winging it mum

Free-styling and UPUPcycling

 Are you a person that modifies recipes, instructions and patterns? Perhaps you do. I hope it works for you!

Generally I like to follow a recipe, especially if it’s my first time making a dish. Only after cooking a dish several times do I feel at liberty to modify or substitute ingredients. On the flip side though I do like to create my own dishes by using up pantry or fridge items  – you know wing it Master Chef style! At times I am relieved there are no cameras rolling and other times I want the world to see my dish;)

Instructions or manuals are something that I usually try to follow out of fear of breaking something before I even get to use it. I usually have to read the manual or instructions thoroughly the first time because I usually misplace them by the time I actually need them:) Funnily enough Brett and I tried to play junior Cluedo tonight and learn the rules before playing it with Jas; but we had trouble finding the instruction booklet and I even googled them just as Brett had found the original! Have you ever had to do that?

So I am not very adventurous in these areas yet for some reason when it comes to sewing and following a pattern I suddenly feel I can modify the instructions, substitute fabrics and I go all Project Runway! This actually cracks me up as I am a self taught hack of a sewer who definitely has no idea.

Here are some current examples of my freestylin’ sewing efforts feel free to laugh (preferably to yourself!)

Project one:  Cubby house card table (as mentioned previously on my goal planner)

A Crafty Minx I am not, but equipped with Kelly Doust’s other book The crafty kid I feel like to could be one day! A while ago I set out making her “caravan of love” cubby house. It’s actually a card table with material thrown over it and it turns into a cubby house. I was determined to make this project using stuff that I already had and didn’t want to buy new materials etc. Before even starting the project you collect your materials. The first two items on the list were oil cloth and calico or other sturdy fabric. Ok so I didn’t have oil cloth or a really sturdy fabric that I liked for this project. So using my useless sewing knowledge I decided to substitute these fabric types. If I made all the fabric thinner then it should still work as long as they were of similar density so my brain thought. Move over Kelly! So not long into the project I realised as my fabric frayed in front of my eyes and stretched as I sewed it that perhaps one of my fabric choices wasn’t quite right – who would have thought! Free-styling with fabric caused me lots of other issues I am too embarrassed to go into. After putting the project down for sometime due to my disappointment I got back on the machine. I finished the project and to my delight I have two little residents to the card table cubby house! They can’t see my errors, the fraying material, the uneven hanging walls etc. They see a cubby that they can go in and if they are lucky one of their parents will try to go into as well and fill it almost breaking the card table and to their delight crushing them.

Project two: Upcycling a women’s shirt to a dress no make that a skirt! Therefore UPUPcycling!

Ok so those in the know are onto the fact that I love a bargain. I went to the Camberwell Market (brilliant second hand market) and was having a slow morning. I saw a shirt that I didn’t completely like but saw its potential – it was cheap about $4 from memory. I tried it on (at home) and the size of the frills on the side were hideous and made me look like a frilled neck lizard – whose frill had slipped! NICE!!! So I decided this was to be my pinterest moment. I was going to transform this shirt into a little dress for Jas and the pinterest world would go crazy!!! Hahaha

With newly found confidence (not sure from where) I just started chopping, pinning and then getting Jas to try it on and oops pricking her and so on. With another snipping spree I accidentally snipped the side of the dress – never fear I could over come this minor setback and I took in the dress! Yep, I bet you can guess what happened it now didn’t fit Jas!

Ah never fear I had invested $4, a chunk of time but I didn’t give up – Pinterest needed a new gem! So what did I do? I went the hack and made Jas a skirt. Ok so this poor once upon a time ugly garment has been hacked not once but twice. I also added a Kangaroo pouch pocket – something I wanted to try:)

The final outcome Jas loves and I hope Pinterest will 😛

It’s not everyday you see an UPUPcycled skirt is it?

You may not be a sewer like me but perhaps my ad hoc methods you use in the kitchen or when using new equipment etc. Or maybe I am the only weirdo like this? Whatever, I love my hobby of sewing, despite my errors, panic attacks etc.

I better let you go and pin this to pinterest now!!!

Em xx


Mixing it up – Surprise dates

A new tradition has started at our place! We are planning monthly surprises for each other. Brett led the way and the bar was set high. My “special treat” night last month involved a restaurant called Cutler & Co. We had an amazing meal and Brett’s highlight of the dinner was his dessert – now that’s saying something as he doesn’t really have a sweet tooth! Then we went off to SmartBar at the Melbourne Museum where we got to see an adults only glimpse of the museum, whilst sipping on a champers and listening to cool beats! A fun night:) I even bumped into one of my besties!

So this month I decided to plan Brett a surprise and here birthed our new tradition – planning and delivering surprise dates. We hit the Melbourne comedy festival to see “Anyone for Tennis”. Chosen because it was musical comedy; something Brett enjoys- they were good but definitely some cringy moments – Why do stand up comedians constantly take things too far? Anyway it was in the council chambers in the Melbourne Town Hall a cool venue in its self. Overall, we rated the show as good.

We then went for a walk to 7/11 (how good am I at planning surprises!). I left Brett staring at the LED messages at federation square as I made a dash inside to get our $5 bike helmets! (thanks for subsidizing this City of Melbourne). Yep, we were taking it to the streets thanks to Melbourne Bike Share. This to me was the highlight of the night. Hopping onto our bikes with no set plan, riding off into the dark and happy it was dark as I wobbled on my way:) Melbourne Bike Share is now a new favorite thing of mine to do in the city. A day pass is $2.60. With a mere swipe of your credit card and by keying in a special code you and your new bike are free to ride! Then in theory if you take just half hour trips it’s free from there but if you take longer trips more charges apply. This was a random and fun thing to do in order to get to our restaurant which was over near Crown. The bikes were great. There is even a cool iPhone app called Spotcycle that actually shows you where the closest bike share location is and how many bikes are there at any given time! In the future I plan to ride around the city in a day taking lots of little rides to my favorite places! Yes, I could take in my bike but I enjoyed the adventure and having to watch the clock, it made me feel like I was in the amazing race or something! We decided to not return the helmets as we might ride again after dinner, we could have returned them and got $3 back.

With our helmets under our arms and our newly formed helmet hair we hit Number 8 our restaurant for the night! Needless to say we were the only ones in there with helmets!!! We enjoyed a great dinner and dessert topped it off for me their Chocolate Biscuit (an inspired chocolate fondant) is the dearest but yumiest biscuit around;)

What I love about our newly claimed tradition is the thought that goes into the night is solely focusing on doing and planning something that your better half will love! They are your focus and showing them that you love them is the purpose! I don’t want these nights to always be expensive nights out but rather extravagant expressions of love is what I want! Sometimes the most thoughtful expressions don’t cost a thing! I like that it will be once a month because it is achievable and we will alternate planning them so we get extra time to plan (although I will do next month also as it’s Brett’s Birthday).

Give it a go! Plan a loving surprise for someone special in your world! And let me know what you did -I would love some inspiration;)

Em xx




My rookie camping with kids synopsis!

As you may remember last week I gave a cry out for help as I was about to head off on our rookie family camping trip to Sorrento. I was very thankful for the great advice that I received from some of you – some of my thoughts were affirmed and light was shed on things I had over looked in my preparations.

Considering we got back last Saturday I really should have let you know how we went – as some of you may have thought we didn’t survive!! I am happy to report that we had a fantastic time.

We stayed in a hired on site van with an annex attached. It was perfect for us – mum and I slept in the van and the kids in the annex and on the last night Brett was in annex with the kids. We were about 100 paces from the beach and to the toilet block, there was even a playground!!!

The weather for the first two days and nights was fantastic. It was sunny and hot and the bay was calm and perfect for the kids to hit the beach – and hit it they did!!!! The third day the wind picked up and the beach suddenly had waves:) Brett arrived and his parents came over by boat from Queenscliff for a visit. It was Good Friday and we enjoyed the famous Vanilla slices, and had fish and chips for lunch together! We hit the back beach and Jas skinny dipped in the rock pools and Elijah climbed all over the sand dunes! That night the weather packed in and it poured and we had a little thunder and lots of wind. I was so thankful that Brett had arrived as the annex roof started to leak and he was able to fix it out in the rain:) Thankfully we had only planned to stay until Saturday and when we awoke to poor weather we packed up early and decided to take it slowly home. We tried to find a market, went to a garage sale, checked out Arthur’s Seat look out and then headed to one of my favourite markets Red Hill (with the rest of Victoria’s population!). There we had lunch and the best scout camp oven scones you can imagine!

Here is my synopsis of our trip:

  • Caravan parks and camping grounds are fantastic for kids! Children are instantly immersed into a new little community. They network and get to know other kids and people. When they are at the playground they instantly make friends and play with the other kids, they then see those same kids hours later in water at the beach and out and about in town etc. I guess other trips we have taken the kids on they make friends at a park or hotel etc but they usually only get to play with them once. I loved the continuity of the caravan park and how the kids made themselves at home straightaway!
  • I was warned that sleeping times for the kids would be thrown out and to roll with it. So I was all ready for later nights for them etc but we scored with daylight savings having just changed, so it was dark earlier and the kids were longing for bed even a little earlier than normal! The kids had played at new levels, never before had Elijah carried 30 buckets full of water from the shore up to a large hole. Jas didn’t have any day sleeps or rests and Elijah’s day sleeps were shorter than normal but great considering – so that may have also made them hit the hay earlier! But they did awake nice and early each morning to make up for those early nights! Our poor neighbours!
  • Night times can be a little slow! Mum and I read and retired so early! Mum was so bored she was even open to being taught how to play Suduko!
  • Noises in the night can be welcomed or not! Mum felt like she was lying on the main road with cars driving over her the first night, I was disturbed by a loud repetitive noise; none of which seemed to disturb the kids. Then rain and wind on the final night made all these noises all but disappear:) Since I have returned from the trip I have seen this Volkswagon Tiguan commercial (click on the link to view the ad). I think after the first night Mum and I would have loved to have done this kind of camping! Ha ha:)
  • Caravans are really fun! Within a minute the kids had opened every door, cupboard (and in a caravan there are so many cupboards in every little nook and cranny!) and played with most zips – no toys needed hey! Jas was amazed that there was a kitchen in the bedroom;) Cooking and washing up was different (as we had no water hooked up or gas – just electricity) and makes for an interesting change. The kids loved sleeping out in the annex together and giggled themselves to sleep!
  • Close proximity to the beach is fantastic each time we did the 100 paces to the beach piled high with things we always forgot something and it was so good to be able to walk back to the campsite and get the extra boogie board, chair or spade that we forgot!
  • There is camping equipment and there is camping equipment!!!! As we drove through the camping grounds we were impressed or astounded by some people’s set ups. Some people travel with better BBQs and outdoor settings then we have at home! Whilst supervising the kids at the playground I would look around and admire others set ups and think about what I would like and want etc. I now know the kind of tent I would get etc. Not sure if some people really rough it or not these days?
  • It was fantastic to be able to clean the “house” in a flash with a dust pan and to avoid having to wash their clothes! After the trip I came home with a thud as I tried to get all the washing of our clothes, linen etc done in the cold and wet weather we had over easter!
  • If the love of your life (or anyone else for that matter) is joining the adventure make sure that you pack and they pack warm enough things for them to sleep in and with. Sorry Brett;0

So would we do another family camping trip definitely! I did like having a caravan but would be open to tenting it in the right kind of tent;) So anyone want to lock in a camping trip with us?

Em xx

Here a few snaps from when I had my phone with me on the beach:)




Rookie camping with kids trip

Travelling with kids is something I am pretty accustomed to. We regularly go to our in-laws great beach house, we have flown a few times to Adelaide to visit my sister and taken Jas to Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and both kids recently to New Zealand. So with regard to road trips and flights we have built up a list of travel tips that work for us. However, in several days time we are embarking on a new adventure camping with kids.

A great opportunity has been given to us to go and camp on the foreshore with an onsite caravan, annex and tent! It’s a basic camp ground with only an ammenities block, but we are excited. Jas has been asking to go camping for sometime and I thought having a caravan may ease us all into the camping as a family experience. So my Mum, the kids and I will be setting off on Wednesday. Brett will join us on Friday. I am excited, nervous and curious as to how the trip will go.

When presented with this opportunity I jumped at it and was very excited and relaxed about it all. I loved the family camping trips we did when I was a child. Then on Sunday I woke up in the middle of the night and started thinking about the practicality of how this may work! Ok so when it comes to camping I will need to wing it!

At least we will have more than this on our site 🙂

I am after some CAMPING TIPS  from those that have survived a family camping trip – hopefully not all these people will be off camping at the moment:) Below are some things that I need to cover off on:

What are some do’s and don’ts? 

There is a chance of rain while we are away how do we cope with this?

What are some good camping activities to do with the kids?

For the kitchen what is a must have utensil or cooking item that I should take?

What are some items that I shouldn’t leave home without?

Thanks in advance for your help in our making our rookie camping trip a success!

Enjoy the holidays! If you aren’t going away considering pitching a tent in the garden; the kids will love it and you will save money and you won’t need to pack – actually maybe we should be doing this;)

Happy Easter too!!!

Em xx