start adding some new asian essential to your regular pantry archive!

Monday ~ Tofu Pad Thai

I struggle with vegetarian dishes.  We are a meat devoted family.  But I do love tofu!  Plus its good for you and this makes for a very budget friendly meal!

Tuesday ~ San Choy Bow

Ok so the ones in this picture are fancy and use witlof and prawns!  Our style is lettuce leaves and pork mince!  The kids love that these are like mini bowls!

Wednesday ~ Rice Paper Rolls

These are no where near as hard to make as they look.  The fillings are totally up to you we like chicken, noodles, carrot cucumber and coriander for the kids and prawns for Mum and Dad!  I always have my fingers crossed for left overs as they are great to take for lunch! 

 Thursday ~ Chinese Barbeque Chicken

Love a new take on the humble BBQ chook!  This is a great last minute dinner!

Friday ~ Thai Fish Cakes

 This is such an easy one!  Just throw it all in a bowl, mix it together, roll some rissole like patties and fry!  

Do you have a favourite Asian Recipe

All images are from my favourite food website taste.com

The Organised Housewife

In the next house….

I am addicted to houses.  Home magazines, open homes, display homes.  I love dreaming and drooling over gorgeous designs, clever ideas and delightful decor.  I am go grateful for the home we have, but there is nothing wrong with a little daydream every now and then.  We built this house almost 6 years ago now.  It’s a sure sign your’e getting itchy feet when a lot of your sentences start with….in the next house…..

So in the next house…..

We will have a white, light, and BIG kitchen with a little nook for chatting to the cook and 

a little study nook and…

lots and lots of storage and bench space and one more thing for the kitchen

a servery from the kitchen to the…

outdoor room.  That has room for a lounge setting and outdoor kitchen and is weather proof!

A laundry that is a room, not a washing machine in a walkway.  I may actually want to do washing in this room!

So the list could go on and on.  Funny how its all about the kitchen and laundry!  The two “work” areas of the home! Enough dreaming and time to start doing. Today’s household project is to go to Bunnings and buy a seedling, or maybe a tree.  You know one of the variety that grows money?  Thats all that is missing from our next house dreams!

You can find these images and more on my Pinterest Boards.

Tina Gray {dot} Me

Things I know…..about childcare.

As I prepare to go off to work for another day, I thought it might be helpful to share what I know about child care.  My children don’t go to child care whilst I am at work but are cared for in our home by their Nanna. (I know how lucky am I??) But Master O has attended daycare, one day a week, for a year, before starting Kindergarten this year.

I know that I dont have to get my kids dressed, make lunches, or check they have enough nappies.  This saves me untold time and stress in the morning, deciding what I am going to wear is hard enough!

I know that this also means that my house has to be in some kind of presentable state  that there needs to be enough milk for the rest of the day, yes more time and stress.

I know that I my children are being cared for by someone who truly loves them, their flesh and blood.  They spend time together as siblings, and can only catch the germs and bad habits their brother or sister shares with them.

I know thought that this means that they do not interact with other children their age, which sometimes leaves them bored, whingy and fighting!  They need to learn to share, negotiate and take turns but that’s a hard lesson to learn when contending with your sibling.

I know that they are being cared for by someone who has their undivided attention.  She is only caring for them, not eight other children.  However, this means that they do not need to acquire the communication skills to tell someone there needs, wants, or difficulties, to learn to listen and give other people the spotlight.

As you can see mainly what I know is that there are days I am truly grateful for having family to help, but days I wonder wether my children would also benefit from a group environment.  You know the best of both worlds?

I know that being a mother is full of worry, guilt, wonder, questions and endless what ifs???

What do you think about child care?  Who looks after your children?  Don’t judge peeps, we are all in this together! So what do you know?  Sharing is caring!