What I Wore & The Style It Project

I have two posts in one today – What I Wore & The Style It Project.

This Christmas we decided to buy a family present, and gave ourselves a Merlin Annual Pass each. It allows us to enter 11 attractions around Sydney and interstate, including aquariums, Wildlife World and Sydney Tower. We have made a promise to visit one attraction a month, with a couple squeezed in during school holidays. On Sunday we visited the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. We all loved looking at the Little Penguins, sharks, an enormous sea turtle and the brightly coloured fish. Our highlight were the cuttlefish – we’ve never seen them up close and personal before, and they were actually very cute little creatures!

The weather in Sydney was beautiful over the weekend, and Sunday was really quite warm. It was perfect weather to enjoy a gelato while watching everyone play at the beach. I decided to go for a classic look with light denim, a breton stripe top and tan sandals.

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Lee Cooper Denim jeans from Big W (similar here and here), Emerson tank (last season, but Breton strip tee here), Lila by Corelli sandals, Ocean and Earth hat (similar here).

I’ve been wearing these jeans to death since I bought them just before Christmas. They are light enough to wear when it is hot, and are incredibly comfortable. They are great with flats for a relaxed look, but could also be dressed with wedges or heels for a night out.

The second outfit I wore this week lets me join in with the January Style It Project. Each month, Rachel from Redcliffe Style and Kim-Marie from Kimba Likes choose a piece of clothing and ask people to show how they would style it. This month they chose the Falling Flowers kimono from Bohemian Traders, but asked people to show off their own kimonos as well. You can share your style on Instagram (using the hashtag #styleitproject), Facebook or your blog.

I bought this kimono three years ago when I had just had my daughter and had a wedding to attend. I wanted something I could wear again, was easy to breastfed in, and flattered my post-delivery figure. I also wore it to my daughter’s christening, and have worn in numerous times since.

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 Jeans West kimono (you can see their range here), Jeans West skinny jeans (similar here), white long sleeved Target top, Betts flats (last season), slightly blurry photo taken by my 6 year old!

I love the versatility of kimono tops. They can be worn year round as part of so many different outfits. I love to wear a similar version of this outfit in Winter with brown or black ankle boots, but it is great in Summer with shorts and flats.

What outfits have you been wearing lately? Feel free to share a picture in the comments below!

Favourites Unearthed – Teacher Edition

That time of year has come where ‘Back to School’ signs adorn the shops. Truth be told they’ve been hanging up since a few days after Christmas, but I have been ignoring them with my hand covering my eyes. If I can’t see them, they don’t exist, right? I’m intending to enjoy my last week and a half of holidays, but I also need to start planning going back to work. I watched You’ve Got Mail (again) a couple of weeks ago, and loved when they were talking about stationery – Tom Hanks’ character promises to send Meg Ryan’s a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils as Autumn always makes her feel like buying school supplies. He would certainly know the way to my heart! Today I’m sharing a few of my favourite teacher things that are staples in my classroom.

A great diary

Diary Collage

Since I started teaching I have experimented with a lot of different diaries. The first few were specialist ones made for primary teachers and then I used a couple from Kikki K. After getting frustrated with bits of paper everywhere, a separate diary and assessment record book, I decided to try something different for this year. Etsy and Teachers Pay Teachers are a gold mine when it comes to teacher organisation resources and I spent a couple of nights scouring both sites to try and find a diary that suited me. In the end I chose this editable planner from a Brisbane designer called All About the House. It comes with 295 pages that you can customise to suit you and your class. Be sure to check out her blog to see how she put her planner together. I’m looking forward to being ultra-organised this year!

I had planned to have the diary bound at an office shop when I discovered a few ‘systems’ that other teachers in the US are using. A special paper punch is used, and you then insert the paper onto some special rings. This means that you can take out and add pages as needed which is super handy.

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While there are several companies that have similar products, I ended up choosing the Levenger Circa. I bought a starter pack on Amazon that came with the rings, front and back covers, dividers and some note paper. You can find the travel punch I bought here. It can punch one or two pieces of paper at a time, but there are larger punches that can do a larger capacity if you need to.

Pens and textas

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I’m a self-confessed stationery nut and like a bower bird when it comes to brightly coloured writing implements. I bought these markers last year in the supermarket for about $15 and they’ve been great. There are loads of colours to choose from, and they’re very handy when I’m making posters and signs.

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These Kikki K felt tip pens are wonderful for marking work. I like using colours other than red, and this pack gives plenty of choice. They write really nicely, and don’t bleed through to the other side of the page too badly. I picked them up with my birthday voucher, but they retail for around $10.

Technology

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I’m a loyal Apple girl, but have felt wary about taking my iPad into school for student use. A couple of months ago I saw a cheap tablet at Coles and decided to take the plunge to the dark (Android) side. The Pendopad runs on a Google operating system and you can download apps from the Google Play store. I’m looking forward to using it more in class this year and being able to store all my syllabus documents on there. I picked up the superseded 8 inch version for $59, but the new 7 inch retails for $99. They are often on special, so keep your eye out if you’re looking for a tablet.

Last year I was lucky enough to win a bluetooth speaker through a blog competition, and it’s fantastic to use in the classroom. The sound quality and noise level is great, and I use it for music and meditation with my students. Some smart boards have an adapter for iPods, but if yours (like mine) isn’t one, a speaker like this is a great option.

Teach Starter

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Teach Starter is a resource subscription service. You pay a set fee for the year, and that allows you to access all of their pre-made resources, as well as creating your own. There are also lots of freebies that you can access if you don’t want try before you buy. They have a huge range of printable classroom decorations, name labels, worksheets and activities. If you’re quick, you can claim four free posters when you sign up now. I got mine last year and they were a great addition to my classroom. Signing up to their mailing list may also bring a freebie or two your way – I was sent a great sticker pack just before Christmas and I can’t wait to use them this year.

Rewards

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What teacher doesn’t love stamps and stickers? I found a great stamp pack on my last trip to Costco for $15. I love the Facebook ‘like’ stamp! They are all re-inkable so I will be able to use them for a long time to come. Aldi currently have stamps and stickers on special. There is a great range of stickers and they’re very good value at $2.99 for 12 sheets. I bought three packets last year and still have lots left over. Bargains like these deserve to be shared!

What are your teaching essentials? Where do you buy all your bits and pieces?

Our First Family Camping Trip

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I had never thought I could be the camping type. I’m definitely not a five star princess, but camping always brought connotations of no showers or toilets which doesn’t fill me with excitement! Growing up, our family holidays were in my grandparent’s caravan, which I loved. Caravan parks are fantastic for kids and I have been looking forward to taking them on a van holiday for a while. There are always new friends to be made, and lots of activities to try. My parents-in-law bought a camper trailer last year and we were lucky enough to take it on it’s maiden voyage. We booked our first family camping trip with an ensuite powered site at a caravan park down the coast, which provided just enough home comfort along with the camping experience.

We arrived at our camp site after driving through pouring rain, then hail. It was dry when we got out of the car and started setting up, and then came the torrential rain which didn’t let up until the middle of the night. We quickly shoved the bags in the ensuite and trapped the poor kids in the car with the iPad while we set up. I meant to take a photo of us afterwards, as we looked like we had showered in our clothes! Despite our neighbours telling us we were crazy to keep going, we got everything up and ready in around an hour which wasn’t bad for our first time!

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The morning after a storm always provides fantastic finds on the beach. The kids had a ball exploring and found lots of shells, drift wood and some dried sea anemones. Our caravan park had a small beach on the grounds, but other than a paddle and explore we didn’t have a proper swim there. There were lots of steps and ramps down to the beach which meant it was a bit tricky to drag all our bits and pieces up and down there.

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We were lucky enough to have a few sunny days and spent them at the beach and Mogo Zoo. I had never been to Mogo before, and loved it. It is quite a small zoo (similar to Canberra) with a great selection of animals. We loved watching the cheeky primates, admired the huge white lions during snack time and feeding the giraffes.

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If you are looking for close up experiences with animals I would definitely look at Mogo. They were very reasonably priced compared with other zoos. We fed the giraffes which I have done before at other zoos (they’re my favourite animal) and it was only $10 per person. A baby zebra had been born the day before and was out in the paddock, so that was a very special sight.

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Taking life at a slower pace was nice. Afternoon rest time was made an institution and I managed to get through two and a half books, and a couple of magazines. My husband and I played card or board games each night and chatted. It was lovely not having the distraction of the TV or computer. A friend had suggested we buy the card game Phase 10 which has fast become a favourite. If you love Uno, you’ll enjoy this even more.

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There were quite a few storms during our time away, which made for a bit of a wet trip. Luckily the town was big enough to provide entertainment with a movie theatre and indoor entertainment centre. An early morning walk after more rain was beautiful and misty, and we loved seeing a little dolphin swimming around the harbour.

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My parents were also down the coast, and we had a great day with them and my cousins. They have kayaks, which are always a big hit and we all enjoyed having a turn. The kids are old enough to participate now as well, and love sitting up the front and being paddled around.

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We’re hoping to go back to the same caravan park next year, and extending our stay by another week. On our last night we were talking about things we would do differently next time, and certain things that worked well for us. I thought I would share a few with you.

Style Unearthed’s camping tips

1. Use packing boxes

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My parents-in-law had bought a couple of these for food and the kitchen area. We used one for the kids’ clothes, but next time we will take one for each of us, plus entertainment bits and pieces. It will mean that everything stays dry, and they will also stack neatly in the annex.

2. Book an ensuite site

If you are camping in a caravan park and these are an option, they are well worth it. It was only $10 more per night, and it meant we didn’t have to queue for showers or the toilet, and we could confidently send the kids to the bathroom by themselves as they were only three steps away. It was also handy having easy access to hot water when washing up.

3. Pack extra towels

I took two beach towels and bath towels per person, plus lots of hand towels and tea towels. Unfortunately because of the torrential rain our annex leaked, so the towels came in very handy! I washed and threw them in the dryer a couple of times but having extras was great. We ended up buying two big red checky bags (you’ll know the ones!) from a $2 shop to store the towels. They were the perfect size and width.

4. Use zip lock bags for packing

I bought some extra large zip lock bags and they were incredibly handy to pack underwear and socks in. It meant we didn’t have to search through bags to find small items. Once the bag is sealed you can squash it down so it works like a space bag.

5. Take pegs and rope

We hadn’t intended to do washing while we were away, but ended up having to wash a couple of loads. Even if you don’t want to wash, you will need somewhere to hang swimmers and beach towels so they can dry. We made an impromptu washing line with some thin rope between the fence and the camper. It was incredibly handy and ended up being used every day.

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6. Make friends with your caravan park owners

Chat to them via email, over the phone or on social media. During the school holidays, many parks will have organised special events. Ours had movie nights, visits from a band, a rock climbing wall, a snake education show and a farm yard nursery. The kids loved the different activities in addition to the pool, jumping pillow, mini golf and play equipment that are regular fixtures at the van park.

Do you go camping? Have you got any tips we can use next time?