I’m a bit in two minds about Valentine’s Day. Some of me sits on the “It’s a created day that is all about retailers and spending money” and the other side of me feels it’s great to be reminded to tell the people we love….that we love them in a more intentional way.

This year I feel more of the second…. hence the post….. but have tried to make it a little more creative (rather than spendy) because self created things almost always* help communicate the love better.

Ideas For Creative Dates

Hand Held Ice Skating Date In A Jar

1. Ice skating date in a Jar. Image from The Gunny Sack.


2. Hot Chocolate in a Jar (stay in) Date. Image from the Wintrop Chronicles.

Spa In A Jar

3. Spar in a Jar. Image from The Gunny Sack.

Super Lovey- Dovey


4. 52 things I love about you in a jar. Image from The Gunny Sack.

love potion number 9 valentine supplies

5. Love Potion No. 9. Image from Shaken Together Life.


6. A little envelope of notes for your loved one. Image from Oh hello friend.


7. Sharpie Mug. Image Sister’s Suitcase.

For the Kids


8. Love Lead pencils. Image from The Gunny Sack.


9. Robot Valentine’s. Image from Lisa Storms.


10. Monster Pencils. Image by the 36th Avenue.


11. Don’t ever change…. Image from Jac & Lyn Murphy.


12. Burst My Bubble Valentine’s. Image from The Gunny Sack.


13. I’m Bananas for you and You’re Grrrrrreat. Image from Lisa Storm.


14. Arrow pencils and printables. Image from Design. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.


15. Origami Heart Wrapped lolly Pop. Image A Kiss Of Colour.

Ideas to Bake


16. Nutella Love Letter Pancakes. Image by Kitchen Simplicity.


17. Sparkly Cookies. Image from The Gunny Sack.


18. Valentine snack mix. Image by Glorious Treats.


19. The Nutella/Espresso cup cake.Image from mandy Ash Craft.


20. Valentine’s cookies. Image Wedding Chicks.


21. Heart shaped pies. Image Babble.


22. Red Velvet Cupcakes in a Jar. Image My Baking Addiction.


23. Strawberry and Cream scones. Image Sanae Ishida.

Countdowns to Valentine’s Day (or count on….) 


24. The Valentine tree. Image from Simple as that blog.


25. Cute countdown. Image by Dear lizzy.

Valentines Advent Calendar - thehouseofsmiths.com

26. Bit late for this year….. A countdown to the day. Image from THe House Of Smiths.


27. 14 acts of love. Image from Make and takes.

countdown to kisses 1

28. Countdown to kisses. Image from the Olds family

IMG_0075 edit

29. DIY printable calendar. Image from Paige of Style.


30. Just one of the activities in the 14 days of love. Image from Pink Pistachio.



31. I love you this much. Image from Day in my life.


32. Sewn hearts card. Image from The creative Place.


33. Birthday candle card. Image from Real Simple.

Everything else.


34. Mini polaroid Magnets. Image from Ambrosia Girl.


35. Valentines “fortune’ cookies”. Image from Design. Wash.Rinse. Repeat.


36. Message in a bottle. Image from Oh hello friend.

wall heart 3

37. Wall heart. Image Oleander and Palm.


38. Washi banner. Image: Fancy Little Things.


39. Printable PDF. Image from The girl creative.

* Yes if you have asked for something specifically ….or have been promised something and you receive a sweet handmade gift, you won’t feel the love!


213428469811042041_hTPskl1a_cFor those of you who follow me on Pinterest, you will notice I have been spending a lot of time there lately…. Among other things I have found so many quotes and word posters and inspirational sayings. While some have substance, are thought provoking and even encouraging, the vast majority of them are ‘piffle’… as my mum would say.

They are a little like new years resolutions! Easily identified with or desired but offering no help in the achievement or simply so far from truth and reality that they are unachievable…… so I thought I would pepper my resolutions with them for your entertainment.

See if you can separate the profound from the piffle :0

What do I want more of, less of, more focused attention to and to try afresh in the new year?

244812929714902312_WlzxoqFl_c-read my bible more ….. help with a bible reading app on my phone. (begun)

66709638199915150_045eaef6_c-listen to book-club books rather than read them for a year. (I will read the first one ……as I have it and possibly the time)

7459155604765688_zntr0v4v_c-teach my girls to ‘notice’ what needs to be done for the house to function, and do it. (begun)

152348399864164112_vWDhJIQM_c-begin a degree in Fine Arts at SCA. (I’m IN officially now, so I can tell you). I enrolled yesterday.

32721534764544952_j8Q3NHhC_b-eat more simply and healthily (we all really need this)

61783826107513790_kqyrGdR9_c-continue teaching at ACU (just one first year class this year)

123567583496282722_UtB8m7TR_c-go to bed earlier (this will be hard and so worthwhile)

247205467016684412_3janNjXD_c-blog less (yes it’s true)

15270086206387475_q6apR33j_c-pray more and with focus. (…looking for helpful hints on this one. How do you focus and do?)

24769866670014562_4gIWmHRZ_c-call my Mum more (yes I need to repent of this and use the phone which I hate)

186055028327440283_A7n0vc7h_c-continue to volunteer. (This will need to be looked at carefully. 1 church, 3 schools and a number of sporting clubs gives many opportunities…..trying to work out how to be helpful but not overly burdened)

52776626852831585_AllpPZ4R_c-think carefully through what each member of my family needs and encourage and support them towards that. (Many different hopes and dreams on one household can mean frequent disappointments, tears and joys. I hope this year to roll with all the ups and downs of it without becoming emotionally exhausted)

249316529342375621_5SjWIvEH_c-spend money on experiences. (Less little bits spent on frequent, short lived enjoyment and stuff, and more money spent on relational and memorable experiences).

90916486197068932_VAC9oDWl_b-be content (be thankful for what I have and run with it rather than always be looking towards the next thing)

24980972902547609_95p7sVYt_c-complain less and not ‘rage against the machine’. (My critical nature needs a good kick in the teeth! This year I want to channel it towards things I can change or improve).


-spend more time with old friends and new.

Ok, bloggy friends…. there it is.

What have I missed?


Rocks for advent? all the details by clicking on the photo.

Some of you may have noticed a new page below my header…. and not a moment too soon. (like everything I do).

I have collated our advent calendar activities, readings and adventures for you to share and use.

We went with the ‘December is very busy’ approach and although we had a parcel for each day in December we planned from the start to open more than one each day and include some of our communities activities within the calendar.

It worked pretty well…..and included NO LOLLIES but ROCKS!

More advent ideas can be found here if this one doesn’t float your boat.

Yes! This is the week to be finalising your advent plans, if you haven’t already.

Painted rocks for advent.

Click on the image to see a collection of inspirational pictures with a letter writing theme.

Well here it is…… How Pinteresting!

Meredith suggested a collection of images to satisfy here letter writing phase. I took the theme where-ever it choose to go in my mind….. so I hope I have fulfilled the brief 🙂

She also wrote a great post a little while back about using 20 minute time lots to put pen to paper, that might interest you here.

I just love this image of vintage packages.

So what’s next? You choose. Remember it’s interactive, and if no-one chooses I will have to bore you with my collections.

Lots and Lots of Advent Ideas. Click on the image to take you straight through to Pinterest. I love this one. So simple, inexpensive and beautiful.

As requested by Meredith, How pinteresting are Advent Calendars?

What a  great time to start thinking about and through the sorts of activities you want to do to keep your Christmas all about Jesus.

The collection has not just visually great ideas but suggested activities and readings.

If you are interested in what our family have done over the last few years your can see it here for 2009 and here for 2010.

Last years advent can be found here in reverse…..I need to fix that!

Who know’s what we will do this year?

If you know of any others, or I haven’t included something you would recommend or have tried, please let me know……

….also please let me know if you would like me to collate a special grouping of things you are interested in. It is an interactive series.

I hope you enjoy this one, and I look forward to hearing your plans and comments.

You asked for it.

August 16, 2012

I have recently had a few people ask me to attach a search function to the blog.

Well, I’ve done it.

You can now search this blog for past posts by scrolling to the bottom of the page of posts and entering your keyword into the search box.

Now I can ‘Be obscure clearly’ as E. B White would say.


Facebook Friday

June 22, 2012

Thanks Dirtgirlworld. Image from their facebook page.

* disclaimer: I am not suggesting trees are God…..

Facebook Friday

June 15, 2012

Thanks dirtgirlworld.

One of my favourite Einstein quotes.

Facebook Friday

May 25, 2012

Image from a great website I follow via facebook. ‘Let the children Play’…. click through to check out the blog.

Before Christmas, the house move and the best holiday we have had as a family yet, I made my first ever unisex nappy bag. It was quite a fun process, so I thought I would share some of it.

It all began with an email out of the blue from all the way over in WA…. Deb wanted a bag that both her and her husband were happy to carry. She liked the Phoenix Files Bags shape and colour palette (although wanted to see some other ideas for colour), but wanted to make sure it was still ‘male enough’ for her Tim.

Blue/ grey Combo

Black/Avocado combo.

Red/Black/White/Grey Combo.

Tan/Brown Combo.

School Tie combo.

I emailed her a number of tie combinations. They settled on the black and avocado greens combination. To make sure it wasn’t t too feminine we stayed away from florals, paisleys and shiny ties. After we decided on the colour-way Deb cleared out her husbands wardrobe and asked if it were possible to upcycle one of his shirts for the lining.

The shirt was a King Gee style one made for a church men’s weekend away. The shirt had special memories for Tim but wasn’t something he wore. It didn’t yield quite enough fabric for the lining alone….so I added some ikea fabric from my stash.

Here’s what we ended up with.

Finished Nappy Bag with Change Mat.

Bag back....

...change mat.

Deb also wanted lots and lots of pockets.

Pockets for wipes, wallet, diary and notebooks, bottles and creams and of course nappies.

She also requested a special hook for her keys so that she wasn’t constantly searching for her keys at the bottom of the bag.

Inside looked like this.

Lots and lots of pockets. Open and zippered.

Button on key holder.

One of the more obviously telling details of the nappy bag are the side bottle pockets. I enjoyed getting my head around shaping these without compromising the given shape of the tie too much.

The strap is adjustable so as to be able to lengthen it for going over the handles of a pram or stroller and then shorten it again for carrying on the shoulder. I used a reclaimed computer-bag shoulder pad for extra comfort.

Right bottle pocket ...

Left bottle pocket.

Shoulder pad.

After I posted the bag off I received this lovely email from Deb’s husband Tim.

Hi Ally,

This is Tim (Deb’s husband) here.

Just wanted to say a massive thankyou for your superb work with our new ‘man-friendly’ nappy bag! It’s sooooo cool 🙂

The incorporation of my King Gee shirt is really, really nice as that was the camp uniform for a men’s retreat that I organised while I was working for church (it was a huge hit and really had a tangible impact on the friendships between the guys). So, needless to say, I am stoked at that memory being interwoven with the practicalities of caring for my precious girls!


I really enjoyed making this one.

Anyone else need a nappy bag?