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With many of us having transitioned from office life to working from home in recent weeks, it can be challenging to feel as though you’re able to focus and work successfully when you’re in a different environment to your normal workplace. We’ve got a few tips and tricks to help you make the most of your work from home set up and get a solid day’s work done with ease!

Attitude is Everything!

Working
Getting into the right mindset as soon as you wake up is key to having a productive day. It’s still a normal workday, so waking at your normal time and getting ready as you usually do will help set the tone of the day from the get go. While it’s tempting to stay in pjs all day, you should shower, get dressed and eat breakfast as you normally would before starting the short commute to your work area. This will help wake you up properly and get your brain into gear and feel ready to start work. Throughout the day, take breaks as you normally would, particularly your lunch break. Having a half hour break to eat, step away from your laptop and take a short walk will help energise you to get through the second half of the day.

Your Workspace

Working
While the couch looks like an inviting place to spend the workday, it can actually be quite unproductive for some people. You might like to consider setting up a semi-permanent workstation at your dining table, or if your home has a study nook or private study, try to emulate your office desk there so it feels more professional, permanent and familiar. An office chair will also help you stay comfortable and adhere to any OH& S recommendations on seated posture in the home. Working somewhere with natural light and even a window that can be opened to let the fresh air in will keep your mood levels high and help you feel productive throughout the day. Keep your desk tidy and organised wherever possible to assist you with feeling on top of things, particularly when you sign off at the end of the day – a chaotic work area will induce stress every time you look at it when you’re not working.

Staying Focused

Working
While more families are at home together, it can be challenging to stay focused throughout the work day, particularly if you’re working in a communal family area. If you’re set up at the dining table with family members around you, a pair of good noise cancelling headphones will block out noise and allow you to focus on your work, regardless of whether you use them to play music or not! Having a work station in a study nook or private study will allow for a more focused work day, simply by being slightly removed from the rest of the house. Soft, ambient music will help keep the household sounds out of your space, and keep your brain feeling awake and productive. It’s a good idea to keep your online and social media browsing limited to break times as you would at the office to continue working at the same pace you normally do to avoid distraction.

While working from home can take some getting used to initially, if you stick to your regular work day schedule and best practices at home, you’ll benefit from having a productive day. By implementing a few or all of these tips, you’re sure to feel accomplished at the end of each day, making spending time with you family in the evenings that much more rewarding! For more tips and tricks, including how to design the perfect study, head over to the Hotondo Homes website today.

With many of us spending a lot more time at home with our families, it can be challenging to keep the kids entertained every day, particularly when they tire of the toys they already have. Here at Hotondo Homes we’ve done a bit of brainstorming and drawn on our own personal experiences to come up with a few foolproof and creative ways to keep the kids happy, and more importantly, busy and active within the home!

Getting Creative in the Kitchen

Kids
If you love to bake and your kids are a little bit older, this is the perfect time to get creative in the kitchen with them! You can bake a batch of cupcakes or simple sugar cookies the night before, and set up cupcake and cookie decorating stations for them to participate in. All you need are a few batches of icing with a few drops of food colouring to create different colours, some sprinkles, crushed up chocolate biscuit crumbs and chocolate bars, some lollies, and you’ll have a fun family-friendly activity to keep them busy, with the added bonus of having some delicious morning and afternoon tea treats to enjoy in the days to follow.

Indoor Inspiration

Kids
As the weather becomes a bit cooler in the mornings, or for those rainy days when everyone’s indoors, a little imagination is often needed. If you have any large carboard boxes ready to recycle, cut the sides and flatten them down, then grab a black marker and draw a series of roads all over the flat cardboard. Your kids can grab their toy cars and assorted small figurines to play on the tracks together in their bedrooms or in the living area as you get on with household chores. Alternatively, you can pop a plastic mat down on the floor and set it up as an art easel or canvas to get their creative juices flowing with some painting. If you have a small camp tent you might also like to set it up in the living area and set the kids up inside with some cosy blankets and pillows, a few books and toys, and some snacks so they can do a bit of indoor camping! No tent? No worries! Just grab your dining chairs, a few big blankets to drape over the top and you’ve got a perfect indoor fort for the kids to enjoy while they’re stuck inside.

Bath Time Fun

Kids
A big bottle of bubble bath does wonders to elevate normal bath time to something a lot more fun for kids, but to take things to the next level you might like to order some coloured bath foam and bath crayons so the kids can have some fun and get creative! There’s also the option of using washable paint diluted with a bit of water and some paintbrushes to really let their artistic flair shine through as they paint a few masterpieces for you to admire. With any of these bath products, it’s always a good idea to do a patch test first to ensure it will wash off your bathtub and tiles properly once the activity is finished.

Backyard Fun

Kids
If your new home has some outdoor space, now is the perfect time to add a few items that the kids will be able to enjoy for years to come. Many retailers sell sand pit kits that just need some quick DIY assembly and a few bags of sand added to it. Grab the kids’ cars, beach buckets and spades, and they’ll be happy for hours digging in the sand. If you have a covered alfresco, and a baby who’s getting increasingly mobile, you might like to purchase a hanging swing that can be bolted from the beams so your baby can enjoy some fresh air and activity outside with their older siblings. If you have older kids, a larger swing set, while undoubtedly a splurge when it comes to cost, will no doubt be a huge hit and keep them happy for hours on end. For simpler things that toddlers and younger kids can participate in, investing in some bubble wands, sidewalk chalk and a water table will give you a stash of fun activities to encourage outdoor play at home.

Being at home doesn’t have to be a dull or stressful ordeal. By making a plan and having plenty of things on hand to keep the kids entertained, this can become a time that the entire family embraces and enjoys together as we all make the most of this extended time at home.

If you’re located in Victoria, or you’re thinking about moving down south, we have a number of franchisees based all across the state ready to make your dream home a reality. This week we’re putting the spotlight on a few of our builders throughout Victoria so you can get to know some of the franchisees in our Hotondo Homes family!

Hotondo Homes Bendigo

Victoria builder
Andrew and Lyn Ralph are your new home builders in Bendigo. As one of Bendigo’s most trusted builders, Andrew and Lyn have over twenty-five years of experience and know how to build quality homes for a range of clients. Their team of professionals service the Bendigo area and surrounds, and can offer you a range of single and double storey solutions. Andrew and Lyn pride themselves on their high quality homes and work with local tradesmen. You can see their fantastic attention to detail at their Yering 248 display home in Strathfieldsaye, a spacious acreage home beautifully finished with a modern interior and family friendly layout. Walk through the Yering 248 in person, or head over to our website to take a virtual tour today.

Hotondo Homes Melton

Victoria builder
With over twenty-five years of experience, Darren and Vesna Pollock from Hotondo Homes Melton know what it takes to create stunning dream homes. Building throughout Melton and Melbourne’s western suburbs, they’re also happy to travel further north to towns such as Kyneton. Darren, Vesna and their team pride themselves on their professionalism and have a wide range of house and land packages on offer. They also cater to sloping blocks with their split level home designs, and have an extensive knowledge of the local area. When you build with Darren and Vesna, you’re guaranteed great results! Take a look at their recently opened Erskine 240 display home, which boasts a clever layout perfect for everyday family life. You can visit this display in Melton South, or take a virtual tour at our website.

Hotondo Homes Inverloch

Victoria builder
If you’re looking to build your dream home, Trent and Caroline Allen from Hotondo Homes Inverloch can make it happen. Trent, Caroline and their team provide quality building services to Inverloch and the surrounding areas, so whether you’re looking to build a single or double storey home, they have the perfect home design for you. With a range of flexible floor plans, the team at Inverloch specialise in knockdown rebuild projects, beach homes, acreage homes, and dual occupancy dwellings. As a highly professional team, they deliver projects on time and on budget, as well as providing exceptional customer care. See the quality craftsmanship in person at their Hamptons style Somerset 233 display home, which is the perfect example of a coastal family retreat! Head over to our website to take a virtual tour, or walk through the home in person when you visit Inverloch.

Hotondo Homes has a number of builders located throughout Victoria to help you with your vision. With flexible designs for all types of land, and plenty of house and land packages available to suit your budget and lifestyle, you’re sure to find a local builder in your area to create a beautifully constructed home for you and your family! Visit the Hotondo Homes website and find a builder local to you today.

This week we have a special guest blog post from Breanna, who recently reflected on her experience as a wish recipient with Make-A-Wish Australia and the #WishForce.

Following a liver transplant, wish recipient Breanna had her wish to be an event manager granted in 2016. Together, with the tireless support of the #WishForce, Breanna hosted a magical fundraising ball raising money in support of other kids and teens fighting life-threatening illnesses. Hotondo Homes Ballarat were a part of this incredible wish, building and donating the wishing well for her event. Now in Year 10, Breanna came back to Make-A-Wish Australia for her work experience. As part of her experience, she reflected upon her wish and shared her expertise for planning a fundraising event.

How My Wish Came Together

Breanna's Wish
My wish was to style and manage my very own event to help raise funds to support Make-A-Wish Australia. Styling events was something that I loved to do in hospital as I always found myself on Pinterest looking at ideas for my future birthdays and wedding. The idea of being able to style something while also supporting Make-A-Wish and all of the other kids that wanted wishes as great as mine granted was just a dream come true.

Breanna's Wish
Make-A-Wish organised for me to work alongside The Style Co. who showed me how they run events and together we came up with the fairy tale theme. We then picked an element from different fairy tales to showcase at the event. For example, a red rose in a glass case as the table centrepiece inspired by Beauty and the Beast, a mini tree with red apples from Snow White, and there was even a Cinderella carriage photo booth!

Breanna's Dress
Seeing it all come together was amazing. I was so used to looking at the plans, but to see it come together in real life was better than I ever would have imagined, everyone did such an amazing job helping pull my wish together!

Breanna's Wish
I was so amazed by all the donations made by so many different companies! My dress was custom made, I had my makeup and hair professionally done, the foliage, balloons and lollies were donated and the wishing well was custom built and donated, thanks to Hotondo Homes Ballarat!

Breanna's Wish
The event raised an incredible $118,000 for Make-A-Wish Australia and was far more than I ever would have thought. This is all thanks to everybody that came to spend this special night with me. I would just love to say a massive thank you to the Wish Force for making my wish come true better than I ever could have imagined, it was one of the best nights that I have ever had.

Breanna's Wish

Breanna’s Top Five Tips for Planning an Event

1. Choose a theme: Begin by looking for ideas and themes that you would like for your event.
2. Get creative: Once you have finalised your theme start looking at different inspirational ideas that you could incorporate into your chosen theme.
3. The layout: Once you have your theme and inspiration, start to work out how the room or place is going to be orientated and where your decorations and anything else that you may need is going be situated.
4. Sourcing: Now you can start to create and bring all your ideas to life by outsourcing with event suppliers, or making them yourself.
5. Action! You can now decorate your space the way you’ve planned with all of your supplies and decorations.

Wish Effect

Wishes have an incredible and lasting effect on the lives of kids and teens fighting life-threatening illnesses, their families and wider communities. As you can see, the hope and joy of the wish lasts long after the moment itself!

If you’d like to know more about Hotondo Homes’ partnership with Make-A-Wish Australia, visit the Hotondo Homes website today. Alternatively, you can also donate to Make-A-Wish Australia via their website.

Whether you’ve lived in Queensland all your life or you’re thinking about making the move up to the sunshine state, Hotondo Homes has a large network of builders ready to help you find the perfect home! All our local builders have a number of home designs available to choose from, and can provide cost-effective solutions to meet your budget and lifestyle. This week we’re putting the spotlight on a few of our builders throughout Queensland so you can get to know some of the members of our Hotondo Homes family!

Hotondo Homes Toowoomba

Queensland
Steve and Cassandra Allan have been part of the Hotondo family for 10 years, and have won numerous awards during their time as Hotondo Homes franchisees, including the prestigious 2017 National Professional Builder of the Year! Servicing Toowoomba and the surrounding areas of Dalby, Gatton, Warwick, Laidley, Lockyer, Hatton Vale and Plain Lands, they work with you and your requirements to build a home that fits your lifestyle and suits your budget. Passionate about building homes of the highest quality, Steve and Cassandra believe the secret to success is in delivering a rewarding and memorable building experience by being big enough to deliver, but still small enough to listen. With twenty years of experience building in Toowoomba, the team at Hotondo Homes Toowoomba have built over 200 homes. Known for professional and personal service, whether you’re after a house and land package, a multi-level home, or have an unusual block, Steve, Cassandra and their team are the perfect choice for your new home! Visit their brand new Jaxton 261 display home and see the quality craftmanship they include in every new home they build.

Hotondo Homes Gold Coast North

Queensland
With over 18 years of building experience, Corey and Rachael Hobbins are your local builders on the Gold Coast who can turn your dream home into a reality. Priding themselves on attention to detail, Corey and Rachael prioritise customer serivce and dedication to understanding their clients’ needs. Servicing the Coomera, Pimpama, Gold Coast areas, as well as Ballina, Lismore, Lennox Heads and Evans Heads, they have over 90 flexible floor plans and a range of house and land packages to choose from, all of which can be tailored to suit your individual needs. Corey and Rachael’s years of experience, professionalism and local area knowledge will be the perfect tool to guide you through one of the most important purchases of your life. Pop in to their new Erskine 225 display home and chat to the team about starting your home building journey with Hotondo Homes.

Hotondo Homes Sunshine Coast

Queensland
Alyssa Pepper is your award winning builder on the Sunshine Coast, and can build in surrounding areas inluding North Brisbane, Bribie Island, Woodford, and across the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands. With over 10 years of experience, when you build with Alyssa you deal directly with her from the drafting stages right through to the final handover. Whether you’re looking to build a family home or an investment property, Alyssa can assist you in finding the perfect home solution. Specialising in small lots through to acreage lots, as well as double storeys and townhouses, Alyssa prides herself on her quality service and construction, and is happy to let you be involved in your build as much as possible. Providing an unbeaten, unique, professional and honest experience, Alyssa and her team are ready to help you find your dream home. Visit Alyssa’s Jagera 250 display home and see her superb work in person!

Hotondo Gympie

Queensland
Known for turning dream homes into a reality, Chris and Michelle Dodt are widely considered to be Gympie’s trusted new home specialists! With an impressive 30-year-long career in the building industry, Chris and Michelle have everything you need to build your new home in Gympie and surrounding areas including Glenwood, Tin Can Bay, Rainbow Beach and Goomeri. Joining the Hotondo Homes family over 20 years ago, Chris and Michelle’s dream was to build quality dream homes for locals, and today they pride themselves on their fantastic customer service and commitment to supporting the local area. Choosing to work only with local trades, your home will be built by people who know the local area inside out. Whether you’re looking for your first home, dream home, or an investment property, Hotondo Gympie have a solution that’s perfect for you. They also specialise in acreage and split level designs, meaning they can build your home no matter what kind of block you own. With a team of professionals who can walk you through the home building journey every step of the way, you’ll have peace of mind watching your new home come to life. With a new Cooloola 208 display home open, Chris and Michelle would love to chat to you about building your dream home!

Hotondo Homes has a number of builders located around Queensland to help you with your vision. With flexible designs for all types of land, and plenty of house and land packages available to suit your budget and lifestyle, you’re sure to find a local builder in your area to create a beautifully constructed home for you and your family! Visit the Hotondo Homes website and find a builder local to you today.

If you’ve been waiting all year to host Christmas in your beautiful new Hotondo home and show off that stunning new kitchen, elegant dining area, and enjoy relaxing in your living space with family and friends, we’re here to help. We’ve got some tried and true dessert recipes from some of our very own Hotondo team members that you can make ahead of time to help with your celebrations for Christmas Day!

Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Shortbread

Christmas

Who doesn’t love shortbread? It’s perfect to enjoy with a cuppa as you put your feet up and relax after a long day of celebrating. Best of all, it’s quick and easy to make a couple of days in advance! This recipe serves ten people approximately.

Ingredients
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 & 1/4 cups plain flour
3/4 cup rice flour
1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Icing sugar mixture, to dust (optional)

Method

Chocolate Ripple Cake Wreath

Christmas

A twist on an old favourite, this is another dessert you can make the day before you need to serve it, and just save the decorating for the day of your celebration! This yummy dessert serves approximately twelve people.

Ingredients
2 x packets of chocolate ripple biscuits
500g thickened cream for whipping
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon icing sugar
Chocolate cream biscuits
Peppermint balls
Malteasers
Jaffas
Mint leaf lollies
Meringues

Method

Clootie Dumpling (Cloth Dumpling)

Christmas
This is a Scottish recipe that takes a little TLC to create, so allow some time a few days before you want to serve it to create this delicious pudding! Serves approximately twenty people.

Ingredients
500g self raising flour – for mixture
1 cup suet
1 cup sugar
500g mix of currants and sultanas (any ratio of your choosing)
25g mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Treacle for taste (however no more than ½ cup)
Milk (up to 1 cup if needed)
Preferred alcohol of choice (that goes well with fruit – sherry, whisky, Drambuie, etc)
Some extra flour
Boiling water (from the kettle)

Calico sheet – you’ll need approximately 50cm2
2 large mixing bowls
1 large stock pot
Strong rubber band
Mixing spoon

Method

Tobler-Tastic Cheesecake

Christmas
Cheesecake is always a winning dessert especially on a hot Christmas day, and this one combines some amazing flavours. It serves approximately ten people and best of all, it’s no-bake!

Ingredients
1 ½ cups chocolate ripple biscuits, crushed to crumbs
100g melted butter
500g cream cheese, softened
¾ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon gelatine dissolved in 2 tablespoons of boiling water
200g milk chocolate Toblerone, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup thickened cream, softly whipped
1 punnet raspberries pureed and sieved into 2 tablepsoons, combined with 2 tablespoons icing sugar
Toblerone shavings, for decoration
Extra raspberries for decoration

Method

Note that you can substitute strawberries and it still tastes delicious!

Ausukes (Little Ears)

Christmas
Best eaten when made or day of making

Ingredients and equipment
500g plain flour
2 sachets dried yeast
2 eggs
125g butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup luke warm water
½ cup milk (if necessary)
Canola oil for frying

1 large baking bowl (china or ceramic)
1 large frying pan
Paper towel
Serving plate or bowl
Rolling pin
Knife

Method
Note: in order for the mixture to rise, please keep ingredients warm.
This reciple makes about 48.

We hope these delicious dessert recipes help with your meal prep in the lead up to Christmas Day, and that the celebrations in your new Hotondo home are beautiful memories you and your family will treasure for years to come. From everyone at Hotondo Homes, we wish you a very merry Christmas, and a happy and safe new year!

For more home design and interior inspiration ideas, visit the Hotondo Homes website today.

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