I have written a lot about meal planning. It is the single biggest saver of money, time and sanity in our house. So as I update our latest Meal Planning template I thought it might be worth establishing a single blog post with all of our Meal Planning templates, ideas and tips!
2 years worth of experience here peeps!
But let’s start at the very beginning, because it is a very good place to start..
I have to say that this template works so well I used it for a whole year before I started changing it. I have only started working on another one as I now mainly shop at Aldi and needed my list in a different order. The highlight of creating this template is seeing it in use! I will never forget a friend opening her pantry and seeing it hanging inside!
and here is the update Meal Planning template I am working on!
It’s not as “pretty” as the other one but it has a more comprehensive shopping list and is in the order of the aisles at Aldi at Woolworths. This is just a sneek peak at it, I will tidy it up a little and get it ready for YOU TO DOWNLOAD!
I have 4 templates, each with a different Monthly Shopping Category.
So there you have it
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO MEAL PLANNING!
If you have any questions about meal planning or grocery shopping leave me a comment HERE!!!
Tomorrow I will share with you my 5 Favourite Weekly Meal Plans!
I bet that title had you wondering if we were adding to our family?
No, I am afraid my baby making days are over.
But I have just been welcomed into a new family…
A few weeks ago I was asked to become a part of an amazing family.
The WILLIAMS SONOMA family.
Williams Sonoma Inc encompasses the three dreamy American homewares stores – West Elm, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn Kids. I am joining some incredibly inspiring Australian bloggers to share with our readers all that is Williams Sonoma.
The FIRST AUSTRALIAN stores open in Bondi Junction on May 2nd. But never fear they will also have online shopping! I am predicting we will see Melbourne and Brisbane openings, sooner rather than later.
Can you believe it? I have shopped at Pottery Barn for years! First via parcel forwarding and then by paying international shipping prices, just to have a little piece of their gorgeous range in my own home. I have a rather empty suitcase I will be taking with me to Sydney, that will hopefully return VERY full!
I will be posting a whole heap of photos from the Launch Event on May 1st.
The time has come people. We have busied ourselves enough over the school holidays, in an attempt to avoid over thinking and the massive inevitable flurry of emotions we are about to face.
Tomorrow, Master O starts at his new school. He is the most sociable, confident and friendly child you will meet. Stop at the lights long enough and he is waving at the children in the car next to him. He is constantly stopping to chat to friends at the shops that he played with once for 5 minutes, last year, in a random playground somewhere. Walk past our house and he will introduce himself and tell you his life story. But still I am worried. Will he feel safe and comfortable? Will he be upset when we leave? Will somebody play with him at lunch time? Is now the right time to move him? Have we made the right decision?
The hardest part of this decision was that he was perfectly happy at his old school. It was a good school, but in the long term, for him and for his sister, we needed more. We know in the long term that he is simply going to flourish there. It is a perfect fit for him. It “gets” boys. He will have space and time to run and be active, activities to help him learn by seeing and doing and feeling, and more individual attention (he only has 15 children in his class, with an almost full time aide!)
I changed schools, four times during primary school. I dont recall ever being upset, just a little nervous and a whole heap excited. He says he is excited, all those new people to meet, and playgrounds to explore and toys to play with and of course THAT POOL. As yet it hasnt fazed him. I have everything riding on the fact that he is young. Young enough to take it all in his stride, to adapt quickly, to soak it all up.
And me? How will I adapt? That, I am sure, will be harder. I leave the most amazing bunch of school mums behind. We were friends before our children went to school together and will continue to be friends. But now we dont have any one to send a quick message to, to ask if it coloured clothes day, or if they could wait with him for a few minutes whilst we are stuck in traffic. They were completely accepting of us, and our lives revolved around a constant stream of playdates in the park, birthday parties and coffees filled with gossip. Will the new Mums be the same?
So many unknowns, so many expectations and dreams and concerns and questions. But oh so much hope and faith. Faith in the school, faith in him, faith in us, faith in serendipity and the way everything just came together…..
and that this is just the beginning of a very bright future.
Deciding to become a homeowner is a big and very exciting decision. Followed very quickly by another big question. To Buy or Build?
Each comes with its own unique sets of challenges and rewards. As homeowners we have experienced both. Our first home we bought an established property and our second home we built.
Lets start with the good news.
Buying a property, is generally low risk. You are purchasing a product you can see and touch. This also makes it easier to get a gut feeling about a property. To an extent you know exactly what you are getting. With a bit of hunting around and a great pest and building inspection you do have a sense of security knowing al the details about what you have purchased.
Properties in all locations are more readily available than land. Your ideal suburb is more likely to have established homes for sale than land. Often land sales are limited to locations that are a little further from the “centre of town” The area will also have established facilities including roads, parks, shops, schools and public transport.
You can get an established property at a great price if you happen to find a motivated vendor. People who have already built a home, can’t make repayments or a change in fmaily circumstances leaves some people desperate to make a quick sale at a low price.
You may not get your perfect personalised home. You are actually buying someone elses design, and it may be expensive to make any alterations, especially to the layout or size of the property. Any renovations could uncover some unknown costs including electrical or plumbing problems. It is very easy for renovation budgets to get blown out leaving many homeowners wondering if they should have just built in the first place. Renovating can also come with its own stresses especially if you are time poor or trying to renovate whilst living in the property.
It is also hard to match up the perfect house and the perfect location. You may find your perfect home but in a less than desirable street or the perfect street, with all homes out of your budget.
Age. An established property comes with “lived in” conditions. It may need minor repairs, or at least it will sooner rather than later.
Price. If you don’t find a motivated seller, there is not much room for negotiation. What you see is what you get. You may be able to get a great deal in a troubled market but their is not much room for negotiating. You cant ask for the home you like but in a smaller layout, or tailor the home to suit your budget. The home has generally already accrued equity and the owners are keen to get that back. It is also harder to negotiate with owners who are selling their personal much loved property than it is to negotiate with a builder or large development company!
Garth Chapman - Display Home - Stockland North Shore - Interiors by my lovely friend Anna at Ethos Interiors!
The biggest reward? The one that had me at hello? You are getting the exact home you want. You have the flexibility to create your own home layout and size to suit your families lifestyle. Need 3 toilets, add it to the plan, don’t need a media room, take it off. North facing, lets find a block like that. You can make the most of the space and the environment. The colour pallets, floor coverings and even light fittings are all items you have chosen yourself essentially guaranteering you will love it all! As you know we are already counting down to our next build! We love building!
Location. Ok for some this may have come as a negative. As mentioned new land is generally released a little further away from the “centre of town”. The benefit of this is that the developers can create “communities” and plan suburbs specifically around their target audience. Their were many times we wondered if we had gone too far away from the city, but we have two playgrounds, bbq areas, a lake, a shopping centre and schools literally metres from our house. The area is full of young families, creating not just a new suburb but neighbourhoods. We have loved growing with our suburb.
Price. We got an amazing deal on our “built” home. We could make the most of every dollar spent by doing some of the work ourselves (landscaping, mailbox, driveway) sourcing our own fixtures, and adapting the floor plan so that every space was usable. To get the finished product as an established home we would have at least paid an extra $50K. Because we got a new home at a great price the equity in our home has accrued very quickly!
Finding land, a house plan and a builder takes time. You need to do your homework. It also takes time to have plans passed through council and for building to actually begin. Ask for specific build timeframes and get the builder to sign on them.
So we have watched the building horror stories on A Current Affair. Building does have its risks. But remember for every dodgy builder there are a thousand great ones. Ask around, word of mouth is the best way to find a reputable builder. Visit display centres, meet with builders and trust your gut and a google search.
THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
Want a new house but don’t want to go through the building process? All developments offer house and land packages. These plans have been approved by the council and many are already in the process of being built or are completed homes. This saves huge amounts of time!!!!! If you are really lucky you can buy whilst it’s still being constructed and even have a say in the colour pallette and fixtures. Most builders will have these homes “on display”. Display centres offer you the opportunity to walk through an example of the builders work. An already built property will give you a feel of the layout and size. You are also getting a finished, new home for one price with no hidden costs. Because the builder has made a deal with the developer for the land you can also get some great deals. Have I mentioned I have a thing for wandering display homes! We have been to nearly every display village in Brisbane! I love to see the latest and greatest home designs, decor and fixtures at work and well….. dream!
To buy or build? Nobody has the perfect answer besides you! You need to find the best option for your situation. Weigh up the pros and cons, do your homework, look at your budget and then……go house hunting!
This is a sponsored post. You know how much I LOVE all things houses, well Stockland asked me to write about my opinion on buying or building. This post is just that! I was compensated for my time but not for my opinion! If you would love to cruise a Stockland display centre click HERE and take some pics to show me!
The rainy days and morning chill are starting to creep in. I have spent the school holidays decluttering My Pigeon Pairs wardrobe in preparation for the onslaught of jumpers, tracksuits and jeans. Master O faired much better than Little Miss A. He still has a few collared long sleeve shirts that will see him through another winter and a great all weather jacket. Little Miss A however has outgrown almost everything!
Like any shopping trip I prepare, prepare, prepare. To be honest, Target has always been my first top for kids clothes. I love the way they release Kids Clothing in “stories”. By matching outfits within a particular “story” I know that I will get many versatile mix and match outfits! Plus it is always reasonably priced and good quality. By coordinating a selection of mix and match outfits I can stretch my fashion dollar further!
The number of mix and match outifts here are amazing!
Yep that is what you call versatility! Pair them with a neutral pair of shoes like white, silver or gold and a cute beanie and you even have accessories covered.
So thats over 10 complete outfits for $82!
My TOP 5 TIPS
for Childrens Winter Wardrobes
1. Layers – Long sleeved shirts under dresses, tights under skirts, cardigans on the top. This will not only have you prepared for any weather situation but also extend thier summer wardrobe into the cilly months.
2. Colour Pallete. Choose items with complimentary colour pallets. This Pink, Mint and Navy combo allows maximum mix and match opportunities.
3. Neutral Accessories. Invest in a good pair or two of neutral flats and boots. This will see them through the whole of winter. Match them with a cute scarf or beanie for the coldest of days.
4. Buy Them Big. I try to buy kids winter clothes slightly bigger than usual. This gives them room for all those layers underneath and may even help see them through more than one winter.
5. Quality and Versatility. Look for good quality clothes that have been tried and tested. Hunt out outfits that can be dressed up or down for a variety of occasions.
So are you ready for Winter? Have any of your own Winter Wardrobe Tips?
This is a sponsored post as part of the Target Blog Hub. I have been compensated for my time and these great outfits but all opinions are my own. All prices are correct at the time of posting but Target is always having amazing sales so check it out for yourself!
The Home Office Makeover is well under way. This is going to be a long and slow process but hey we have made a start.
This room is a VERY dificult shape to work with.
With its multiple windows, 2 doors and angled wall, it is making positioning furniture VERY difficult.
The entry to the study, is right off the entry of our house AND it has no door on it! This was part of the original house plan and I now really wish we had of included doors. It is a 9ft high opening and not a standard door size so doors are not going to happen! The benefit is though that I have a nice view form the desk to our front entry table!
We have a medium sized Expedit unit to include, to provide storage primarily for folders.
This creates a second bench, (I already have a long table) and frees up wall space for shelves. However, I wouldn’t like to use the bottom shelves for folders as they would be hard to get at. The bottom shelves would be better for boxes or baskets. However I really don’t need 4 basket spaces. I feel like this would be a wasted space. So do I stand her up?
This would make the best use of all shelves AND could go on either wall. I could still use the bottom two for baskets but would have 6 spaces for folders and magazine holders. I could also use the side of the unit to hand some clipboards? Laying it down would mean it could only go on the angled wall.
So what say you? Up or down? Vertical or Horizontal? Rearrange the whole room?
I will post some pics on Instagram today to give you a real view of the MAYHEM! Follow the hashtag #mppoffice on Instagram.
Pencils, Pens, Highlighters, Scissors, Paper Clips the office bibs and bobs list, goes on and on. I have been searching for a way to organise and store these items so that I can always find what I need!
We have a great office space but it is in an embarrasing state at the moment. But we are making a start. One of the big problems is that even though I have a large desk it has no drawers!
I rectified that quick smart with these nifty little drawers from you guessed it The Reject Shop. They were $30. Great deal but wait there’s more…..I had specifically gone to the reject store with a purpose.
Well more than 6 months on our “Fishing Tackle Box, Battery Organisation” was still working except for one minor detail. After constant use over the Christmas period the lid had broken off! So I bought a new one to replace it.
Once home I assembled our drawers and used the broken Tackle Box to check that it would fit inside one of my new drawers. This would be a great place to store my battery container. You would never believe it.
Perfect fit! One Reject Shop Tackle Box, sans lid, fits perfectly inside one Reject Shop drawer. That is no coincidence my friends, that is called organisational destiny.
So of course I needed more tackle boxes. EVERYTHING was going to have a compartment! I would be able to sleep at night knowing each little item had its very own home! So this happened.
Introducing my new top drawer.
Isn’t she lovely, isn’t she wonderful! I used some scrapbooking paper leftovers to line the base just to make her pretty. These containers are brilliant as the dividers can be moved around to create perfectly sized compartments.
I may have then looked at what else I could organise in the same way.
I may have collected a hook or two over the past few years! These were in all little packets scattered over the house. A quick roll call and they were lined up, sorted and introduced to their new homes. Now I know exactly what we have and what we need, well when it comes to hooks at least.
The Other Drawers….
I now have more desk space, less clutter all over the office and can find exactly what I need when I need it. Even better did you notice that the drawers on wheels? I actually wheeled it out to the dining room the other day to work at the table! Totally handy! Unless of course you need to work in the closest Mc Cafe. Not sure I could go that far.
Yesterday I started work on one other wall in the office. It is going to be a HUGE job but it has to be done! I am drowning in Office clutter!
I’m dreaming of a White Kitchen, just like the ones I see on Pinterest.
Ok tell me you didn’t sing along just then. I love to start my day with a little inspiration. For some it is a quote or matra, others meditation, me pretty pictures of divine homes. Particularly kitchens. Any mother knows that Kitchens are a focal point of the family. We have a great functioning and nice Kitchen and there are many things I love about it but I would never say no to a new kitchen.
They are just so simple, classic and fresh. Perfect for a light and airy kitchen splash back. Every kitchen I pin somehow has white subway tiles. We currently have an off white tile that does suit our home but this added to the black bench top and no window, equals a not so light kitchen.
2. A Feature Tile Above The Stove.
The same colour tiles but either framed or used in a herringbone/diamond pattern.
See what I’m talking about? Just a little bit of interest but nothing OUT THERE. I am in love with Herringbone tiles and even wooden floors laid in a herringbone pattern! I don’t think I am quite daring enough for either so this little nook is perfect!
But just in case in the next year I become a bit daring, LOVE LOVE LOVE this pattern! Classic yet somehow contemporary. Oh and you know how I love chevron and this tile layout reminds me of that! I am hoping that having something gorgeous to look at whilst cooking may actually encourage and improve my culinary skills? Maybe?
3. A Big Double Hung Window.
providing a view to the kids playing peacefully outside in the manicured gardens. Bonus if it also does duty as a servery.
Not only will they light up the kitchen they are just gorgeous to look at. Place my order for 2 or 3 pretty please. Oh and if you can’t find the previous window these will also be just fine thanks. Oh and whilst your taking orders, check out that ceiling! Put me down for one of those. And just because I like to find fault. We have our sink in a similar position and it is NOT GOOD! It is right in the middle leaving no bench space on either side. I know it looks good to divide the space so symetrically but completely unpractical if you are a bench space lover like me.
I could do a whole post on lights, they really do make the room and are an easy way to update an existing space. This kitchen is a close colour palette match to our current kitchen. We have black granite bench tops and white cupboards. Black seemed like a great idea at the time. It stands out like a sore thumb as we have nothing else black in that area! Before I found the Method Granite Spray they were also impossible to keep clean as you see very streak and bit of dust, which brings me to the next point.
I am not thinking all white. I love this hint of grey through the marbling. And sorry to offend, but whoever thought that was a good Microwave spot does not have children! Way too close to little exploring hands!
Last week I was invited to a very last minute event. An evening event, with bloggers, in Sydney. Naturally I said yes before I had even had a chance to consider what I was going to wear! I pulled out an old faithful Little Black Dress but to be honest I felt more old and faithful than the dress. When did I become so old and well boring?
The whole predicament had me examining my wardrobe. The findings: A mix between a life that once was, aka life pre kids, a smattering of maternity/this will be good to breast feed in and the old faithfuls, aka the dresses.
I am a dress kind of girl. I own three times the amount of dresses than pants. I love the way a dress makes me feel and look. The upside of being old and faithful is that I am discovering my own style. Over the years I have determined my body shape and started to work with it instead of hide it. Although I do still have a few pairs od Spanks for special occasions! I know that dresses suit me. In particular I look for dresses with a belt/tie/seam at the waist and with an a-line skirt. This draws attention to my waist (which appears to be the only part of my body unafected by children) and hides the mummy tummy, hips and thighs. I also have horrible knees. They have alway been unfortunate but after a horrible fall whilst pregnant with Little Miss A it appears I am scared for life. So ALL dresses or skirts must come to my knees at least. These dresses are referred to as midi or tea length dresses.
My life has changed dramatically in the past 4 months. I no longer have a “baby” but two very active children. I am no longer teaching, I work from home. I attend more events and meetings. I am a “School” Mum and we have changed schools!
I am embracing the changes and feel like they are as good an excuse as any to CHANGE my wardrobe!
This is the school pick up/grocery shopping/errand dress. Throw it on and accessorise. Any last minute ballet flats compliment a basic denim dress. I love that it has a bit of sleeve to cover up my quickly becoming tuckshop lady arms. Add tights and boots for Winter!
I LOVE red. That is something else being “old and faithful” has taught me. My Dark hair and Olive skin suit White or Bright. Anything Beige/Khaki/Brown looks horrible on me! This dress ticks all the boxes. Waist tie, Good length and a sleeve. Perfect for these in between months. It is busy enough to only need the simplest of jewellery. I could dress it down with flats or up with heels and boots for winter!
I had my heart set on this one as it is such a classic style, but it is sold out. Love the little belt as it is easy to switch out for any colour in your wardrobe. Black is so easy wear and I love it for travelling. A statement necklace and you are ready for dinner or even date night (as if that is ever going to happen!)
I bought it! In both colours! Well only because they didnt have my size in red but I thought I would give the smaller size go, well because I just love red! The navy in the bigger size will most likely be the better fit. It is yet to arrive and I have evrything crossed that it looks amazing! This is going to be my go to dress. I love the volume of the skirt the tab detailed waist, the sleeves, EVERYTHING. Just classic and understated. SO MY STYLE!
Master O loves the water. The ocean, the lake, the river, the pool. Where there is water, you will find him. Probably helps that he is an Aquarius. Remember his “Fishing/Sailing” birthday party? Yep his choice of theme.
Over the last year I have been planning on updating his room. So naturally we are going for a “Nautical” theme! His current bedroom has been the same since he moved in there, straight out of the cot! But as things often go in this house it has been a long process of planning, collecting and creating.
Then last month a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT reinspired me….
POTTERY BARN IS COMING TO AUSTRALIA!
In fact the entire Williams-Sonoma company is coming! For those new players, Williams Sonoma includes, Williams Sonoma, West Elm, Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids. Yep 4 amazing homewares stores all opening right here! Well in Bondi to be exact. So I have featured many a Pottery Barn product before but now it’s time to really start making some “realistic” shopping wish lists! Of course with a quick browse of a catlogue or two (I have been collecting these with previous orders!) I have some inspiration…
This is my inspiration for the first wall of his room. He currently doesn’t have a bedside table. He has a set of MALM drawers from Ikea that is doing double duty as clothes storage and a bedside table. I love the lines of this Hampton Bedside Table (1). More imporantly I love it’s size, perfect for our small space. It’s practical with room for a book basket below and a drawer to keep treasured belongings hidden form a certain little sisters prying hands.
(2) Fisherman Table Lamp: The is ideal for bedside reading. He is now old enough to read by himself a little before going to bed and this lamp is sturdy, cute and looks like its ready to light your way to the shore.
Ok so I already have the oar hooks but you can never have enough hooks in a room. These anchor hooks(3) will be perfect for hanging the next days outfit on, school hat and library/pe bag! I am always looking for ways to creatively organise children!
The bedspread (4) is actually a coverlet. Oh how I LOVE a coverlet! No more doona chasing and lumpy beds. It makes it so easy for the kids to make the beds themselves and always looks neat and tidy. This one was from Spotlight, it’s only flaw was that it only came in a Single Bed size. I usually buy a size bigger to give the bed extra coverage. But I loved the colours and it was a great transition between the “Airplane” bedroom and the “Nautical” bedroom. the BONUS was his Nonna bought it for him for Christmas.
As for the other wall. It is currently big and bare. I would like to transform it into a space to play and display. These are the MALM drawers I mentioned (1). I would love to declutter the top and replace all the knick knacks and abandoned lego projects withhave an elegant personalised sailboat (2). I know that Master O would go crazy over this boat especially as it would have his name on it! This is the kind of item that would outlast any current interior phases. I can imagine it in his room forever! I am just kicking myself it wasn’t in Australia in time for his birthday! Maybe a Christmas present?
I haven’t hung any pictures on his walls! He has a few in frames on top of the drawers but I would love to add three very simple wooden frames on. The ones pictured are Espresso Gallery Frames(3) from PB Kids and they are under $10!
The sailboat bookshelf (4) was another Reject Shop score! I fell in love with this sometime last year and it has been holding little knick knacks of Master O’s. I have had it on top of the Malm drawers (it was too big) in a corner of the room (it kept getting knocked over) and now it just sits there! I have plans of hanging it from the wall as a display area for his little treasures and collections. If you love it I have noticed some Reject shops still have some limited stock and it comes in varying sizes and nautical colours.
I have been searching for a vintage oar (5) for a year. We live on a lake and Master O loves to watch the people rowing by. He begs to go out, but I am waiting until he is a stronger swimmer. Then a few weeks ago on one of many Reject Shop visits I found this little beauty! A vintage styled oar, in great colours and even better it serves a double purpose with its hooks, great for well, hanging things!
LOVE LOVE LOVE these chevron canvas collapsible storage boxes (6). Would you believe they come in aqua?! You know they will be on my list. I can see a playroom expedit full of them in my future! But for Master O’s room a dash of Navy Chevron is in order! We recently removed Master O’s 4×2 expedit unit from his room to use in our Launch Pad. It was too big for his room and wasn’t be used. I would love to replace it with this smaller 2×2 Expedit unit (7). It has just enough room to store lego, books and matchbox cars all containerised in those gorgeous chevron totes!
Speaking of storage…..the large canvas rugby tote (8) is perfect for the bulkier items or even as a laundry basket! I loved the navy and white but am thinking a dash of red will liven up the space.
So the planning, dreaming and wishing has begun! So humour me people, for I can see a lot of decorating and inspiration posts coming your way!
So who is as excited as I am? What is on your Pottery Barn wish list?
I have in now way been paid for this post. I am just super excited about this new store and been dreaming of actually shopping instead of cataloguing! I know you will be too!