Sunday, 31 January 2016

Back To School FREE PRINTABLE and DIY Graduation T-Shirt

I love my kids, don't get me wrong, but 7 weeks of summer holidays was a very long time. It was also the longest time that all my children have been home for. In the past we went to childcare, as I worked, so there was never a prolonged period of time when we were all at home. Everyone was starting to get in each others way. Sometimes there is too much time you can spend with another person and I think my kids were starting to feel that way towards each other.

So I felt myself breath a sigh of relief as I said 'goodbye' to my eldest at his classroom this morning.

Last year was a different story. I was so worried sending my little boy off into the big world of school all by himself. I was the nervous parent who didn't want to leave, and then spent the day watching the clock waiting for pick up time.

It turns out he was OK. It did take him a few weeks to adjust and settle into a new and unfamiliar environment, but by the end of the year I couldn't even remember that scared little boy.

This year he was so happy and confident that it rubbed off on all of us and the first morning couldn't have gone smoother. He was so happy to see some old friends and check out his new classroom that I felt so much better dropping him off.

Now we just have to hope that when my daughter starts her first day of Kindergarten tomorrow it will be just as stress-free.

As it's Back To School Day here in South Australia I have made a FREE printable available. My chalkboard first and last day signs. They are super cute and make for some wonderful photos before school. It is so great to be able to look back and see how much they have grown!

I also have some instructions on this quick and easy first day of school DIY t-shirt I made last year.

You need a plain white Men's or Women's size S, M or L (depending on how big you think your 18 year old child will be). I got mine from Target for $4, and a packet of Avery InkJet Iron-On Dark T-Shirt Transfers. I like to use the dark t-shirt type as it doesn't need to be reversed and I find that it creates a much nicer transfer.

Then you just print off the graduating year (CLASS OF 2027 - CLASS OF 2028 for this year) onto your transfer sheet. I used the font High School USA Sans for the CLASS OF and Collegiate Heavy Outline for the year.

I used my Silhouette Cameo to use out each of the letters, but you can just use a pair of scissors if you don't have one.

Once you have all the letters individually cut, line them up onto the front of the top and follow the directions to adhere them to the top.

There you have it.

A keepsake t-shirt you can photograph your child in on the first day of each year. The purpose is that as they grow they slowly start to fit into the t-shirt until finally on their last, first day of school is should hopefully fit them! If it doesn't I'm sure that would make for some equally as treasured and probably hilarious photos.

So anyone waiting for the first day to finish, or those who still haven't started yet, we are all here for you. It is a scary and nerve racking time, but one that we've all been through.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Organising The Fridge

So in my hopes to be ready to Back To School last week I showed you how I organise my containers in my Organised Lunch Box Station.

This week I'm going to dive into the depths of my fridge. Clean, rearrange and organise ready for the year ahead. And not just the interior of the fridge. I'd like to completely redo the front as well.

Let's have a quick look at some of the before photos ...

I know, I know ... it's a bit scary. You can hardly even see what is in there. The bad part is this is mid week, so the fridge isn't even full. The first thing I did was really look at what was and wasn't working for us.

Not Working
  • There is a shelf missing from our door which my hubby accidentally broke off about a year or so ago. I feel like I could utilize the storage space if I could find a way to fit it.
  • The tray of condiments isn't working on the bottom shelf and is overflowing with too many sauces that I'm sure we don't ever use or are out-of-date.
  • There was no complete system in place for where everything lived. Something had homes, while other just got stuffed into any free space they fit into.
  • The drawers, which area always jam-packed with fruit and vegetables, are really hard to wipe clean regularly.
  • The shelving is at awkward heights, making it difficult to fit everything we need in.
  • The front - It's just a mess of vouchers, bills, photographs, meal planners, magnets ... the works. I can't stand the sight of it any longer.

  • The sandwich making tray works great. I love begin able to just grab the whole tray out when I need to make lunches. (I'd love it to be prettier though!)
  • I love having a basket for the kids yoghurts, as other wise they tend to scatter everywhere.
  • I like that the two drawers at the bottom are dedicated to fruits and vegetables, and are easily accessible to the kids.
So now was the time to sit and make a plan. I took measurements of the interior of the fridge and shelving heights, and then set off to the shop with my new design in search of some trays and containers.

Then it was time to empty and clean everything. This is where I get to a point, with the entire contents of my fridge scattered around the kitchen counters, where I wonder what I have got myself into. But the key is to soldier on ...

I used some Loctite Go2 Glue All Purpose Glue to adhere the old shelf back into the bottom of the fridge door. I'm not sure how it will hold up, but it's been there for a few days and it seems to be staying put, so I'm quietly optimistic about it.

Finally it was time to start putting everything back into place. This is where my excitement starts.

Time for the after reveal ...

The Door

In the door we have...
  • Cheeses and Butter at the top
  • A secret stash of chocolate or chocolate biscuits in this little lockable section, which I think is actually meant for medicines.
  • Cream and sour cream fit nicely onto the small shelf.
  • Drinks, including milk. I'd love to get some glass jars for my milk, which I saw Jen from iheart organizing but I have not found anything I am happy with just yet.
  • Then my newly fix bottom shelf in home to all our left overs, clearly packed so you can see what they are. I use take and toss containers that I buy from Pantry Packer. They are so cheap and I find that it is so much easier to just throw the whole container away when you're done (sorry Earth!!!).


Doesn't that just look so much better. I have actually been opening the fridge for no reason other than just to have another look at it.

Let me take you on a little tour of my favourite parts, and how the newly organised space is working for us now.

The Top Shelf

The top shelf is home to...

  • Our newly purged condiments container, which is a InterDesign Fridge Bin which I found at Howards Storage World. I switched out our tomato sauce and mayonnaise to an upside down bottle to help with the fact that sauce always seems to end up on the roof of my fridge.
  • An awkwardly tall bottle of lemon juice, lime juice, instant dried yeast (which is best stored in the fridge!) and a bottle of Aloe Vera (Aussie life, cold Aloe Vera is a necessity!)
  • Hubby's work lunch and snacks, both in nice neat containers I found at Ned's. They are the perfect size, easy to lift in and out of the fridge, as well as easy to clean.

The 2nd Shelf

The 2nd shelf holds...
  • A new and oh so pretty sandwich tray. I found it at The Reject Shop. It's an A4 document tray and it the perfect fit for everything we need to make a sandwich. (I will create a separate post with more information about this tray and the snack tray later!)
  • A carton of eggs
  • A tray of snacks for the kids lunch boxes as well as after school.

The 3rd Shelf

On the 3rd shelf we have...
  • A tray to keep all out dinner meats contained. I like the idea of having them sectioned off from everything else to keep the risk of contamination down. As well this tray will be super easy to keep clean and sanitised unlike the entire fridge shelf they used to sit on.
  • The rest of this shelf is mostly free with room for our extra milk cartons and a small container of choc-chips there in the corner (another Aussie life shout out!!!)

The Bottom Shelf

The bottom shelf contains...
  • Another InterDesign Fridge Bin, which holds our jams and mustards. I lined this bin with some non slip drawer matting, which you can buy in a roll from Ikea. This stops the contents from moving around as we generally just slide the tray forward to get things out.

  • A container of watermelon at the moment, but this will be another free space to fill with whatever happens to be coming home from the grocery store that week, which doesn't have a specific home.
  • Two small magazine holders I also found for $3 at Ned's, which are now home to our squeezable yoghurt tubes. I love how easy these are to pack into kids lunch boxes. I buy them when they are on special at the grocery store, but other time I make up my own using a large tub. I love that these are at a great easy access point for the kids.

The Drawers

Lastly the drawers. I didn't really change these up much except for lining them both with a large plastic place mat from Ikea. They were only $1.95 each and I was able to measure and cut them easily to fit in the bottom of each drawer. I love how they add such a great pop of colour to the drawers, as well as making them so much easier to clean.

I almost forgot to mention that the whole project wouldn't have been complete to me until I had nicely labelled everything. I used my Silhouette Cameo and some vinyl for the 'Jams' and 'Sauces' bins, and for all the others I used some clear tape in my labeller and some label stickers I found at Officeworks. I actually had some trouble keeping them adhered to the cold surfaces of the containers, so I used a little square of clear contact over the top and that seemed to work out much better!

So there we have it, my beautifully cleaned and organised fridge interior. Now to take a look at the outside.

I have turned the fridge door into a mini command centre. I will post about in more depth later as it is not entirely finished yet. But I wanted you to get a look at the newly 'uncluttered' look I am going for now. The fridge just seems like the perfect place to have all this information readily available as I spend so many hours in the kitchen.

The fridge is a very high traffic area and one of my goals this year is to keep it organised at all times to stop food waste and to try and help with our budget as well.

I think one of the biggest problems I face after I organise a space is forgetting to allow room to let it grow. It's fine to organise what you have but sometimes you need to remember that you may get more of that particular item, and what fits well into a tidy basket now might not fit in a years time. That's where the organisation fails and you find yourself back reorganising the same spaces.

I knew going into this fridge clean out that the contents of our fridge changes very frequently. While we may not have many dinner meats one week, for example we may be eating out or eating out of the freezer (which is more likely!) another week we may have heaps. I really wanted this space to be functional and able to grow and change with our family. This is why I made sure that the baskets and trays I used were big enough to fit any situation.

I also hope that it give you some inspiration to clean out and organise your fridge as well as find solutions to keep it neat and organised all year long!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Preparing and Storing Baby Food

I am a firm believer in making my own baby food. Not only is it so much cheaper than buying it from the shops, but I know exactly what is in it.

I find that the ones you buy at the grocery shops has so much added sugar to it. They are doing this so that babies will enjoy the food and you will go back and buy it again. But the thing is babies don't need to have sugar added to their food. They need to learn that not all flavours are sweet, but that doesn't make them any less tasty.

I've always made my own baby food and I feel like it starts my children off on a journey of discovering the true flavour of food.

So today I'm going to show you how truly quick and easy it can be to store your fridge and freezer with a huge amount of baby food for very little money.

This is what I made for my five month old son as he was just starting out his food eating life. I kept each food separate so that I could take my time introducing new food daily to see what he liked as well as test whether or not he had any allergic reactions to anything.

So all you need to start with is some fruits and vegetables.
Here I have...
2 Heads of Broccoli
3 Carrots
1 Pumpkin
2 Potatoes
1 Sweet Potato
3 Zucchinis
2 Apples
2 Pears
1 Packet of Dried Apricots

Peel and roughly chop all your fruits and vegetables, before steaming each of them. You can use a pot or boiling water, a steamer, a microwave, a Thermomix, whatever you have at your house. I have the Tefal Cook4Me so that's what I used.

To rehydrate the dried apricots I simply covered them in boiling water and let them simmer for about 10-15 mins or until they feel tender and plump. You may need to add more water to them every so often as they absorb it.

Once everything is steamed it is simply a matter of puréeing them all. I used a heat proof blender, but again use anything you have on hand to blend them done to a smooth, lump free, consistency.

On this particular occasion I used some Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags, because I knew they have an amazing seal, are leak-proof and they are BPA free. They were the perfect size for freezing one meal portions, but I have also used ice-cube trays and speciality baby food storage tubs in the past as well.

I find that the ice-cube trays are excellent when they move up to the next level of baby food and you can start to mix flavours together. Once the cubes of food are frozen you can transport them into a large snap-lock bag and pull out a few different vegetable cube flavours when it's meal time.

These are some of my favourite freezer trays when it comes to making baby food...

When it comes time to defrost them, either take them out of the freezer and pop them in the fridge a few hours prior, or fill a jug with boiling water and dunk the pouch in for a minute or so until it has defrosted and warmed.

ALWAYS make sure you test the temperature first before feeding it to your little one though!

One More Thing

One other thing I discovered and I unfortunately don't have a photo of it but that is Reusable Food Pouches. I started using these a few months back to make my own yoghurt for my kids to take in the lunch boxes. They are just like the ones you buy in the store and it makes making and taking your home made baby food so easy. I also bought myself a Baby Food Pouch Fill Station, which has made filling the pouches so quick and easy.

These are seriously one of the best things I've ever seen and you can just wash them in the dishwasher when you're done and they come out perfectly clean. And just look at all the adorable different ones you can get.