Saturday, December 17, 2016

Getting Our Finances Sorted


Happy December everyone! I hope your tree is out and life is looking merry and bright for you. It's the end of the year, so lets all breathe a collective sigh of relief, put our feet up and let it all blow away. 

I have a few posts coming up so keep your eyes peeled, but first...



2016 was the year of adulting - we've locked in car and contents insurances, something we could never afford before (but also couldn't afford not to have), but also, throughout the year have had a lot of unexpected cost to cover. From root canals, cars, unplanned trips and financial commitments, most of our savings have been soaked up just getting by. (2017 will be the year of saving! hahaaa)

Being home with our kids is a priority (and worth it!) but living and relying on a single income is a sacrifice, so it’s important for us to be wise with what we have.

I've been looking in to income protection insurance because we do rely solely on one earner in our family. If an accident, sickness, or job loss strikes, it's a relief to know that we'll be covered until we get back on our feet.


If this is something that concerns you too, check out Pinnacle Life's website for info on their income protection insurance and get a quick quote. 

While you're there check out their life insurance calculator. I've done the maths; we can be covered for $4 a week for life insurance. On their website, you can also price compare your life insurance quote with other similar companies offering life insurance policy.

[This is a sponsored post]


Monday, December 12, 2016

Birthday Dress



In November I had a fantastic time celebrating my birthday! I had a few friends over for a Mexican lunch, we ate yummo food, there was a donut cake, and lots of wine and sunshine. It was practically perfect in every way.

That week I also treated myself to a new birthday dress, with soft and delicious fabric called Tencel, which looks and feels like linen, but is actually made from sustainable wood (!!). It's more expensive than anything I would usually buy, but it was exactly what I had in mind so I splurged and blamed the birthday for it.

You can find the FREE link to this pattern and instructions here if you scroll down:: Free All Dressed Up Pattern

It was a great pattern that needed no adjustment except a little sway back pinch in (usual, for my curved back). All of the pieces fitted together, and the instructions were easy to understand. This pattern comes highly recommended by me!

(Why designers go to the trouble of creating a lined bodice, but then don't give instructions for an enclosed need zipper i'll never understand)


DRESS DETAILS:
Fabric: Tencel, sustainable wood fabric (looks and feels like linen). Navy, grey and cream stripes.
Pattern Links: All Dressed Up - Issue 24
Design Details: Princess seam bodice on front and back, front cut pockets and side zipper.

Happy days!
xxx

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dining Table and Chairs DIY


Towards the beginning of the year I bought this table and chairs set off trade me. The chairs have "Yugoslavia" stamped into the wood underneath and they were bought from someone in a rest home, so I guess the family bought them to New Zealand a wee while ago? 

They are sturdy, solid and in great condition, and were a dark brown when I bought them (below).


I spent months sanding these back, painting and varnishing to get it looking this good and I'm so proud of my work.

The table top is great and is a huge step up from the table we had before, which had a glass table top and would always collect spilt weetbix and milk in the cracks between the wood. 

I'm really happy with the finish of this! It's so easy to keep looking nice.



The chairs are a dark navy, although they look a lot darker in this (terrible) photo lighting than they usually do (more accurate colour photos below). 

It took me a long time to decide on my colour scheme. 

Originally I wanted all different colours (green, yellow, blue and pink), but once I finished the table and had it in place I loved how grown up it looked. 

It's probably one of the nicest things we own, and I wanted my chairs to reflect that. I'm on a bit of a navy blue bender right now, so that was the next most obvious choice for me.




I love having my friends over for a cuppa now that we have somewhere nice to sit to enjoy my great view.

Also, the table extends out, so we've had a few dinner parties with everyone squeezed in our tiny dining area. Once you're in, you can't get out! I kind of love it. 


Next up on my project list, I'm thinking a mini wall quilt to adorn the wall in the dining space...

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Tall Boy Duchess DIY

Monday, October 3, 2016

Tall Boy Duchess DIY


Earlier this year we met our new neighbours, a lovely family direct from Australia. They ended up moving out a month ago to return home and told us to come over for some pickings at their furniture they weren't shipping back to Aussie.



I've been wanting a tall boy for a while now; Our clothing storage was in a dire situation and our room isn't big enough to accomodate much else. 

And! They had one to give us! So we quickly nabbed this tall boy that had been their parents, it was in great condition, aside from the varnish needing a spruce up so I rubbed my hands together and went straight to Bunnings! 


A week spent sanding, varnishing, painting, spraying and watching in every spare moment, produced this! 

I am so happy with the results! The wood has a beautiful satin finish to it that looks SO great up close.

And now Graeme and I have enough space for all of our clothes, rolled up the KonMari space saving way.



Kia ora Lavender whānau xx




Friday, September 30, 2016

Jungle Dress


Warm spring weather is almost here!

Now I have a fun jungle dress to wear when the sun shines, yipee!



This is a Tilly and The Buttons pattern, from her book Love at First Stitch which I rented from the library. It looks much sweeter on her little petite frame.

I lengthened the bodice by 2cm, and added in some back neckline darts after all was said and done. One of these days I need to try a full-bust-adjustment, because I think I border line need one. Also, sway back adjustment should have been added. I did do an acceptable toile! I swear.

If I was in the Great British Sewing Bee (watch the latest season 4 on YouTube!) I think Patrick would critique that there are some fitting issues, but I've made a wearable garment. 

I've binged the GBSB so much lately that I hear Patrick over my shoulder when I sew now. 
Not such a bad thing, really.


And also, I've sewed the best zipper of my life, so there's that to be proud of. 

That, along with the colours, stretch and fullness of the cotton sateen make it a great dress! I'm looking forward to wearing it more and more, just as soon as the weather decides to kick it up a notch! 


I think I inherited this fabric from Debs stash, along with a free pattern from the Library, and a $8 zipper make this a pretty cheap dress! 


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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Scrappy Quilt Complete



2 years in the making this quilt is done!

Phew!


This has been my longest project, and definitely the largest in volume! 

Although I started out with much gusto, spurred on by the quick sewing of Deb and Clare who seem to whip quilts up over night, it turns out that no matter how motivated, sewing little 2.5inch squares in rows and blocks is bloody boring. 

So much cutting, so many tiny seams, so much ironing, arranging, mess.



However, over the years I've been learning perseverance, and also I must be upping my standards.

 What would have been "fine" is no longer "fine", and I found myself unpicking 24 meters of top stitching of the quilt top so that I could hand stitch it again. My machine quilting skills were below par, and after musing over it, I set about with the un-picker and spent another month unpicking and restitching by hand for a much nicer finish. 


 All that to say, even though I cursed and loathed this quilt, and went through the 5 stages of grief over it, I eventually came to love it (stockholm syndrome?), and wanted it to look its best. And, it was really great having a project handy that I could pull out whilst watching tv, or something to sew in the sunshine.

I absolutely love the binding, the backing, the bright colours, the yellow thread, the flowers, the spots, the patterns...

I might even go so far to say, I miss creating it.

But now I have a bright and happy quilt to keep our family warm, and the satisfaction of creating something that has a purpose and is of use to our family is at an all time high.


2 years ago to the day I wrote this Guest Blog Post on Debs Blog, so today I am calling it Finished! Done! 

Thank you for the box of scraps Deb, and for the endless amount of inspiration!

And here's looking at you Clare, for all those tidy rows of squares. Keep on stitching, Sister! 

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Millas Monarch 5th Birthday


Rā whānau kia Camilla! Now you are FIVE!! 

To celebrate, we had a monarch butterfly afternoon, as you have requested for the past year. And threw in some My Little Ponies too at the last moment. A girl can change her mind if she wants to! 

I made you some monarch wings to wear as well as for decoration, we had rainbow streamers, and a huge monarch cake! You were a pretty happy girl having all of these dreams come true!




We played a treasure hunt game where we found pictures of My Little Ponies in our garden, and then had an obstacle course! The obstacle course started our taking the ping pong ball (EGG) on a spoon and throwing it into the bucket with the leaves on it. Then, crawling through the tunnel (CATERPILLAR). Then, racing to the finish line with rainbow ribbons (BUTTERFLY). The little children were so happy to find out they could keep their ribbons!


You can't wait to be starting school in the new year, and you are loving being a 5 year old. You know you're a big kid now, and as always responsibility is high on your priorities list. You are nailing this 5 year old, big sister, growing up thing. I am so proud of you Milla.

For the last term, and until you start school in January, we have been having Mondays to our selves while Katie is at Kindy having her "special day" by herself.

I love Milla Mondays! You are such fun to hang out with. You talk my ear off all day, and we do something special together. Some times it's tumble times, or the library (our new favourite place to go together), or just to a cafe, or to Willowbank, or painting at home together, or ... where ever you want to go! It's lots of fun, as I said!


You've been practicing your phonetics, recognising more words in books and on signs and have been writing little notes. The other morning you came into my bedroom saying "look mum, I wrote 'Katie is in bed'", and sure enough, you had! Clever cookie. You'll love school! In the mean time, we've been playing word games, practising writing and trying to do fun creative learning to tide you over.

At Kindy you had a special celebration led by Kaiako Duncan. They sang you the whale song (a humongous whale, spouting out the water...)(aaaa... great white shark, great white shark...), happy birthday, presented you with your cake and card and Kindy book and talked about your time at Kindy. You were so excited to be up there, you spoke clearly and loudly for everyone to hear (which I was very proud of), and loved your time up the front under the cloak.


As a gift to Kindy on your birthday we presented them with a book we made together called "he iti kahuku". It's a story about a little butterfly who finds its mum at the park and dances under a rainbow. Kindy loved the book, and you were so creative to have made it! 


When I thought about it later, I realised it's about you! You are our little Monarch.

He iti kahuku tā māua, kei raro ki te kahukura

{Our little butterfly, under the rainbow}


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Graemes Mexican Party


Hola! Way back in May we celebrated Graeme's 30th Birthday at Mexico with friends and whānau.

Graemes birthday has been the event of the year for us. We love celebrating things, we love our people, and we love birthdays. So, we've been planning for these celebrations for a year, putting aside money each week for the last year so when the time came, we could do what our hearts desired.

After much humming and haa'ing, we decided on having our party out and about, and catered for. It was more expensive than doing ourselves, but it took all of the stress out and meant we could invite who ever and didn't need to be worried for a "wet weather option". I also hired a friend to make the cake! Best decision of the year. It was amazing!

It took months to find a venue, after a whole lot of emails, and venue visits at various locations around the city and still not finding any where suitable. I mused to myself "it would be amazing to have a party with mexican fried chicken handed around", and so I email Mexico and we were in! They ticked all of the boxes and were fantastic hosts! 


We ended up having 65 friends and whānau. Even though we don't see many of these people very often they all hold dear places in our hearts and it was so great to have them.

I have only included a few photos in the post, but we are making up a photo book so we have picture of everyone! Lighting was hard, and most were taken with polaroids, so our photos aren't the greatest!



Our kids came for the first hour, then Nannie took them back to her house where a family friend babysat them while they slept. They were so excited to be at their Daddies party! And it was great having them there!! Also, Aunty Izy came from Australia to join in the celebrations!


The birthday boy! I surprise him by secretly handing out little badges with his face on them with a golden sparkly crown. See if you can spot them in the photos. He turned around and realised everyone was wearing them! So great. There were also some larger faces stuck on the walls. Graeme is our Party King, so it seemed fitting to have his face everywhere.




I strung up a few banners and decorations when we arrived but Mexico in Christchurch is so bright and fun, it really didn't need much. The decor is ace, as is the music. The atmosphere was perfect!



We also played pinata, which was a bit of a fail! Graeme ended up whacking his friend Joe over the head (not surprising, since Joe was standing next to it saying "hit me!") but the string holding it up didn't hold so we ended up ripping it open with our hands! Still good though.


I said a speech for Graeme, and then it was backed up with a Māori waiata (song), as is custom when honoring someone.

During the week we had secret practises for Purea Nei, a beautiful waiata. Jared was on guitar leading it, and started after my speech. 

Graeme said he was looking around taking in the song and then started to realise that everyone was singing, even people who didn't know Māori waitata, and then he started to realise how special it was and that everyone must have learnt it for him! 

Well, they did! 65 people, singing a song most of them didn't know for their friend who they were honoring. It doesn't get much more special than that! 

You can watch and pretend you were there with the video below::


Most of all, Graeme had a great night! He felt loved, celebrated and honored! 

Friends and Whānau, thank you for partying with us and being in our lives! 
xxx

(ps, Blog post on our birthday holiday here (yes, the celebrations seemed to continue for a whole month!)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Queenstown Adventures - Graemes 30th


In May we were lucky enough to spend 4 nights in Queenstown, without the kids! Just us!! The kids were happy as can be with their grandparents, and we were living it up large with Hilton Hotel Life.

So, I never realised that hotel people do all your dishes. That was such a surprise to me. I need to get out more! haha! / become so wealthy I never need to do dishes again. It was like living in a dream! 


Anyway, 5 nights away, what a dream come true. We had been squirreling away money for the last year for this trip, as a big Happy 30th Birthday to the man of our house, so we could have some time away from our house! Graeme was also blessed by a lot of his friends for his birthday, with cash towards adventures in Queenstown. 

We planned to live up large, eat out and buy desserts, drink coffee and wander the streets and do as many adventurey things as we could. It turns out, we ticked all of those boxes.


The highlight for me was definitely Milford Sound. It's about 3.5 hours drive from Queenstown, so it really does take up a whole day; leaving in the morning, going on a cruise around lunch time, then returning home after dinner. It was a big day and we were shattered by the end of it. I think that was the one night we got takeaways and crashed in bed. 

But Milford sound, what a beautiful, stunning part of the world. Breathtaking. Even the drive there, I wish we had spent more time stopping off to take in the views. So much beauty and goodness that is so refreshing for the soul.

We went on a Jucy Cruise which was, I assume, just as good as all of the other cruises on offer. All up about 2 hours on the boat. 


I was lucky enough to end up at the front of the boat and was doused in water from a waterfall. It was a happy accident, and from then on we stayed at the front of the boat and loved our cruise. Much better to be out in the fresh air, although it was FREEZING cold. Wind chill felt like it was in the minus'! Still, I sipped my red wine, bathed in the sunlight and thanked God for all of these moments. 





Those last 2 photos above were from a video we took. We tried to get a photo of us and the waterfall, except the wind was all up in thurrr. You can see the video on my Instagram here.


Following that we spent our time in Queenstown on the shot over river (above). I had been on it as a kid, in which I had thought for sure we were certain for death, but it wasn't nearly as scary as I had remembered. Still, thrilling none the less. Graeme "woohoo"'d his way down the river, and it was a joy for me to see him having fun (while I held on for dear life).

We ate Fergburger, Winnies Pizza, drank lunch time beers and wines, sat by fire sides, talked about silly things from my "conversation starters" (which were a great idea to take, when you're wanting to talk about things other than kids, but your life only consists of kids). 

Speaking of kids, we almost forgot they existed. And when we phoned them they said "we need to make you a card, can we hurry up and say goodbye now?" So never mind them.


On our departing eve, we found the local c3 Church and treated ourselves to a couple massage which was divine. We finished off the day by eating a ridiculously expensive meal which was a ridiculously huge hunk of steak, and drank from a ridiculously large wine glass. Ridiculous. All of it. 

What is this life?


*Sigh* Last day and time to go home. 6 hours later in the car and we were ready for our own beds. But I definitely could have stayed in that dream bubble for a little longer.

Thank you to Nannie & Poppa, Grandad Jimmy & Colly for all of the Baby Sitting hours you racked up! And to all of our friends who put in for our adventures!

Lots of memories made. Thank you. 

Happy Birthday Graeme! xx

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