October 2013Life Love and Hiccups: October 2013

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Some Teacher Christmas Gift Ideas - That Won't Break The Bank!

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I know what you are thinking - "Why the hell is she posting about Christmas in October?"  And quite frankly I don't blame you, I'm kinda thinking the same thing.

But for the past week I have been getting my pants in a pickle because soooo many people have been telling me that they have pretty have their Christmas Shopping done and dusted and I'm all Holy Shitballs you are that organised .... in October???

So I decided if you can't beat them - blah blah blah and I got on line and ordered my first Christmas present. It doesn't matter that the present was for myself, the point is I have now officially started my shopping and when someone asks me, I can nod all smug like and say "yep, I'm almost done"*cough cough*.

One of the things that adds up when you've got some little munchkins, is all the teacher's gifts you need to buy. It seems that kids have at least 2 teachers each these days and when you times that by 3 in my case and add in a couple of extras like speech therapists, teaching aides and a Principal - man it adds up.

If you are one of any of the above for my boys, please stop reading right now, because here is where I tell the rest of you that we are giving Candles and Pillowcases made by the boys to their teachers this year.

Below I have linked up some posts to some budget friendly gift ideas I have made in the past in case you are stuck for ideas for what to give your kid's teachers, ideas that won't break the bank. And just in case, you know, you want to be one of THOSE people who smash the Christmas Shopping before the Silly Season Officially begins.

Scented Candles
You can't go wrong with these and if you make them with some cinnamon scents then they are as Christmassy as you can get.


Treat Boxes
I originally made these as place markers for the Christmas table last year, but if your child goes to kindy and has like 5 different teachers, or if you are a sucker like me that makes gifts for all their class mates too - these would be a perfect solution.


A Christmas Wreath
What teacher wouldn't love a fresh wreath to hang on their mantle or door at home, or even the classroom door. This one has the added bonus of not just being budget friendly, but fun to make too.


Bags of Sweet Smelling Soap
One can never have too much smelly stuff, and the cute little bags are almost a gift in themselves.


Hand Painted Pillow Cases
You can pick up some pillow cases for next to nothing and either you or your kids can get to work painting a special bespoke design for a special teacher.


Alright so tell me - Have you started your Christmas Shopping yet? 
Bear in mind if you tell me you have finished, we may no longer be on speaking terms. 
Jokes... Kinda :)



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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Some Super Sexy After Dinner Passion

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Oh you cheeky buggers! You totally clicked over because you totally thought I was going to launch into some Fifty Shades style commentary didn't you?

Go on - admit it ...  and don't worry, I would have done EXACTLY the same thing.

Sadly there is no suburban soft porn here today. No steamy elevator trysts, no heaving bosoms and no 'dinner's done so let's have sex on the dining room table' kind of post sorry.

WAIT!!! DON'T LEAVE!!

I can write this post Fifty Shades style if you really want me to....

She slowly moved towards him, salaciously chewing on her lips and tossing her hair in the way that drives him wild. 

She knows he is watching her and yet she does not raise her eyes to connect with his. Instead she chooses to play with him, tease him and just languish in the heady ambiance. 

The electricity between them is palpable and unable to resist a moment longer, she leans over him purposely allowing her breast to graze his strong muscly arms. She reaches out.... stretching in a primal urgent way until finally with a satisfied cry she says "Pass me that packet of Tapioca please love and can you grab me that saucepan whilst you're at it".

Ahhh yep, That was me trying really hard to write erotica, but clearly I suck at suburban porn and I should just leave it to the gang at Mills and Boon.

OK so now that I'm blushing and we have officially cleared that small matter up, why don't I just get on with what I actually came here to do - which was share this...



This stuff is the bomb I tell you and even if you totally stuff it up, the cute little pots and spoons will just distract from any unpleasantness.

Just joking, this dessert is not easy to stuff up. If you can stir a pot then you are pretty much good to go.



Here's what you will need for this little summer gem.

3/4 cup of Tapioca pearls. (Good luck finding them in your supermarket. Here's my advice - don't waste time looking for them, just pick an over 40 shelf packer and ask where it is. Don't bother with anyone under 20 as they will have no idea what you are talking about and will just be all "Huh?")

1 tin of Passion fruit pulp - at least 170gm
3 tablespoons of Caster Sugar (clearly this is no time to diet)
2 cups of coconut milk
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice

Put your tapioca, coconut milk and water into a saucepan and leave it to soak for an hour whilst you go and waster some time prettying up little pots and spoons.

After an hour put the saucepan onto a medium heat and bring the mix to boiling point. Once boiling turn the temp down and stir the mix until the pearls turn translucent. This usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes, but you need to keep stirring because man that stuff sticks.

Once the pearls are translucent and your mix is thick and creamy, take it off the heat and add in your sugar whilst it is still hot. Stir until well combined and then allow it to cool down for a few minutes.

Finally before the mixture totally cools and begins to set, stir through your passion fruit pulp and lime juice and then separate the mix into little pots or bowls and put into the fridge to finish setting.

This stuff doesn't take long to set and you should end up with a dense jelly like consistency.

You can serve as is, or add a little extra fresh passion fruit to the top for a bonus flavour explosion.

If you have little plastic containers, this is a great little lunch treat to put in the kids lunchboxes. Trust me, you will be reaping in the brownie points big time for this.

Bon Appetit Lovers!

What's your favourite Summer go to dessert?






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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

I've Been Outed!

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In my opinion nothing makes Christmas more special than kids. All the excitement they generate around Santa and the Reindeer and even that damn freaky elf on the shelf which is due to return in just over a month, it makes Christmas such a magical experience for them, AND us parents too.

You go to great lengths to prevent them from discovering the truth prematurely and you threaten to cut the balls off anyone that spoils it for them.

OK that last bit may be just me taking it a little too seriously but the point is I myself have taken my role of guardian of 'The Christmas Secret' very VERY seriously.

For the past 12 years we have created a whole fantasy around the big red guy, his pointy eared side kicks and the whole CIA (Christmas Intelligence Agency).

I have smacked away any doubts with the swiftest of explanations and I have dug myself in deeper and deeper all the while knowing that one day I would be exposed for a fraud.

I forced numerous cookies down my husbands throat, chewed on dozens of carrots and gagged on gallons of milk.

Like most parents I have stayed up late to ensure the presents are perfectly placed under the tree, easy to spot but looking as though they have been placed in a hurry so as not to disturb a sleeping family.

I have given death stares to the Department Store Santas who promised to bring an extravagant gift that has been thought up on the spot by a starry eyed toddler at the 11th hour and long after gifts have been purchased, wrapped and stashed.

I have gone through kilos of  flour to recreate footprints and I have conned neighbours into running up and down the street ringing sleigh-bells days before Christmas to ensure the kids are frothing at the mouth at the sound of Santa doing his practise run.

I have done all the right things to extend the magic as long as possible with my oldest son, so much so that I have pretty much convinced myself of the big guys existence.

And although I knew it was coming, I knew it was inevitable - I was devastated and completely gutted when he casually informed me the other night as we were driving, that he no longer believes in Santa.

"What do you mean"? I declared with genuine shock and disbelief. "Of course he exists. Why would you even think otherwise"?

"Come on Mum. The recent acquisition of an Offshore Plastic Factory kind of gave it away" he replied. "Plus the kids at school have been telling me for ages, so I've kind of known for a while it was just you and Dad".

Shit. We had been outed!

I refrained from asking who those kids at school were in case I was unable to resist the urge to peg bags of burning dog poop at their bedroom windows and instead I sat in silence and wallowed in my disappointment.

A quiet tear escaped in honour of the reality of what was happening and I was smacked over the back of the head by a sack full of emotion. Grief for the end of an era, fear that my two little guys were now going to find out and frustration that our plastic factory explanation of the 'made in China' stickers didn't quite cut it.

I always knew the day would come but I can't help but be sad about it, how can you not be? And yet I am proud of him and the way that he handled it without a fuss and proud of his excitement at also becoming a guardian of 'The Christmas Secret' for his little brothers and every one else who continues to believe.

"It's a big responsibility Mum" he said.

"What is hun"? I enquired.

"Knowing the truth" he replied with a maturity in his voice I have never heard before.

"But I'm excited that I get to help you now make it really cool for the little boys" he added rather proudly.

I think it was that precise moment my heart exploded with relief and pride. Relief that he didn't hate me for lying to him for all these years and pride for my very grown up boy.

Gooey gushy incredibly mushy, totally embarrassing mum pride.

Are you still guarding the secret?
If your kids 'know' - how did they find out and how did they take it?
Do you remember when you discovered the truth?


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Win a $100 Howards Storage World Voucher

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Kitchen Pantry Makeover Where You can Win Too!

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This post is brought to you by Howards Storage World

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED***
Congratulations to REMY ROBERTS

For all the professing of my love of organisation, I sure do have some deep dark secrets that I keep well hidden in my home.

First of all there was the Pit of Shame, otherwise known as my garage that I kept hidden from not only you but the neighbours and pretty much the entire world. 

Thankfully Howards Storage World came to the rescue and did a complete overhaul and nowadays the garage door is no longer bolted shut and nor do I insist on people signing indemnity waivers before they enter. You can read about that make over here and here here, here, here, here and haha here too.


Now to the casual observer my kitchen looks fairly neat and tidy.... just how I like it.



But it's what's hidden in those cupboards that had me getting in a tizz.

Once a month I would sort it all out and clean it all up and then within days the troops had it looking like a complete shambles again.

The problem was that there really weren't any practical systems in place. I had glass jars that would fall and smash when the kids rummaged around looking for snacks and pretty much I just gave up on ever having cupboards that were even remotely organised.

Luckily I have become quite desensitised to how they used to look so I am going to show you and besides, nothing will ever quite beat the shame of showing you my garage pre-makeover. 


So go on then - have a good old gander, make your tut tut noises and mock me if you will. The guts of my kitchen were a shocker.



The cupboards above, which is pretty much the majority of my cupboards, were the scene or scenes of crime. 

The cupboards that house our crockery, pots and pans, glassware and Tupperware were in a good state of condition. They are easy to keep tidy because the men in my house avoid putting anything away if they can help it so it is pretty much only ever me putting stuff in them which means I can generally keep them organised.

The problem areas were the pantry, medicine cupboard, under the sink cupboard, the kitchen drawers and what was supposed to be the breakfast cupboard.


Yeah OK - let's just settle with most of my kitchen cupboards were in a hell of a mess.


When the Howards Storage Team said they would be creating an organisational system for my kitchen, I literally ran through the house squealing like a pig at a whiff of bacon.....  I am aware that doesn't really make any sense, but come on, I'm trying really hard to describe to you just how excited I was that someone wanted to help me out with this.


When they asked for some photos of the problem areas, I had that camera out snapping pictures and attached to email in less than the time it takes to boil an egg. I wanted to send them in quickly in case they changed their minds.


The old Stop, Sort and Solve system was used to come up with practical solutions that the whole family could maintain and the family was booted out of the house for a day so that I could get in there and get started on creating organised kitchen cupboards.

Everything was pulled out of the cupboards and I mean EVERYTHING including cans of food and spices that expired in 2006.


No Bull.

First up I tackled the roll up cupboard which we use as the breakfast zone.


It was an area that was supposed to house the cereals, toaster, bread and brekkie condiments - but became the dumping zone for vitamins, sick bags, tissues and even an iPad cover.


Now just look at that will you. 

Everything has a place and the kids can easily prepare their own breakfast and have no excuse to not put things back where they belong when they are finished.

The fabulous items used here were;





The kitchen drawers were equally as shameful. The cutlery drawer was fine, but the utensil drawer, junk drawer and tea towel draw looked more like a mini version of my old garage. 


A couple of storage solutions and a cull and chuck session later, and they were 1000 percent more organised.


Items used to get those drawers in order were;



Under the sink was one of those areas that was perfect for breeding STUFF. I had made a token effort with a pathetic little basket to corral a few bits and pieces, but um yeah it wasn't really working for us.


Only a couple of quick fixes were needed for here and most of the stuff was thrown out.

A gorgeous Vinea Range Utensil Cup to hold the dish washing tablets
The Linus Pullz Caddy was perfect to store the liquid soaps and hand creams

This K Upright Grocery Bag Holder nifty bin stores the plastic shopping we use as bin liners.


The medicine cupboard above our oven was another place where I found ointments and medications that expired far too long ago to be of any use to anyone. 


Having them stored up high safely away from little hands also meant short asses like me couldn't see up there either to know what was even in there.


We used the Aamina Easy Access Storer With Handle to sort it all into practicals groupings like Kids Cough and Cold medicines, Epi Pens and Emergency Drugs, Vitamins and Ointments, and Prescription Medications.



Alright then now for the Piece-De-Resistance - the Pantry.

As you can see from the before photos - there was absolutely no rhyme or reason to how things were stored in there. Actually there would be when I unpacked the grocery shopping, but by the time the beasts had ravaged the supplies, everything was everywhere.

When I cleared everything out I found that we had 4 cans of chick peas, 5 cans of beetroot and at least 8 cans of baked beans and condensed milk that were years out of date.

The problem was I could not see what was in there, so I would just buy more, because clearly I am just so efficient.


Let's have a look see.
The goal was to remove as much packaging as possible and have everything in child friendly, BPA Free, Air tight and practical storage.

Bulk items were archived to the top shelves and everything sorted into groups e.g. canned goods, baking supplies, pastas & dry goods, and school snacks etc.

Dog food and bird food were decantered into functional storage tins with scoops and a child friendly medical kit with band aids and basic first aid items for accident prone boys was placed at the bottom of the pantry for easy access.


Extra removable shelves and under shelf baskets were used to create extra storage and bam - order was well and truly restored.


Items used in the above pantry photo
5. Dog Food Storage Tin (Black) (code:SSI1359)
6. Bird Seed Storage Tin (code: SSI1361)



Additional items used in the above photo

Now for probably my most favourite pantry solution - the spice organiser. 

Once I threw out the 12 or so totally out of date jars of spices that I couldn't even pronounce let alone spell, we were still left with 16 bottles of spices to store.

It was suggested we combine a Umbra Magnetic Pin Bulletin Board - Large and Magnetic Spice Cans to have a very effective spice storage solution that is conveniently placed on the inside of the pantry door and more importantly not taking up any valuable shelf space.


I died and went to heaven.


Let's have one more look at the pantry before and after shall we .... cause I'm not quite done showing it off yet.



Can you see now why I was practically hyperventilating?????

All of the products used in this makeover are available in store or online at the Howards Storage World Website.

Thank you so much to the fabulous HSW team for once again making me come clean about my deep dark storage catastrophes and coming up with some totally awesome solutions for us.

Now how do you fancy winning a $100 voucher to Howards Storage World to help you tackle any trouble spots?

To be in the running to win, follow the prompts in the Rafflecopter widget below and tell me about the trouble spot you would makeover if you won. If you are a game, post a pic to my Facebook page too :)
The competition is open now and closes 11/11/13 at 7pm AEST.

Good Luck!

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Saturday, 26 October 2013

October Reviews and Giveaways - Winner Takes All!

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***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED***
Thank you for entering and 
CONGRATULATIONS TO CARMEN JAY

We are getting to the pointy end of the year now where you are pretty much guaranteed to get a whiff of Christmas in the aisles as you do the shopping and that old familiar sweat breaks out when your girlfriend's tell you they have just finished their Christmas shopping and you have only gotten as far as choosing the pretty paper to start making your lists on.

But it's only flipping October you tell yourself, before vowing to pick up a copy of  Woman's Weekly and start planning the Christmas menu tonight - right after your alphabetise your Christmas card list....

Wow I think I just dumped all the messy stressy innards cluttering up my brain onto the computer screen.

Sorry if that scared you. Let's move on shall we.

I have some fabulous goodies lined up this month. Now I know I say this EVERY month and that's because that's what I truly think every month. When these products land upon my doorstep I seriously have to control myself as I get so excited at the prospect of securing some of these to give away to you guys too.

So that's how I feel about this month - Damn near beside myself. We have Coffee machines, gorgeous Teepees, Organisational porn and more.

Man you are in for a treat.

Let's do this shall we.





MOCKA Teepees

I brought my boys the Blue and white stripe Teepee from Mocka for Christmas last year and it was one of the best gifts I have ever bought them. They have decorated it with Fairy lights and in summer they set it up as a base by the pool and they spend many a night hanging out in it, eating their dinner and just chatting.

Come winter it is moved inside and loaded up with blankies and cushions and again they curl up in there reading comics and chewing the fat.

The funniest is when they decide to spend the night in it, because although they are very roomy teepees, two little boys, one gangly bigger boy and two dogs who also insist on being a part of the action does not make for a peaceful night's sleep.

The Mocka Teepees are super durable and made from a high quality cotton canvas which is 70% cotton and 30% polyester. They are available in five fabulous colours & styles and retail for $99.00.

The doors have a tie at the bottom on each side for easy entry, and the floor of the teepee has ties on each corner to ensure it is secured nice and tight.

For more production info, assembly details and dimensions click here and stay up to day with the latest goings on, check out their Facebook Page here.

The gorgeous gang at Mocka would like the lucky winner to choose a Teepee for their child. You can choose from any of their designs on the Mocka Website.





Nescafé MINI ME Dolce Gusto Coffee Machine
You know I love coffee right, almost as much as I love a vodka lime and soda. 

OK that's not really true, I love Vodka lime and Soda more. But I do love my couple of morning coffees that transform me from monster to something vaguely human and gives me an excuse to sit quietly for a while and enjoy my list making ritual.

I never thought I was fussy with my coffee, until I started visiting friends who had coffee machines and then suddenly my instant coffee seemed a little um daggy.

I like a machine that doesn't clutter up my kitchen or take up too much space and that is probably one of the things I love most about this cute new machine Mini Me Dolce Gusto from Nescafé.

Nescafé Dolce Gusto was the first-ever capsule coffee system available in Australia to make both hot and cold beverages. The machines are super easy to use and serves up the ultimate hot or cold cuppa in under a minute with no mess.

These are single cup machines that produce the perfect cuppa every time - the combo of Nescafe experience and De'Longhi expertise pretty much guarantees it. 

With 14 different flavour capsules, from Cafe Au Lait to Nestlea Peach and every thing in between, there is a flavour to suit even the fussiest of coffee connoisseurs

The machine RRPs at $149 and is available from Coles and you can get the capsules from most leading supermarkets or online here.

I am so excited to have a NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Mini-me capsule machine to giveaway to the lucky winner of this month's giveaways





MEAD ORGANIZHER Gift Pack

Organisational products are like porn to me.

The look, the smell and the feel of them get me all excited and inspired to be the most organised Martha Mudguts I can be.

The Organizher systems and products are structured enough to get my backside into gear, but still flexible enough to adapt them to suit my family's specific needs.

The products are available at BIG W and you can view the complete range online here.

See that Command Central in the picture above? That gets my heart swooning and one of you are lucky enough to swoon along with me when you win a gorgeous organisation pack from Organizher.

The pack includes a Write and Wipe Monthly Magnetic Chart, a reminder center, password keeper, On The Go Family Planner, Shopping Companion and more, in fact everything in this picture here.


Check out Organizher Australia's Facebook Page here to stay up to date on products and great tips to stay inspired to be more organised.





STICKY GRAM Phone Case


I have a wee addiction to this company and to iPhone cases, so when you combine the two I get a little drunk on all the excitement.

Customised Phone Cases are a very cool idea. They are personal to you and they are such a great conversation started too. I am always gushing over peoples phone covers and you cant get much cooler than a phone case covered in your favourite instagram photos.

My fridge is adorned with the Sticky Gram Fridge Magnets and now my phone is suitably fancied up with my fave pics of my most fave people.

The phone covers cost $34.99 and have free shipping worldwide. They are so easy and quick to order and they arrive in next to no time. Check them out Sticky Gram's website for more info here.

The winner of Today's giveaway will win a voucher to order your very own customised phone cover.





LIFE OF LENNOX Gift Voucher

Last but not least I want to introduce you to the gorgeous kids clothing label - Life of Lennox.

As you know I have one dedicated 6 year old fashionista in this family as well as two others who also love to dress themselves up in cool clothes.

I love to see my boys in clothes that they choose for themselves, outfits that show their personality and are bright and funky, not beige and bland.

Life of Lennox is an online store that source gorgeous threads from all over the world. They have all the latest trends but shrunk down for 0 to 8 year olds. Seriously sooo cute.

You can browse their range online here or follow them on Instagram here.

I have a $25 voucher for the lucky winner to shop for their very own little fashionista and choose some funky threads.


So as per usual - winner takes all the loot and there is some seriously good loot to collect this month from some seriously cool companies.

Don't mince around Ok! Click on the Rafflecopter widget below, follow the prompts and leave me a comment with your best pre-Christmas tip. You could make a serious dent in your Christmas shopping by winning this bundle and if you are anything like me, that should be enough to get you salivating

Competition is open now and closes 8/11/13 at 7pm AEST.

Good Luck!

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