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Lovely Living Community Blog

Working in an Office



When I was little I thought I’d grow up to be a writer and support myself financially (somehow at five years old I knew that writing was not a financially stable profession) as a teacher. I even did a couple of semesters of a teaching degree before life got in the way. But one thing I knew is that there was NO.WAY. I would ever work in an office. I could think of nothing more depressing.

Fast forward a few years and it turns out that administration is kind of my ‘thing’. And it turns out that I really love working in an office.  I love wearing pencil skirts and cute shoes and click-clacking away on a computer while a deadline looms. But as much as I love my job (and the FANTASTIC people I work with) I do admit there are some things about working in office that aren’t so cool.

So I present to you, without bias, the five best and worst things about working in an office.

Let’s start with the worst things.

  • Papercuts. And cardboard cuts. And papercuts over old papercuts. And stabbing your finger on a staple. Ouch!
  • Grey. And not the sexy fifty-shades kind. Just the bland eleven-shades kind. Carpets, ceilings, door frames, desks, bookcases etc
  • Dad jokes. Well, I think it’s meant to be inoffensive humour. But when catering arrives for a meeting and the seventeenth person says “you can just drop that off at my desk, hahaha” or on Monday the fifteenth person says “only 412 hours til the weekend, hahaha” Welllllll, it gets irritating
  • Commercial radio. Bland enough that no-one gets offended. But somewhere, good taste crawls off and dies.
  • Queues for coffee. Everyone gets the same idea around the same time. Not fun.

But on the up side….

  • You know all the memes, cartoons, email jokes and celebrity gossip before they hit facebook.
  • You always find out about the newest and best sites for online shopping.
  • There’s always someone around to buy your fundraising chocolates/raffletickets/sponsor your child in Readathon. In addition, there’s always cheap chocolate available within a few dozen metres.
  • You can satisfy your stationery obsession. For free. Of course I need one of each colour of highlighter.  And post-it notes in every size. Mine, Mine, MINE!!
  • Getting to dress up without feeling a bit weird. Permission to wear heels granted. Yes to red lippy. Blazers ahoy!


Do you work in an office? What do you enjoy or dislike about it? 

Laura xx



Odd socks




There it is, our sock basket, home of the lost souls (or should that be lost SOLES? *wink*), resting place for the as-yet-unmatched socks. Most of them find their partner and are freed but there are some that may NEVER escape the basket. Sometimes, when I’m really not in the mood for laundry and find my mind wandering, I wonder what has happened to those other socks. What is a sock without it’s twin? Is the sock doomed or is the sock getting into all sorts of adventures. Oh yeah, mostly these thoughts are after too much wine too.

So, with tongue firmly in cheek, I decided to come up with a list of ten things a lone sock can do:

  1. Use it to make a bun-enhancer like this
  2. Collect bits of used soap inside and hang it in the shower or bath for soap on a rope
  3. Use it over a vacuum hose to remove spiders or find tiny items like in this pic
  4. Put over your hand to dust blinds and lampshades
  5. Make a sock puppet (a sock monkey requires two socks)
  6. Cut the toe off and use as a tubular bandage to hold ice, compresses, dressings etc in place
  7. Fill with wheat, sew the end closed and use as a heat pack
  8. Cut the toe off and then slide over your straightener, curling iron or hairdryer (with the cord already wrapped around the appliance) to keep cords untangled
  9. Keep it in your handbag for when you need to try shoes on in a store
  10. Stuff with your keys etc and then bury in the sand when you’re at the beach.

Any other ideas? Like cleaning vases? Or like maybe I lay off the red wine? haha!

Laura x


Easy Peasy Petit Fours


We hosted Mothers Day lunch at our house this year and I decided to make some sweet little Petit Fours for after lunch. I’d never made them before and all the icing recipes I saw called for corn syrup but I decided to experiment and was pleased with the results.

My Petit Fours were definitely not as dainty as some I’ve seen but they were tasty and were fun to make so if all this Diamond Jubilee stuff has gotten you in the mood for hosting a high tea, it would be well worth you giving it a go.

You will need:

  • Madeira cake
  • Jam
  • Rolled fondant (aka wedding cake icing) or Almond icing. Marzipan may work but I haven’t tried it.
  • Food colouring
  • Pattypan cases
  • Icing or chocolate for topping
  • Egg (optional)

Step 1:

Slice a thin piece of madeira cake. Spread with jam. Slice another thin piece and place on top. Spread with jam again. Top with another piece. Depending on how thin your slices are, you may need 3 or 4 layers.

Step 2: 

Trim edges then cut into squares. At this stage, you may freeze these mini cakes to make later stages easier (the same way you do with lamington sponge)

Step 3: 

To make the icing, place approx half of the packet of icing into a small bowl, sprinkle a teaspon of water over the top and microwave on medium for 30sec bursts until melted. It may still hold the same shape so check often. Do not allow to overheat.

Stir the icing and let cool a little.

(a) If using the egg, you can now whisk the egg white with a little icing sugar until frothy and add a few teaspoons to the lukewarm icing (if it is hot, the eggwhite will cook). The eggwhite allows the icing to dry a little harder.

(b) If making without the egg white, simply add another couple of teaspoons of water and mix in.

Add a drop or two of food colouring and mix in.

Step 4:

Coat your cakes in the icing and place onto wire racks to set or straight into patty pan cases. The easiest way to coat is to coat the sides first, rotating as in the pic above and then drizzle some icing over the top.


Step 5: 

decorate with sprinkles, glitter icing from a tube or a drizzle of melted chocolate. Leave to airdry overnight or for several hours.

Step 6:

Laura xx


Sight Word ~ Learning Golden & Red Words


In our home we’ve mastered Golden Words and are currently on our Red Words.  Lulu has learnt all of these now and is patiently waiting to be tested.

For anyone who is interested you can down load a printable list of the Golden and Red Words here

Today I thought I would share with you what we got up to last weekend.

Red Word Hop Scotch.

We have a big concrete driveway, but a footpath would do just fine.

I drew up the squares for hopscotch and together we put all the words in the squares.  Then we played.

As we jumped on the different squares we shouted out the words.

When Lulu was stuck on something we sounded it out and talked about it together.

Toward the end of the session she jumped on each square and I drew a star next to the words she knew.

Not only was this positive recognition for her it also helped me to identify which words she was still struggling with and what we need to focus more closely on.

Lulu is looking forward to being tested, she loves to get her certificate and move onto a new challenge.  I am grateful she is loving learning.





A wife and mother to three, Mandy is what some would say a ‘control freak’ but she would say ‘organised’.
A pathological photo taker, she captures the day to day events of her family and shares her families stories, along with tips and advice on organizing, crafting and fun with kids at

Facebook Twitter 


Marbled manicure


You might have seen this technique before, you might not have. It’s been around for a few years and there’s also instructions on the OPI website here (select nail art- swirl technique). I thought I’d show you how I do it at home.

Required: container of water, nailpolishes, kebab stick or similar. Optional: different methods of keeping polish off your skin (tape, moisturiser, nailpolish remover)

PICTURE 1: I went with the tape method… one strip under the nailbed and one strip going up the side of my nail, across the pad and down the other side. Moisturiser in the gaps. I had pre-painted my nail because I was using a light colour.

PICTURE 2: Drip in some nailpolish. You need quite a big area because the edges of the blob will set so you can only swirl within those edges. The nailpolish should disperse and look like watercolour paint on the water. This is a bit thicker than you really want, I just poured nailpolish in rather than drip it in so it was clear in the pictures what I was doing

PICTURE 3: Add the next colour(s) and swirl with the kebab stick, making sure you don’t touch the edges (the set edge will attach to itself and ball up)

PICTURE 4: Hold your finger so that it is nail-down, hold it over a marbled area you like and press down under the water surface.

PICTURE 5: Keep your nail in the water and use the kebab stick to gather up the rest of the polish off the surface of the water (it will stick to itself like blu-tack does) Note: This is more like what you want the nailpolish to look like when you’re about to plunge your finger in.

PICTURE 6: Pull your finger out, remove tape, clean up any stray polish. This nail took *forever* to dry because the polish was thick.

PICTURE 7: Taadaa! Paint other nails to match ( I like to do one marbled nail on each hand), add any bling etc, take photo for the interwebs, THEN clean up your manicure….. no, don’t do that, it’s just the order I did it because I’m silly.

Laura xx

Just a note…. some polishes work better than others. Quick-drying polishes are, unfortunately, quick-drying and difficult to use. If you drop big globs of polish onto the water, they may break through the surface and sink to the bottom in a ball, try and drop the polish from close to the waters surface. These nail polishes in this post worked brilliantly, they’re called “essence” or something like that and were $1.50 each from Target.



Fun Ideas for Learning Letters


In the lead up to school my daughter did a reading course which focused on Phonics.

This was a great stepping stone for her, to identify that the alphabet has sounds.

The only problem for us was that we were so focused on sounds we didn’t really focus on anything else.

But when we are older and we tell someone how to spell something we don’t sound it out, we spell it out using the ‘names’ of the letters.

My daughter needed to learn the names of the letters.  She was staring blankly at flash cards and having a guess.

But there is so much you can do to help your children learn the names of letters in the alphabet.

Below I’ve listed 5 great ideas for learning about letters:

You can visit this site for a print out for every letter of the alphabet.  This activity is perfect for familiarising your child with the letter as well as how to write it.

Shaving cream provides a great ‘touchy feeling’ option for familiarising your child with letters.  They can try drawing them in the shaving cream, copying a sheet you’ve already written out or if they’re past it try randomly calling letters out for them to draw.

This is a brilliant idea for people on the go, or perhaps just entertainment in the car. You can call out random letters and they need to find it on the plate/wheel and fold it down once selected.

Of course the options are endless as far as the types of games you could play.  Eye spy anyone?

Using megabloks and stickers make ‘alphabet blocks’.  The learning opportunities here are endless.  You could ask them to stick them together in order and then recite them to you, or alternatively you could randomly select letters and ask them to connect them together.  As they advance in their learning you could ask them to spell words.

This is a great way to teach them to match lower case with upper case.  You can also ask them to put them in order too.


The most common thing amongst all these ideas is repetition.  That is the key to learning. Oh and of course it’s all about keeping it FUN.

Have you got any great tips you’d like to share?




A wife and mother to three, Mandy is what some would say a ‘control freak’ but she would say ‘organised’.
A pathological photo taker, she captures the day to day events of her family and shares her families stories, along with tips and advice on organizing, crafting and fun with kids at

Facebook Twitter 


Marshmallow flowers


I hope you all had a lovely Mothers Day.  I know I did, I had lots of fun planning and baking for lunch at my house, which you can read more about here on my personal blog.

One of the things I made were cute little yellow petit fours. They were quite labour-intensive so I didn’t make too many of them, only about 2 dozen and I felt the platter needed something else to ‘fill it out’ and make it not look so bland so I also made some little marshmallow flowers.

Silly me didn’t take any pictures at the time so here’s a quick tutorial done on my kitchen bench before dashing out to work ;o)  Hopefully the instructions are clear enough for you to attempt this yourself and get much better results than I did here. The end result on the platter was beautiful, I promise!


  • icing sugar
  • food colouring
  • marshmallows
  • a plastic bag
  • kitchen scissors


Make the coloured icing by placing some icing sugar and a few drops of food colouring into a bag, sealing and mixing until colouring is evenly distributed.


Make the first cut of your marshmallow and dip the cut edge in the coloured icing sugar to prevent it sticking.

I’ve drawn a little pic of the cuts you need to make


Once all the cuts have been made and dipped, dust off the excess and lay your flower out. You can leave it as is or create a ‘centre’ of your flower by using a rolled up piece of fondant (that’s what I did), piping some icing, or using some icing to ‘glue’ a smartie or similar lolly on.

Let me know if you try it out!!

Laura xx



World Thyroid Day 2012


Busy, busy busy….

We’re all busy women, aren’t we? Juggling some combination or another of work, study, kids, romance, friendship, housework, volunteering, fitness. I know I definitely have my hands full but when people compliment me on my ability to juggle all the things going on in my life, it makes me feel really, really proud of myself.

You see, I have an auto-immune disease called hypothyroidism that makes me extra-tired and makes everything extra-hard. Hypothyroidism means my thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroxine to regulate my metabolism properly. We tend to think of metabolism in terms of how much cake you can eat before you have to go up a size in jeans, but really, metabolism occurs in every cell of your body.

I know quoting from Wikipedia has all the academic credibility of quoting Sesame Street but this really is a good explanation:

Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in the cells of living organisms to sustain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments.

(From Wikipedia

Let me try and explain how it works with a bad analogy. Let’s say, for example, that your body needs 100 calories a day just to maintain itself and do normal daily activity. And let’s say you eat 100 calories a day. You will have enough energy to live your life normally and will not put on weight. If you have hypothyroidism, your body will only extract, say, 65 calories from your food and so the other 35 calories will be stored as fat. To deal with only having 65 calories to allocate, your body will reduce the amount of energy it expends on things such as producing skin oils, growing hair, healing cuts, general immunity, etc. Other symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, mental ‘fog’, feeling cold (in fact your whole body temperature is lower),  hair loss,  trouble swallowing.  It also leads to a lowered fertility rate and a higher miscarriage rate, as well as problems breastfeeding.

Correctly treated, hypothyroidism is probably one of the easiest illnesses to have. Untreated, it’s possibly among the most difficult due to the fact that it affects literally every cell in the body and also affects the mind. But getting diagnosed is often difficult, the symptoms may be blamed on other things or initial tests may show no problems, it’s only the wider range of tests that indicate a problem.

May 25th is World Thyroid Day, a day designed to raise awareness, discussion and understanding of thyroid illnesses (which include Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer and others).

President of the American Thyroid Association, Dr. James A. Fagin, says:
“Commemoration of World Thyroid Day helps to remind us of the extent of these problems, as well as to celebrate our  accomplishments in improving the lives of our patients, and of the challenges we still face.” (source)

Do you or someone you know suffer with a Thyroid-related illness? What’s your story?


Beginning to Learn – Sight Words


My daughter has started school and is learning, learning at a rapid rate, but at the same time not learning quick enough.

At the end of the first term she was put on an ‘Individual Learning Plan’ which in essence means she has some catching up to do.

I know first term right!

Anyway, prior to this we were plodding along, doing the readers, probably not doing them very well, because we didn’t really know what the expectation was.

Now that we do we’ve put into place a number of different ideas to help move her along.

Over the next week or two I’ll write a series of posts called “Beginning to Learn” with ideas on how to ignite the desire to learn in your child.

Whilst I am not an education specialist, I am a mother who is experiencing first hand what sending a child to school for the first time is like. It is very much a learning curve for the parents as much as the children.


Do you know about the term ‘sight words’ or ‘magic words’? They are a list of 100 words that children need to learn when they start school.

The theory is that these words make up majority of words in books, therefore for the major part your child should be able to read relatively well if they know the 100 sight words.

At my daughters school they are broken up into colours. She’s learnt her golden words which are the top 12 most commonly used words.

A, And, Be, I, In, Is, It, Of, That, The, To, Was

Now she is learning her Red Words.

When we found out she was struggling, she just couldn’t comprehend remembering these words.

So we looked at games she could play to make learning more enjoyable as well as provide repetition which I believe encourages learning.

Here are my top 3 games for learning sight words:

1/ Game of Memory – I printed these words out twice and cut and laminated them, making ‘flash cards’ then we use them to play a game of memory.

Each night when we play and we turn over the cards she needs to tell me what the word is. I help her where needed.

2/ Bean Bag Toss – Using one set of these memory cards we spread all the words out on the floor. Then using a rolled up pair of socks we play ‘bean bag toss’ Again she needs to tell me the name of the word when it lands on it, but by playing bean bag toss it just makes the game a little more exciting.

3/ Bingo – This time I made up game cards using the words. I didn’t include all of the words on each player card to ensure there would be a winner. Then using the flash cards we’d pick one word at a time. We used 5 cent pieces to mark words off on our card.

Given I’m no expert I’d love it if you could share your tips and ideas that you used to help your child learn sight words and learn to read when they started school.



A wife and mother to three, Mandy is what some would say a ‘control freak’ but she would say ‘organised’.
A pathological photo taker, she captures the day to day events of her family and shares her families stories, along with tips and advice on organizing, crafting and fun with kids at

Facebook Twitter 


A teddy bear’s picnic


After all that planning… a lesson that even the best laid plans go astray!

After experiencing a heatwave in Perth and me worrying it would be too hot for a picnic, the forecast for the day ended up being ‘cloudy, risk of storm’.  Umm, great! On the invitations I had included a map which pointed out both the park and our house and had said that in the case of bad weather we’d move the party to our house. So about 45mins before the party was due to start I (chickened out and) made the executive decision to move it to our house and sent a bulk text to the party guests.

My house was not ready to receive guests!! The kitchen was covered in food-prep stuff… dishes and packets and platters and whatnot.  We pulled the chairs away from our dining table to turn it into a picnic table and dragged a green rug into the room to look like grass. We didn’t end up using the tissue paper pompoms that were supposed to hang from the trees in the park and we didn’t need the wicker laundry basket full of ‘picnic’  blankets I had scrounged from my cupboards, friends and opshops as we had couches and dining chairs and our outdoor settings.

I’m still happy with how it turned out though. I mean, look at their faces….

The key to bringing together the ‘picnic’ theme was definitely the gingham napkins and tablecloth! I also used lots of  ’baskets’ and also brown paper to match that colourway (red/white/brown) 


The picnic table….

From the left…goody bags and a wicker basket containing cutlery. Also veggie slice (like zucchini slice but with mixed veg)

Potato salad, assorted sandwiches, another small wicker basket lined with gingham napkin containing assorted teddybear biscuits (tiny teddies and Arnotts Teddy Bears)

More sandwiches, fairybread cut into teddybear shapes with a cookie cutter, mini muffins, fruit, a platter of gluten-free options and the cakes (Bella, Ashley and gluten-free)

Ashley’s cake….

Bella’s cake (it was a platter of cupcakes)… 


Fortunately it didn’t actually rain so we spread out some picnic rugs on the lawn outside and played a few games of pass-the-parcel and the children got to play outside for a while.

The party didn’t go entirely to plan BUT the girls loved it and enjoyed their birthday and since THAT was the plan all along, I guess that means it was a success! ;o)

Laura xx