Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Coles Online Click n Collect

I've noticed recently that my grocery bill has been getting larger and larger, and I can honestly say it is because of impulse buys and buying things my kids (and husband!) ask for while we are shopping. When I saw that my local Coles supermarket was now offering a free "Click and Collect" service, I though that it might help me save some money since I would have no choice but to stick to my list!

The service is pretty straightforward to use; you register, giving your postcode, and the site will let you know if you are eligible for a) home delivery (for a $8-$13 cost) or b) for click and connect (free). At this stage, Click and Connect is only available from 4 stores in WA, while their delivery service covers a much wider range. Once registered, you go shopping, as per most online grocery sites. With Coles, you can browse by aisle, or do as I do and use their express list option where you create a list either with generic names such as "milk" (which will bring up all their milk products) or with a more brand specific name such as "Bannister Downs Milk" which brings up just the specific brand I am looking for. You can put a number of items in this list and you just click through the various options. Lastly, all items you order will be placed in a master list, to make reordering easier.

I used Coles' Click and Collect method last week for the first time, and I was very happy with the service. I took me about half and hour to place my order (which is much shorter than what a regular in-store shop would take me!) but it would definitely take much less in future once your master list is set up (updated: tonight's order took just over 10 minutes). For Click and Collect, you can order up until midnight for collection between 9am and 4pm the following day, or up until 11am for delivery the same evening between 4pm and 9pm. When I went to pick up my order, everything was ready to go and they even loaded it into my boot for me.

Unfortunately, when I unpacked my groceries at home, I realised that I was missing 9 (of the same) items (I had ordered 12). However, I rang their customer service number, they apologised and asked me to hold while they made sure my local store had enough stock (I was also offered the option of a credit). I was on hold for just a few minutes before they came back on line and let me know that the items were ready to pick up at my convenience. When I went back to the store later that day, they were very apologetic, and even gave me a box of chocolates to apologise for the inconvenience. So even with the stuff-up, the follow-up service was excellent.

I do want to add that I did not order any fruit or veg (since we have a fruit and veg shop!) so I can't vouch for the quality you would get with these type of products, but I did order milk, juice and meat and all the products had plenty of time left before they would go out of date.  But overall, with the products I ordered, I was very impressed with this service and I think it will definitely become part of my regular routine. It is convenient and free, and I think it has the potential to not only save me a lot of time, but also a lot of money.

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PS: This is not a sponsored post, and I did not receive any compensation, etc for it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Irini's Nursery

I just realised that while I had shown you Stephen's room quite a long time ago, I had never posted pics of Irini's nursery. Since I am sure it won't be a "nursery" for much longer (why does times fly so fast?), I thought it would be best if I posted it sooner rather than later! Like Stephen's room, I wanted to go with something classic that would be easily updated as she gets older. I am just not into cartoon characters or anything too "juvenile" as I think they are just so quickly outgrown. The same goes for furniture - classic pieces in neutral colours will be able to transition to whatever decor the room has as Irini grows up.

 This is the view into Irini's room. The cot is only used for daytime naps since Irini still sleeps with us in our bed at night. The cot used to be Stephen's, and can technically be converted into a toddler bed with one extra part, but since Irini can climb in and out of the cot as it is, we never got around to converting it. 

Her bedding is a mix and match set custom made by Red Plum Linen.  The bedskirt is a classic pink and white stripe and I made the window valance from the same fabric. The bumper is a small floral on one side and a large scale floral on the other, and is trimmed with a pleated ruffle from the striped fabric. I have a couple of sheets - one is a pink and white large check, and the other is the same small floral as the bumper.

Above the cot are a collection of Flower Fairies plates. This pic is a close up of two of them, but you can see the collection better in the first pic with the cot.  I loved the Flower Fairies when I was little, so this was a nostalgic touch for me. I've also collected some other Flower Fairies bits and pieces for when Irini is older. My favourite is a darling china tea set - knowing my luck, by the time she is old enough to play with it, she will have no interest in it at all!

Next to her cot is a large wardrobe from Ikea. I use to store Irini's extra sheets and blankets, books I am collecting for her when she is older (mostly old editions of Enid Blyton novels) and various keepsakes.

These beaded flower tassels just add a cute, feminine touch, don't you think?

As you move around the room back towards the door, I have Irini's chest of drawers, topped with all sorts of pretty, fun things that even at 3 years old, Irini has managed to collect!

The mini armoire has some more Flower Fairies items, and the jewellery box next to it is keeping her growing jewellery collection safe. The carousel horse, fairy snow dome and Disney Fairies mirror are favourite birthday presents, and I often find her quietly playing with them in her room. She is very careful with all of them and really treats them like treasures.

These little flower pots were decorations saved from her Christening. I made them from mini enamel buckets and silk flowers and I love that not only do they add a pretty touch to her room, they are also a memory of a very special day.

The rose prints are from an rose calendar I picked up on clearance a few years ago for no other reason than the roses looked so gorgeous. I trimmed them to fit some bargain frames I got at Ikea and then painted gloss white. This was a very quick and easy way to really finish off Irini's room. And when she doesn't like them any more, they will definitely be finding a spot in my (future) craft room!

On the other other side of the door, near Irini's closet, is her change table (no longer used as such!) which I use for clothes storage. Above the table is a memo board covered in the large scale floral that's on the cot bumper.

 At the moment I use the board to hold her hair clips, but when she gets older, Irini will be able to use it for notes, photos, homework etc.

 Next to the change table is a bedside table that I have had for over a decade. On it are her collection of favourite stuffed toys, including the rag doll I made for her a couple of Christmas' ago. I picked up the lamp a while ago as well, at a local craft fair. It is absolutely gorgeous, full of beading and silk and velvet flowers.

Finally, on the outside of her door is her initial. This matches her name that is above her bed, and is white wood on a pink gingham background. I ordered these from a Canadian boutique that is no longer around, but I have seen different versions around. I also think they would be quite easy to make yourself, as well.

So there you have Irini's nursery. I really don't think it will stay this way for long, as I am planning to get her a "big girl" bed in the near future, and I will probably take that opportunity to redo her room, at least a little!

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Natural Hayfever Remedies

I don't know what is going on this year, but for the last two months I have been suffering from the worst hayfever and sinus issues for as long as I can remember. I have just started following a three-pronged approach to try and solve my issues with some natural hayfever remedies.

Firstly, I am taking a tablespoon of raw, local honey daily. The idea behind this is that the local honey will contain small amounts of pollen found in my local area, and this will help to desensitise my immune system. It is really important that the honey is a) local, and b) raw and unfiltered.

Secondly, I am finally starting to use a neti pot to wash out my sinuses. My doctor has been recommending using one for a long time, but the thought of it just grossed me out. Basically, you pour salted water into one nostril, it runs through your sinuses, and exits out the other nostril. Gross, right? But, oh my goodness, it works! It is meant to help rehydrate the mucous membranes, and rinse out any pollen or allergens that you have breathed in. I use 1 teaspoon of salt in about half a litre of water.

Lastly, I made up a batch of hayfever tea, and am drinking a cup a day throughout the hayfever season, up to 3 cups a day if my symptoms are particularly bad.  This tea will keep for quite a while, especially if kept in a dark place. To make it up, I used equal parts of the following dried herbs:

Elderflower - noted for soothing both inflammation and the respiratory tract.
Yarrow (flowers) - also used for its anti-inflammatory effects
Nettle (leaves) - used for treating allergies
Chamomile (flowers) - a great all-rounder, used this time for its anti-inflammatory and immune boosting effects
Peppermint (leaves) - it's a great decongestant, and breathing in the steam from the tea takes advantage of its essential oils which are great for sinusitis.
Lemon Balm (leaves) - I mostly used this as a flavouring herb, but also for its cooling properties.

Use 1-2 tsps in a mug of near-boiling water, and steep for 10 minutes before drinking.

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Disclaimer: Content on this site is for information only. You should not use this site as a substitute for professional medical advice. For serious ailments, or if symptoms persist, you must see a medical professional.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Summer Holiday Capsule Wardrobe

I've just come back from a lovely holiday to Phuket, Thailand, and again, I used my capsule wardrobe strategy. While I would love to travel like days of yore, with steamer trunks full of divine fashion, given that it is me and my husband carting our luggage around, and not some unfortunate porter or servant, travelling light is definitely the way to go!

Phuket is basically a tropical island, so the plan was to take lightweight clothes that are cool in high humidity.  While you could probably get away with fewer clothes than I took, I am not a fan of humidity and like to change at least twice a day, especially if we've been sightseeing and are hot and sweaty. I also handwashed some of my items while we were away and everything I took was able to be handwashed and airdryed without needing an iron after.

The first step when creating a capsule wardrobe, whether for holidays or everyday life, is to decide on a colour palette. It is pretty essential to limit each capsule to 2-3 main colours, so that all your pieces mix and match, and I personally prefer to limit prints to just one or two pieces; this is not strictly necessary, if you select your prints carefully.  For this holiday, I chose a palette of black and white, with accents of wood and gold. While black and white is not traditionally associated with a tropical island holiday, I decided on those colours since black is flattering to my (currently) larger size, and the white, wood and gold helps to lighten it up somewhat.

Summer Holiday Capsule Wardrobe

This is a mix of the actual garments, and some representations for the pics I couldn't find on polyvore. The pants (both from Flower) are both made from a fabric called cupro, a man-made from natural materials fibre that looks and feels like washed silk, but doesn't really crush and is super breathable. Even the long pants were very comfortable to wear in the heat and humidity. The two dresses from TS14+ are layered over a sleeveless tank dress (shown underneath). The black and white dress is a satiny material that also doesn't crush, while the solid black crushes easily but looks even better crushed. The underdress is made from a great breathable fabric so feels lovely and cool and (TMI alert!) wicks away the sweat. The last basics were three light vests, one in a very loose weave knit in a greyish natural colour, and two mesh-type fabrics, one white, one black. I love that Eileen Fisher-style layering, and have been doing that a lot lately. I find it so flattering, and the vests are almost an accessory on their own. These three are so light weight that they don't feel like you are wearing an extra layer. The one other item above is the black long-sleeved tee which I wore on the plane there and back, since I always seem to feel chilly up in the air.
Accessories for Summer Holiday Capsule

These are the accessories (or similar) that I brought along with me. I mostly wore the horn and the wood bangles during the day, while the gold cuff added a glam but not over-the-top element to evening outfits. I also brought along my favourite House of Harlow cocktail ring, made from black leather and gold.  I can honestly say that every man in my life hates this ring, but I love it! t would probably fit in well on The Man Repeller! The black sandals are the comfiest sandals I have ever owned, and these were worn every single day of the trip, from walks on the beach, to hanging around the resort, to riding on elephants! The beaded sandals (mine were from Talbots last season, and the leather was a metallic champagne colour) were great for evening - like the cuff, I think they add a touch of casual sophistication, especially when worn with the dresses or the cropped pants. I interchanged between the scarf and the wooden beaded necklace. The scarf was a very light cotton voile so didn't feel too hot in the heat. For the bags, I bought my trusty Marc by Marc Jacobs nylon tote as it is very light weight, but fits heaps and heaps in it. I reminds me a lot of Mary Poppins carpetbag - I can just keep pulling things out, which is always a good thing when travelling with young children!  The last thing I brought with me was a black and natural coloured clutch. Mine was a bit more structured than the one above and also had a long chain strap. I found this clutch so useful around the resort - it fit my phone, some makeup and our room key and was much more convenient than my larger bag when I didn't need all our "stuff".

So there you have my summer holiday capsule wardrobe. This was a great capsule and worked really, really well while we were away, so it will definitely be in regular rotation once the warmer weather hits here in Oz.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Laundry Room Makeover

I am ashamed to say that this WAS the state of my laundry room, and, if I'm perfectly honest, the state of most of my house. This is a symptom of why I haven't been blogging lately; I really just lost motivation to do much of anything at all, whether it was blogging, housework, cooking, even looking after myself! Finally, though, I kinda snapped out of it and the first step on my agenda was a laundry room makeover. Because, let's be real; I spend an awful lot of time in there, so it may as well be a pleasant place to be!

So back to the laundry...not only was the mess extremely off-putting (I mean, come on, laundry is bad enough without having to look at that mess the whole time), but it made my job so much harder. I was always tripping over things, I couldn't find things, and getting to things in the cupboards was nigh on impossible. So the first (obvious) step was decluttering. I started by taking literally everything that could be moved out of the laundry. Every piece of clothing, every bottle, jar and box, every small appliance and every bit of junk (and there was a lot of junk!) came out of the laundry and into my dining room. As I was pulling things out, I put things that didn't belong back to where they did belong, and started three piles - things to go back in, things to give away, and things to be binned. Can you guess which was the largest pile?

I then cleaned every single surface, including behind the washer and dryer. I wish I had thought to take some pictures of that, because let me tell you, the amount of dust and lint behind there was scary. Talk about a fire waiting to happen. If I can give you one bit of advice, it would be to check behind your washer and dryer!

Once everything came out, and the laundry room was clean, it was time to start putting the things that should be in the laundry back in. One great thing about going green in the laundry is that the amount of products going back into my laundry is tiny. It was literally one container of soapnuts, a small basket of wool dryer balls, a container of non-chlorine bleach and some stain remover, placed into a small fabric lined basket and stored in the cupboard under the sink. I still had a lot of old products left over, like regular detergent, fabric softener etc, so these went to my MIL who hasn't jumped (and probably never will) onto the eco-bandwagon.

The linen closet has never been used as a linen closet since I prefer to store my linens in their room of eventual use. That is, sheets/pillowcases in the bedroom, towels in the bathroom etc. I just find that system so much easier than one central location. This is especially true for the kids' linens, because as all you mothers know, you always need to change sheets quickly in the middle night, whether due to illness or "accidents", so having direct access is wonderful. Since I'm not using it for linen, I decided to use it for my less-used small appliances like the ice-cream maker, waffle maker and deep fryer, as well as for my growing collection of vases and seasonal home decor. I also put my collection of baking trays and tins here since I don't have a lot of storage for these in my kitchen. Lastly, I'm temporarily storing my sewing machine and serger here as well, until I fully set up a craft room (long term project). If you look closely at the pic above, you'll see I placed them on an old scooter board of the kids. This makes it so easy to pull out from the bottom of the cupboard, saving my back.

Next, I rejigged the layout of the room. The giant laundry basket (from Elfa, and one of the best things I have ever bought) used to jut out into the middle of the room and a) made it look really cramped, and b) was always in my way. After realising that I will hardly ever open both of the linen closet doors I moved the basket in front of one of the doors. I can still open the other door for regular access (this is the side I put the baking tins), and the basket is on wheels so it's easy to move if I need to open both doors. Before the move, I could not have imagined what I difference it would make. My laundry room honestly looked double the size.

I used to store my large indoor drying rack (another great buy, especially since the mass of green passionfruit vine you can see in the above pic is actually on top of my outdoor washing line!) in the space next to the washer and dryer, but that made it really hard to keep that area clean, and the rack picked up all the lint that comes out of the dryer. I stuck some of my favourite 3M Command stick-on hooks behind the laundry door, and the rack is now hanging nice and securely and out-of-the-way. My trusty steam mop also moved from the space next to the dryer (for the same reasons as the rack) and now has its own spot where the laundry basket used to be. I then added a white wicker basket on top of the laundry basket to gather the lonely lost socks that always seem to appear, until they can be paired up again.

Finally, the fun part - it was time to prettify the room! Above my bench and sink was an expanse of wall crying out for some artwork. I found these delightful vintage style prints from Mandy Lynne at her Etsy store and custom framed them myself using the amazing Here are some close ups of these great prints - it truly makes me happy just looking at them! And I apologise for the atrocious iPhone photos...

So there you have my laundry room makeover. It's not quite finished yet - I plan to make a cloth cover for the laundry basket so all our dirty laundry (and there always seems to be some!) is under wraps - but for now, it looks so much better and is so much more functional.

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