Wear Green for Premature Birth Day

Today was a strange day for me…it’s a very special day, Wear Green for Premature Birth day. Being a mum to twins born at 29+2 weeks, I try to take every opportunity I can to give thanks for the fact that my babies are home and this day makes me stop and think about how far they’ve come.

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Pineapples, green singlet and green shoes…happy Green for Premmies Day!

A friend and I hosted a morning tea at the hospital that cared for our premature babies today.  We decided that we would do it a year ago and was fantastic that our schedules were good, my sister could look after my five kids and that neither of us were sick so that it all came together.  It was so nice to go in, bring coffee and tea, snacks and lollies, and see the doctors and nurses who looked after our twins for the time that they were in hospital.

Walking in the door, seeing the NICU units and hearing the all too familiar ‘beep beep’ of the machines brought back a flood of memories. Seeing some of the nurses again made me teary. Thinking about and talking about how far they’ve come with those that remember us was a happy feeling. It was like I was riding that roller coaster all over again.

I’ve been back a few times since the babies were born, my little guy has had many follow up appointments since his birth but for some reason today felt a little different. I think I felt a little more in tune with what was going on around me as I didn’t have the twins with me to take up my attention. The weirdest feeling was hearing a tiny prem baby cry and feeling like I was getting ready to feed, it’s been almost a year since I did that but I sure recognised the feeling! They brought in a new mum to twins to come have a talk to me today, I made sure I said congratulations as it’s, amazingly, something that people are afraid to say to someone going through NICU. It’s such an overwhelming feeling for everyone involved.  I assured her that her milk output was enough, told her how I helped increase mine, that eventually things would be more ‘normal’ and that she was doing a wonderful job. All I wanted to do was give her a hug, I didn’t even know her but, well, I just can’t describe what I felt looking at her and seeing myself when I was in her shoes.

So, if you can, pop on some green or just spare a thought for the parents and families going through a very stressful time at the moment with their babies as well as the doctors and nurses who care for them.

A few quick stats…

– Approximately 25,000 babies are born prematurely in Australia each year, and

– About 44,000 babies will require care from a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) or SCN (Special Care Nursery) in Australia each year.

– Please visit http://www.lilaussieprems.com.au for information or to contribute.

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Yummy treats for the doctors, nurses and parents at the hospital.

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Easter Decorations and Inspirations…

I’ve been scouring the internet and some of my favourite blogs to see which Easter decorations we’re going to try this year…so far these ones have certainly caught my eye and will be attempted in the lead up!

I love the Strawberry Mommycakes blog, there are always such cute printables and yummy recipes. I really do spend a lot of time there and these printables certainly look like a fairly easy craft to do with the kids…I don’t have a Silhouette machine so will be tediously cutting these out by hand, worth it though for the cuteness factor!

http://strawberrymommycakes.com/2014/03/25/mr-mrs-egg-head-easter-printables/

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Another option are these…although I was hoping to do it with real eggs, these are so cute that I’m willing to move on and do these instead. Not Martha is another favourite of mine and partly because the next post covers my initial request and I can pretty much find most things I’m after here, how can you not love it?!

http://www.notmartha.org/tomake/papiermacheeastereggs/

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Here is the real egg version, I would love to do these but somehow not use the cupcake paper cups…maybe washi tape over the part of the egg you’ve removed? No idea, I’ll post my after to show you what I decided…but still, these are so bright and the kids would love them!

http://www.notmartha.org/archives/2010/04/01/easter-surprise-eggs-the-easy-version/

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And last, but certainly not least is another of my absolute favourites…I Heart Nap-Time. This blog never fails to delight me. This is certainly the triple threat of blogs for me. Gorgeous recipes, cute crafts and printables. I could spend all day there! This was one of my favs for this Easter and will definitely get made for the kids…

http://www.iheartnaptime.net/carrot-cascarones/

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So, I hope you’ve found some inspiration here like I have! Easter may be late this year but it’s coming up fast, make sure you put some time aside to get some decorations up and craft done!

Mx

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Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Are you wearing green? Do you want to know why we wear green today?

It’s St. Patrick’s Day today, the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland and it’s believed that he died on this day in the year 461 AD.

It’s also a worldwide celebration of Irish culture and history, a national holiday in Ireland, and a provincial holiday in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

So, to celebrate, here are some little known St Patrick’s Day facts…

1) Chicago has been dying it’s river green for 59 years!

2) St Patrick was actually believed to be British. He was kidnapped as a young boy and sent to Ireland as a slave to tend sheep.

3) The shamrock came about as St Patrick apparently used it to explain the holy trinity to the Irish.

4) By Irish Law, it was a dry holiday from 1903 to 1970 and pubs were ordered to be closed for the day…no green beer for the Irish back then!

5) St Patrick’s Day really became a big holiday in America by the Irish-Americans to honor the saint but also to confirm ethnic identity and to create bonds of solidarity. Which explains why,

6) The very first St Patrick’s Day parade was not held in Ireland, it was in Boston in 1737!

7) The actual color of St. Patrick is blue. Green became associated with St. Patrick’s Day during the 19th century. In Irish legends, green was worn by fairies and immortals, and also by people to encourage their crops to grow. And,

8) Unfortunately, your chances of finding a four leaf clover are 1 in 10,000!

Don’t forget…if you are looking for gifts to buy online for that special holiday coming up like Easter or Mother’s Day, come visit us at http://www.theholidayshoppe.com.au

Head down…plow on…head up…smile

smile

The past few weeks have seen big highs and some disappointments. Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in the hard parts of business (or life) but I prefer to persevere, put my head down, and solve my problems rather than dwell on them. It’s a part of life, nothing worth doing comes easily. In this instance, unfortunately I didn’t listen to my ‘finance gut’ and am struggling with a supplier. I won’t name and shame them, I’m exceptionally disappointed that they think it’s o.k. to take payment up front and then refuse to supply stock or return the money, but I do still think that what they sell is a beautiful product.  You can either choose to let things get you down or look at the bright side of things…I think I’ll choose the bright side. I actually found it very hard to sit and write a blog post the past few days, simply because I didn’t want to post something negative. It’s so against where I try and keep my head at, holidays are happy, life is a blessing, and it just didn’t seem right!

I do believe that everything happens for a reason and in the fight to get my money back and trying to decide what I should do with the gap left by taking that stock out of my shop, I’ve found two wonderful suppliers, with beautiful products, more fitting for the boutique feel I want! One is Jane Foster, from the UK, who uses beautiful Dutch, Scandinavian and Swedish retro inspired fabrics that she does the screen printing of herself. The other is Harper + Hudson who make wonderfully colourful and stylish teething necklaces which are perfect for Mother’s Day or any new mum, I wish I had some!

Since I really struggled to write a post and just coast until inspiration hit me, I thought I would focus my efforts elsewhere and had a good look at my little shop and what didn’t feel right about it. The one thing that really bothered me was deciding on what I should charge for shipping, I took forever to make that decision and it still didn’t feel right.  So, instead of charging a tiered shipping rate as I originally had, I decided to just go for free shipping. I know that once I’ve found something I love, that shipping fee can make it or break it, especially when it’s a gift. I generally have an amount in my head that I want to spend and hate to feel like I have to spend less on their present depending on what the shipping fees are.  Well decision made and, free shipping at The Holiday Shoppe it is!

So, now back to trying to work out which Ad Words and SEO to focus on…I sure do wish that Google Analytics would tell me what my organic search terms are that people are using to find me. That would make life just a little easier. I’m trying to push my little shop as much as I can and, I must admit, that the advertising side and ‘getting it out there’ seem to be the toughest bit. I’m thinking of doing some markets and alternate types of advertising. I’ve started Twitter and Instagram and already have Facebook and my blog…my big question is…how on earth do you all find the time to populate all of the social media sites?! Is there a better way than having them populate each other or is that what you do? That all seems a bit redundant.

Any way, as I love to say…Come join me on my journey, give me advice if you have it or just give me some encouragement. I look forward to posting as I go…

Mx

The trouble with recipes and blogs…

So, I was ready for my weekly blog post the other day and thought to myself ~ it’s nearly St Patrick’s Day, let’s do a post about that! “Brilliant!” I said, how fitting, and timely, and clever…seeing as how I’m all about holidays and all that. Heh, that’s when reality came to visit…my post centres around the traditions of St Patrick’s Day and the one that I love…Irish Beef Stew (I don’t eat lamb – but let’s not give away the whole post!). Well, what better to post about, my recipe, when I cook it and so forth. Trouble is, I’m not exactly in the habit of photographing my food as I cook or after I’ve cooked it. With 5 kids, I’m lucky for that food to last more than 5 minutes in the pot after I’ve cooked it, never mind taking the artsy shots for my blog. It would also help if I had stewing beef at home…

Instead, you get a little about me…the stew will have to wait.

A few quick bites to get us going….

  •  I’m officially an accountant ~ blurgh…great start hey?! Please don’t go yet, it can only get better!

The Holiday Shoppe

  • I’m a mummy to five children…that would be Chop (9), Chicken (8), the Lollyman (3), Possum (1) and BigGuy (1) – not their real names obviously but their nicknames are much more descriptive. They are my inspiration, what drive me crazy, and what keep me sane. This picture was taken just over a year ago at our wedding…it’s terribly rare to get us all in one shot!
  • My twins were born early at 29 weeks and they were so tiny! Possum at 1244 grams and 72 days in hospital and BigGuy, 826 grams and 109 days in hospital. BigGuy came home on oxygen but has been off for a few months now and they are both doing incredibly well. You may see posts in future about the wonders of NICU and SCN nurses and the charities that support parents going through the journey, this is why, they are my little miracles and I owe these people immensely.
  • I love, and I mean love love love, shoes. Aside from my hubby and my children this is pure joy for me. I could stare at them, buy them and talk about them for hours. Not quite so pleasing for my hubby although he does support my habit…I suppose there could be worse!
  • I love doing craft…when I have time that is. Raising five kids, running a house and starting up The Holiday Shoppe is keeping me sufficiently busy to leave a pile of ‘want to do’ in my study! Before the twins were born I had a little business on the side where I made softies. Chicken & Scratch, in some strange way, maintained my sanity by keeping me creative while I was at home with my third. Unfortunately, after the twins were born, I couldn’t find the time to do markets and the prep work they involved. I still enjoy making those little guys though!
  • The Holiday Shoppe is my next move towards hopefully getting to stay home with my crew while maintaining my creative side and using my business knowledge. It’s been a lot of fun so far, I’m really enjoying the feeling of building something from scratch. I love all of the holiday seasons, my husband loves Christmas and can’t wait to help source all of the Christmas products!
  • My ultimate craft and as yet, unrealised, dream…is to make my own shoes…ahhhh, bliss. I am determined to do this one day!
  • I love spreadsheets. I know, I’m letting the crazy out! But the accountant in me loves a good spreadsheet. I missed it so much on my last bout of maternity leave that I created our budget from scratch. Not just any budget, I can download my bank statements, categorise my spend and it updates the summary sheet with actual and forecasted spend, running balances and over/under spend. What normal person would even bother? Urgh, don’t get me started, I know I’m not normal.
  • I struggle with the lack of creativity in my job. So, if you’re looking for someone to creatively complete your taxes, it certainly won’t be me! Mostly because I don’t even do my own taxes…that whole mechanic owning the worst car sorta thing. I do love my job, the people I will go back to work with and the sense of accomplishment I feel when I can tick off a project. But, needing to foster creativity, staying home with my kids and doing something that I love are the reasons for starting The Holiday Shoppe. I’m working hard to build this little dream big enough that I can stay home to look after my kids.
  • So, there’s a little more about me, welcome to my world, enjoy the ride and hang on!  This will be fun, and hard work, but mostly fun…

Mxx

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Happy Valentines Day! Enjoy a few, possibly not so well known facts…

Happy Valentines Day! Enjoy a few, possibly not so well known facts...

*Stunning chalkboard print by Lily & Val (all prints original and copywrighted)*

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day…quite a hotly contested holiday this one. I’ve seen some wonderful posts online from florists explaining exactly what men go through picking those flowers they might get you, posts about how it’s just a commercial holiday, posts from happy wives and girlfriends of the flowers they got and those happy to spread the love to everyone. I think that’s really what today is about, just sharing your love. My husband buys me flowers randomly and we tell each other that we love each other every day, today is more about just letting everyone know they are loved.

But, enough soppy sentiment…how about some Valentine’s Day (possibly) little known facts?! I’ve done some nerdy Valentine’s research via the History Channel so here we go…

1) Most of us know that this day began because a man named Valentinus was martyred way back in the 3rd century but did you know the details may actually may have been about two different men? St Valentine was a real person but the details around who exactly was martyred remains unclear! He was either a priest beheaded for illegally helping couples wed or the Bishop of Terni, both martyred by Claudius II outside Rome.

2) There was a Pope Valentine back in A.D. 827 who served a whole 40 days as Pope.

3) St Valentine is the patron saint of beekeepers, epilepsy, the plague, fainting, traveling, engaged couples and happy marriages. That is one busy saint!

4) The flower-adorned skull of St Valentine is displayed in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Rome. The rest of his skeleton can be found in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Scotland, England and France.

5) Valentine’s Day could actually have been invented by Chaucer in a poem he wrote back in 1375. I loved this medieval English poet when I studied English Literature in high school and he often stretched the truth a little when it came to history. There is no record of Valentine’s Day being celebrated until his poem “Parliament of Foules” gained attention! In it he refers to Feb 14 as when birds and humans come together to find a mate. And finally,

6) Why chocolate? Roses go back centuries with knights giving their maidens roses and celebrate with songs. There are a few theories about the links with chocolate but it could be that in England, back in the 1840s, Cadbury (yes, that Cadbury) perfected the art of making chocolate that actually tasted nice. Richard Cadbury, who was the head of the company then, saw a marketing opportunity and started selling his chocolates in decorated boxes that he designed and it’s thought that he may have been the first to produce the heart shaped box!

So, there are a few, maybe not so well known, facts about Valentine’s Day. Whether you celebrate the day or not, why not just give someone a hug today.

Mx

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Happy Day…

Happy Day...

I have had to send out my website to potential suppliers the past few days to show them my concept and I have stressed each time. This website is really just a skeleton, I still have to load my products!

I’ve now heard back from them all…to be told that they love it, they love the look and the idea. A website customized by me with just the concept of which products I’ll stock…it’s funny how much the feedback from total strangers has meant…it really is going to be o.k….