photo is from here

So I don’t want to be too boastful but CJ and I have already checked that off our list. We saw lots and lots of this

southern QLD
Somewhere in Southern QLD
South queensland
Somewhere in the middle of Northern NSW

And some of this…

The Big Apple

It was not magical exciting fun and probably not a trip we will take again or talk about or pine over. But it was a very exciting trip for one main reason!

We picked up Penny the Beagle our new puppy!

Penny the Beagle
Penny on her way home

She is quite the country puppy, hence the long drive, when we got there Stacy (the breeder) yells out ‘baby beagles’ and all these beautiful puppies ran from no where to greet us. So after a VERY long 9 hours drive home (with lots of puppy stops), we let her out into her new home.

All the new things for a puppy to discover – weird flat rocks (pavers), clear barriers everywhere (our glass pool fence that she walked into repeatedly – don’t worry she is absolutely fine!) and giant clear dam (pool).

Penny the Beagle
Penny with her new chew toy after she demolished the plant, and filled Cam’s shoes with soil!

CJ decided that since she was an outside dog she will stay that way…. Until 7:15pm and the sun went down and so he brought her and her 2 beds inside. I went to bed about 9, and Cam (who will not let the puppy get the better of him!) slept on the couch just in case Penny needed anything!

One wee inside on the floor about midnight and Cam thought she had the sleeping thing worked out and moved her outside, where he and she stayed until 5 am. Then Cam moved his bed to the sun lounge outside and she played happily! Talk about not letting puppy get the better of you! Go Cam… You nailed it haha

But before I laugh too hard I have spent most of my day with Penny sleeping on my feet or thinking my new polished toenails are her own moving chew toys! I did make break for it and went to the shops for some dog shampoo, 3 chew toys and a puppy collar. She hated the bath and jumped into my arms wet, only likes one of her chew toys and has already chewed off her new collar! So I’m not much of a winner either.

Penny enjoying her new backyard

And tonight is my turn at Penny Patrol! Looking forward to it – do you have any puppy handling tips???


I know I’m a little late on the New Year’s Resolutions but I’ve been thinking long and hard.  For a while now I have been thinking about giving up sewing – I know that sounds drastic given that I am a sewing teacher.  But I mean I would still teach just give up on the sewing for myself and for Mona and Olive.  For quite a while I just haven’t been feeling it, so I thought that was decided… Until I looked at all my fabric.  If I stopped sewing what would I do with all that fabric – 5, 80 ltr tubs of fabric… I sorted through it, what I thought my mum would use I gave to my mum, that was about 5 pieces.  My mum and I have VERY different taste!     So then I gave my Mother In Law a couple of pieces because she wanted to practice and slowly get back into it, so another 5 pieces gone.

Leaving me with 4 3/4 boxes… Of fabric that I really liked!  So I have decided to sew it all!! So then I though all was a big ask for 2015 so I want to get down to 2 boxes at the end of 2015.  2 boxes!  Some I may donate to school but the rest I have to sew!

So then CJ decided that he would build me a desk and do up the study – maybe that was the reason I didn’t want to sew was the room!  (my new sewing room/office is a lot smaller than my old one so it gets very crowded very easily.) So we brought a 16 cube shelf from ikea and  CJ has built new a beautiful new trestle table for a desk and I’m hoping my mojo will return!

So i guess my resolution of 2014 not to buy fabric is helpful for my 2015 resolution to reduce my fabric stash by half! So be prepared for a ton of “look what i made today posts!”

My other 2015 resolution is to drink 1 ltr of water every morning before I drink anything else.  Any by anything else I mean Coke! For those who have ever met me – generally it will be with a coke in my hand.  I am an addict by the very sense of the world – if it’s in the house it will be drunk!  In the past i had been a 2 ltr a day drinker but at the moment I’m down to 1 or 2 a day, generally one in the morning and one at lunch.  So now I’m older and wiser i have decided that coke first thing in the morning can’t be good for me! (clever aren’t I!) I doubt i will be able to completely give up and as I don’t drink alcohol or coffee/tea I’m OK with that. But I started this 1 ltr of water before coke about Christmas and so far so good!!!

Did you make any resolutions? Or have you failed previously???  I would love to know

madonna xx

Home Office Inspiration

Home Office Inspiration


Home Office Inspiration by monaandolive featuring ESSEY

OKA floral decor
$53 –

ESSEY office accessory
$18 –

Trestle kitchen table

Home storage furniture
$465 –

Moroccan leather ottoman
$135 –

Gemstone pendant
$485 –

Rum Balls

Rum Balls

The must have sweet at a Christmas event, or really any event. Rum balls serve as the easy to make, delicious to eat sweet. they are easy to eat and easy to serve – thus making it the entertainers best friend!

the most delicious rum ball recipe
Rum Ball Recipe

1 packet crushed biscuits (scotch finger, milk arrowroot, or if your feeling adventurous chocolate ripple or ginger nut!)
1 tin condensed milk
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup coconut + extra to roll
1 cup mixed fruit
2 tablespoons of rum

Crush the biscuits in either a food processor or by hand – place in large zip lock bag and bash with a rolling pin.
Mix in all other ingredients.
Roll into balls and roll in coconut.
Store in fridge or freezer for as long as they last! Haha in the freezer at least 3 months, but no matter how good you hide them, they will be found and will be eaten!

Makes about 24

Rum Balls
24 Rum Balls

If making them on a particularly hot day, as I always seem to manage, putting the mix into the fridge for 30mins makes them easier to roll.

Plain Wrapping Paper – 3 ways

Washi Tape wrapping paper

Today I experimented with wrapping in plain paper – just in time for christmas!  So go from plain paper to something pretty and specialised in seconds!

So today I have for you plain wrapping paper – 3 WAYS! All you need is plain paper like brown kraft paper or butchers paper.  And however you are going to decorate the paper

– waterpaints

– washi tape

– stamps

supplies for decorating wrapping paper
Supplies for decorating wrapping paper

I bought my paper and washi tape from K-Mart. And the waterpaints, crayons, and stamps from Big W.

1. Stamps.

This one is great – easy, relatively mess free and would be good with kids.

So you just need to work out how big the gift will be wrapped and stamp out a design that will fit – I did it in the middle of the paper. EASY!  From memory these stamps were $10, so I think that’s a good deal for the heaps of projects you could do with these!

I stamped these once the present was wrapped but I think before or after would be fine!

I wiped down these with damp paper towel after use.

Stamped wrapping paper
Ready to stamp
stamped wrapping paper
Finished – Stamped wrapping paper

2. Watercolours.

I LOVE this one! If you take yourself back to kindy you might remember this one – it is always a hit at playgroup. It has just grown up a little.

First you need to write your message in crayon – I chose white, because it makes it neat but it’s entirely up to you. “Merry Christmas” Happy Birthday” “Be my Valentine” whatever takes your fancy – the best thing is you can personalise so no gift tag required!  Make sure you estimate the size of the gift before you start getting creative – so you know the size of the area to work on and your wrapped present looks well placed, once finished!

watercolour wrapping paper
Watercolour equipment

Then in your watercolour paint – add water to your brush and mix. Paint over your secret message. Just a tip make sure you have added a good amount of water so you get good coverage. – Would be great done with the kids for personalised wrapping paper!  Dark coloured paints work best as you can see with the pale pink isn’t as affective as the darker blues and greens.

watercolour wrapping paper
Watercolour wrapping paper – revealing the secret message


3. Washi Tape.

Probably the cleanest out of the three options! But takes a little bit more vision of how you want the end result to look like.  You can spell out words or make designs – what ever you like but once the tape is down on Kraft paper is pretty much there – so just have plan going first!  Washi Tape is pretty and it does stick but in my experience if you are using a thick wrapping paper – it is not a substitute for sticky tape.  This I did after the present was wrapped but I don’t think it would matter if you did it before or after.

Washi Tape wrapping paper
Washi Tape Christmas Tree

Hope you have fun experimenting with your wrapping! xx



DIY buffet – how I made this!

How I updated this buffet…

The buffet before and after
The before and after buffet

Since moving into our new house, there has been a couple of things that we have wanted to do. But as most people we don’t have endless money but also CJ and I have very different tastes, which makes agreeing on stuff very time consuming! So we decided to have a wall off! Cam gets one wall and I get one wall to style and buy things for, in a budget. More about our “wall off” later but today I’m going to show you how I painted and updated this wooden buffet I bought from EBay. I paid $200 which CJ thought was excessive but once we picked it up he agreed it was a pretty good price for the size and quality of the piece!

Buffet diy
Buffet before makeover

So first step was I to pull it apart. The drawers and doors came off. The drawer pulls also came off so I could paint easily around them. We left the hinges on because they were brass coloured and so I sprayed with black with the paint/primer.

Next we needed to sand it back – we had brought a primer and paint in one. But the buffet still needed a light sand so we sanded it back with 80 grit sand paper by hand. The top of the buffet was only going to be varnished not primed and painted so for that I got out the electric sander with 80 grit sand paper and sanded it back until no shine was left – it took a couple of goes but otherwise the stain would never of took.

Buffet top
I used an electric sander to get as much varnish off as I could.

I then used the spray paint/primer to spray the sides and the front of the buffet ready for the turquoise paint. I used Rustoleum Ultra Cover Paint and Primer in black and used 2 cans for the whole project. (at this stage I was contemplating leaving it black, I really liked it, but thought it would blend int the wall too much)

DIY buffet half way
The buffet primed and ready to go!

I mixed 1 tablespoon of plaster of paris with 1 tablespoon of water to make a paste. make sure its smooth before you add the paint.

DIY Buffet paint
Chalk paint being mixed

Next I added about 1/2 cup of paint (I used Dulux Riveria Sea) mix well – it makes the paint a lighter shade so just be aware.

Aqua Chalk Paint
The paint mixed with the chalk mixture

Next I finished painting the buffet – but I left the top with out any paint or primer!

The buffet nearly finished, aqua paint done
The buffet nearly finished, aqua paint done.

Allow to dry!

Stir the stain for the top – I used a brush to apply and did two coats – making sure all brush strokes were going with the wood grain. The instructions on the the tin said to leave for 5 mins, but I left it on a lot longer – like 4 hours. I think this is because I didn’t sand the top back enough! Once the top stain was set to touch I sealed with a clear sealant.

Cam then helped me re-assemble it and screw the door back on etc and move into the front lounge room! I am still deciding on if I will sand back parts of the buffet to let the undercoat come through – what do you think? The wall behind is still a work in progress, I need to update our photos with some new ones and add some things to the top of the buffet to dress it more but so far I am really happy with how the buffet turned out!

The buffet completed - maybe still deciding on the sanding?
The buffet completed – maybe still deciding on the sanding?
The buffet before and after
The before and after buffet

Choc chip cookies

choc chip cookies

This recipe is what my mum has been using, since forever. It’s relatively fool proof – my year 8 students use it. So you know it’s easy and without the chocolate chips its a great basic cookie that you can use in heaps of different ways, add peanut butter, jam drops, anything!

choc chip cookies
Choc Chip Cookies Recipe

125 grams butter/margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
1 3/4 cups self raising flour
250 grams choc chips

1. Cream together butter and sugars. At home I do it with a mix master because it’s quicker but at school it’s by hand.
2. Once it’s mixed uniformly (no visible chunks of butter) add egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.
3. Sift in flour and stir until a thick dough is formed, add all the choc chips and mix in.
4. Roll dough into same sized balls and place on baking tray, make sure they have enough room to spread in the oven.
5. Bake at 180 degrees for 10-12 minutes. When they come out of the oven they will still be soft, as they cool down they will harden.

My favourite variation is adding 1/4 cup peanut butter in step 1, it’s amazing!!!IMG_2008.JPG

Spinach Cob Dip Recipe

spinach cobb dip recipe
Spinach Cobb Dip Recipe

Spinach and ricotta Cobb dip is always a party favourite! Easy and can be part prepared the night before it’s a crowd favourite and filler.

500g spinach
300g sour cream
250 g ricotta cheese
Spring vegetable dry soup mix
1/4 grated cheese
Cob loaf of bread

1. Bring spinach to room temperature (either defrost frozen or cook fresh spinach and allow to cool)
2. Mix in sour cream, ricotta and soup mix.
If you are serving later, cover at this stage and put in the frigde – once ready to serve drain off any liquid before next step.

Spinach cobb loaf dip
Spinach, ricotta, sour cream and soup mix, mixed together.

3. Cut 3-4 cm off the top of the Cobb loaf, scoop out a little of the bread, but be careful not to go down through the bottom.

Spinach Cobb Loaf Dip
Cut open bread and hollow out the loaf

4. Stuff bread with dip mix, sprinkle grated cheese on top.

spinach dip recipe
Spinach dip with cheese before putting it in the oven

5. Replace bread lid, wrap in alfoil.
6. Place in 160 c oven for 7-10 mins, enjoy straight away!

Spinach dip recipe
Spinach Dip Recipe

My sausage rolls!

This sausage roll recipe is quick easy and great for hiding vegetables in!

Perfect Sausage Roll Recipe
Perfect Sausage Rolls

These sausage rolls are easy to make and versatile too, really good to use up anything lingering in the fridge!
500 grams sausage or chicken mince
1 diced onion
1 grated zucchini
1 grated carrot (Any grated vegetable is fine. If you grate very finely it is hardly noticeable!)
1/3 cup sauce (sweet chilli, BBQ, tomato chutney, salsa -anything!)
3 sheets of pastry
Tablespoon milk

Separate pastry sheets, so they defrost a little.
Mix mince, vegetables and sauce.

Sausage mix with vegetables and sauce
Sausage mix with vegetables and sauce

Slice pastry in half, spoon mix into a log shape up the middle of the pastry, roll half of pastry over.

Sausage rolls
Place mixture into the middle of the pastry piece.

Using the back of the spoon, pack the mince against the pastry – add or remove mince as needed.
Fold over again so the seam of pastry is facing down.

Perfect Sausage Rolls
Using the back of the spoon, push filling into the pastry.

Place on baking tray, seam side down, glaze with milk.

Sausage rolls
Sausage rolls ready to place in the oven – seam side down

Cut each roll into four peices.
Bake at 180 c for 20-25 mins until golden brown.

Perfect Sausage Rolls
Perfect Sausage Rolls
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