Friday, 31 August 2012

A Mac update + Friday Features

Week One with my new iMac is coming to a close, and I would just like to say WHAT. A. DIFFERENCE. This PC girl is converted. Of course, any new computer is going to be super fast, but I think Photoshop and Lightroom just run better on here than they ever would have on my laptop. I am editing at lightning speed, and it's easier to not get distracted by my phone and the Internet when I'm not constantly waiting on one program or another to decide it would like to respond in a timely manner. So far my verdict on the Mac purchase is: Best investment ever. 

There are lots of little intuitive things I'm discovering about the Mac, which I suspected I would. It is smooth like butter, and my quality of life zoomed through the roof this week. If a computer can do that for you, then it's worth its weight in gold.

Anyway. Here's some cool ladies to keep you busy this weekend. Check 'em out.

* * * * *

Oh how I love me some Becky and her blog, Apples of Gold. Becky is a breath of fresh air--open, honest, a fabulous writer, a mom, a wife, and a New Yorker turned California girl. I love this post she wrote about the reality of marriage. Please, do yourself a favor and go read a little more about her here!

* * * * *

Charlottote’s Web is a blog by, you guessed it, a girl named Charlotte! Charlotte is a funny chick with a dry sense of humor (my favorite) (go here and see what I mean), and she resides across the pond in England with live-in cats and a bunny and a boyfriend. I'm looking forward to her current top 10 series! Go on over and see what Charlotte's Web is all about.

* * * * *

Kerry keeps a beautiful blog called Throw You A Rose, and I promise if you delve into it a bit, you'll be hooked! Kerry is a wonderful, witty writer that paints a really lovely picture with words. PLEASE read this post! That is just a little sample of the kind of goodness you can expect from miss Kerry. Go. You will love her.

* * * * *

Happy Friday, folks.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

To do list and the dream list at my house

Sometimes I have to remind myself that this house is only 9 months old and we have achieved a lot already.  So many projects still to do, finishing touches to find, and tasks to finish.   With a limitless budget this would all be done in a flash(note to self "buy lottery ticket").  Failing the lottery we are doing a lot of the work ourselves, making our dollars stretch where they can.  It can be frustrating because it takes longer, but it is satisfying to do something ourselves.    
This is some of what is on my to do and dream lists at the moment:
- order these hooks for hanging towels at the poolside (via abodent)
- look out for long narrow table for bedroom, love the oversize mirrors (via Etcekodeco)
- plant wisteria to catch the season as it turns
- could this (finally) be the light for our dining room or entrance? (via Shelterholic)
- find reasonably priced cobbles so we can finish the driveway

Setting realistic goals:
With Little Miss J in tow things take longer than I would like and its easy to get frustrated.  Ashley from She Makes a Home wrote a brilliant post this week on the importance of setting realistic goals, of coming to terms with the interruptions that come with having a young family.  Ashley was talking about working from home, but it resonates strongly with my desire to get things done, and the frustration of not being able to do everything I want to.  

I would make long to do lists and then get so frustrated when a week went by with nothing accomplished.  The length of the lists were overwhelming, seeing the same tasks week after week demoralising.

I had an epiphany:

  • make a list but divide tasks into necessary, urgent, important & nice to do (yes yes you have heard it before)
  • do the necessary and urgent first and as soon in the week as possible.  Once they are done you get to move onto the fun stuff.
  • schedule in the important, like bills and emails, so you don't get behind.
  • choose one nice to do task each week, yes only one, and focus on getting it done.

On my list above, only the wisteria and the cobbles are important, all the rest are nice to have's or dreams.  It takes the pressure off knowing I only have two things to focus on, and if things go pear shaped this week neither are even important and I can let them go.
Sharing my dreams here helps too, putting the thoughts and images into a post stops them racing around my head.  Also I won't lose track of my ideas and thoughts.

One week I focused on getting the washing line set up.  Sounds crazy but it's a lot of little jobs: finding the drill, two trips to the hardware to get the right size drill bits and screws, finding the position of the wall supports, measuring the correct height, assembling the thing from the pathetic instructions.  At the end of the week the line was up, task firmly crossed off the list forever.  I had to laugh when I read Mia's post at Number-Nineteen on Monday, she is also celebrating the convenience of a new washing line.

This week it has been all about getting the children's clothes sorted as the seasons change.
I have done the sorting but the neatly labeled bundles are still sitting on the table until I buy a new plastic crate to store them in.  It all takes time, it will be done by Sunday.

At Hillside Farmacy

First of all, I would just like to say WOW on the response to yesterday's post. Writing it was sort of an afterthought late Tuesday night--the product of being fed up with myself and my habits, and just wanting to get it all out there for accountability's sake. I didn't realize that so, so many of us are struggling with the exact same thing. How awesome that we can be more aware now, and take steps towards "reform!" I am trying out some new techniques this morning. I prayed and meditated on the day to come instead of checking my phone as I had my coffee, and now I have more of a "game plan" for the day written out in list form. Also, my phone is turned on completely silent and stowed away in my desk drawer for now (only to be checked after I complete tasks), and I have an old fashioned, ticking timer beside me on the desk to remind me how much time I'm allotting for certain things. We'll see how today goes! We can do this!


On another note, yesterday my mom and I visited a new joint in town called Hillside Farmacy, which is a way cool, converted old pharmacy turned restaurant on the east side. It was SO fabulous! Pretty much a blogger/photographer's dream, with lots of fun things to take pictures of. (and the food was awesome, too!)

There were salvaged old pharmacy cabinets and drawers still complete with their antique drug labels, framed old prescription slips, mason jars, old fashioned milk bottles, and... well, I'll let the photos do the talking. If you're in Austin, you simply MUST stop in this place. I highly recommend the Watermelon Salad and the Mac & Cheese. To die for.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Day Has Finally Come!

If all goes as planned I'll be having my baby girl tomorrow! Since Josh is a pilot and he has a crazy schedule I've elected to have an induction and as long as the hospital doesn't fill up the plan is to go in tomorrow morning. 

This is me a week and half ago. I am so ready to be done! 

It's so funny when I look back on that awful first trimester and I literally thought the day would never come that I would be done being pregnant. But here I am! I'm really anxious and excited at the same time. I've been spending the last few days getting ready. My diaper bag is all packed and ready to take to the hospital. The nursery is just about done...

I'm having the amazing Jessica Kettle photograph a birth story for me which I am ecstatic about. She does such a beautiful job and I can't wait to share the pictures with you. 

As for my blog...

I have lots of great guest posters ready for you and I'll be keeping up with Feature Fridays don't you worry. I'll also be posting here and there as I feel up to it. Jett's room was photographed last week so stay tuned for that reveal. 

Wish me luck! 

My blog gave me ADD

there's a reason my hair isn't in this picture.

This here little blog's birthday is coming up next month, and I would like to reflect for a moment upon what the last two years of addiction to passion for blogging and social media have done for me.

Besides all of the wonderful things, which I would not like to discuss here today, the birth of this blog and hence my deep immersal into all things Internet and Social Media related has given me one gnarly, gnarly case of ADD. Now that I am launching my own business, I'm realizing more than ever just how severe the case really is as I try to get legit, people-are-paying-me-to-do-this-work work done.

I used to be able to concentrate sometimes. I used to be able to spend more than 10 consecutive minutes on one project, or heck, one THOUGHT. That is no longer the case. Most of the time I feel like there are 4 million thoughts bouncing around my head all at the same time, and an even greater number of overall distractions when I'm trying to work on something.

Phone calls. Emails. Texts from friends. Twitter.  Facebook. Instagram. The four tabs I have open on Chrome or Safari. My mom FaceTiming me since now we both have iMacs and she knows I'm always on my computer. ;)  (love you Mom.) I actively participate in all kinds of communication media, but I'm also addicted to the feedback,  which prevents me from just setting it down and concentrating on what I need to concentrate on, whether that's cleaning my house, tackling my inbox, editing photos, or making progress on some other project.

It. Is. Bad. I find myself having very few original thoughts anymore. Or really, very few real thoughts at all, because I don't even allow myself time to just sit and be. Red stop light? What a perfect time to check my email or Facebook or Instagram or return a text. Toilet break? Same deal. Cooking dinner? The phone is nearby, you can bet your behind on it. Bed time? Excellent opportunity to read blogs! Alarm just went off in the morning? Why don't I wake my mind by skimming some emails. I cram information into every iota of time in my day, but is it really even information, or is it just mindless consumption of pictures and text? I think it's more the latter, and like I said, also a way to feed my addiction to feedback. Holy crap, I just wrote that sentence and then clicked over to Facebook to see if there was anything interesting going on. ADD, I tell you. The Internet did it to me.

Sometimes I imagine how incredibly productive I could be if I focused on one and only one task at a time. Left my phone downstairs while I'm working, or just turned it face down on silent.  Prayed in the car, instead of checking my email at every light. I even listen to audio books on long drives now--I told my mom it's so I don't have to be alone with my thoughts. Ha. But what if we do? What if we all just leave ourselves alone with our thoughts for a while? Close the other tabs. Turn down the music. What would happen? Would our writing be better? Would we have more time for the people we love? Would we feel happier, and more fulfilled? I think it'd be worth a try, anyway.

One last thing. Back when I was doing all my pre-reqs in college, I had to take two torturous algebra classes. Had to. No choice. And as someone who has always been much more of a creative, writer type, these classes were extremely challenging for me, as all math classes always were. But the thing about math and numbers is that you are absolutely FORCED to concentrate (if you want an A, anyway). And I did want an A. So I studied harder than I'd ever studied for anything else in my life, because everything else came easily for me. But math--not math. I spent hours every night pouring over my homework, sometimes crying over it, but my brain was getting the most incredible workout of its life, and towards the end of my second semester of Algebra, which was the far more challenging one, I felt like my mind was razor sharp. I can't even really explain it, but it's an experience that I'd never had before. That razor sharpness translated into every other aspect of my life. It was awesome.

All that to say, I now feel the complete and utter opposite of sharp. I feel like a blunt object. The sword I once was versus the fat plastic baseball bat I am now.  And I don't like it. I want my brain back. I want to still be able to enjoy reading blog comments and participating in social media and sometimes check my email throughout the day, but I think I may have to come up with some ground rules for myself, and then keep them.

So now it's a quest, and you're welcome to join me. A quest to ditch the ADD, and sharpen up again. What if we were all more intentional with our time and even our thoughts?  What if we started each day by meditating and praying quietly with our coffee, instead of zombie-ing out over Instagram and Facebook for iPhone (or whatever your vices may be, at whatever time of day). I think positive change in the future starts simply by visualizing that change--seeing it vividly in your imagination. Focusing on it... focusing on something! Cutting out the proverbial fat.

We'll get there, people.

Alana In Love art giveaway

In honor of hump day, I have a sweet art giveaway for you, courtesy of a wonderful little shop called Alana In Love. Heard of it? Alana hand paints these pieces in beautiful writing, and even offers custom artwork, though I think this ready-made one is my favorite. Appropriate, no?

I envision these pieces matted and framed in a nursery, a bedroom, an office, or given as a sweet gift, and if you're interested in winning the artwork of your choice (either something in the shop or a custom piece), enter in below...

To Enter:
(only mandatory entry—and please leave your email address if it’s not on your Blogger profile)
Visit the Alana In Love shop and leave a comment here with the piece you’d like to win.

Extra entries:
(all represented by separate comments)
+ Follow Alana's blog on GFC or Bloglovin’
+ Like Alana in Love on Facebook
+ Follow Alana on Twitter (the account is private because she's a teacher, but you will be approved!)
+ Like Story of My Life on Facebook
+ Pin a photo from the shop to one of your Pinterest pages and leave the link in a comment
Good luck!

* * * * *

And the winner of the Threads giveaway is…

Congrats to Alyssa! :) I'll be touch!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Piet Oudolf inspiration again

I am a huge fan of Piet Oudolf's gardens, wild and textured and colourful.  In the nursery today I spotted a beautiful Lomandra Lime wave grass and it reminded me of this Piet Oudolf picture below.
Photo via Flickr, if anybody knows the original source let me know
I have already planted these exact salvias (Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna' which I managed to source from Lambley Nursery) but the Sesleria grass I have seen in Sydney has been a little drier and browner.  I like the zestiness of this green, I don't want brown.  The Lime wave (bottom left) may be a great solution.  Plus it is hardy enough to survive the plant love of Little Miss J, as well as being an Aussie native and very drought tolerant. Tick tick tick - this is the one!
I will have the gorgeous crocus towards the front (center above) and the Sedum Autumn Harvest (above right) coming up every now and then.  It could work!  I am itching to get to the nursery and get planting!!  Its so lovely to have a garden again!

Healthy Couscous Salad (with fresh veggies and chicken)

I am always looking for easy, fresh, delicious, and easy recipes. Especially easy. This one requires a bit of prep/chopping, but other than that, it's a breeze. One of those dishes you can make a massive batch of and eat for lunches all week, or even serve as a main dish with some yummy garlic bread. On Friday last weekend, my mom and I made a HUGE (no really--it was HUGE!) bowl of this stuff, and Matthew and I ate it with pretty much every meal for three days. This is great because a) I hardly had to cook all weekend, especially lunches and b) my husband was happy as a clam to have a delicious and healthy meal in the fridge at all times--doesn't even require microwaving. She's a keeper! :)

Healthy Couscous Salad (with fresh veggies and chicken)

1 box of Far East original couscous (cook according to package directions)
2 large chicken breasts or breast meat from a rotisserie chicken (may be omitted to make a vegetarian dish)
1 large tomato, diced
1 small red onion, diced (red onions are strong, so use however much you're comfortable with)
1 small cucumber or half a large cucumber, diced
Chopped cilantro to taste
1/4 cup Hidden Valley Ranch dressing (or just use your favorite dressing. I think Zesty Italian would be great in this, too.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook couscous according to package directions and set aside. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook in a non stick pan with a little bit of cooking spray, then chop into small pieces (remove any crispy or burned spots). Or better yet, use the meat of a juicy rotisserie chicken! Set aside to cool. Chop all veggies. Now throw all ingredients into a large bowl, and add dressing to taste. You don't want it to be drenched in the dressing, so be sparing. Add in a little salt and pepper to taste, and refrigerate. Serve cold as a main dish or a side dish. Enjoy!

Plum Street Prints iPad Case Giveaway

If you have heard of Plum Street Prints then you know about the great selection of iPhone cases they carry. 

I love all their patterns! 
Plum Street Prints is excited about the launch of their newest product - iPad Padfolio cases! These cases are great because they protect your iPad in a stylish way while also being very functional and professional. They really are great looking! They can be customized with almost any of Plum Street Print designs. 

Each iPad case has a custom-made design printed onto a Scotchguarded fabric , with a leather binding. They are available for iPad 1, 2, and 3 models.

Check out to see the new Padfolio iPad cases along with the best-selling custom iPhone cases. Plum Street Prints has been featured by fashion experts Blair Eadie (of Atlantic-Pacific), Suze Yalof-Schwartz,, and "The Look" on

And one lucky 6th Street Design School reader will win one of these lovely cases by entering the giveaway here! To enter you must:
1) Leave a comment noting which design you'd like if you won AND
2) Follow Plum Street Prints on Facebook (

This giveaway will end Tuesday September 4th. 

Monday, 27 August 2012

Quinoa and kale. Do you?

I am giving this "clean eating" business a go... Well trying to anyway :)
Asparagus, zucchini, red capsicum, spring onion, quinoa, kale chips and smoked salmon

Store bought pancakes *shy*, nutella, ice cream, strawberries and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Deep fried tempura prawns *shy*, kale chips, sweet potato chips, brussel sprouts & white *shy* rice

Add caption

This Just In

This weekend Matthew and I watched part of a show called 101 Gadgets That Changed The World (or something like that), and I felt like such a techy geek because of how excited it made me. I. LOVE. TECHNOLOGY. I love computers. I love cameras. I love smart phones. I love radio. I love all gadgets that make life easier and better and keep you connected to the world, and keep you telling stories. I’m sure most people my age can relate, because we are children of the technology age, aren’t we? I’m pretty sure my kids are going to pop out with iPhones in their chubby little baby hands—it’s just adaptation and evolution, you know? Except minus the monkeys and stuff. YOU might have come from a monkey, but I didn’t. ;)   (I kid)

Point is, nothing makes me more excited than my technology. And I’ve known a computer upgrade was in my future for some time now. With blogging and photography and social media as a business and a passion, it seemed to make sense to go for the gold when it comes to my computer. So I’ve been saving my pennies all summer, and yesterday I bit the bullet and bought me a shiny new iMac. IT IS BEAUTIFUL.


I’m expecting a bit of a learning curve since this is the first Mac I’ve ever owned, but that’s OK. I’ll catch on quickly. What are your thoughts on Mac vs. PC? Photographers out there—do you think it’s better for editing, etc? Tell me what I want to hear, people. I just spent a small fortune on this beast…   ;)

Happiest of Mondays to you!

Don't you love.....getting organised

I spent the whole day sorting the girls wardrobes, yes I know it sounds boring, but I enjoyed it.  When the seasons change I enjoy having a big tidy, unpacking the cupboards, sorting out what no longer fits, what will be put away, what will be passed on, what is simply worn out.

I have a little trick to keep it all tidy:  

1.  Sort clothes that will be kept by age.

2.  Fold neatly and stack into bundle.

3.  Use string to tie bundle securely.

4.  Write appropriate age or size onto label. 

5.  Tie label onto parcel with ends of string.

If I was really Martha Stewart I would have some gorgeous home made labels like these, just waiting for this very moment.  But since I am not I use the left over Christmas gift tags.

Its a satisfying task to complete. 
Tomorrow I am going to tackle the garage and see if I can unpack the last remaining boxes from our move six months ago.

Scissor string & spool set by Father Rabbit
Scalloped tags via LD Craft Supplies
Colourful tags via Little Paper Farmhouse

Sunday, 26 August 2012

MINUSCULE TV SERIES.... for you and your kids

Do you know these little guys yet?  If not I may just be saving your sanity, because I don't know about you, but I can't do Dora baby, not one more time.  

Introducing the teeny tiny bug eye-view world of Minuscule.  Made of course by the French, I don't imagine French children listen to the Wiggles, or High Five. Non Non!
Its cartoon, but not as you know it:
-the backdrop is real gorgeous France, very pretty,
-no dialogue, no irritating sugary squeaky voices, just very cute sound effects & simple instrumental music,
-each episode is about 4 minutes long, long enough to finish dinner, unpack the drier, drink a cup of tea in peace.  Need I say more?  Give it a try.The baby is obsessed, she clutches the remote and presses every button in the hope that "mmmmiiiii" will magically appear.  The rest of us think the baby and the show is funny too.

Tell me what you think, because in a perfect world the kids don't watch tv, but in the real world they sometimes do.  Any other  recommendations will be gratefully received.

A new dining room (+ more)

Checking in with a quick weekend update!

Starting with our sunroom.

Back when a little storm named Beryl rolled through and our patio furniture was forced to seek shelter inside, we had a casualty:

Truth be told, our sunroom has been rugless ever since.

I was seriously considering going with a FLOR rug, mainly from a practical standpoint. I was digging the neutral woven look of the 'Look Both Ways' pattern in Grey:

But the total came to $170 shipped for a 5x7, which isn't the cheapest solution.

Then I found this charcoal beauty from Rugs USA...

I was mesmerized. And at the time it was 35% off with free shipping for a total of $145 shipped (after you entered the coupon code).

To narrow things down, I did a quick photoshop:

I think either would have been a perfectly acceptable solution, but I was still drawn to the charcoal.

Before I made my final decision, a Rugs USA groupon miraculously appeared and I was sold:

$90 for $235 worth of rug? Count me in. With my Upromise cash back program it was technically only $85.

Then when I went to purchase the rug, I found out the price had dropped even further, making my total exactly $235.

$0. Scoooooooore. The only stipulation—it's on backorder for another month. But I figure we've waited this long already, so what's another month? I'm anxiously awaiting its arrival.

Next order of business...

We bought a boat.

Well, sort of. Brad's coworker's mom happens to be our neighbor and had an old paddle boat stored away in her garage that she was willing to donate to us. Yay, a free boat....

Not entirely.

It was in pretty bad shape, and first had to be pressurewashed....

We have since named her the 'Shrimp Po Boy'

We then had to spend over $100 on seats and miscellaneous hardware to dock it. It's also leaking so we have to fix that next. And so the perils of boat ownership begin... I am not thrilled with this scenario but I can't deny Brad his toys.

Here it is all ready to be launched:

Our smart car makes it look like a beast, ha.

We took it on her maiden voyage in our backyard pond the other night, which I have to admit was fun. It was neat seeing our house from a new perspective:

Currently the boat is lying upside down against the fence. We'll see if it ever even gets used again... sigh.

And finally, I am excited to start on a new project that has been bugging me for a while. The dining nook.

There were a couple spots where the paint had chipped and I tried to fill it in with the new can of paint but it didn't match (remember when I had to repaint the foyer because of this? Yep, same thing here).

See the color difference where I painted over a patch? Not going to fly.

This time around though, I wanted to spruce it up. I've been eyeing wallpaper/stencils for many months but never figured out a good area to try it out in, and this seemed like the perfect space for my first attempt.

After weighing my options, I finally settled upon this pattern:

I loved the simplicity and elegance (and of course the fact that it kinda matches my new sunroom rug).

It comes with the ceiling and single piece, which I thought was necessary.

I purchased from, and found a 20% off code (no longer active) which brought my total to around $40 shipped. Yes, I could have DIY'd, but I think that would have been a nightmare. I don't trust myself to freehand something of this caliber and have it turn out the same. $40 is worth it! Especially since I can re-use it in my next house.

The one somewhat annoying part about this type of stencil is that your current wall color will be the line color, and you'll essentially have to repaint most of the walls again. I wanted my background color to be what it currently was with white lines, so I had to repaint everything white first.

Crappy iphone in progress shot...

And here it is now after a few coats:

The good thing about this is that no one will notice if the area where the lines are painted is 100% coated in paint. You can see I have some minor patchy areas where the paint didn't completely cover, but once the main color goes up you won't be able to tell.

Case in point is this hand painted DIY stencil from Jones Design Company...

Looks great, right? She hand painted it using just one coat of white paint...

But you can't even tell from a distance.

I'm hoping my dining room will have a similar look once its finished. I think it will be a fun change to our currently plain-walled home.

The stencil should be arriving within the next few days so hopefully I'll have a weekend update with the results.

I also have new plans for this wall on the right...

This Martini sign caught my eye while on Pinterest and sparked some ideas. I've also discovered a new technique for DIY sign-making, so I'm super excited about this next project.


Be back next time with some dining room progress!