Posts By: Joanna

Waiting for The Gingerbread Cake

Every year for Christmas I make traditional Polish gingerbread cake, and every year the day before Christmas, my girls and I curl up in my bed and read Christmas stories while waiting for our gingerbread cake to bake. Except that I've "upgraded" my grandma's recipe, by using a cake mix and some spices! Now it's so easy to make, that it leaves me more time for doing what's most important; reading about Santa and playing the pet vet with my kids! Because let's face it, even though baking is a great winter pastime, sometimes in the mists of last-minute Christmas preparations its good to have a shortcut recipe, as I like to call them. And with a couple of tricks, a boxed cake can taste just like a secret grandma's recipe! And if you've never heard of " Piernik" aka, The Gingerbread Cake, it's a traditional Polish Xmas cake, made with lots of spices and dark honey. In some families, it's filled with a sweet prune filling, and in others it's covered with chocolate ganache. My version is easier, and it involves much less preparation. Which is perfect with these little monkeys. Now, I don't use the prune filling ( although it's pretty Read more

DIY wrapping paper

One of the things I like the most about Christmas is the excuse to actually slow down and craft a little more with my daughters.. I know that for many it may sound crazy, as the festive season is often seen as the busiest time of the year! But I like to start the preparation early, keep things simple, and enjoy every minute of Christmas music while doing so! And when my daughter Lili was two years old, we started making wrapping paper together. It's not perfect, shiny and detailed like the store-bought one. Honestly it's a bit messy and rather imperfect. But we have so much fun making it! And now, when Lili is four, and Rose two, I have not one, but two little helpers to help me with Christmas preparations! Also, I really love the Scandinavian Xmas vibes, with its nature inspired simplicity. So every year I make these simple potato stamps that we use to stamp white paper with. I find the result adorable, and my kids have a blast stamping along! And I think that making a hand-made wrapping paper teaches kids a lot about the real joy of giving! I think that thanks to our little craft Read more

gift wrapping station

One of my early childhood memories, is sneaking in on my grandmother wrapping gifts, always last-minute on the Xmas eve, in her tiny little bedroom. She would keep all her gifts hidden there, underneath the bed, and the bed itself would be all covered in colourful papers, ribbons and gifts. And when she would spot me, hiding there behind the door, she would hush me out, saying she's only helping Santa, since he's so busy with everything else. And of course I would believe her. Later, when I didn't believe in Santa anymore, I would wrap gifts with my Mom on her bed, because she would also keep her gifts hidden safely underneath it. So of course, when my own kids became these little gift-searching creatures, I too I started hiding my gifts underneath my bed. And it was only natural for me to organize my gift wrapping station in my bedroom! Especially that not only do I have space underneath my bed for all those big and long wrapping paper rolls, but my new Leon's bed has 6 drawers too! Perfect for all my wrapping essentials and all off the gifts! So starting in early November, I collect all of my wrapping papers in Read more

Bedroom, the mom-oasis of calm

We all need a place where we feel relaxed the minute we get there. For some, it's their home in general, for others it may be the beach or the forest, while for me, a working-at-home-mom, it's my bedroom. Though it haven't always been that way. I used to study in my bed as a student, and have always had a huge mess of laundry. Then, as a new mom, my bedroom was buried underneath the pile of baby clothes, diapers and more laundry. Investing in the bedroom of my dreams just had to wait. Up until recently, when one day I finally realized that it's been awhile since I had a baby to change and feed in the middle of the night. And that actually, from time to time I do find a minute to read in bed. The only problem was that, my old headboard was a little bit of a DIY project, and didn't hold that well, so leaning comfortably on it was impossible. Our mattress was getting uncomfortable, and our nightstands where cute but very unpractical little tables, too small to store anything. It was time for a change. When I've set my eyes on my new Leon's bed, Read more

cookie swap hack: peppermint white chocolate shortcake cookies.

One of the things I love the most about December, are cookie swap parties. I just love the tradition of a cookie swap. Everyone brings a big batch of home-made Christmas cookies. Preferably the sort that only grandma used to make - because of course noting is as good as an old family recipe passed through generations of passionate bakers! Everyone decorates their cookies in a fun and original way, and then the swap begins! And everyone goes home with a lovely mix of Xmas cookies, all different all original and all home-made.. Except, that we don't always have time to make that big batch of perfect home made cookies. All the cutting and baking is definitely fun, but sometimes between work and home it's just not happening. Then what, should we cancel the cookie swap? No! Because with this cookie hack, nobody will know you didn't actually bake these cookies. Or you can tell them the truth, and I'm sure everyone will still love these! Because who doesn't love some white chocolate and peppermint candy sugar cookie? This melting in your mouth shortbread cookie, mixed with sweetness of white chocolate and the crunch of the peppermint candy cane is a crowd pleaser ! And it's a Read more

Winter Gallery Wall

I believe that seasonal decorating doesn't have to be expensive nor difficult! And I think that one of the best ways of adding interest to you living room is by adding some new and fresh prints to the gallery wall! Because visuals in the room are almost as important for me as the furniture themselves, since they can add the vibe and the atmosphere to the space like nothing else really. They can transform a boring and uninteresting wall in to a stunning and inspiring one ! And I really love it when not only the textures, pillows and accessories change with seasons, but also these visuals, prints and wall decorations. And so for me Christmas decorating means not only dressing up a Christmas tree, but also updating my gallery wall. But of course, since I don't poses unlimited decorating funds, I had to find a way to make it affordable, and easy. So first idea that came to my mind, was to use some wrapping paper! I had some recycled red and white one, that worked perfectly well with my gold frame, and I decided to use my whimsical black and white potato-stamped wrapping paper too! Next, I searched on-line for some free winter Read more

DIY advent calendar

There's something truly magical about advent calendars. The way they excite kids and how they make every single day special. And I really think that counting down to Christmas, one day at a time, is one of the best joys of childhood, and one of the pleasures of motherhood. Because looking at my kids exited faces in the morning is what I love the most during the holiday season! So it's not surprising that getting the advent calendar out off the living room coffee table, is one of our very favorite family traditions! Every day of December, in the early morning, my two daughters get up all exited and wake me up, begging to finally go downstairs and see the advent calendar. Some days they find candy (just don't tell them it's their Halloween leftover candy!) and some days they find stickers, temporary tattoos, or tiny little figurines. Honestly I don't think it really matters what they find , as the magic lays in anticipation and surprise! And so, thanks to the advent calendar, the excitement for Xmas builds up gradually. And their huge smiles brighten my dark December mornings, as we go downstairs to count the days left until Xmas! And Read more

Homier for the Holidays: A Holiday Living Room

The living room is our place to reconnect, unwind, and relax. This is where we read, watch movies together and snack on cookies while all cuddled up on the sofa! And somehow my daughters always end up with their dolls right next to me, playing with imaginary fairies and monsters. So having more space for everyone, including their dolls, was what I was secretly dreaming about for a while now! And with family visiting for the holidays, having a more comfortable sitting space was even more important than ever! Though as much as I love Christmas - I'm the first one to sing Christmas songs, and I don't even get a tiny bit annoyed with festive decor just after Halloween - I also believe that Christmas is more than just a big Christmas tree and gift shopping. I believe that it's simply about being close with the ones you love. So for me it's all about comfort. It's about a comfy chair for my guests, it's about a sofa big enough for me, my hubby, our daughters, my cats and my daughters dolls. Christmas is my favorite time, and my home is my favorite gathering place. So making it inviting, cozy and Read more

Buzz Off! DIY ideas for keeping bugs away

One of my biggest pleasures of summer is spending time outside with my family, watching the my kids running around, playing with them in the garden, grilling and then eating on our patio with family and friends. Honestly if I could, I would even sleep outside during the summer months! But it's really no fun at all when bugs, mosquitoes and ants come to join in the fun, am I right? And even though there is big choice of products on the market, sometimes I'm simply out of them, and sometimes I think that all the chemicals in them are a bit too harsh for my kids sensitive skin. But lucky there are other ways to get rid of all the annoying bugs and misquotes. Thanks to the use of special plants, herbs and spices we can still enjoy our patio even without the store bought products! So here are my all-time favorite natural, simple and easy ways for getting rid if the mosquitoes and bugs on my patio! 1. Planting bug-repellent plants and herbs. Let nature work for you in the easiest and prettiest way possible. There are many plants and herbs that will naturally repel mosquitoes and bugs, and most of them Read more

A Pretty Functional Patio Makeover

When we were looking to buy a home almost three years ago, I was always started the visits by going into the backyard. I wanted a space big enough to play with my kids, to entertain and to unwind after a busy day. I was imagining a spacious patio where I could fit our big extended family, where my daughters could read in the shade and where I could keep lots of potted herbs and flowers. Because for me summer is for outdoor living, for breathing the fresh air and for reconnecting with kids while playing in the sun. But nothing is perfect, and so the home that we had set our hearts on didn't have a big patio, and we've learned to live with that. My hubby had made a set of outdoor pallets sofas, that where fine for the first year, and I learned how not to kill the potted herbs. But after two years in our home, it was time for changes. The patio was really old, our DIY sofas where rotting, and our old little table was all rusty. We needed more space for our summer lifestyle, and furniture that would finally fit our needs. So thirst thing that I got Read more

Better Together: Tips For Creating a Shared Kids Bedroom

I believe that sibling bonding happens while kids share a bedroom together as kids, and that's why I chose to put my two girls together in one room. So as soon as my younger daughter Rose started to sleep through the night, I put my older daughter's bed next to the baby crib, and that's how they started sharing a bedroom together. Now, after almost a year of sleeping in one room, I can say that it has been one of the best parenting decisions that I had made so far. They're so much closer together now. They sing each other lullabies before they fall asleep and they laugh and play first thing in the morning (which let's me sleep longer!). Though I know that organizing a cohesive, comfortable and practical space for two kids can be difficult. Here's how you can make it work for your kids: 1. Choose a theme that'll appeal to both of your children. Decorating one room for two kids can be tricky, especially if you're trying to include their interests and character. That's why instead of trying to match two different themes in one room, try something more general, like a color palette that'll appeal to both of them. Read more

Sticking With Colour: Simple DIY Duct Tape Shelves

When I first decided to put my two daughters in one room, I was a bit anxious about the space. Our upstairs bedroom is rather small and I wasn't sure how I could make it work since there isn't much room for extra furniture, toys and toy storage. However, I then realized that first, they don't need that many toys in their bedroom, since they have a playroom downstairs. And second, instead of worrying about the lack of space on the ground, I should try using the vertical space in the best way possible. That's why I decided to install a wall-to wall shelf: I figured it'd be perfect for prints, and even books later on. I started to research ideas for a playful shelf that would add a bit of a whimsy feel while storing some of my girls favorite little figurines. I was looking a lot online, and the colorful, painted little shelves where all a bit too pricey. Just when I was ready to give up, I found these unpainted ones in a craft store! I was really exited about my find, perfect for their little shared bedroom! And instead of spending my time painting them, I decided to see if a colorful Read more

A Castle to Call Their Own: Our Girls Shared Bedroom Makeover

When we first moved to our little old house I was sure that my daughters would never share a bedroom together. There were three bedrooms, so in my mind plenty of space for everyone. Looking at my tiny newborn and my vigorous toddler I couldn't imagine how these two could sleep in one bedroom. Fast forward two years, and here we are: my girls are sharing a bedroom together, and I couldn't imagine it any other way. What has changed? First, we decided to transform the downstairs bedroom in to a real playroom. So we've moved her old twin bed in to the nursery. Second, they ended up as close as they possibly could have. They wanted to see each other first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. So here we are now, my two daughters are sharing what was once Rose's nursery. They couldn't be happier, but I wanted to really make it work. Lili was sleeping in my husband's old childhood bed, and Rose was getting to big for her crib. There was no need for a changing table as that was taking too much space, and they needed a better access to their clothes. So it Read more

Painted Pretty Planting Pots: DIY dipped planters

Every summer I'm so eager to finally expand my living room out onto our patio and to start living outdoors that before even the weather is warm enough I have everything planned..including new plants and planters. Because every summer I feel like redecorating our outdoor space or at lest adding more flowers and new accessories. And the easiest and least expensive way to do so, is by painting planters! And you don't need to be an artist to upgrade your old planters. I'm not a real artist, but it doesn't really matter, because this trick here is so easy that even a toddler can pull it off. It's actually my favorite way of adding some interest to the outdoors. Even a simple basil plant that you can get at a grocery store will look great in a pretty, European inspired plant pot! So don't worry if you don't have a greet thumb: just buy some herbs while doing your groceries and put them in these painted pretty pots! You can use terracotta pots as I did, or simple plastic planters, they'll both work very well! What you'll need: - Planters - Paint (can be even leftover wall paint) First things first: clean the dirt off all of Read more