Chalkboard pantry makeover... and an announcement I Heart like crazy!

I could not be more thrilled to make today's announcement. In fact, I'm still pinching myself. 

When I first started blogging, I stumbled across a fabulous site called IHeart Organizing. It was love at first sight - I spent hours combing through project galleries, reading posts and related posts and favourite posts and pretty much everything that could be devoured in one sitting. The owner, Jennifer Jones, has an incredible talent for organising her home and bringing beauty to every single space she touches. Seriously, the woman is an organising goddess. Plus she is kind and sweet and smart and yes, gorgeous too. If I was a guy I'd totally have a crush on her. As it is I kind of have a girl-crush on her. In a totally non-stalkerish, I-am-happily-married-with-three-children sort of way.

I became an avid reader of said blog, and gradually came to realise just what a juggernaut of a success story it is. I mean, we're talking 2.5 million page views a month. That's massive! 

So when, at the end of last year, Jen casually posted that she was looking to add a couple of new members to her contributor team, my first thought was OHMYGOODNESS THAT WOULD BE AMAZING, following in quick succession by no way would I ever be good enough for that

But dreams are made for chasing, so I put in an application anyway, kind of embarrassed that Jen would infer from this that I actually thought I had a chance. I really badly wanted to let her know that it was okay, I didn't really expect her to choose me, and I completely knew what a long shot it was to even apply... but that's not exactly the sort of thing one can write in an application, is it?! 

So you can imagine my complete and utter shock and delight when THIS happened: 

Yes, guys.... can you believe it??! I still can't! I could not be more honoured and excited to be partnering up with Jen. 

Today is my debut contributor post over at IHeart Organizing, and I'm sharing my chalkboard pantry makeover - I'd be thrilled if you would come over and check it out! 

WARNING: "Before" photos may frighten small children. ;)

If you're new here from IHeart Organizing, I'd love you to stay and have a look around! You might want to start by taking my home tour here:

You can find out more about me here or take a look at my Project Gallery (which badly needs an update - working on it!!)

And if you just want to browse, here are a few of my most popular projects to get started with.

Circus-theme party favours

Industrial wire mail baskets
Stencilled Billy bookcases

And of course, don't leave without grabbing your FREE COPY of my book:

In other news, my whole site is undergoing a behind-the-scenes refurbishment at the moment, so stay tuned to see the unveiling in a couple of weeks' time - I can't wait! It's going to be cleaner, fresher, bigger, easier to read and navigate, and mobile responsive - all with a pretty new look that I'm super excited about! I'll be migrating from my Blogger platform over to Wordpress, and I'm looking forward to all the many extra capabilities that will bring.

Meanwhile, don't forget to take a look at my chalkboard pantry makeover, and tell me... how do you organise your pantry?

Wishing you a house full of sunshine,


Peacock blue and hot pink mid-century-modern mood board

This week I've been busy finalising a client's mood boards for their brand new living space. It's been an exciting project that has involved choosing colours from the ground up for a new build - exterior colours, paint, tiles, carpets, kitchen, bathrooms and lighting. The last step: to fill the newly-finished home with furniture and accessories. Always without a doubt my favourite part!

It's a beach home with an open-plan living and dining area, and the brief was for a contemporary style.

All links are to Wayfair Australia. Apologies to my US friends.

The client started with a vibrant peacock-blue couch to work around. I added an oversized sisal woven rug with hints of soft powder blue for depth, and continued the tropical beach feel in the woven side table and graphic leaf-print cushion.

The vivid blue of the couch is echoed in a watery turquoise print on canvas. I also added two smaller framed prints to balance the dimensions of the square canvas and bring a correct sense of scale to what is a large, blank, rectangular living room wall.

For the furnishings, I elected to go with Scandinavian mid-century modern style. In that vein, I found such a perfect TV unit that it would almost be a shame to sit a TV on it and distract from those highly good-looking legs.

And goodness, how perfect is that floor lamp?

Now for the dining area... quite possibly my favourite part!

SWOOOOOOON. Can we just start with that AMAZING artwork on canvas? Talk about bringing a splash of "WOW" to a room! I absolutely love how it picks up the peacock tones of the couch, and also injects some warmth and vibrancy into a predominantly cool, grey and blue colour scheme. Hot pink - ummm, yes please!

Pair that with an oversized silver leaf hung on an adjacent bare white wall, and you have a real statement piece.

The problem with decorating other peoples' houses like this is that I WANT ALL OF THE THINGS IN MY OWN HOME.

Seriously. It is a problem.

Underneath the artwork-of-incredible-gorgeousness, you will find a handsome mid-century style buffet with rather sexy legs. (*wolf whistles*). To style the buffet, I'd set the table lamp slightly to the right, and fill the centre with this collection of sea-glass-like vessels. (The one on the left is a real show-stopper - it's an abundant, oversized vessel in the exactly perfect shade of blue found in the painting. Love!!) I've selected a range of shapes and sizes to complement each other.

You'll notice that I went with a glass-topped dining table, which serves to open up the space as it doesn't impede visual flow. Very good in small or enclosed areas. The dining chairs are fantastic because they manage to look both modern and comfortable. Ding-ding-ding!! That designer wins the prize right there. Love the charcoal linen fabric, too.

A rug beneath the dining table helps to delineate the eating area, creating a separate zone within the larger open-plan room.

So there you have it.... lots of colour... lots of vibe... and some sexy legs thrown in for good measure.

What do you think? Anyone else crushing on THAT artwork??  If you could have any of these pieces in your own home, which would you choose?

Note: Australian shoppers.... these links are for you! Wayfair delivers fast Australia-wide, and many products ship for free. I am loving this store, people. Go on.... live on the wild side... have a browse, buy some stuff. You know you want to. Links are affiliates, which doesn't cost you anything extra and may enable me to buy myself a sandwich. Or a coffee. Probably not both. 


Unique gift ideas for your man

So.... you know how I wrote that blog post about Balance? Well, a big priority for me this year is to focus on my marriage.

One of my big love languages is gift giving, but if I'm to be honest, I've really let that slide recently where my husband is concerned. I was so stressed-out and busy before Christmas that it was all I could manage to organise presents for the kids before we went away. Hubby got an "experience gift", but it was given in a bit of a half-hearted manner, and there was nothing for him to actually unwrap under the tree on Christmas morning. My next plan was to take him shopping for our anniversary a few days later, but that didn't end up happening either. Whomp-whomp.

So that's why my thoughts have turned lately to Valentine's Day, which is only 2 weeks away after all.

I don't know about you, but when you've been married to someone for 14 years like I have, it's easy to get into a gift-giving rut. The usual T-shirts and golf-balls and socks have all been done to death. We're no longer struggling newlyweds, and anything Stephen really wants throughout the year, he is pretty much able to go and buy for himself. So that leaves me a bit stymied in the present department.

I decided this year to start early and really have a good look around for something unique and creative that would be meaningful to Stephen. Of course, that's easier said than done during school holidays with three kids to tow around from shop to shop. Not to mention that I didn't have a clue what I was looking for.

Thank God for the internet.

Turns out, there is heaps of cool stuff out there. Quirky, fun, useful, meaningful and unique stuff that I think my hubby would really, really like, but that he wouldn't necessarily think to buy for himself. Stuff that (*cue singing angels*) can be ordered online with a few clicks while the children are asleep and I'm wearing my pyjamas and eating chocolate ice-cream.

Now THAT sounds FAR more appealing to me than enacting a repeat of our last shopping trip, which involved impromptu sibling wrestling matches in Aisle 3 and a sanity-shattering toddler meltdown at the checkout.

Mothers everywhere, let us pause in a moment of profound gratitude for the inventor of online shopping.

I had so much fun searching out cool gift ideas that I decided to put together a gift guide for anyone else in need of inspiration for the man in their life. I can't be the only one who gets stuck for ideas, right? I hope you find something here to spoil your special guy, whether it's for Valentine's Day, a birthday or just to say "I love you".

All retailers are U.S. based, but ship worldwide (including to Australia!)  

Note: Affiliate links are used in this post, which means I receive a small commission on any purchases made, at no extra cost to you. Please consider supporting your favourite bloggers by shopping through their affiliate links - it enables us to pay the running costs of our sites and continue to share free content for your enjoyment. I appreciate your support!

1/ Scratch Map: Use a coin to scratch away countries you've visited and reveal the colours underneath. We love travelling as a couple, and have seen a fair bit of the globe together. We've often talked about coming up with a way to celebrate and remember the places we've been, but our ideas have always seemed kinda cheesy. I think this is the bomb.

2/ Pick Punch: Does your man like to strum a guitar? I'll bet he can never find his pick when he needs one. This is the best invention ever for music-loving types. It enables you to punch a pick out of old membership cards and credit cards. Stephen already has one of these, and he LOOOOOVES it, swears by it, and uses it all the time.

3/ Past, Present, Future Watch: We're all trying to live more in the moment... so this watch only shows the present time. Now that's a meaningful gift. Nice sleek, minimalist design, too.

4/ Batman First Issue Comic Book Cover Cufflinks: For the MARVEL-ous man in your life... (te he)

5/ Driftwood iPhone Charging Dock: Because everyone should charge their phone in a log. (How perfect would this look on a manly office desk??)

6/ Personalized LP Record: Choose your names and up to 5 songs significant to you as a couple. Float-mounted on glass, it looks pretty darn awesome and is super sentimental to boot. I would very much like to see this hanging on the wall of hubby's music studio.

7/ Sole Sox: Does your man fancy a foot-rub? These anatomically correct socks show all the pressure points on your feet for the perfect massage.

8/ Tom Carter Voyager Watch: This is one good-looking watch. I love the black and white dual-tone thing it has going on - the perfect blend of hip, sophisticated, and kinda sporty. Your man could equally wear it to the gym or to a fancy dinner.

9/ Unzipped Glass Zipper Bag: Chocolate and lollies are the lovers' gift of choice, right? Be unique and stick 'em in something cool. Like this funky glass ziplock bag. It's like an art object filled with jellybeans.

10/ Personalized Couple Art: Well, this is just sweet. Fulfill all your lifelong ambitions to be a whimsical long-legged line drawing, with your partner right by your side. Romantic, with a nice understated design... I like it.

11/ Vintage Typewriter Key Cufflinks: Made with authentic vintage typewriter keys set in sterling silver. Select any combination of letters for a personalised gift - your husband's initials? Yours and his together? Sweet and discreet.

12/ Seat Buckle Belt - Volkswagen: I don't know, I can't stop looking at this. If my hubby were really into cars I would totally give him a seatbelt-belt. He is my lovebug, after all.

13/ Double Money Clip: My husband has a money clip and it changed his life. No more wallet bulge in the jeans pocket. He loves it and won't use anything else. But it is tricky to load up too many cards and too much cash or you risk something coming loose. Now THIS is a smart idea I've never seen before: a double-sided money clip for double the storage capacity. It may look small, but I know for one my man would truly use and appreciate this thoughtful gift!

14/ Skyline of Love: Personalise this canvas with your names and the skyline of a city that's significant to you both. Choose from any U.S. city or a huge list of cities worldwide. (Including Brisbane, Sydney and the Gold Coast.)

Let's chat: Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets stuck coming up with new present ideas for the man in my life. Are there any gifts on this list that catch your eye? Who else here has "gift-giving" as their love language?


On blogging, burnout and finding balance

In my last post I talked about the concept of choosing One Word for the year. Only I haven't told you yet what my word is.

It's kind of funny how many words are needed to explain just One Word.

Let me try.

Just before Christmas, I did something a good blogger is never supposed to do.

I disappeared. Without warning. For quite a long time. Five weeks, to be exact.

So where did I go? Well, among other places, here:

Aaaaaand here. Pretty nice view, huh?

2014 was a burnout year for me. It was incredible, wonderful, and challenging. But by the end of the year, I had nothing left. It wasn't just the blog, although that was a major part of it. I took on too much all round - commercial decorating jobs, private decorating clients. I kept saying "yes" even when I didn't know how I could fit those things in. As a stay-home Mum, my "office hours" are limited to the hours after the kids are in bed. (And as every Mum knows, by the time the kids are finally in bed, you are already EXHAUSTED.) I was basically trying to pack a full-time workload into what should have been my downtime. Working a day shift as well as a night shift, every day of the week. I love what I do, but I had no margin left in my life. No time for "me".

I couldn't remember the last time I'd read a book (and I love to read more than anything else.) My marriage was suffering. I struggled with feeling anxious and overwhelmed. I stayed up later and later, trying to get everything done, and still couldn't get through it all. I felt like I was letting everyone down, but the only thing that could "give" was time for sleep. I was living exhausted.

In the middle of all this, we moved house. You know what that's like. My whole life felt chaotic. But meanwhile, the blog was really starting to take off. New opportunities, more traffic, more success, if only I could just keep those plates spinning and do more.

More. Always more.

Of course, it was not sustainable. At gut-level, I knew this. But when you're on a trajectory, it's so hard to change course. Life hurtles faster, you gain more and more momentum, and how do you pull back from that? I've spent so much time and energy building something here; I'm so invested. I wanted the growth, the momentum. It was killing me, but wasn't this what I'd always dreamed of?

It took a wake-up call from my marriage to realise that, no. That is not what I wanted. That's not what God called me to, here - growth at the expense of everything else: self, sanity and husband included.

Even so, when I disappeared, it wasn't by choice - at least, not at first. The thing is, we went away on a family holiday to Tasmania for a month. And my husband, quite rightly, put his foot down and said "no" to blogging.

I'm embarrassed to admit that it was excruciatingly hard to let go. I had several Christmas projects completed and photographed that I really NEEDED to blog about before Christmas. Those posts never got written. They'll have to wait for next Christmas.

It weighed on me, my absence. It was like this magnetic pull. I worried about what people would think. How my stats would plummet. Whether I'd ever recover momentum. I'd always intended to have posts pre-scheduled before we left, but with the house move, the rush of decorating clients, the blogging deadlines, I just didn't get there. Leaving a silence like that, an empty space, felt weirdly off-balancing.

And yet, slowly, I learned to let go. And in the process I gained perspective.

My stats did plummet. Of course they did. And at first it felt so painful to watch - like a personal failing. But then I realised what I was doing. How dumb it was, letting myself feel upset over some numbers on a screen. How ridiculous! How meaningless! They're not a measure of my success, and never will be. When I get to the end of my life, do I think people will be standing around my grave shaking their head over the state of my blog traffic in December 2014?

I would hope people will say this: She lived well. She loved her husband and her kids and her friends. She put God first and she had an impact in this world.

The last can only ever flow from the first. I had it all the wrong way around.

So what have I been doing the past five weeks that I haven't been blogging?

I found starfish in rockpools with my children.

I read a book a week - inhaled the stories like someone coming up for air.

I had long indulgent baths looking out over the bay.

I watched the flames flickering in the fireplace and thought about nothing at all.

I went on long hikes that left my muscles aching and my spirit full.

I reconnected with my husband, the wonderful man I'm blessed to have been married to for fourteen years.

I visited windswept playgrounds to watch my kids climb and run and laugh.

I tasted delicious and unusual new foods, like a tofu taco with mint and cabbage salad, pickled cucumber and cashew ginger aioli.

I spent long minutes holding the warm weight of my daughter and stroking her silky curls.

Allegra at 2 - nickname "Diva".

I laughed and confided with dear soul-friends.

I tickled and tackled and snuggled with my boys.

I ate too many cheese platters and drank too much good coffee and wine.

I visited new places and learned more about this beautiful country I call home.

I ate squashed sandwiches from a backpack on soaring, wind-swept cliffs.

I watched my children giggle with their grandparents.

I wept at a memorial site.

I listened to live music and felt the beat through my feet.

I made pizzas with friends and ate them hot and crisp from the pizza oven they built themselves.

I watched yachts sail safe into harbour.

I cuddled babies and saw all the potential of a life yet to be lived in their enormous blue eyes.

I totally did not pose my children in this awesomely cheesy fashion, FYI.
They just did it all on their own. Synchronised stair sleeping. It's the latest thing.
What didn't happen? Emails and blog comments didn't get replied to in a timely manner. New posts didn't get written. Work didn't get done. And you know what? The sun kept shining. The world kept turning. Maybe some people shook their head at me. Maybe I disappointed people or even offended them. I've worried a lot in my life over what people think of me. Only I guess I've come to realise that I care most of all what my family thinks of me. That comes first. That's most important.

So what's my word for 2015? You've probably already guessed.

The thing is, I plan to be here for the long term. I don't want to flare bright and burn out in my first or second year.

So maybe that means my blogging schedule will look different from most. Maybe I won't be able to blog three times a week like I'd planned. Maybe... gasp... some weeks I won't be able to blog at all. I mean, good grief - take last week for example! This post was written a week ago, and I ran into some irritating technical problems that kept me up all hours and prevented me from posting any sooner.

But the world kept turning and today my firstborn started Grade One and tomorrow my second son will start Prep, and note to self, what's more important - really?

All that to say, if you're the sort of reader who likes to check in regularly and see what's new, I encourage you to subscribe by email, so my posts come straight to you at their own unique pace. (Plus you'll get my free e-book that has been getting heartfelt feedback from women all over the world - you can read more about it here. What's not to love?)

It's not that I've lost my passion for what I'm doing, or that I've run out of ideas and inspiration. Quite the opposite - this feels a little like gently applying the handbrake while hurtling down the highway at 100 km an hour. I'm more fired up and excited about this blog than ever. My brain is constantly bursting with creative ideas, new projects, fresh topics. Just this morning I sat down and wrote a list of fifteen new posts I'm dying to write. I have far more content than I have time to blog about it. My greatest frustration right now is time; time to make it all happen.

One day when the kids are all in school I'd love to work from home full-time doing this, but in the meantime, I'm not going to wish my life away. My main role right now is as a mother and wife, and I'm committed to giving my husband and kids the best of me. I'm not going to offer them the scraps of my time and attention. And if we can work out some sort of universe-defying balance so that everyone's needs are met and I can simultaneously thrive in this creative business venture... well, that will be awesome too.

My goal is to thrive, so rest easy, I do have some universe-defying plans in place. ;) Plus I have some awesome new opportunities coming up this year that I CANNOT wait to share with you!

What I do know is that I'm going to continue to do my absolute best here, without sacrificing the things that matter. I'm going to guard my marriage and protect the margin that I need to stay sane and healthy. I'm going to say "no" to stuff, even some really good stuff.

And even if that means I don't grow this blog quite as quickly as I would have liked... even if it means taking a deep breath and releasing my perfectionist expectations of myself... I know it's all going to turn out okay.

Here's to balance.

Let's chat: Have you ever struggled to find balance in your life? Do you have a word for this year?

Linking up here: Hit me with your best shot

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